WordPress 5.8, Page Builders, Future of Themes and More

Do the Woo - A Podcast for WooCommerce Builders
Do the Woo - A Podcast for WooCommerce Builders
WordPress 5.8, Page Builders, Future of Themes and More
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This episode fills the extra 5th Thursday of the month for our regular shows. So I dubbed it Woo Chatter and invited two of my co-hosts, Zach and Ronald to join me in some conversation around WooCommerce and WordPress.

I will admit a lot of it was more WordPress general, but as I have said, when it comes to WP core, Woo is sitting on top of it.

Needless to say we touched on a lot in this hour long chat, and had some fun with insights around the space today as well as a bit of nostalgic reminiscing.

Our Woo Chatter

We talked about:

  • The most recent WordPress 5.8 release, what each of us liked most, insights on the duotone feature, and a few other thoughts around it
  • Page builders and some thoughts on their future
  • What kind of dreams or visions do we have around Gutenberg and WooCommerce
  • A marketplace for single blocks
  • The future of themes
  • Challenges that Woo builders have and if they are worried about a scarcity of work and the life of freelancing
  • Who is using the WebP format, and why or why not
  • Odds and ends around conferences, life during COVID and other low hanging fruit

Thanks to Our Pod Friends

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Bob: Hey everyone, BobWP here. Welcome to Do The Woo episode 141. And yes, we are doing a, I call this kind of my off monthly podcast because I normally have everything situated for four podcasts a month and on Tuesdays and this is the fifth one. So I decided to officially call it Woo Chatter just because I always have to make up some name for it. But aside from that, I thought, why don't I just grab a couple of my co-hosts, the months I could talk into actually appearing today and just talk about some WooCommerce stuff and WordPress stuff and we're just going to... Yeah, and just... I always like to hear... I don't always get to hear what my co-hosts are thinking even though they tell me when we're not recording, but I don't often get to have them quite as involved with stuff during the regular show.

So anyway, we have Ronald and Zach. Zach is a new co-host. Maybe at the end he'll give you kind of a teaser on a new show that's going to be coming up in October that he will be co-hosting with a couple other co-hosts. I won't quite commit to them even though they have committed, I won't mention their names because they'll probably freak out if they hear this. But anyway. Yeah. Cool. So if this is the first time you're tuning in, I should go ahead and let my co-hosts at least introduce themselves real quick. Ronald, why don't we start with you?

Ronald: Hello. Hello. Thank you for having me. It was a bit of a last minute surprise. So my name is Ronald. I co-host the WooCommerce round table as part of Do The Woo. Also a partnership manager at YITH where we create plugins for WooCommerce and a weekly co-host for the WooCommerce London meetup. And that's a little bit about what I do in the WooCommerce space. For the rest, lots of other things. I have two kids and a dog and I pay for a mortgage. So it's the usual rat race, I think. But thanks to a WordPress and WooCommerce, I can do it with a smile and with joy. So I think that's enough about me.

Bob: Yeah. Cool. Alrighty. Zach hey. Nobody knows Zach. Who is Zach?

Zach: No knows me at all. So I'm Zach Stepek. I do a little bit of consulting helping agencies understand ecommerce and help their clients navigate the complexities of ecommerce. And what I'm not doing that, I am working with GridPane helping agencies to sell hosting to their customers. And I'm not just talking your average hosting, but really world-class scalable hosting. So that's what I do. Yeah. So thanks for having me here today Bob.

Bob: You bet. And yeah, it's going to be fun to hear your voice regularly on a monthly podcast here coming soon, but thought we would break everybody in with this one with you. And of course Ronald, the old pro, it seems like by now, he just eases his way right into things. So I'm going to start with this question because I just have to ask it. What was your favorite thing about WordPress 5.8? The feature, what came out? what was the thing that really revs your engine? Maybe it doesn't rev your engine, but it kind of did a slight purring noise.

Ronald: For me, it was lots of little things. It's lots of things that have been brewing and we've been talking about, hearing. You knew was coming so. Which is block editing. I'm not sure if that's so useful, if what I use it, but it's something that's been in the back of my mind for quite a few months now, years maybe. And then there's lots of little things within the block editor itself. You think wasn't that already possible? And finally it's here. So I'm not completely surprised with the new features. It seems like they were there already. Maybe because I've been reading and hearing lots of things. I'm more excited about what's still to come and what sort of effect it will have on the day-to-day things I'm doing and with WooCommerce. That's what I'm more excited about. So I knew this was coming. It was an important update to get a lot of the basics right, but yeah, I think the future is where it's at.

Bob: Exactly. Anything stand out to you?

Zach: Yeah. So for me, it's the increased push toward block-based editing of everything. So the new full site editing features and the pattern library and seeing how that affects WordPress, because I know that eventually that's going to affect WooCommerce too in a more significant way than it does today. So I can't wait until we get to a point where the pattern library has ecommerce patterns in it because WooCommerce has block-based editing of descriptions. All really cool things that could happen in the near future. And really just gets me excited for where things are going.

Ronald: I agree with that. It's being able to separate the standard look and safely move things around and make it your own. I remember Zach showing me and cited it a couple of years ago or so, this electronic, is it cameras? Sort of.

Zach: Yeah. Clinton Electronics. They're a security vendor. They manufacturer security cameras.

Ronald: And I can just imagine, if you were to do that now with a block editor, you couldn't do it without doing a lot of code and digging deeper. But being a, I can just imagine in a few months time, you could quite easily do that and make the look and feel and the length totally different and keeping it fast as well.

Zach: Yeah. We're getting closer and closer and I'm a member of a Facebook group called the Admin Bar. And Kyle from the Admin Bar actually redid his site in Gutenberg as kind of a test to see how fast it could be. And it's really amazing. Gutenberg, on the surface, it's just another page builder but behind the scenes, the CSS, it's generating the HTML it's generating is way more lightweight and it is way faster. I'm seeing higher scores with Gutenberg first design that on Core Web Vitals and the Google Page Speed metrics than I've seen with any other page builder. It's pretty amazing.

Bob: Yeah, I was on, was it this week in WordPress WP Builds podcasts earlier this week and we talked about 5.8 and the two things. It was really weird because there were some things, like Ronald said, there were some small things that I noticed and I'm actually still trying to figure out if they came out and 5.8 or if they just were always there and I just happened to notice them. So there's some of those things that are strangely apparent to me now and I don't know why they are now and if they weren't there before. But the two things I liked really more specifically is I like the query loop block because I like to see where that's going to go because that's going to replace a lot of stuff I'm already using adding other stuff for. So it'll just be interesting to see where that goes. And the other one we talked about and I really like and it's that list view. How you can drag and drop the order of your content on the side there and because I just spent a lot of time on some of the podcasts, I was moving something from the top of the podcast post to the bottom and you know how it is when you're grabbing a block or two and you're dragging them and it's like it's just weird.

Anyway, I saw that little sucker over there and I started using it after 5.8 and I thought, good Lord, I didn't even know this whole thing was going to happen. Because I wasn't paying that much attention and it's been a lifesaver, especially if you have really long posts, sometimes I go in and edit. So I'm able to go in there and I know some people say that they've had little buggy problems with that. I haven't had any problem with it but it's, yeah, it's kinda cool. So yeah. There's other things I like to. Yeah, definitely.

But those are two things that just, and I think it was that moment of an epiphany, oh wow, look at this. Wow, what I can do with this. And that's kind of how I am with these every time there's a major update is I just happen to be in there because I'm in my editor, at least I would say half a dozen times every day doing something. So I usually notice things pretty quickly and have to adapt to them even if I don't particularly like them, I adapt to them because hey, this is where I live.

Ronald: I've got a question though. Just it's in my mind and I've heard it say in the past where other page builders, we're not naming any of them, they look at Gutenberg and I know it's like Zach mentioned, you can't really compare it with other page builders, but at the moment when it comes to features and feature rich, up until now I'm pretty sure that pretty much any page builder says haha Gutenberg, eat my dust. Do you think at this point they start to get worried a little bit or is it still well off the features of what you can do with it? What do you think?

Zach: Well, so I know some of them are light years ahead of where they think Gutenberg is right now. Right? They feel like they've got a significant lead and some of them do, but Gutenberg's coming up in the rear view real quick. And some of them have investors to answer to now. Right? So I'm a little concerned for how they move forward in a way that helps their investors maximize their investment, which is of course once you take that seed round, that's what your job is. Right? So how do they make sure that that investment is maximized when WordPress itself is catching up to where they are? And I think that's going to drive innovation that we haven't seen for a long time in the WordPress space. So I'm excited.

Ronald: I know that Oxygen allows you to convert into Gutenberg blocks. So it seems that, and I'm not quite sure and don't quote me on this, but whether DV is working on something similar that also embraces Gutenberg as part of their setup. So maybe that's a wise move to embrace and innovate alongside.

Bob: Yeah. A couple things that I, and it's more for me personally, I'm like, whatever, it's pretty much that way but what I hear people talking about a couple of times there was that, yeah, they're going to adapt more to each other. The builders are going to adapt more, but is there going to be this, I hate to even throw politics in it, but is it going to be like there are vaccinated and the non-vaccinated? is it going to be kind of divided a bit the builders and the Gutenbergers? Gutenbergers, I like that. That should be a new maybe McDonald's or something. Anyway, I kind of went off on a tangent there, but yeah, will they become more divided or well, we work together?

