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WordPress 5.9: Where Did Customizer & Menus Go?

WordPress 5.9 Full Site Editor

WordPress 5.9 is here! You can now upgrade to the newest version of WordPress, which has a bunch of new features including Full Site Editing which is the future of block-based themes that can be easily edited in Gutenberg.

Full Site Editing is a brand new theme editing system. It’s a collection of new features including everything the Site Editor, Global Styles, numerous Site/Post/Page specific blocks, Query block, Navigation block, Templates, and… block themes (there aren’t many released yet that are compatible, but the new Twenty Twenty-Two theme is).

But be aware… once you activate a block theme such as Twenty Twenty-Two, you will lose the Customizer and Menu Editor under the Appearance menu! This might confuse you at first, but all of the menu editing and theme editing now takes place in the new “Editor” feature.

The new Site Editor is essentially the next iteration of the original Customizer.

For those who use Elementor, the new Site Editor is similar to the “Theme Builder” feature in the Templates section of Elementor. You can easily edit templates and blocks to change how the site looks, as well as global styling.

This new feature isn’t perfect, I’ve noticed that there are some features missing that we could do with the old Customizer, such as Custom CSS which is a feature I use often.

Personally, I think it needs a lot of work to make it more intuitive and user-friendly. I can see people who aren’t developers getting really confused by the new Site Editor.

Here’s a video outlining the new changes in WordPress 5.9:

Here are some elements of the new Full Site Editor that you need to know when navigating between various templates, template parts, styling options, and more:

  • Template Editing: a scaled down direct editing experience allowing you to edit/change/create the template a post/page uses.
  • Styling: the feature that enables styling modifications across three levels (local blocks, theme defaults, and global modifications).
  • Theme Blocks: new blocks that accomplish everything possible in traditional templates using template tags (ex: Post Author Block).
  • Browsing: the feature that unlocks the ability to navigate between various entities in the site editing experience including templates, pages, etc.
  • Navigation Block: a new block that allows you to edit a site’s navigation menu, both in terms of structure and design.
  • Query Block: a new block that replicates the classic WP_Query and allows for further customization with additional functionality.

As developers become more familiar with the features of Full Site Editing, you can expect major themes such as Astra and Kadence to start implementing integration with the Full Site Editor. I’m also expecting to see plugins coming out that extend the functionality, as well as bring some old functionality back (Custom CSS, etc). There are plugins I use that add features into the old Customizer system, so they will likely have to adapt to inserting their features into the Full Site Editor.

Hopefully we see a lot of improvements as Full Site Editing matures in future versions of WordPress. Until then, I’ll be sticking to my non-block-based Themes 😉

New Features In WordPress 5.9 Worth Mentioning

  • First of all, a brand new default theme! Twenty Twenty-Two is bundled in WordPress 5.9 as the first ever block-based default theme. It comes with a collection of pre-designed color palettes which is great, and there are many patterns (blocks) you can use in it to customize it to your own taste and design.
  • Global Styles can be seen in the new default theme. When you go into the Editor, you can open the Styles panel and quickly change your new site’s typography, colors, and layout. It is a nice feature having them all in one place.

wordpress 5.9 global styles

  • Gutenberg has been given some nifty new features, the one that I’m going to enjoy most is the new List View where you see your blocks in a list (very similar to Elementor’s ‘Navigator’). The new feature is that you can now ‘group’ blocks together and re-order them by dragging and dropping right from within List View. Elementor has had this feature for a while in their Navigator, but it’s nice to see it’s now native to Gutenberg.

Watch Adam from WPCrafter demo the new Gutenberg features in his excellent video here: