Published by on April 29, 2020 • 0 Comments • Lire en Français

“If I could give him 0 stars, I would.” “It sucks.” “A real horror.” Or “the worst thing in the world”.

Walking around the page of the Gutenberg plugin, WordPress' content editor, you can see that I've gathered a lot of very enthusiastic opinions.

Snoop Dog danse
Gutenberg trying to dodge these comments.

With an overall rating of 2 stars, I have rarely (ever?) seen a plugin so badly rated.

Rather than dwell on the reasons for this anger, we will try to take a constructive approach to the subject, by showing you how to take advantage of this tool to create custom content on your WordPress site.

To do this, we will present 10 plugins that will :

  • Give you more flexibility
  • Extend the basic features of Gutenberg to give you more customization options

You'll see : Gutenberg allows you to create quite advanced layouts, all in a rather intuitive way – yes, I dare say – and without the need to code.

No, it's not as bad as most users claim, far from it.

And I'm telling you this all the more firmly, because I have taken myself a completely different line: I thought it was horrible at first, and today, I don't want to hear about WordPress' former editor anymore.

Why choose a Gutenberg plugin for WordPress?

Gutenberg appeared with WordPress version 5.0, released on December 6, 2018, and now replaces the editor called TinyMCE, used until that date.

Concretely, this means that if your WP site runs at least under version 5.0, you are sure that Gutenberg is active by default.

Note : For security reasons in particular, I advise you to use the latest version of WordPress and to update it as soon as possible.

On the technical side, you should know that Gutenberg is based on a block system.

WordPress says that blocks are “great new tool for building engaging content. With blocks, you can insert, rearrange, and style multimedia content with very little technical knowledge.”

Each new content item you add (e.g. text, image, button) is included in a block and works independently, unlike the classic editor where everything was grouped in a single text window.

Basically, a block is a kind of container into which you incorporate information. A bit like a moving box in which you gather stuff.

A text and image block in Gutenberg on WordPress
Preview of a Text block and an Image block on Gutenberg

There are 5 types of content blocks :

  • Common blocks: Paragraph, Image, Title etc.
  • Formatting: Code, custom HTML, Table etc.
  • Layout: Button, Column, Separator etc.
  • Widgets: Short Code, Calendar, Search etc.
  • Embedded content: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram etc.
The common Gutenberg blocks

To add a few elements within an article (e.g. button, image, video), the native blocks – those that Gutenberg proposes by default – should be enough in most cases. They remain classic, okay – but let's just say that it will often do the job.

On the other hand, if you want to create pages with more elaborate layouts, you may quickly be limited in terms of customization

This is where dedicated plugins come in. In addition to providing new types of blocks (e.g. testimonials, price tables, sliders), some even go so far as to offer sections, or even ready-made page templates, to be integrated into your content with just one click.

Thanks to this, Gutenberg is (very) slowly starting to get closer to what page builders such as Elementor, Divi or Beaver Builder can offer.

Be careful, and I specify that to avoid any misunderstanding: you can see that Gutenberg is NOT a page builder.

Don't expect it to have a lot of fancy options like some industry giants do. Each solution has its own area of expertise.

For the moment, Gutenberg remains a content editor. But, for your information, it is planned that it will eventually become a full-fledged site builder.

(*) Note The Classic Editor plugin allows you to disable Gutenberg on WordPress and reactivate the old version of the text editor.

10 Gutenberg plugins to try out

To allow you to design more advanced layouts with “the worst thing in the world”, I'm going to present you 10 plugins tested one by one.

We based our selection on the following criteria:

  • Presence of the plugin on the official WordPress directory.
  • At least 2,000 active installations.
  • Reputation of the authors.
  • Maintenance and monitoring of the plugin's development: the last update must have taken place less than a year ago.

Ready to discover our handpicked gold nuggets? Let's get started.

Gutenberg Blocks: Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg

Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg sur WordPress

Active Installations: 200,000+

Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg is the most popular plugin of the official directory concerning our topic of the day.

At the time of writing, it had over 200,000 active installations and excellent reviews with an overall rating of 5 stars (out of 5).

Behind this beautiful mechanics, you'll find the Brainstorm Force team, which offers about fifty products such as the Astra theme, the Ultimate Addons for Elementor, Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder, or Convert Pro plugins.