And the other thing I saw, somebody was talking on Twitter, just, I think it was yesterday or this morning and they were talking about that particular thing because these are a lot of people that use builders and some of them are saying they find that they use the builders more for their static pages and Gutenberg more for the posts. And they're kind of almost have this line divided where they're... Gutenberg, they feel is better for posts and the clients or clients, people using it, are more comfortable using it for the post but then they can use a page builder itself to be more elaborate with the pages, the static pages. So, yeah, it's interesting to see where. What do you think, Ronald? I mean, you had the question but what's kinda your thoughts on that?

Ronald: I think you made a good point about the vision. What I've noticed is that some are nervous about the future, whether they should continue working with Elementor or DV or Oxygen. And when they'll make that switch, I think they're not ready yet to make that switch. And your observation about the users that use Gutenberg or blogs for posts, but for static pages, they do a page builder. Now with the new update to 5.8, I think some of the simple, no... Some of the pages now can be comfortably be built with Gutenberg. I also worry, not worry, wonder about the different libraries and how they will be incorporated and how user-friendly they will be for user because if you, if you want to build out a a page, how many different libraries will you need to do that and whether that's sort of add and becomes more confusing because everybody will have a slightly different UX on dropping in different blogs.

But then again, that innovation, the possibilities of dragging in a block that then enables you to activate a plugin or you have a plugin and it comes loaded with number of blocks. So for example, if you have a subscription block, it is already preloaded with a three column subscription comparison, or some of the other smaller product page elements. I think, because you create something or you design something and that then can be used by many different users, not just Elementor users or Beaver Builder users. So it would streamline a lot of that development, but it's going to take a couple of years to get that to catch up.

Bob: Yeah. A couple of other comments that were made around just blocks and themes and everything is one was, had on this podcast I was on and we'll get into maybe themes a little bit more too, is having the themes coming with their, yeah, the package blocks. I mean, that's kind of seems like an obvious direction, but the other thing somebody brought up was the blocks as far as the future of how those will be sold are... They said they would like to see people putting together and selling blocks singularly. Yeah, that you can go buy by this one block for four bucks, five bucks or something instead of having to buy. And I know exactly how they feel because there's you buy the block collections and I use one block because I really liked it. And I have these, all these other ones I bought that I've never really used.

So I wonder if you know, that whole marketplace will move to... I mean, it's an interesting thing because thinking of selling these little kind of lower price because they are. That way, how that will play out. But yeah, interesting. So what do you both think about? I mean, when you think of Gutenberg and I haven't really thought about this, but I thought it was interesting cause one of you brought this up is kind of what do you hope to see with Woo and Gutenberg? I mean, is there some dream, some visions, something that you think, oh, this will be so cool if this happens? But I haven't really wrapped my brain around something like that, but I'm wondering if either of you had to have thoughts on that

Ronald: In my wildest dream, I think functionality blocks go hand in hand and that's separate from styling because that's more universal. I know the way we handle it, some of the styling is done within the plugin setting. If you don't want to add it to a page builder, you need to use short code. So for a new user entering the WooCommerce space, this is quite complicated. I know for us it's well, short codes is fine and a bit of styling here, a bit of styling data that's okay. But for a new user, that's difficult. So I can see when it comes to onboarding, installing a lot of that work is done. And if you want to change the font or the button size or anything like that, your color scheme, it will have an effect on everything, not just on that particular I was going to say theme, but it's whatever that's going to be called in the future. So that will also have an effect on your functionality or plugins.

Zach: Yeah. I've always been of the opinion that the theme should control the look and feel and plugins should control functionality. And here with Gutenberg blocks, we have a bit of a mixture of those two concerns right now. But I think that long-term, we'll see the design separate, the presentation separate more from the functionality of a block because that separation of concerns is important to making sure that every block that's made works everywhere. So I think that's that's definitely going to be an area of focus moving forward and yeah, we'll see blocks that have crazy amounts of functionality. If you thought that a kitchen sink themes were bad, wait till we have kitchen theme or kitchen sink blocks, a single block that can do everything. Somebody is going to build it. And they're going to bundle a whole bunch of other things with it that people don't need and people are going to install it and install all the other things that came in the zip file with it.

And now it's going to happen. We know what's going to happen. The key is to get the information and education out there about the fact that really presentation and functionality should be different. And that in my opinion, themes shouldn't be adding custom post types. Themes shouldn't be adding know functional things to the admin in WordPress, ever. So a theme should define the look and feel and then a plugin bundled with the theme can add those other things, but it should be optional. I'm a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to that separation of concerns though. So I know that not everybody agrees with me on that. But I think that's the way it should be done.

Ronald: No, I think you make a really good point and when you put it like that, I think few people would disagree with you. Just as you change your kitchen, a block would be the cupboard, but change the front of it just sticking with the kitchen sink idea. You can change the fonts and the handles any time and then it will have an effect on your whole total kitchen. So absolutely. But I think the plugins coming with part of this framework, that works with the theme, with the styling, I think that that's crucial and at the moment that doesn't always happen because there are so many different themes and there's so often come in compatibility for users or hooks or filters that are not part of their theme setup.

