I previously wrote about Deciding to play with Blocks as an adult, some of my favourite blocks, and whether I could even switch over to the Block Editor in WordPress. I had installed a bunch of block plugins and created a long list of possible blocks to use, including the default ones, JetPack, Advanced Gutenberg, Atomic Blocks, Kadence, Qodeblock, Stackable, and Ultimate Addons.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that having 60+ blocks available would slow down the back-end of the website when I was editing; I assumed they were more “available-on-demand”, i.e. that they wouldn’t be loaded during editing until you embedded them.
However, I had already created some reusable blocks for sign-offs to various posts, and I realized that they seem to be loading last when editing a page. For example, I would be editing an old post, go to insert the sign-off, and it wasn’t there “yet”. I would wait a few more seconds and it would show up in the available list, but otherwise, it was whirring with no option available, while it loaded all the other blocks into memory first.
Equally, having such a long list makes it hard to be inspired by anything either…psychologists call it the “paralysis of too much choice”.
Or I would confuse options. For example, I would go to do something simple like inserting a quote, but I couldn’t remember whether I preferred the blockquote from Ultimate Addons or the just default quote. Or perhaps one of the four different testimonial layouts that all do similar things.
That’s where the Block Manager comes in. You can disable the blocks you aren’t using. I tried creating a series of pages for testing out all the different blocks, plugin by plugin, but it didn’t really help with comparisons. Again, if I want a quote layout, I don’t want to pull up six different test pages to remember which quote layout I liked. I decided I needed to go about this more systematically.
So I created a simple grid in Excel with the 7 or 8 plugin names across the top, and then just started listing the various blocks by row. If a plugin had social icons, as almost every plugin does, then I would list their equivalent block beside the next one. I could then see at a quick glance the “types” of plugins down the side, and the options to the left. And now it’s time to prune. 🙂
Keeping the obvious text ones
The most basic block of all is the paragraph block. It is the fundamental building block of all text entries, so obviously that one must stay. I also have a lot of legacy pages created in the Classic Editor, so the Classic Paragraph has to stay, at least for now. It allows detailed formatting inline, which the new default doesn’t as easily. I’m surprised none of the plugins have created a new “Advanced Paragraph” option with similar features, but I know part of the reason is that it would seemingly violate the spirit and intent of the new block editor. If you want to style text, you use the top menu and the side menu, not inline menus that have it all together.
Interestingly, the default paragraph one includes an option for using a “drop cap” (a large initial letter for the paragraph, like old books, as this paragraph is styled), yet there are two other drop cap blocks that do almost the same thing. The ones from Atomic and Qodeblock give a few other options with them — the letter by itself, with a box around it, or in reverse (a black box with the letter cut out) — but I have no pressing use for the function unless I was trying to do some sort of odd “bulleted list”. I’ve disabled them and if I need it, I can settle for the default paragraph option. I also find it interesting that the default one shows the drop cap in the editor (as long as you are not editing the paragraph), while the other two only show up when you preview the page, which would easy to forget when doing editing on the fly.
Overall, the default paragraph and classic paragraphs are enough power for me. Scratch 2 other unnecessary blocks.
The next obvious one is the default Heading block (used above for the text “keeping the obvious text ones”). It gives me the options to do any one of the standard 6 heading styles, and I am trying to use it more liberally throughout my docs to enhance the structure. I tend to be verbose, so forcing a structure on my posts is helpful. However, there are two other big options.
Kadence has an Advanced Heading option which is decent. It moves the text alignment to the sidebar (rather than the standard options at the top for the regular header block) and adds configurable options for desktop, tablet and mobile phone, and extensive typography options (font family, letter spacing, line height, capitalization, highlighting, margins, padding, and shadows).
Ultimate Addons goes in a slightly different direction. Their default is centred and it allows you to add a description below the heading. It would be great for a page title, for example, or perhaps in pages in a very long post. Or perhaps even if you wanted to use it as a quote layout (the quote in the big text and the description could be a citation/source). The typography options are not quite as extensive as Kadence, but it is an interesting option.
However, to be honest, I don’t have a huge need when it comes to headings. Almost all of my headings are simple ones at the H4 level that don’t require extensive tweaking.
And if I do want that for a one-off situation, I can do it with lots of other blocks, without installing extra ones. I’ll stick to my three default ones.
Update: To see my current collection of blocks, check out the blocks I use.