What we like:

  • The numerous blocks proposed: 22 in total.
  • The originality and diversity of the blocks. You will find blocks related to formatting (ex: Advanced Columns to add and customize columns), content (ex: a block to add a Table of contents) or marketing (ex: the Marketing button block allows you to create original calls to action).
A call-to-action made with Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg
  • Easy to handle and use.
  • The ability to activate/deactivate the blocks of your choice in order to optimize the performance of your page.
  • The plugin is very regularly updated with the addition of new features on a frequent basis. Moreover, it has a strong team behind it: Brainstorm Force is on the market since 2008 and has a team of about sixty people.
  • Each block has fairly advanced customization options to control spacing, margins, colors, background or typography.

What we like less:

  • Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg has 20 ready-to-use demo sites that you can activate in 1 click. However, they only work with Astra, Brainstorm Force's flagship theme.

Please note that Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg does not have a Pro version.

Atomic Blocks

Atomic Blocks

Active installations: 40,000+

Developed and maintained by StudioPress since October 2018 (the plugin was initially launched by the Array Themes store), Atomic Blocks presents itself as “the future of site building with Gutenberg”.

So, how Atomic is this bomb? The answer is just below.

What we like:

  • Simple and easy to handle.
  • The classic blocks are there: call-to-action, testimonials, call-to-action buttons.
  • The AB Layout block, which offers content sections (8 in total) and even whole pages (4 in total) already ready to use.
Atomic Blocks's layout
  • Presence of original blocks. For instance, the Email newsletter block allows you to create an opt-in form that you can link to a MailChimp list. The AB Drop Cap block allows you to customize the first letter of the beginning of your paragraphs.
  • Atomic Blocks offers a dedicated theme that integrates perfectly with the blocks proposed in its plugin.
  • The AMP format (Accelerated Mobile Pages, Google's mobile page format, which aims at speeding up the display of pages on smartphones) is natively integrated in each block.
  • The plugin is regularly updated and new blocks are added as you go along.

What we like less:

  • The number of blocks (15) a little less important than most of its competitors.
  • The customization options for each block lack a little bit of settings, especially compared to Ultimate Addon for Gutenberg. For example, for the Title block, it's only possible to change the hn tag and the color. You can't change the margins, spacing, typography etc.

Like Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg, Atomic Blocks does not offer a Pro version.

CoBlocks

CoBlocks Gutenberg

Active installations: 200,000+

CoBlocks is a very powerful and hyper-complete Gutenberg plugin that presents itself as a “page builder” for Gutenberg, which gives you a first idea of the extent of its functionalities.

Launched by the American developer Rich Tabor, it has since been bought by the hosting company GoDaddy.

It evolves at high speed and allows you to do almost everything. Here's why:

What we like:

  • 29 blocks, including 4 specifically related to images and grouped under the CoBlocks Galleries tab.
  • CoBlocks is very similar to the way a page builder works: it is organized in sections and columns. For example, the Row block first asks you to choose the number of columns (from 1 to 4) in your container (block), and then how you're going to organize those columns across the width. You can also resize them manually by stretching them, which is very handy.
Spacing settings in the Gutenberg plugin CoBlocks
  • Innovative blocks such as Food & Drinks to add a menu if you have a restaurant. Or the Shape Divider, which allows you to create custom separations between sections within your content.
  • 3 blocks specifically dedicated to images, to create photo galleries that stand out from the crowd, in masonry format or in the form of a Carousel, for example.
  • The plugin is developed and maintained by the WPEngine team (which owns StudioPress), which is a guarantee of expertise. In principle, it should not be forgotten anytime soon.
  • The plugin is 100% free: there is no Pro version.

What we like less:

  • While it is possible on some blocks to control the margins, you don't have full control of the spacing thanks to pixel-precise settings.
  • There are no section templates or ready-to-use pages to activate in 1 click.

Besides, I don't know if this can be described as a negative point or an axis of improvement, but I was just a bit surprised, after activating the plugin, not to find a settings page.

Come to think of it, there's not necessarily any need for it: you'll find all the proposed blocks directly in the content editor.

Note that Rich Tabor, the creator of CoBlocks, also offers the Gutenberg plugin Block Gallery which provides 3 blocks to create photo galleries with Gutenberg, in the form of a carousel, masonry (vertical layout based on columns) and stacked (photos stacked on top of each other). However, CoBlocks also offers 4 blocks to create photo galleries (Carousel, Masonry, Collage and Stacked). No need to use both plugins, then.

Kadence Blocks

Kadence Blocks

Active installations: 60,000+

Come on, I hope you're still keeping up. Let's see what's under the hood of the Kadence WordPress plugin for Gutenberg.

What we like:

  • Kadence Blocks offers up to 15 column combinations to organize each section and include the blocks of your choice inside.
Kadence Blocks layout options
  • In terms of ergonomics and ease of use, Kadence Blocks offers colored block icons, making it easier for you to materialize them when searching for them.
  • You can manually change the default maximum width of your posts and pages, and set them to display in full width.
  • The library of ready-to-use sections is very complete, with 32 available templates.
Kadence Blocks templates
  • The Advanced Heading block offers advanced features to choose the font type (Google Fonts), size, color, spacing, alignment, margins etc.
  • Choose from 1,500 icons that you can add within a button, for example.
  • You can activate/deactivate the blocks of your choice.

What we like less:

  • The number of blocks is limited in the free version (12), compared to the majority of the competition. The other blocks are accessible on the Pro version, available from $59, for use on an unlimited number of sites. This version notably gives you access to 7 additional blocks and scroll animations.
  • It's also a shame, by offering so many ready-to-use sections, that the plugin developers didn't include whole page templates to save time in the creation process.

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Gutenberg Blocks and Template Library by Otter

Gutenberg Blocks and Template Library by Otter

Active installations: 50,000+

Well, how about the otter now? I'm sure you don't want to talk about this charming little animal, but what I'm telling you is not entirely off topic.

There is indeed an otter associated with Gutenberg, more specifically with the following plugin: Gutenberg Blocks and Template Library by Otter.

Look at its little face on the above capture: it's smiling at you ;-).

Anyway, more seriously, this 5th Gutenberg plugin is developed by the ThemeIsle shop, which offers themes like Neve for example.

So what's this otter worth? We coaxed and hugged it to see what was under its webbed feet.

What we like:

  • An intuitive and easy to use Gutenberg plugin. Upon activation, you are taken by the hand by a configuration wizard that offers you to set up the main settings.
Otter's settings
  • Its big pro, in my opinion, lies in the block by block customization options. For example, you can add custom CSS code for each block, CSS animations or change background settings and colors for some blocks.
  • Several types of layouts are offered (from 1 to 6 columns) via the Section block.
  • Presence of 9 pre-designed sections (Price list, Services presentation, Testimonials, Map etc.) to be added in 1 click to save time in the design of your content.
Otter's Gutenberg blocks
  • The plugin is free: there is no Pro version.

What we like less:

  • “Only” 12 blocks are offered, and it remains globally classic (ex: price, testimonials, button). It's a pity that more creative blocks (like Shape Divider from CoBlocks) are not proposed.
  • For the moment, no page template is available.

Advanced Gutenberg

Advanced Gutenberg

Active installations: 20,000+

After talking about the otter, we move on to a new animal: the Advanced Gutenberg plugin.

Can you bet on this horse? That's what you're going to see now. Come on, let's gallop.

What we like:

  • A rather large number of blocks: 20 in total.
  • 23 possible combinations of columns to organize your content, thanks to the Columns Manager block.
Column management on the Advanced Gutenberg plugin
  • Some blocks really stand out and you won't necessarily find them anywhere else. For example, Advanced Gutenberg offers a block to create tables (Advanced Table), another one to add your WooCommerce products (Woo Products), or one to connect to WordPress (Login/Register Form).
  • More original: the plugin allows you to select the blocks that your users can use or not, according to their profile or role (e.g. a contributor will not be able to use blocks if you wish).
  • You can exercise quite a lot of control over each block by customizing the colors, margins, borders, spacing or even the appearance of an element when hovering the mouse.
  • The plugin is totally free (no Pro version is currently available).

What we like less:

  • The settings page has too many options for my taste, and one gets a little lost in it.
Advanced Gutenberg's settings can be quite offsetting
  • There are no templates or ready-made sections.

Stackable

Stackable plugin

Active installations: 20,000+

“Put some swag on the new WordPress editor (Editor's note: Gutenberg): that's the promise displayed by the Stackable plugin.

With this, you expect at least something stylish. Especially since it accumulates excellent reviews (5 stars out of 5).

Let's take a closer look.