And yeah, you can be really angry and shout about it but when you look at some of the themes, how many have been sold on ThemeForest and that tens and maybe hundreds of thousands. And a lot of these users do have a bad experience when they install something that is coded according to the WooCommerce or WordPress standards because they didn't follow the guidelines and hopefully with blocks and everybody keeping to that separation, just as you said Zach, fingers crossed that will solve a lot of lots of problems and support requests.

Zach: Yeah, I really hope so. And the interesting thing about it is just that as we move forward into this new world where the entire site can be edited with Gutenberg, where it's not just the post editor anymore, we're going to see a resurgence of kind of that CSS hacker mentality that existed when things like the CSS Zen Garden were first out where people were doing crazy things, just with CSS to transform the exact same page. And I think we'll start to see themes focus more on doing those transformations of mark-up and plugins focus more on just generating nice clean mark-up to be themed.

Ronald: What a wild dreams we have Bob.

Bob: Yeah. It's interesting going back to the blocks and having the, and Zach just mentioned it again, you have this block that's going to be the super block, the super-duper block or whatever that comes in. I've been spending some time cleaning up my site and I've actually looking at several different blocks and then I'm looking at what else I have over here and, oh, I can use this. Maybe it's a little bit different, but there's one plugin I put in that has like, I don't know, probably a dozen blocks or something. I won't name it. I mean, it's a good plugin, but I'm using one of the blocks and I cannot find any other block that will replicate exactly. It's a kind of a carry block that pulls in posts archives, and it has some formatting that I can do that none of the others have been able to do.

And it kind of drives me nuts because I'm using just this one block on that. I used about two or three in the beginning. And I guess you could say, oh yeah, well, maybe I'll use the other ones down the road, but I really want to get rid of it because it's like I have these two or three block collections I've been trying to whittle them together. So I, going back to that single block sale type thing, I think would be wonderful because of that and so. But I'm going to be having somebody redo the site so I'm just going to let them fix it all and make it all, get rid of all this stuff and do what you can do to make it magically work because there are a lot smarter than me and they'll be able to do it without having to scourge for more blocks, so.

Ronald: Would that mean that you would have some sort of marketplace that is connected to your site and you only download the blocks that you need, but on that marketplace, you have everything?

Bob: Yeah, because I... I mean, I'm on the bandwagon of I'm willing. I mean, I just bought another plugin yesterday. I can't even remember what it was. I'll spend the money on plugins. I have no issue with that. And I'm not trying to be facetious and say that because not everybody has maybe a budget or whatever to do that, but it's like, if you start, if I can buy these and yeah I don't use them for... I mean, if they wanted to do a year subscription, I end up dumping a lot of plugins before it's out and I just don't use it and I don't feel like it was a waste. It served just the purpose for six months when I really needed it for something so that I got the value out of it, but I'm happy. So yeah. I'd like to see a market. I don't know how that... It sounds like a crazy nightmare and I don't know if that's gonna happen or if we're going to see that on wordpress.org with free blocks, single blocks, if they will be doing that more because kind of rapping what you and Zach just talked about.

I mean, with the themes and everything, people seem to have these mentalities that we have to bundle everything together and make it ooh, cool. And I've always been on the mindset when I find a plugin, oh, this plugin does one thing and it does it good. And that's why I like it. It doesn't do a billion things. I mean, there's a place for that, but those single functional simple this is what I need it for and if it's, like I said, if it's just for a few months, that's cool. I'm willing to do it because that's what it does and I don't have to mess with anything else, so.

Ronald: But it sells though, doesn’t it? If you have to the magic toolbox that solves all your problems, it is the same for themes. You buy a theme , it's like comes with this, it comes through that. And as a starter you think, wow, that's really good value.

Bob: Yeah. That's it.

Ronald: In time you get the experience, you think, ah actually, I don't need that because just for that one thing, it just drags everything, slows everything down.

Bob: Right. And it's easy for me to say because I don't build any of this stuff so I can all this stuff and other people can shutter and say, why are you even saying that Bob? Because do you realize what goes behind this or that? So it's easy to do. Anything else on the theme front you want to? I think Zach touched a lot on that.

Ronald: I wonder what you think about the future of themes. What's your as then expire date for themes and maybe how long, I don't know, what do you see for the future happening?

Zach: So I think that themes will become a generalized look and feel along with a set of block patterns that are designed to create a specific look and feel and use the Gutenberg editor to do it. A theme may come with a block pattern for how it envisions a gallery should look or how it thinks a list of testimonials should be shown or what it thinks the hero image should look like. But it's just going to be patterns built on top of core Gutenberg. That's my opinion. That's where theming is going.

Ronald: So do you think the themes will evolve or will they have to reinvent themselves?

