Getting to grips with WordPress.com blocks

In the Intro to Blogging (NEW) course, we have a lesson on Content Design. It’s about introducing you to some ideas of how you might use different blocks within your website and posts. But you don’t need to stop at the basics!

Within our WordPress.com knowledge base, we have a substantial amount of information regarding blocks and working with the Block editor.

For instance, our WordPress Editor document provides a table of contents of links to detailed documents on all things related to the Block editor. This is a really good starting point to find explanations, screenshots, animated GIFs, FAQs, and videos, that will help you to get a handle on it all. It’s a highly valuable document if you’ve been facing any struggles at all on working with the Block editor.

When it comes to the specifics of blocks, the one link in that document that is super helpful is our list of blocks. This is your go-to resource for finding out about, and learning how to use, a vast array of blocks. You can click on the name of any block to be taken to the full instructional page of how that block works and what options are available for it. There’s also a video that covers an overview of working with blocks in general.

Setting expectations: Technology changes

A point worth noting when it comes to support documentation, and even navigating software, is that technology is progressive. It’s not static. It will constantly change. Features will be removed, added, or moved around. Sometimes these changes happen fast, and faster than anyone can keep up with, including the companies documenting the changes. One of the best things you can do when working with any technology is learn to explore. Don’t be afraid to click things and test them out. If you’re nervous, create a test site or page that you can play with and not have to worry about whether something gets “broken”. 

Our team makes ongoing updates and improvements to WordPress.com on a regular basis to keep improving your experience with the software. So, it’s good to understand that when you encounter something that looks a bit different, or has moved slightly in location, you didn’t do anything wrong, and you can usually still continue with the task at hand. But if in doubt, you can find additional support here.

Tips on getting the most from blocks

When it comes to working with different blocks, there are a few key tips to keep in mind.

1) Every block has its own unique toolbar and settings section. Regardless of whether you’re in a Page editor, Post editor, or the Site editor, when you have a block selected there will be options across the top of the block and in the sidebar on the right. If you’re not seeing the sidebar on the right, click the gear/cog icon in the top right corner of the screen.

Click the + symbol (which is the block inserter icon) to add a new block, add some content to it, and then click on all the different options available to see what exactly they do.

Sometimes your active theme may affect what settings are available as well, so if you switch themes and a setting goes missing, it could be that your theme doesn’t support it (for example, full width alignment).

2) Navigating the different blocks you’re using within your content can start to get tricky once you have more content in place. Using the List View icon from the top of the editor on the left will help you to find specific block pieces.

3) Some blocks can be “nested”. This means placing one block inside another block. For example, the Cover block allows you to set a background image that you can then add additional blocks on top of.

Another common use case for nesting blocks is with the Columns block, like this:

One thing to keep in mind when nesting blocks, is that every block has its own unique padding and margins built-in to the block. Sometimes, if you nest too many different blocks inside each other, it can cause problems with the way the content will display on the live site, and especially on different device sizes (such as mobile phones). So, be sure to preview and test your content on various screen sizes to make sure that it looks good on different devices.

But I’m not a designer!

While having all of these wonderful block options to choose from can be a lot of fun, it can also feel a bit overwhelming trying to figure out how to put all these pieces together to create a layout that is aesthetically pleasing. 

Fortunately, WordPress.com provides Block Patterns that you can select from and these patterns do all the hard work for you with a single click. This is especially handy when you want to create more unique layouts with offsets such as this one:

Key takeaways

The WordPress software is a huge playground, with many different features and possibilities. WordPress.com focuses on bringing you those features in ways that are easier to explore and learn. 

Blocks are the foundation of your website for Pages, Posts, and Templates and learning to use them in fun and unique ways will bring your website, blog posts, and content in general to life.

Taking some time to read, watch, and learn about the blocks available to you will be a game changer in your website building adventure. This is a journey to be enjoyed, and the more you explore, the more fun you’ll have.

WP Courses Community

Want some ideas on ways to spice up a particular page or post on your site? Drop a note in the community with the details of what we can help with (you’ll need to be enrolled in one of our courses to have access to this community).

Have you redesigned a page or post that you’re particularly proud of? Let us know about that too – tell us what you did and what you love about it. We also provide weekly Wins and Ahas! posts where students can share their successes and learning moments so that we can help to celebrate!


Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Published by Tanya Thibodeau

30 years ago I was teaching people how to play piano, now I teach people how to play computer! I'm a techie who speaks non-techie and my passion is helping beginners. I write YA/Fantasy novels, play the piano, and love to read. I also love animals, which is a good thing considering I have 3 cats, a rabbit and a dog. I've been a Happiness Engineer with WordPress.com since 2018 and I'm currently the Courses Coordinator for WP Courses.

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