330 – Get lots for free with Maxi Blocks

Interview with Christiaan Pieterse and Nathan Wrigley.

On the podcast we have Christiaan Pieterse from Maxi Blocks.

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If you’ve ever dug into WordPress block packs / suites then it’s quite likely that what you’re going to hear about Maxi Blocks today will be quite familiar, except one important thing – the pricing model. More on that in a minute.

Maxi Blocks has all the blocks that you typical website needs. I could list them all here, but just click the link above and you’ll find them. There’s containers, headings, images, maps, groups, icons, sliders, all-the-things so to speak.

The thing that’s different here is that way that they’re pitching the product. Maxi Blocks is free. There is no feature that is locked away. You have access to every block, every setting inside those blocks, no functionality is hidden behind a pro option.

That’s not what we’re used to, right? The blocks ecosystem has evolved in the last few years with each of the commercial players having some tiers to their products. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of many of these products. It’s just that this is different.

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So, you’re thinking, well this product won’t last long. They’ll go through their cash, give away everything and run out of road. Not so fast! They do have a pro version, but you’re going to be paying only for pre-built designs and patterns.

The idea is that you’ll play with the blocks that they ship, check out some of the designs they’ve build and think to yourself, I’d like some of that. You’ll be able to download those in the pro version and save yourself time creating them from scratch. You can build all their designs and patterns yourself if you like, they’re just betting the company profitability on the fact that the time that you save using their design will be enough to make you open your wallet.

We talk about why they’ve gone for this business model and how they’re hoping to make it work.

They’re going to be shipping some free designs, but many will be pro, so we talk about which ones make the pro version.

We also get into the fact that this is a new venture and so it’s not fully complete at present. They’ve got a nice looking roadmap with things like ACF integrations. They also plan to ship a ‘better’ navigation block (yay!), as well as create their own bespoke theme.

If you’re curious about blocks, take a listen to the podcast, check out the Maxi Blocks site, and tell us what you think of the product in the comments below.

Mentioned in this podcast:

Maxi Blocks

Maxi Block Demo

Maxi Blocks Twitter

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Transcript (if available)

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the worth Rest community. Now welcome your hosts David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.

Hello, and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast. You have reached episode number 330 entitled Get Lots for Free with Maxi Blocks. It was published on Thursday the 15th of June, 2023. My name's Nathan Wrigley and just before we begin the podcast, a few short bits of housekeeping. Firstly, if you were there at Word Camp Europe in Athens over the weekend, and I did not manage to catch up with you.

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Okay. What have we got for you today? We've got Christian Peter, say from Maxi Blocks. There's a lot of blocks, suites around at the moment.

Maxi Blocks is one of those, but they've got a very different model. Their model is all around what they're giving away for free, and largely they're giving away everything for free. But they've decided to make their premium offering more about the designs that they've got available, so the functionality and the features.

We're all gonna be in the free version, but if you want some premium designs, that's where you're going to be finding the buy Now button. It's a really interesting product, Christians on the show explaining how they got started, how it works, and exactly what is in it. Fantastic. I hope that you enjoy the podcast.

I am joined on the podcast today by Christian Peter. Say hello, Christian.

[00:03:41] Christiaan Pieterse: Hi. How's it going,

[00:03:42] Nathan Wrigley: Nathan? Yeah. Good. Thank you. Nice to connect with you. As is always the case, we always pretend in these podcasts like Christian and I haven't been talking for the last 40 minutes, but of course we have. And Christian's been outlining a really interesting product that I hope by the end of this podcast you are inspired.

To go and check out. It's called Maxi Blocks. Just to paint some contrast into this podcast episode. The URL for that is maxi blocks.com. Given that we are gonna be talking about that, it may be a good idea to pause the recording, go to maxi blocks.com, M A X I, and then blocks as you'd expect.com. All one word, no iPhone.

Go check it out. Come back, you'll be in a better position because of that. Before we kick off talking about Maxi Blocks, Christian, I wonder if you wouldn't mind just a couple of minutes, something like that. Just give us a little bit of background about you and the company you work for. How come you're in the WordPress space and creating blocks and all of that stuff?

[00:04:42] Christiaan Pieterse: Sure. So my name is Christian Peterson. I'm the co-founder of Maxi Blocks, along with my partner Kyra. She's the designer, I'm the technical person. We started with WordPress in, she, this was already 2011. We initially had a web design agency. Then we made the switch to building patterns and layouts for people in the ish, and from the ish we made the switch to Gutenberg.

When that came out, we realized that there was a real opportunity there to do something different and to do something unique. So we started developing maxi blocks and we've been. Doing that for the last three years, and we just recently launched into the repo and here I am chatting with you. Yeah, perfect.

[00:05:41] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that was nice and concise. That's excellent. So yeah, we are talking about a suite of blocks. I think. One of the things that both Christian and I want to get really clear at the beginning of this podcast, so we are doing this right at the top before we start exploring all of the features and things, is the business model.

Because if you have been purchasing Paid for pro versions of blocks, then what Christians offering is a little bit different. The traditional model, I think it's fair to say is that you purchase or you get a free suite of blocks and then you add in functionality. You may be buying additional blocks or perhaps unlocking additional features within the settings for those individual blocks.

But Europe pains, Christian to. To point out that your business model is really different to that. And so really, I'm just offering you the floor here, explain how you've structured your business.

[00:06:38] Christiaan Pieterse: I think probably the best way to do it would be for me to read testimonials that someone gave us. I think this captures it perfectly.

So this was someone who was a early supporter and currently a user of the product. His name is Annie and he said, I love your philosophy of keeping the plugin and all its features free, rather than hiding some features behind a paywall, as most companies do, and then earning your income from professionally designed page and block templates that people may want to buy to speed up their website creation process.

Especially for people and companies that build many websites, it's a win-win. So I would say that concisely captures the way that we look at it.

[00:07:34] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, so let's unpack that. But you have a suite of blocks and they're basically they are, they're completely free. So all of the blocks, all of the features, all of it is free.

The way that your business is structured is you are upselling patterns and page templates. That's the upsell. So if you want to build with Maxi blocks, everything is free. And I guess the promises will always be free. All the settings. Yes. Everything's unlocked. You're just paying for the professional designs to save you time.

Have I basically got that

[00:08:11] Christiaan Pieterse: right? Yeah, you've nailed it. Exactly. And that's. If you want to pay for it you don't have to. You can take the page folder from the WordPress repo, install it and start building for free and do whatever you want with it. It's it would essentially be the same as Gutenberg.

If you have it on your site, it'll always work. It'll always update. It's the same if you want to save time or learn about the advanced. Designed features or all the things that you can do with the blocks, then you can have a look a around the pro library and look at those. But in addition, we also have the free items in the library.

There's literally 700 free. Patterns that you can download. In addition, there's a big template library with a lot of icons, which we'll get into a little bit later. Those icons automatically change color based on the style card. When you choose it inside the plugin, it'll automatically update to take the colors for you.


[00:09:27] Nathan Wrigley: curious as how you decided to settle on this business model. Because it's a tried and tested idea a pro version of a plugin where you lock away some features and if there's people who have a desire for something fairly basic they get the free version and if they want to extend the functionality and have additional settings and what have you, which meet their needs, you by the pro version.

So I'm curious as to what the thinking was. There was this simply to separate yourself into the market. Is this something that you've tried with a different product before? Yeah. What was the thinking about that whole, everything is free except for the design library.

[00:10:08] Christiaan Pieterse: Yes, exactly.

So I would say when we started building the template library one of the things that we thought how are we gonna set ourselves apart from the other players? Because in, in two or three years from now, most of the page builders will have a similar feature set. I think that's a fair assumption because the technology is moving that way.

So we thought to ourselves, what's really gonna set us apart? And the answer that we came up with was the quality of our templates. And whether the plugin itself is open source and people are not locked in. By certain features or blocks inside of the plugin. And that's where we decided to, we made a decision and said, okay, we've gotta make the plugin and all its features free.

And we, what we do differently from everyone else is the quality of the design and the templates that we create with it. Okay. That's

[00:11:15] Nathan Wrigley: a really interesting avenue to take, isn't it? Because most people, the, it feels like almost the template library bit is almost tangential to the business.

Here's our suite of blocks by the pro version. Oh, and by the way, we've got a load of templates that you can look at as well have a browser of those at your convenience. You've totally flipped that on its head. You've gone. All in on free for the entire feature set except the, the upsell for the design library, the patterns and the full pages and all of that sort of stuff, which we'll get into.

So you must be really confident that you are a saving people time, but also that you've got some fairly top-notch designs in there. What gives you that confidence? Do you have a background of selling patterns? Have you got a really experienced team of graphic designers working behind

[00:12:08] Christiaan Pieterse: you?

Yes. We've been doing web design in our current form, let's put it that way. When we started the agency previously, I referred back from my history was that we started web design in 2010. My partner Kira, who's the designer. Started web design in 1998. So she's been doing this for 22, 23 years already, so she's extremely experienced.

And we also have a separate product in a separate niche for Davi, as I've mentioned, where we've built over 2,500 patterns and layouts as they call it there in that niche. During this time, we've discovered a lot of things what people like animations, however, effects especially responsive, which is a common issue for people nowadays is how do you get your patterns to work in all the different devices.

Typically, it would only be Desktop and a mobile and a tablet version. In our case, we've got six different break points, which we pay attention to. So the entire grid structure that we've created adapts and automatically creates this, the styles for you when you are in the editor for each of those break points.

So those really are the things that we do differently and also, Because we knew our focus had to be on making high quality patents. We had to get the harvests the interactions. We've got a full interaction builder. We had to make sure that the patents themselves appeal and stand out. Next to the other players in the game.

So we, we are really focused on getting that right and if you go to the template library or if you install the plugin and you just load a few templates from there, you'll see what we mean when you make a comparison to other players in the game.

[00:14:35] Nathan Wrigley: What Christians alluding to there is the demo section of the maxi blocks.com website.

So if you go to maxi blocks.com/demo, you'll be presented, I guess depending on the size of your screen, I'm looking at four or five different columns of. Whatever it is that you want to select as a menu on the left. So you can drill down to patterns, pages, icons, style cards, and then there's something called playground, but then also that is sub-divided up into, things like headers, footers, icons, images, accordions, testimonials, all of that kind of stuff.

And you can get a real impression of what they'll look like. You can click on the. Preview button and have a good nosy around. And there's the option to show them as a tablet or a mobile view as you might expect. And there's some nice little changes there. Actually. Christian was showing me one of the patterns that they've gotten, if you look at it on a mobile device, There's obviously a lot of design work gone into making it look considerably different.

Moving things from right to left and left to right and removing elements that just don't belong on a mobile. So it's worth having a play, but also nifty little feature. This tone switcher, or it's called switch tone, where you can change it in the one that I'm looking at, it basically goes from light mode to dark mode.

But is it limited to that or does the switching of the tone, is that something that's user definable? So I could go from, oh, I don't know, purple to red or something like that.

[00:15:57] Christiaan Pieterse: That's what you would use the style card for. Got it. And in each of the style cards that we have, there's a light tone style card and a dark tone style card.

Each of those have about 35 different elements that you go through. Let me explain how the light and the DocOne tones work in relation to creating a. Page because all the patterns that we've created so far is with the goal of building a complete page. Now, if you imagine a homepage, for example, you start with a hero section with at the top of the page.

Then you go to a text section or a testimonial, or a little storyline or a gallery. Each of those sections as you go through them, generally you want to create a different contrast between each section. Now, traditionally, when you build a page and you place all of the patterns in a sequence from the top to the bottom, sometimes you add an image and that image forces you to change the tone of the background.

So that everything works now. The second you changed that one, let's say it's in the middle of the page, the second you changed the background of that one section, everything else on your page. Needs to also change. Yeah. So if you have a page with eight different sections and all of a sudden you decide to change section number four to a different tone, you have to switch every single tone up to the top.

Otherwise the contrast doesn't feel right. And that was the big time saver when, so every pattern that we have in the library has a. Dark tone variant and a light tone variant. We create them from scratch so that when you load a pattern in the library or when you load a page in the library, if there's any section that you change and the contrast doesn't match, you just go into the pattern and you change the contrast to the light version, which then.

Fix up the tone from the style card. Yeah. So it's a huge time table. Yeah. That's

[00:18:24] Nathan Wrigley: really interesting. I hadn't really thought about it in those terms because I had my head fixed on like dark mode on my computer, so on, on my Mac, for example, if I invoke dark mode, I just assumed that the texts the, the font, if it's on a pale background, is gonna be dark.

And if the, if it's on a light background, sorry, if it's on a dark background, it's going to, Go natively pale, and it does all of that, and I don't really think about it, but of course you're right. If I'm switching the tone on a pattern, then suddenly the black font on the black background that no longer works and I've gotta go and change it.

Exactly. Whereas you've taken care of that, and so typically it's a light one versus a dark one. Is there a capability for me to change that? Let's say I've got a project where essentially I've got some, I've got white, but I've got this kind of. Purple, which is the alternative. Can I use us, set that into the patterns as well?


[00:19:18] Christiaan Pieterse: Okay. Yes, you can. So just to clarify the system light and dark tones that you are referring to. So you've got a light light system on your mobile phone or on your operating system. Our light and dark tones don't yet. Integrate with that part, the of your system operation. That is something we'll introduce later.