Zach: I think they'll evolve. The most popular themes right now that I see are either of the kitchen sink variety, where they try to do everything, or they're really incredibly simple and they're intentionally simple to leave room for page builders to do their job, right? Page builder framework, the hello theme by Elementor, even Beaver Builder's Beaver Builder theme are all just designed to get out of the way. Astra is very similar in that it's designed to get out of the way. So all of these really simple themes that provide basic structure and basic design that allow the page builder to really shine, that's where I think the future lies. And we'll start to see some of these gigantic themes that are kind of monolithic in their construction start to drop off because they're just not needed anymore.

Ronald: I have another question. Sorry Bob before I... I'd like to ask you that because you're more in in tune with the builder community and freelancers Do you hear people being worried about work for freelancers and solopreneurs and agencies because things either become simpler or quite opposite, things are becoming so complex that you need more developers and designers to make it happen? I know WordPress wants to simplify things, but maybe as a result, it just, things become way more complicated.

Bob: Yeah. It seems like there has been. I mean, it's been interspersed a lot in different podcasts and I hear that there's always going to be the spot, the space for developers that you just, you need their help. I mean, it's just going to happen because you can only take it so far. I mean, I'm a perfect example. I'm not a developer, I have a design background, but I built my sites in WordPress since I started using it for 14 years ago. And now I'm at a point where I'm looking at things and I'm thinking I've got to, hopefully it's not once every 14 years for everybody because that wouldn't quite spread the joy enough, but I am looking, I am hiring an agency with developers and the whole shebang to basically do it because I know what I need next is not something I can do or I have the ability to do.

So I think there's always going to be room for that and I think that's what everybody's hinted towards. It was interesting though that one of the podcasts I was talking with, I don't know if you... I think I know Zach knows him really well. Brad Morrison with GoWP. And he was talking about the challenge of finding good quality developers right now is really, really rough. He didn't really say exactly why, I'm sure there's a lot of variables, but the uptick in the needs for online stuff, but also just finding. Yeah, it's easy to, I hate to say, jump on the bandwagon and say I'm a developer now and I'm building this because everybody wants a WooCommerce site. So those really qualified developers are becoming a little bit less and less... I mean they're less scarce. They're becoming scarce basically.

And he felt that that wasn't going to be changing any time soon. There was going to be a challenge of finding those. And I think you can see just from the WordPress space, how many people are constantly saying we need this, we have these openings and yeah, I'm sure they're filling them eventually. And I don't think people are worrying so much about... I think everybody will freak out to some point. It's like I've gone through it myself over the last many years. You think, okay, because of this happening, people are gonna need me less and less for this. I did that in logo design. I designed logos in my marketing business for 17 years and I designed logos and people would spend a lot of money for logo. And about 2010 I think is when they started doing the crowdsourcing and things are coming onsite saying, hey, you can get $99 logo here at night.

Sure, that's not for the corporate, but suddenly it was like everybody's going after that because compared to paying, you know, 2, 3, 4 grand for our logo, people were saying, hey, I can go and do this. And I was, at that point, I looked at it and I finally decided I can't swim upstream anymore. I can't compete with this stuff and I don't really feel like competing with this so I just dropped the logo design from my services in a blink of eye. I mean, it didn't happen overnight, but it was an eventual thing. So I think, yeah, it's all these little pieces of it that people are going to... I think there's always going to be a need for developers. There's always going to be a need for implementers. Somebody was talking about implementers that aren't really developers or better putting the tools together on a site. They don't really understand the code. It's like how I would design sites, WordPress sites for many years. I knew what everything worked together and I knew what decent good design was. And I used those, but tell me to start getting the code, I couldn't do it and I let people know that.

So I think one of the things that came out of that conversation was, I think you just need to be upfront with what your talents are and really hone in on that and tell people I can do this and I can do that. No, I can't do that. I'm not for the job. So I think there's still room. I think it's going to... I think some are probably freaking out, but unfortunately if you get into the space of... Unless you're looking for work and you're maybe having troubles finding positions, but if you're doing this for yourself, if you're getting into that whole space of, yeah, basically freelancing, whatever, unfortunately you need to learn really quick that you just need to adapt and change and be flexible for the rest of your life as far as what if you're going to do that because otherwise you wouldn't survive and that's how I've survived for.

Ronald: You got to evolve constantly.

Bob: Yeah. Yeah. I've been doing this for like 30 something years, which is really horrifying to think, and that's how I've survived and sure, I've had some really sucky times too and I've had to really rethink things and stuff. It hasn't all been just... I haven't been laying in a bathtub of gold coins just wallowing in that for... In fact, I don't know if I've ever done that actually. I'm still waiting for that moment, but.

Yeah. mean, God, we're in technology and things change so quickly and if you got into this field, you got to do that, you got to adapt and you got to realize that things can change bam like that and.