What we like:

  • 23 blocks with a large and varied choice.
  • I liked the presence of creative blocks, which validate the idea of “swag”. For example, the Separator block allows you to create various types of shapes to separate your sections, the one called Blockquote allows you to highlight a quote by changing the background, the type of quotes etc.. (nice if you blog a lot). I could also mention the Video Popup block, which triggers the playback of a video in a modal window.
Stackable's pop up video block
  • Possibility to activate and deactivate the blocks of your choice.
  • The customization options of the blocks are quite advanced, with the presence of 3 tabs (Layout, Style and Advanced) for touch-ups in the smallest details. At this level, Stackable goes very far. For example, you can choose several designs for your buttons, add separators between blocks, choose a shape for your images (circular, square etc.): to put it in a nutshell, it's very advanced.
  • The plugin's administration interface: it's very colorful but personally, I like it.
Stackable's menu

What we like less:

  • A home theme compatible with the plugin is available for free. But you have to subscribe to the Stackable newsletter to get it.
  • If some ready-made section templates are offered with some blocks to help you save time, you will need to get the Premium version for a really large choice (about 60). This is not a con in itself for the plugin, but you should know if you are interested in this aspect. For information, the paid offer starts at $35/year for to use on 1 site. This paid version also offers more separators and many effects to animate your blocks.

Ultimate Blocks

Ultimate Blocks, a block plugin for Gutenberg

Active installations: 10,000+

Ultimate Blocks is a plugin specifically designed for “bloggers and marketers”.

According to its description, its “goal is to make it easier for you to create quality and attractive content with Gutenberg”.

Not bad, right?

What we like:

  • A choice of blocks in the average of what the competition offers. There are 19 in total, with more to come, as the plugin's developers specify.
  • Ease of use.
  • Presence of useful blocks to highlight your content such as the Table of Contents, Click to tweet, Star Rating (to rate content on which you give your opinion, for example the test of a product), Content Toggle (to add content in accordions).
The Star Rating Gutenberg block
  • We appreciate the tips dragged within certain blocks to help you add content in the right place (e.g., hints on the type of text to add).
  • The minimalist settings menu: you won't be overwhelmed with too much information. You can activate/deactivate the blocks of your choice in 1 click, follow a link to create/edit a new post and/or choose to join the Facebook group dedicated to the plugin.
Activate or deactivate the plugin's Gutenberg blocks
  • The plugin is free.

What we like less:

  • If you're looking for blocks that are out of the ordinary, you might be a little disappointed with Ultimate Blocks. The plugin focuses primarily on content-related blocks that, while effective, are still classic. But it's hard to blame them: it's their bias, and they stick to it.
  • The settings of some blocks are quite restricted (no possibility to manage spacing, margins etc).
  • Layout options are limited. For example, you can't choose the number of columns or rows, and there are no ready-made page templates either.

Advanced Gutenberg Blocks

Advanced Gutenberg Blocks

Active installations: 4,000+

You know what, it's time to get a little chauvinistic. Now it's time for a 100% French plugin developed by a very active member of the French WordPress community, Maxime Bernard-Jacquet, who is also Alex's partner on the WPChef project (a French online course to learn how to use WordPress from A to Z).

Its plugin is called Advanced Gutenberg Blocks. And you'll see that, as its name indicates, it does offer some advanced options.

What we like:

  • 16 different blocks. Want to monetize your site? Use the Banner Advertising block to add ads in your content. Want to highlight a WooCommerce product? Display it in your page thanks to a dedicated block. You will also find more classical blocks like Google Map or Testimonials.
Advanced Gutenberg blocks example
  • The plugin's settings page: the visual hierarchy is clear. You can activate/deactivate the blocks of your choice in 1 click and configure them where possible.
  • Advanced Gutenberg Blocks allows you to disable the 5 types of native Gutenberg blocks you don't want to use in 1 click, via the plugin's menu called Disable WP blocks.
  • It is possible to act on the options of the editor to “improve” it. For example, you can customize the width of the editor in pixels, add colors to the default palette, or reactivate some formatting options of TinyMCE (ex: Strikethrough Text button, Clear Formatting button etc.).
  • The plugin being 100% French, the dashboard is available in French, of course. Cock-a-doodle-doo!
  • The plugin is free.

What we like less:

  • Advanced Gutenberg does not allow you to play upon the layout of your content (e.g. choice of columns or rows) as some of its competitors offer.
  • The plugin does not offer ready-to-use templates.
  • Too bad there are not more options to customize the visual appearance (colors, typography, borders etc.) of each block, even though an Advanced tab allows you to add additional CSS code.

