wordpress full site editing

Full site editing is an awesome new built-in feature in WordPress 5.9, it brings to WordPress what plugins like Elementor and Divi have been doing for some time, but we advise caution: it’s not for everyone!

There are two main scenarios where WordPress full site editing is firstly a bonus and secondly a potential pain.

Being able to edit everything on your site is great for bloggers, sole traders and entrepreneurs. It’s basically making WordPress more accessible and working more like Squarespace or Wix.

Choose a theme, then customise every single aspect of it – from colours to fonts.

Whilst this may be great news for individuals that manage their own websites, it can cause some potential problems for larger businesses that have more than one person managing the WordPress site.

Here are some of the pros and cons of FSE.

Contents.

The Pros.

  • Full site editing in WordPress basically means that the website owner can edit pretty much everything
  • Fonts, colours, layout, spacing and so on – pretty much anything you can think of can now be tweaked and played with
  • This certainly gives the website owner more direct control over their website
  • No need to call the developer to get things changed around
  • Take control over design
  • Add new content, format it, colour it in and move it all around

The Cons.

Companies have brand guidelines for a reason.

These are in place to make sure that every element of your brand is aligned, looks exactly as it should and is consistent.

FSE represents a real issue for Marketing teams if anyone with access to the site can make significant changes to the design and layout.

Full site editing in WordPress presents the following challenges:

  • How do you maintain a consistent brand when everything on the site can be changed on a whim?
  • How do content teams know what they can and can’t edit on the site?
  • What happens if you break something?
  • The FSE interface is complicated and requires a significant amount of time to learn – is this the best use of your time?
  • Web designers, UX people and website developers exist for a reason, and that’s because if your website is not managed correctly, you can sink down the search results

Accessibility is awesome.

The word that the WordPress team and contributors have done to bring FSE to WordPress is awesome, but we definitely think that it’s not for everyone and should be carefully considered before deciding you need an FSE WordPress site for your business.

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WordPress FSE use cases.

The blogger, startup or entrepreneur.

Full site editing represents an exciting opportunity for smaller website owners to take more control over their websites.

Being able to edit more of the site means that they can take on more of the design and development related tasks that might normally have been done by a freelancer.

However, with this power comes responsibility.

FSE is a steep learning curve and can be frustrating for new users, so it’s important to consider the amount of time that it will take to firstly learn WordPress and secondly make sure everything is done correctly.

If you run a small business, it may be worthwhile using a WordPress agency or freelancer to build out the site, then take over the management once completed.

You’ll need to remember that you will then have to manage the entire site, from content, layout and design perspectives.

The SME.

SMEs don’t tend to have the same flexibility as bloggers when it comes to design and branding.

Ideally, you’ll have a set of brand guidelines in place, so it’s important that your website design remains in line with those guidelines.

For SMEs, we recommend a bespoke WordPress build over FSE, as this means your styling and layouts are all locked down to approved designs and you can simply concentrate on publishing content for SEO.

FSE allows for every single aspect of your website to be changed, so we don’t recommend this for SMEs unless the website manager or marketing team have full autonomy over on-the-spot design and branding decisions.

The larger business.

If you have a team of people (more than one) working on your website, FSE can present some serious challenges to maintaining your website and brand styling on your website and the consistency of content.

As per the SME above, on-demand design charges are often very far from what a larger organisation needs and can harm your brand and reputation.

Again, for larger companies, we’d always recommend a bespoke build as this means the design can be controlled, the required functionality is easier to implement, and your WordPress theme is more customisable.

There’s more to a WordPress site than the design.

Full site editing allows website owners to tweak the design, but design alone will not bring you the new business you need.

It most definitely helps to convert visitors when they land on your site, but the design does not bring you these visits, search and technical optimisation do.

FSE in WordPress and the popular Elementor and Divi plugins add a lot of weight to your site.

They require more Javascript and CSS, they load fonts and they don’t always play nicely with other plugins.

If speed is a factor on your website (and it should be) it is still easier to optimise a bespoke built website than trying to speed up a sluggish off-the-shelf theme or framework.

Design should not be cookie-cutter.

One of the other things that FSE brings in is the ability to get a WordPress site design simply by installing a theme.

The main issue with this is that sites all start to look the same.

It’s often possible to identify what a WordPress site is built on simply by looking at the front end and we do this often.

That’s another Divi site, or that’s an Astra theme are often things the dev team at Toast say – and it’s simply down to the fact that these sorts of sites can all end up looking pretty much the same.

So whilst design might not impact your positions in the SERPs, it can mean that you start looking the same as everyone else – something that should most definitely be avoided as brand competition and cut through is more important than ever.

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Horses for courses.

As with all things, budget and time are often the key deciding factors in whether you go for an FSE site, a theme, framework or something other than WordPress.

However, as fully trained, qualified and experienced WordPress designers and developers will tell you, you need to proceed with caution when trying to DIY online.

There are 100s of things that factor into a successful website that delivers new business leads; design and layout are just two of these.

Any theme will deliver a professional-looking website in a few hours, but if you are not careful, you end up with:

  • Something that looks pretty and does nothing
  • A site that looks very similar to 1000s of others out there
  • Technical optimisation issues
  • Future development problems
  • Plugin crashes and errors that result in downtime
  • A potential need to re-do the entire website 12 months later

We all for more accessibility in the web design and development game, more ownership for site owners and less feeling like you’re tied into a WordPress agency, but for most serious businesses, a bespoke-built WordPress site is, and will remain, the best option.


We can help with all things WordPress.

If you need to improve your existing site or are looking to commission a new website, call us on 01295 266644 or complete the form - we'll get in touch!

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