Ronald: Can you imagine falling asleep for one year and then waking up in a year time, would you still be able to do it? I mean, you've gotta be on top of it all, isn't it?

Bob: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yup. Somebody was saying on Twitter the other day and then it's kind of the old adage, freelancing isn't for everyone. Working for yourself isn't for everyone. It's tough and sometimes I think I'm at a point where my life and how long I've been doing it, it's not going to change. I'm good to go the full court or whatever on it, but there's a lot of stuff with it and it's not... I mean, I don't think honestly I would trade it. Even the last few years, I would never trade it because it works for me. I've found my sweet spot. Maybe there's still challenges. It's not all this certainly isn't all roses, a bed of roses.

Zach: Well, I mean that you know, throw us on a nostalgia trip, but Bob, do you remember when people were worried because we were moving from the HotDog HTML editor into IDE's front page and GoLive and Dreamweaver.

Bob: Yeah. That was the only thing. GoLive in Dreamweaver was what helped me to finally create horrific looking HTML sites. And so that was because I never wanted to get into the web stuff so I actually dove into that and it was no better. It was no more soothing for me. It was just as frightening and I think back of some of the sites I've built. But I remember at that point it was almost like I was kind of the, how people look at now, oh you're not a developer, you're just coming in and do this. I felt like I was doing that because I was just jumping into it randomly because I had a business for years and years, but I felt like I needed to try to grasp my brain around online building online at some point.

Zach: Do people use single pixel spacer GIFs and tables anymore? No. No. Have we evolved beyond where we started? Absolutely. And we keep evolving beyond where we've started.

Ronald: Isn't there a space or a block? I read that. Was it WP Tavern or something like that. Somebody pointed out as space a block. So we might come back to that.

Zach: Yeah, yeah. We might. And the thing is that I was a flash developer. I'm not afraid to tell people that. I built flash websites. I built really cool flash websites and none of them had skip intro on them. Thank God. But I built applications with ActionScript 3 and built with crazy companies and taught at crazy places like IBM and Behr Paint and Discover Financial. And they were all using ActionScript. And then it disappeared overnight. Why? Because technology changes, right? And now we're getting back to the level of fidelity that I was able to achieve then with HTML5 and CSS 3. And the things that are changing in the front end world were finally getting to a level of fidelity that's similar to what we were doing back then. And it's all cyclical.

So eventually the tools we're using today will evolve just like Gutenberg has evolved as a new part of WordPress and things will change. People have been scared every step along the way as the industry has morphed around them. I remember people who ran agencies being scared of Squarespace. Now Wix is the big elephant in the room that people are getting worried about. Right? And none of them have ever toppled the other technologies that are out there. They've just augmented. There are tons of businesses, tons of websites to build. The fact that one out of every three is built using our tool of choice is pretty phenomenal.

Bob: Yeah. The WP on the end of my name has worked good for 11 years so far So we'll see how long that'll that'll last, how long of a lifetime it will have.

Zach: Yup. I think that we're just starting to see another landmark shift in where things are going and block-based editing was a direction that the industry was pushing, right? The page builders existed before Gutenberg did.

Ronald: Yeah. It drives innovation though, doesn't it? This one goes a bit faster than the other. And that naturally pulls everybody else in through with them. So the Wix is just as important to WordPress as all the page builders and WordPress is just as important that it is for Squarespace because you look at each other and you move forward because if there's no competition, we'd still all be on internet Explorer, which by the way will be dropped by the support for IE 11 in the 5.8.

Zach: Finally. Yeah. I've been long waiting for internet Exploder to die a painful death.

Ronald: We haven't talked about the duotone images. Is that something that you're going to play be playing with? Because I saw Matt in a interview for WordCamp Europe, he's like, oh, this is really exciting, this is amazing. The duotone. I am actually quite happy with the photo editing within WordPress because I am lazy. I wouldn't say upload raw images, but I quite happily make a few changes while it's already uploaded in WordPress.

Bob: Yeah. It's interesting because I was thinking of that the other day. And so you're talking to somebody that, I can't remember whether it was called Photoshop before it was Photoshop. It was something and dark room image, dark room or something like that. So I've been using, and now I use Affinity. I switched over from Photoshop Adobe's to Affinity. And I'm in this habit, I still upload every image I put onto my, for my featured image or whatever, I put into Affinity now, I resize it, I optimize it. And most of them, I change to black and white because I like black and white images so kind of consistent. But talking about duotone, I'm curious about it because there's some images on there that I have that are old images that I didn't change to black and white and I'm thinking, well, I can probably go in and mess with the duotone enough to make it look black and white, which will be a bit of a time-saver because I don't want to spend the time to actually do an upload and stuff.