Getwid – Gutenberg Blocks

Getwid - Gutenberg Blocks

Active installations: 8,000+

We end this review with Getwid, a plugin developed by MotoPress.

This shop also creates themes and plugins, especially in the hotel niche (e.g. their house plugin Hotel Booking, that allows you to accept reservations without going through a third party payment platform).

But back to Gutenberg. Getwid claims to help you “create efficient landing pages, showcase dynamic service pages, create eye-catching portfolios and make your overall transition to Gutenberg less stressful!”

We've got a full and heavy schedule, so we'll get right on it.

What we like:

  • Getwid is the plugin with the most blocks in our selection. There are 34 blocks in total. In the middle of the classics (Google Maps, Social Network Icons, Testimonials), we note the presence of some blocks little or not met elsewhere so far. For instance, an Instagram block to display the social network feed on your site. Or the Content Timeline block to create a timeline with text and images.
The Content Timeline block
The Content Timeline block
  • Ease of use and handling: for example, I liked the fact that there is no settings page. To use the blocks, everything happens directly from the editor, on your post or page.
  • The Section Block, which acts as a kind of main container into which you can insert the blocks of your choice, has quite extensive settings options. For example, you can set the margins, spacing or even the height of the block on different screen sizes (computer, smartphone, tablet) to manage responsiveness (adapting your site to all types of devices).

What we like less:

  • Some blocks do not have advanced customization settings. For example, the Content Timeline frame does not allow you to adjust the background color or margins. To go further, you will have to use custom CSS code.
  • No ready-made page templates or sections.

Additional remarks

Throughout the testing of these 10 Gutenberg plugins, I've told you a lot about blocks and ready-made templates.

Before concluding, I wanted to present you some new resources to go even further with Gutenberg customization. Let's start with the blocks Gutenberg Block Library : it's a kind of online library that has a search bar to help you find the right plugin, depending on the type of block you want to add to your site.

Gutenberg Block Library

The official WordPress directory also has a dedicated section to search for extensions offering only Gutenberg blocks.

In the same vein as Gutenberg Block Library, you can also consult the ShareABlock site.

On this site, you will be able to download the blocks you like (e.g. call to action, testimonials, price table, etc.) in order to import them on Gutenberg.

You will even be able to offer yours to the community. For the moment, the choice here isn't mind-blowing, because the site is very recent, but it will grow little by little.

Behind this project is Jeffrey Carandang, the creator of the EditorsKit plugin, which allows you to control the visibility of your Gutenberg blocks.

Carandang is also the co-founder of the CoBlocks plugin with Rich Tabor.

Beyond that, you should also know that there are plugins that allow you to customize the blocks even more precisely, including their appearance (e.g. colors, background, margins, spacing, text formatting etc.). If you are interested, you can take a look at :

Let's now move on to the templates (models) of ready-to-use blocks. A plugin has “specialized” in this niche Gutenberg Blocks Templates – 50+ Free Gutenberg Block Designs.

Gutenberg Block Templates

It offers about fifty sections to be activated with one click in about ten different areas (Titles, Testimonials, Team, Features, Columns, Calls to Action).

The design remains minimalistic, but it can be a good base to start creating content that you can customize as you wish, and save time.

Gutenberg Block Templates
Integration of one of the Features templates within a page.

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Which Gutenberg block plugin on WordPress is right for you?

As you may have noticed, most of the Gutenberg plugins on WordPress presented here have quite similar blocks.

Nevertheless, they still each have their singularity. At this point, you may still be wondering where to set your sights.

To help you make your choice, here are some ideas to help you decide:

  • If you're looking for a plugin with lots of blocks, choose Getwid or CoBlocks.
  • You want original blocks: CoBlocks or Stackable.
  • You are a blogger and are looking for blocks to make your content even more attractive: Ultimate Blocks.
  • You want a plugin that comes as close as possible to a page builder: CoBlocks or Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg.
  • You are looking for ready-made templates: Kadence Blocks, Gutenberg Blocks & Template Library by Otter, or Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg.

Overall, if I had to choose a plugin, my choice would be either CoBlocks or Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg, with a slight preference for the latter.

Simple to use, complete and with a large choice of blocks, it is scalable (new blocks are offered as you go along) and has the added advantage of offering ready-made page templates (provided you use the Astra theme).

But maybe you have another opinion. In this case, which plugin do you use?

You can give us your feedback by leaving a comment in the area just below.

Tell us all about your favorite Gutenberg plugins or blocks!