Got it. The light and the doones apply to all the maxi blocks components. So whenever you use maxi blocks custom blocks or anything that's related to maxi blocks in the library, Those will allow you to switch the tones. Yeah. Yeah. And that relates to style cards. And so let's chat about style cards.

If you any of the listeners, if you have it open, you can go to the maxi blocks, slash demo where the pattern library is, and then if you click on style code, If you can follow along, Nathan it that, yeah, I'm with you. I'm

[00:20:24] Nathan Wrigley: following along. 19. Oh yeah. I remember this. Yeah. So

[00:20:28] Christiaan Pieterse: this, what you see here is a simple visual representation.

Of a light tone and a dark tone, which then translates into a lot of code in the backend. So when you, all of the things that you see in this demo is what you get inside of the plugin two. So once you open the plugin, you can install, you load the patent library. Then you install style card. You click on style cards.

You go and you load a style card, and then for example, you pick any of the ones that you like. Yeah, once you click apply it, all the Maxi blocks patterns on your website will then take this new color scheme, which will represent what you can see inside of this little style card. In addition, there's a style card editor, which you can open, right?

And then you can go into each of the different components and update them. To your preference. So for example, if your dark tone, the background is not the color you are looking for, you can change it to the purple and whenever you install a pattern or a page from maxi blocks, and it'll automatically take that new style that you've set.


[00:22:01] Nathan Wrigley: think this is worth pausing on just for a moment, cuz this is really interesting. If you're listening to this, driving the car, you're just gonna have to pull over or something. I dunno, because it's worth it. It really is worth looking at. No, in all seriousness, if you are driving the car, keep driving the car.

But it might be worth looking at this when you get home. So what I'm looking at the moment is I'm on maxi box.com/demo and then right in the top there are there's a menu item. It's a horizontal menu item on the desktop. Patterns, pages, icons, and I'm on style cards and currently there's a hundred there and each of them is a split layout of the exact same content.

So it says, your awesome headline next to that is an icon under that is some text under that is a link and a hover state. Is it showing you what a link would look like? Yes. And then eight different font colors. I'm guessing they mapped to things like, paragraph texts and H one s and things.

Exactly. Then what a button would look like and hover, and then the exact. Same thing in its other state. So I'm looking at in the opposite. Yeah, the opposite. The light and the dark if you like, or the state one and state two, whatever you wanna call it. And there it is. You can see it, you can get an impression of what your website would look like, what those overlapping rows if you like.

You know your head are, your hero's gonna look like this. The one beneath it could potentially like this. And so the icons. Broadly stay the, actually, they don't. I think in some cases the icons change color. Yeah. Look at that. I see one now. Yeah. So I've got

[00:23:29] Christiaan Pieterse: icon full, right?

[00:23:31] Nathan Wrigley: Changes. Yeah, so they've got a, I've got a picture of a little yacht and it's got a blue icon on one and the star variant.

Then it changes to white and so on and so forth. It's well worth looking at because it would give you an immediate. In one eye, you're able to totally take in what it would do to your site. So you can obviously change the fonts as well. That's illustrated. So the icons, you can change the color of all these.

What is it? You've got like 13,000 icons or something?

[00:23:55] Christiaan Pieterse: Yes. 13,413 icons. Okay. All. Painstakingly drawn by hand by Ira. Wow. Designer. It's literally taken three years. So she, she would go, she would get in the zone and then start drawing it. You take inspiration from elsewhere, you duplicated over and then, It was all drawn in SVG format, which means that you can use it as a screen, you can use it as a layer, you can use it as a background anywhere you can.

All the icons are basically usable anywhere throughout the product. And they automatically. Pick up what you set in your style card. Just one thing I want to mention on the style card is it only changes maxi blocks. Blocks. Okay. Yeah, that's a good point. So it won't change that integration is not there yet.

The Gutenberg space is quite flexible and it's moving around quite a bit. These things aren't clearly set yet. There's a future version where we will be able to have our style cards integrate with with Gutenberg and ideally, We wanted to integrate with our theme so the Maxi Block theme, and that's what we are busy working on right now.

So we are hoping to have that ready soon, and then that will integrate all of these things together.

[00:25:38] Nathan Wrigley: So does that mean, for example, if I'm in just a core WordPress paragraph block and I have a paragraph and I make it say black and then I use one of your style cards and I change the paragraph color, it's not gonna affect.

At the moment, it won't affect the core WordPress block or indeed a block from anywhere else. Correct. But at some point in the near future, you are intending to ship a theme, which will take that pain point away, and then it will be able to style every paragraph block, no matter where it comes from.

[00:26:11] Christiaan Pieterse: That would be the goal. Got it. The practicality of making happen is the different story possible

[00:26:18] Nathan Wrigley: place you could do a paragraph block. Yeah. Yeah. There's a really worth looking at the the icons. They're genuinely as an icon for literally everything. It's broken down into different categories.

There's nearly 1500 creative shapes. There's about 1200 fashion ones just. Go nuts. There's just so many, every single social icon you can imagine, some of these websites, no doubt I've never even heard of. That's really

[00:26:46] Christiaan Pieterse: cool. Kaira has been designing websites since 1998. So this was one of the things that was really important for us in.

Maxi Blocks was a car. Went out there and looked at every single website and went, what does every single website need? One of those were icons. Every single website out there, a bar, a few uses an icon that it's, there's always an icon somewhere for something We started looking around and then we like, there's hundreds of icon libraries and this and that, and the issue with changing the colors on an icon.

If it's like a p and G or whatever, you have to get an external software program downloaded. Try to change the icon, then get it in the right size, then upload it to your site. Then sometimes it doesn't show or it's not the right format or there's a million things that come into play when it comes to icons.

So that's why we decided to do them as SVGs. And the magic feature that we got was to let it integrate with the style cards. Yeah. So when you load a pattern or a page from the library and there's a icon that's not suitable to you, you just click on the icon. Go into the library, search for it.

The, our search is really awesome. It'll come up and then you just click on the icon. It inserts the icon for you and it. Automatically is in the right color based on your style cord. So it saves you a huge amount of time and it makes it very easy to change. While you are on that page, do me a favor and search for phone.

Phone, just the word. Just phone, the word phone. Oh,

[00:28:48] Nathan Wrigley: hold on. Oh, yes. Okay. I can see six. Yeah. All right. Take a point. Taken there's probably about 150, maybe 160 phones. Yeah. Yeah. So there's Tyra's. Done a good job with the phones.

[00:29:04] Christiaan Pieterse: Exactly, so this was the one thing, and so we were like, okay, every website needs icons, would check.

We got that right. Then the next thing was nobody wants to pay for icons. Yeah. Everyone wants icons, but they don't wanna pay for it. Like you just can't justify the, you only need a few, and then you go, so which 1:00 AM I gonna pay for? People don't typically want to do that, so that was one of the things that we made completely free inside of the template library.

All the icons are free, all the style cards are free. And all the patents under the free section obviously are free as well, of which there is at the moment, 700 free patents that you can use and they are yours. Anyone can use them and install them.

[00:30:00] Nathan Wrigley: Now we've talked a fair amount about the business model.

This idea of PA pro patterns and templates being the upsell, but there's obviously a load of free stuff, so loads of free icons, quite a lot of free templates and what have you as well. But I think one of the things that we haven't touched yet is the, just the blocks themselves, so that's.

We're onto sort of normal territory. Your commercial rivals focus on this bit, but you are giving all of this away. So tell us about some of the sort of blocks that you've got and what some of the more common ones are. I'm on the, I'm on the wordpress.org webpage. I can see what you've got.

I can also see what the roadmap part. Is anybody can do that. I'll put the link into the show notes, but just talk about some of the ones that you are, I don't know, most proud of things that you've had the most feedback on, things that have changed the most over time, that kind of thing.

[00:30:50] Christiaan Pieterse: Yes, sure. I would say one of the most important ones, funnily enough, would be the container.

Yes. And the row and the columns. Those are the basic building blocks that you need in order to make patterns. But the thing about. Those three main components is that it has to fit on the responsive grid. That's where all your different viewpoints and all the styles come from is from the container, the row and the columns.

So that's where we spend a lot of time getting that right. And we had to almost spend six months rebuilding. All the responsive code to work with the style cards and the text blocks and all of those components. One of the things that we noticed because our focus is on creating usable patterns that you can build yourself or that you can install and that we can upsell in the library as an example.

Our focus shifted to have less blocks, what we call foundation blocks, and then rearranging those F Foundation blocks in the right format to give you the functionality that you want. So when you look at our blocks overall, we've got less blocks, but the functionality that we can build with the patents, Or more than most others, or it's not as complicated to combine them.

So our focus is it shifted our focus because. We added more functionality into each of those blocks in order to get it to do the stuff that we needed to do. Okay. Taking us another step back. I would say the text Maxi is a really good one. Everyone needs text on their website.

We also have a bullet, different bullet lists. Each of those bullet lists that you have, you can pick any icon from the library. Nice. And use it for the bullets. And those bullets. Take the color of your style card. Yay. If you pick this. So that's automatically all the way through. Then there's the SVG icon block, which is a big one.

And obviously your icons go in there. But what's fun about it is we've got something called background layers. And that allows you to create layers over the top of images or to create screens. I think what I can suggest is if anyone wants to see how those things work, you can go to the testimonial sections.

Hold on now when sick. You want to go to the team. So in the demo library, when you have a look, go to the team patterns. Once you have a look at those team patterns, you can really see what's possible when you have screens and overlays. Yeah, I see what you

[00:34:14] Nathan Wrigley: mean. Yeah. Yeah, I'm looking at

[00:34:15] Christiaan Pieterse: them. Yeah. So if you scroll down a bit further, there's some really nice ones.

Which when you do the hover, it'll create a screen over the top and that screen is an icon. So that would be, if you go to the Icon Library as an example, you can go to Creative Shapes and Creative Shapes is 1,500. Allows you to overlay these shapes with interactions to give you the cool effects that you give.

That's neat. Like

[00:34:48] Nathan Wrigley: that? Yeah. I'm looking at one at the moment where it's a, you've got like a card, a business card if you like, and you roll over the image of the person and the, I need, it's hard to describe, but an arrow hovers into the top right hand corner of each image.

That's neat. That's really

[00:35:03] Christiaan Pieterse: nice. So that's the effect that you have now. All you can do is click on, once you have it in the editor Yeah. You can just click on it and change it to a different arrow. Yeah.

[00:35:13] Nathan Wrigley: Whatever you like. Yeah. If you want, yeah. Yeah. Got it. Yeah.

[00:35:15] Christiaan Pieterse: And just swap it out so it, it becomes really easy to customize.


[00:35:21] Nathan Wrigley: that was the you mentioned the foundation blocks. This is the interaction builder that you're talking about now, where you can link elements and layers and do some advanced things there, animations and so on. What about full site editing? Are you hopping on board all of that? Are you hoping to.

Leverage this. Are you gonna be creating blocks around, I dunno, navigation and so on, or a year? We already have oh

[00:35:44] Christiaan Pieterse: God. But we've got them designed. Kara's already designed about 60 different navigation menus, but we, the. The full side editing is changing so quickly. Yeah, and there's so many changes that are happening right now.

We had a basic implementation inside of Maxi Blocks. The plugin was there and just with the recent updates that came through in the last one, we had a few little niggly bit. Set we need to solve. And that's what we are working on right now. Because it's, it, there's so many interactions and integrations that need to go with it we want to control it a little bit more so that it doesn't so that it's more compatible with Maxi Blocks.

So the goal is with our theme. We'll have a full site editing theme, which we are working on, as I've mentioned, that will fully integrate with everything. And then, okay, so

[00:36:50] Nathan Wrigley: it will be a full site editing theme, the one that you ship

[00:36:53] Christiaan Pieterse: a hundred percent. Ah, nice. It must be, it's great.

[00:36:56] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah.

That's a good point. Yeah. A, you're living in both worlds a bit there, aren't you? If Yeah, if you don't ship it like that, no,

[00:37:04] Christiaan Pieterse: You've gotta have it.

[00:37:05] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah. It's, I think I, I feel like if you nail the navigation block, that's a product all by itself. You could, you could so sell that on the website.

You've got you've got add additional things, like you've got you, you've got the cloud templates, icons, style cards, and all of that kind of stuff. And you also mentioned that you've got custom Gutenberg blocks. What did you mean by that? You, it says enhance your experience with 16 custom Gutenberg blocks.

[00:37:30] Christiaan Pieterse: That's just, is that different

from the foundation blocks? No, they're the same thing. Okay. They're the foundation blocks. Yeah. Okay, perfect. Those are custom blocks we've had to build because the, there's so much functionality that we needed to add. Inside of normal Gutenberg, they just recently added margins and padding.

If you have a look at the items in our library at the amount of customization that you would've had to do to make it work with call Gutenberg would be quite difficult. It would be quite time consuming. So our goal was really, How do we make advanced patterns? And that's coming back to our business model.

What's going to set us apart in two years from now, from everyone else is the quality of our designs. Yeah. And because of that focus, we've, the fun, the features and functionality that we added to our blocks was always with the goal in mind. How is this going to make our patterns more advanced have better interactions and better animations and functionality, et cetera?

So that was always our goal.

[00:38:43] Nathan Wrigley: I know if I don't ask this question, somebody will ask me why I didn't ask it. So I'm going to ask it. What about dynamic content? The so custom field plugins, so let's take a ACF seems to be the dominant player. How are you supporting those kind of things?

Is that available? Can I don't know, hooker hook a paragraph block into some kind of text field in a ACF or an image field. Is that either there or planned to ship?

[00:39:09] Christiaan Pieterse: It's already in dynamic content within the WordPress components, so you can access blocks headlines or block posts.

Those things are already in there. When you are inside of maxi blocks in the editor, in the editing experience of WordPress or Gutenberg you'll see. What looks like a couple of, maybe it's

[00:39:36] Nathan Wrigley: like a dust spin or, so maybe dust. Five

[00:39:38] Christiaan Pieterse: little, yeah. Or five little round magnets stuff on top of each other.

Yeah, that's, I like that. Yeah. Yes. That's already been integrated with the text maxi with image maxi, with button maxi. So you can include that dynamic content in there that's already there. With regards to advanced custom fields, we are in the. Final stages of testing and merging the advanced custom fields in there so that someone, when they install when they have advanced custom fields installed on their site, it'll then integrate with the Maxi Blocks components.

These. Are very important things we need in order to build out the full theme and the full site editing theme where you can have blogs, archive pages, index pages. Et cetera, or four pages, for example. Those are all requirements in order to do that, and we are in the final stages of implementing those.

So the idea would be is then that when you are inside of the library, you can load a page and any part of that page, you can click on it and activate the dynamic component to make that part of the pattern become. Dynamic. So

[00:41:04] Nathan Wrigley: the, that's, we got the workflow would be exactly the same for a acf. If you have that installed as, it would be for, I don't know, getting the, oh, I don't know the excerpt or something like that.

You would go through the same workflow, but you would be presented with the a ACF options, which are compatible with the kind of block that you're using.

[00:41:23] Christiaan Pieterse: Okay. Yeah, that's great. It'll just populate into the same dropdown. There's always registered as an option.

[00:41:30] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Thank you. There's always conversations around what is the best way of laying out pages.

I'm guessing that because you've got everything in rows that you've gone for, something like Flex Box. Is that the method you've used? Yes.

[00:41:45] Christiaan Pieterse: F flex Box is fully integrated. When you click on any block inside of the library you can go to the advanced section and then click on the flex box components.

And then it allows you, it's quite complicated, the flex blocks. Oh, yeah. So it takes a little while to get your head around it. But that's the purpose of the library. Our, the guys that build the library have a huge amount of experience for five years they've been building patterns specifically for other people.

And so they're quite familiar with all the different functionalities that you can have. So I would say if you want to experiment with it go to the template library and browse. And find something that's most similar to what you are trying to do. And then install that pattern and then analyze it.

Click on the different pieces and see how it works and why it does that. We've got a interesting thing that we found was, because there's so many settings in the sidebar, One of the issues that you find is that you don't know where the setting is that you want to adjust. Yeah. So we implemented something it looks like a little green rectangle that sits in the right si sidebar whenever there's an, a custom setting that we've created, or based on the pattern.

Or something that you've created yourself, it gives you that little corner. So at a glance you can see, ah, okay, these, that's where I should go and look for that setting. So when you click on it, it will show it to you. It's hard to describe without seeing it, but once you inside of the plugin and you are using it, you'll immediately see the little corner indicators and that points you.

To where you can go and update those things. So if there's

[00:43:53] Nathan Wrigley: some sort of customization away from a default, the little green indicator will show you. Aha. Exactly. Somebody's been in here and fiddled exactly.

[00:44:00] Christiaan Pieterse: I got it. I got it. Or I went there previously. Yeah, exactly. Let me just go back there and instead of clicking through all the items Oh yeah, that's really useful.

[00:44:09] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it's so easy to forget what you did yesterday, no matter, a year ago. So the readymade blocks include, at the moment we've got accordion, call to action footer headlines, hero icon image, logo number, counter pricing tables, story mix, team and testimonial. And then under the planned features.

So this is more into the roadmap. We've got AI tools, additional block. Including image galleries, block quotes, and things that, blogs and what have you. The navigation menu, which we've just discussed, and I should add mega menu as well. Full site editing. I guess that will tie in with the theme AI templates, nested slider, the A menu.

Builder a context loop with repeater fields. That's interesting. Dynamic content, which we just talked about. We only mentioned acf, but on the page here it also mentions MeBox jet engine. And tool set. And there's also a link to the roadmap, which you will be able to find if you follow the links in this podcast.

Another question, which I know I'll get asked is this one what happens if we take away. Maxi blocks. In other words, what dependencies are we getting ourselves into here? If we install some of these patterns, what's the requirement for keeping them on the page? Let's take this question in two stages.