But I think it's cool. I won't use it personally because my workflow. Unless it's an afterthought or something like, ooh, I should have done this. But I've always been, I love duotones. I mean, you're talking about somebody that comes from print days and we used to do a lot in duotones because then you didn't have to go full blast around them, full color printing and stuff. So your life as around duotones and we can do a brochure with two colors. We can save some money on printing and we can make this cool duotones on it, so.

Zach: More nostalgia from my corner. Do you remember Designing Web Graphics by Lynda of lynda.com fame? The first book on designing web images, she talked about using duotone and using halftones to reduce JPEG and GIF image size. It was one of the first optimizations that people would do. So again, things come full circle. Now this is the cool thing to do because we can support it with SVG filters and with CSS filters. So that's what's behind all of the functionality in the duotone feature in the media library is SVG filters and the CSS filter property. But as a photographer, I'm excited. I love taking really cool high contrast photos to begin with and now I can use them in unique ways for cover images and other hero images and to have them still in the article somewhere, but have the hero image have a different characteristic without actually editing the image at all, just by applying a filter over top of it.

Ronald: Do you use some WebP format for your images or is that something that you've been playing with to upload as it's now part of the 5.9?

Zach: I don't have a really good image optimization workflow for WebP yet. So until I really understand where the savings are, because I use each image format for the purpose of creating the smallest possible image in every context. So there are times I'll use a non-animated GIF still just simply because it produces a smaller image and it looks exactly the same. Or I'll use SVG if it makes sense. But there are very few times that I'm using WebP right now just simply because we're so early in the support.

Bob: Until it's as easy for me to do that as I can do with a JPEG or PNG, I won't be doing it just because yeah, I have no workflow for it. It's just I've got my thing down and my images, personally, they're working as are.

Ronald: Yeah. The gain is marginally little for, yeah.

Bob: Yeah. So anyway, so cool.

Zach: Though a lot of marginal gains add up to a really big gain if you do them all together and that's that's something I've preached for years. Right? Small little things. One of the things that I was really excited about when I first learned about GridPane, the platform I'm working with is that they do OCSP stapling, which is certificate response stapling. So the server caches the response for an SSL certificate so that you don't have a 250 to 400 millisecond round trip to a certificate authority to get that certificate back. But once every two weeks. So little things like that really add up and it's how I've gotten sites below a half a second load time.

Bob: Well, cool. Well, I knew we'd have no problem talking filling the time where we're getting up to, well, not quite an hour, but I usually don't go that quite that long in all the podcasts. But yeah, this has been fun just to occasionally maybe pull in something like this. I think I'm doing this. I have an extra episode in September at the end of September and I'm bringing in Jeff Chandler. I'm going to talk to Jeff. He's going to do... I'm going to just... We'll probably talk about WooCommerce, but he's got some new stuff coming around. People may know him from originally WP Tavern. Yeah. I just thought it'd be fun to bring Jeff on.

So these are kind of my little random shows. I guess we could call them as well. And we didn't talk a lot about Woo, but we did talk a lot about Woo because it's interesting because sometimes I think it's not always Woo specific, it's WordPress and WordPress, Woo's on top of WordPress. So everything that affects... I mean, we look at all these different things that we're talking about affects WooCommerce. So it's not like, it's always has to be spot on to WooCommerce with everything, but cool. So any final thoughts with either one of you before we... Well, how about, is there anything you want to share?

Zach: I guess things that I would like to draw attention to, WordFest just happened and I had the fortune to get a spot emceeing a four hour block in the Asia time slot.

Ronald: What time was that for you in the Asian?

Zach: 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM.

Ronald: Oh okay. Just when you wake up.

Zach: Ha. So I wasn't up any later than normal. No, just a little later than normal, but it was nice. It was a really good time and the entire event was great. The replays are starting to be posted if you missed it. At wordfest.live. Man, that's all put on by Big Orange Heart, which is an organization that helps all of those of us who work from home to work from home in a better, safer and more sane manner by giving us a community where other people are running into the same things that we are. So thank you to Dan and to Kate and to Michelle and the team that ran WordFest. I had a great time being part of it and I can't wait for the next one.

Ronald: I don't think there's any WordCamp big ones. They're probably a few small ones plan. I haven't heard of anything else big event wise.

Zach: Oh, yesterday they announced WordCamp US 2021. But in the next month there'll be a call for speakers, call for sponsors, a call for volunteers, tons of opportunities to get involved with WordCamp US online. It will be October 1st, so. And again, it's online and free.

Ronald: When do you think a physical WordCamps? As I talk about it in the US about returning maybe local ones.

Zach: I think we're looking at 2022.

Bob: If all goes, well, I guess we could say.

Zach: Yeah. I would hope that early 2022, we're in a better spot than we are right now, but if we're not, we have great people like Dan and the Big Orange Heart team and Yon running all of his summits and WordCamp US running a virtual event and there's no shortage of virtual things you can get involved with.

