Phase 1 of Gutenberg was intended to make post and page editing easier and more flexible for users, leveraging blocks as the main mode of interaction offering greater virtuosity, especially for non-technical users. The next phase seeks to expand this idea beyond the post, allowing editing and customizing the rest of a website in WordPress. This process also aims to eliminate the complex obstacles users have to find their way through — like multiple layers of abstraction and navigation — and to reduce the amount of technical knowledge required to customize the overall appearance and functionality of their site. 

The next phase of Gutenberg will take the ease of use that was introduced with block-based editing and extend that capability to the Customizer, starting with widgets, to make it easier for users to customize the rest of their sites.

In the first step of phase 2, we will bring blocks into the Customizer to create a more consistent user experience and give developers a smoother path to upgrading themes to Gutenberg. Longer term, we will expand the current Gutenberg post and page editor to become a full-fledged site editor, bringing everything together into a unified, modern product experience.

If you currently have a site like this and you want to edit any of these widgets that aren’t part of the post content, you have to use an interface like this:

It’s really disconnected from anything you see on the front end of the site, it requires you to sort through a list of widgets on the left and then know how to drag and drop them into these different widget areas on the right. More to the point, if you think about widgets, they kind of represent a really early idea of blocks — they’re discrete areas for content and functionality that you can add to your site. But now with Gutenberg, we have a much more advanced, elegant, and robust concept of blocks and how you interact with them.

The first step for phase 2 will involve upgrading the widgets UI to incorporate a modern block editor that is consistent with how you edit pages and posts in Gutenberg to create a clear, consistent editing experience across different areas of your site.


In widgets.php

widgets.php would become something more like this, which is an early sketch, but you can see that all of these widgets are represented as blocks.

In the Customizer


We’re currently still investigating a number of ways that we might improve the menu management experience. 

In nav-menus.php


Editing blocks in-context

Once we have converted widgets and other elements like menus into blocks, what we can do in phase 3 (or 2+, depending on how things go) is to bring all of these elements together into a full site editor, where you no longer have to hunt for controls in the customizer menu, but can instead just edit blocks like menus and widgets in place on your site.

Instead you could add blocks wherever you need them to go and see them previewed in context. Once we bring this all together we start to realize a vision of WordPress making the web fully editable in a way that is powerful, flexible, and accessible to everyone from beginners to experts.

To recap, Gutenberg Phase 2 will:

  • Be outside of post_content.
  • Focus on customization.
  • Upgrading themes, widgets, & menus.

Early version of phase 2 will be in the plugin. Be sure to reactivate it!