Well Gutenberg is finally here. It’s not bad. There’s a lot going for it. And now that it’s in production more data can be gathered and acted upon. Further development will refine and polish the new editor experience so that we will eventually find the classic editor less productive, a typewriter compared to a word processor. We are not there yet, but I feel it is inevitable.
Workflows will also get polished up so there won’t be so many clicks to get things done. Finally, but not least, accessibility will be further enhanced so that more people can use this new editing experience across whatever accessibility technology environment they run.
There’s been some great (and not so great) discussion on WordPress’ project Gutenberg – the new WordPress editor experience that is being developed. I’m not going to recap everything here in this post. But before I share my own personal thoughts and perspectives on Gutenberg, I do want to share some links to some great posts on the current state (and issues) of Gutenberg’s accessibility.
So now my personal thoughts and perspectives (that’s why you paid good money to hear this, right? :-) ).
So here’s my final thoughts and opinions on Gutenberg and accessibility
- I don’t think Gutenberg ignored accessibility but it wasn’t a major focus and unfortunately this shows in the current product.
- Accessibility needs to be baked in from the start for best effect – Gutenberg unfortunately shows a tendency to try and bolt on accessibility after the fact, which never works as well in any experience I’ve had.
- Design expresses intent and if accessibility isn’t a major focus of the deign’s intent… well then, no amount of bolting on can hide or fix that. Again, not a ding on the Gutenberg designers but rather a ding on the project’s priorities and focus that I don’t think properly attached enough weight on accessibility.
- As it stands right now, Gutenberg probably needs at least 2-3 more months of strong accessibility and usability focused work to reach what I feel is a safe and acceptable “release-to-the-world” product level. I do have to give the team mad props for how much they’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time though!
- It is sad that the WordPress project decided against doing an accessibility audit on Gutenberg – I think this would have provided some great actionable feedback at a holistic level that the a11y team just doesn’t have time or bandwidth to provide.
- Going forward I would recommend that the WordPress project consider having releases led by a designer, developer and accessibility lead to ensure that all new features strike an appropriate balance between good design, modern development best practices, and accessibility.
- A special thanks to the WordPress a11y team of volunteers – you’re the best!
Now that WordPress 4.4 is out, I’ve decided to refresh my theme. I played around with twentysixteen and I am quite impressed. By itself it’s a very understated “blog” theme – but this makes it perfect for customization and extension. You can do this through either the built in WordPress tools or through a custom child theme. An evening of design and development later, I have a nice child theme which captures the look and feel I want.
While in its default appearance twentysixteen doesn’t look like much, a little bit of customizations can get you a very flexible and functional theme with just the right personality.