Bob: Yeah. Yeah. Cool. And it's interesting because I started a little chatter on Twitter about the conferences and not to get into because I know we're getting up on time here, but oh, we could talk forever, it really doesn't matter, but somebody was talking about it and saying that they have actually, because they kind of went out of WordCamps and out of that space, they said general conferences what's it fill? And they said that there's a lot of fill in that industry that will never see 2019 again. They said it's not going back to the way it is, conferences.

So I think, and what that exactly means. It doesn't mean we're all doing online, but I think there's going to be some conferences that just say, hey, we're going to do it this way from here on and I really think it's awakened some and there will be at some point, we'll get back to the in-person and how that all plays out. It's one of those things that... I mean, who do we ask when will they start again? Because everything keeps... Like throwing a wrench in things. You never know what the next little hiccup will be or big hiccup or no hiccup, hiccup finally do go away.

Ronald: I wouldn't want to be the first organizing team of a WordCamp or a physical one because I think there'll be quite a lot of stuff to go through and a lot of criticism, but there's a lot of innovation that because of the pandemic especially within WooCommerce that I hope we'll keep. Well, I mean not just WooCommerce, but ecommerce in general. Paying online for a lot of the stuff that we used to have to carry cash for. The way that you book things and slots and you're being welcomed. You not going to be totally overcrowded or unexpected lots of people. Or the other day, it was in restaurant and just kind of QR code and pay your bill and you can just walk out.

Bob: Yeah. What's interesting about, and not to divert from that, but we live in a beach community, a small beach community. So we have a lot of tourists that come in and well actually a few restaurants have closed down because of that. And we're in Washington state where one of the counties, we're in a very unusual county, I'll just put that word without getting politically. But it's in Washington state. We have a higher whatever, but the whole mess going on. But what I was going to lead in to say is, there's people complaining now because these restaurants are not offering takeout anymore because they were doing it when it was worse than they were having to be closed and they can do it and all this stuff. And they're just complaining, moaning and groaning. And these restaurants are saying takes out takes a staff of its own to manage and we don't even have staff right now to manage our existing situation.

So it's the changes that this has made where it's like we can assume some things will continue on forever because no, this is cool. Now we rather do take out than go sit in a restaurant, but then there's those other factors that play into it. So everything's just kind of building on. Even with the WordPress plugins, somebody was saying that the WordPress plugins had that spike in sales. I was reading that, I don't know if it's on Post Status or what. There was a conversation and now it's starting to level out again. And they're saying the bubble that was there that got all those sales or whatever, and I'm not sure if that reflects on WooCommerce stuff and ecommerce because I've heard some people with the ecommerce say, oh, the wave is going to hit big and continue. It's even going to get bigger as we move on. And other ones are saying, oh no, we're starting to mellow out again. It's starting to not level out to what it was maybe before, but not as high as it was during that time. So man, there's so many things.

Ronald: Can I give you a little insight from what I see?

Bob: Yeah, sure.

Ronald: So truth, we had that peak in April, sort of March, April, may last year. And what I see now is we continue on that high step and growth is not at the same level as at the start of the pandemic, but we remain high. And I think that anybody who went online and put their brick and mortar store online are not going to take down the website. They will continue growing and they'll see that as an additional revenue stream because now it's there. In relation to a member of staff, it's very little cost. You continue.

Bob: Yeah. That's interesting to hear from you because I've heard from some hosts that said just the opposite that they see a lot of these people that had done that have already abandoned their sites and that a lot of people are feeling and I think that was part of that conversation that said that a lot of them are, yeah, they used it for a while now they're just, okay, whatever. It's going to sit there and they're not even really doing much with it, if anything. So see that's what's so crazy is you never know what sector and what piece and I'm glad you shared that because I was curious hearing kind of straight from the horse's mouth.

But anyway, well, let's go ahead and wrap up. I'm just going to thank our sponsors one last time, OSTraining.com and Woofunnels.com. Do check them out. I appreciate their support and appreciate all ours sponsors support. So first of all, Ronald, thank you for jumping in at the last minute. Appreciate it.

Ronald: Thank you. I always enjoy talking to you, with Zach as well. It's always insightful.

Bob: Cool. And Zach, this was going to be his first time cohost gig and I guess just things kind of went sideways and stuff. So we pulled it together and yeah, he's already primed for whatever to come in the future.

Zach: Yeah. I think we're we're going to have a lot of fun with the different perspectives we're going to bring into Do The Woo. I think it's going to be a lot of fun moving forward.

Bob: Cool. Alrighty. Well everyone, yes, there will be a lot of exciting stuff going on here in October. So watch for that. A couple months away. Of course we'll continue on until then as we have been doing, but yeah, just keep your ears and eyes open. You're going to hear more voices. You're going to hear less of me, which always is a godsend for anybody out there. So yeah, we are good to go. So until the next time, keep on doing the Woo.