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Out with the old, in with the new

Photo of Matthew Dixon

By Matthew Dixon
Published 31 May 2024

I have a confession to make: I’ve completely neglected since launching its previous iteration, and I really regret it.

Welcome to the fifth version of the MGHD theme πŸŽ‰

MGHD was in need of a bit of a facelift: we have a new colour palette, website design and brand assets. The new concept for the MGHD brand is the ocean:Β it’s one of my favourite things and I feel incredibly lucky to have spent most of my life in beautiful Cornwall with it just a stone’s throw away.

Yes, it’s been a busy few years, but that’s not the only reason my site ended up on the back-burner. The other reason is a major change to WordPress which has been bubbling away for years: WordPress block themes which started with the block editor, also known as Gutenberg. I can’t blame WordPress though…

What’s taken so long?

I made the mistake of using my website as a testbed for the block editor which, when I first started playing with, was in its infancy and lacked key functionality. Between projects I regularly dipped in to see how it was coming along and each time the work I’d done previously had become obsolete with functions being deprecated left, right and centre such as allowed_block_types. These deprecations seem to have settled down and the block editor has come a long way since its inception, but there were still 3 key pieces of functionality missing which I felt meant it wasn’t ready for use in production:

Block locking and templates are now in pretty good shape though still have their pitfalls which I’ll address in a separate article, but the big news this month has been that native ACF validation has been rolled out with version 6.3 of the plugin. It’s not perfect and I’ve noticed a few quirks which I’ll also address separately, but it works and that’s a fantastic start πŸ‘

With these major boxes ticked I finally feel like the block editor is a usable tool for custom WordPress development. Should you use it instead of building a classic theme? Not necessarily and you should always make that decision based on your individual use case, but it might be worth considering now these milestones have been reached.

What effect has this had?

The upshot of all this is that – which is essentially my digital business card – has lacked content, felt empty and left out a bunch of projects I’m really proud of. The impact this might’ve had on my business I’ll never know, but I’m glad to be getting back into the swing of things and will do my best to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The experience has taught me 2 valuable lessons:

  1. Make time for your own website, even when you’re busy; you never know how that little piece of functionality or content could influence a potential customer
  2. In the world of web development there are new tools and toys to play with on a daily basis. We should play with them, but play with them in a dedicated sandbox, not on your own website!