What's the requirement for it not breaking, and what's the requirement for it being continually editable? If you understand my meaning in that question? Yes.

[00:45:35] Christiaan Pieterse: Yes, I do. So if you install maxi blocks and you load. The patterns from the library, it's using those custom blocks based on the Gutenberg editor.

So the Gutenberg editor is there to help you do the different things with those blocks. If you publish the page, it'll generate all the necessary code on the front end so that when someone's visiting the website, the page will function perfectly no matter what, whether Maxi blocks is installed or not.

Nice. The issue will come is when you want to edit that block. In the editing experience and you want to customize it. It's a requirement that the Maxi Blocks plugin be there in order to understand the blocks that are on the page, right? It would be similar to Elementor, for example. If you install Elementor, you won't be able to edit the pieces.

It's because of all the necessary functionality we've had to create. As long as you have Maxi Blocks installed, you will be able to update any patterns on the page. You will receive all the updates and it doesn't cost you anything. As I've mentioned before, the all plugin and its functionality is free.

So whatever you install from the Pro library as well, even if you subscribe and you cancel, Doesn't matter if you downloaded 10,000 patterns and you installed them on pages for different customers or whatever. You can just leave the plug in there and they will all update as expected without us locking you in into it.

It's got it. It'll always

[00:47:30] Nathan Wrigley: end work. So the long and the short of that is if Maxi Blocks is on still installed and ready to go, then anything's possible. But if you remove the Maxi Blocks plugin, it'll still look great, but you won't be able to fiddle with it. But in

[00:47:46] Christiaan Pieterse: the editing experience, that's right.

Yeah. It won't.

[00:47:49] Nathan Wrigley: Yes. Yeah, exactly. But the the nice thing about the conversation here is it won't cost you anything to get the plugin back again yes. That's nice. There's no subscription there. We've reached the point at which I think we should wind it up a little bit. We're on 45 minutes now great.

Really, I think the message here is if somebody's listened to this podcast and has been intrigued, thought, okay, this is new, this is interesting. I'd like to check this out. We've mentioned the URLs. We probably don't need to do that. Just tell us a little bit about the, first of all, any social channels or email addresses that you wanna let people know about, but also whilst you're doing that, tell us about the kind of support that you offer, and whether that's rolled into Pro or do you offer support for free?

[00:48:31] Christiaan Pieterse: We do the, so there's the free support, obviously in the WordPress forum but as well in the pro library you can email us and contact us directly. We also, at this moment in time, while we just starting out and trying to discover any challenges that people might have and what documentation or videos we need to create.

We have a live chat functionality which sits inside of the plugin but also on the website. So whenever you have any issues, you can just come to the website and have a chat with us so you can get support that way. What was the other question you had? Yeah, just

[00:49:16] Nathan Wrigley: if you've got any social channels or ways that people can communicate perhaps directly with you or other team members, what's the best way to gain touch?


[00:49:24] Christiaan Pieterse: Just come to the website and launch the chat box and start a conversation. Obviously, if you don't want to chat, you can just send a message that way. That's fine. We will get those messages into our inbox. If you want to do social, you can go to our YouTube channel in order to watch some videos, some short tutorial videos or some live build videos, which shows you how to build specific patterns inside of the library.

From start to finish that is so YouTube and then Maxi Blocks at, I think it's at Maxi Blocks, one word, M a x i b l o c k S. You can also find us on Twitter at the same one, which is at Maxi Blocks. One word. And that's pretty much where we are at the moment. Yeah, that's great.

[00:50:20] Nathan Wrigley: It's really always interesting check to a new product owner but.

It really, I think this is worth looking at just because the amount of work, which has obviously gone into it to get it to the point where they're bringing it to the market, but also just such an curious and interesting business model where you're giving a lot away and hopefully the product will sell itself on the time saved by just downloading some of these free.

Sorry, some of the pro patterns and templates and so on and so forth. Christian, been an absolute pleasure chatting to you today. All the best with the product. I hope it goes well and you never know. We'll maybe get you back at some point and you can tell us all about your journey in a few years time.

Thanks very much for joining us.

[00:51:04] Christiaan Pieterse: Thank you, Nathan.

[00:51:05] Nathan Wrigley: I hope that you enjoyed that. Very nice chatting to Christian today, all about Maxi Blocks. Make sure to go and check the site out and see what you make of it. Certainly a really interesting offering, and obviously as you've heard in the podcast there, the pricing and the way that they're doing things is really rather different.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro, the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients, and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by heading to go.me/ WP Builds and sincere, true, honest, thanks to GoDaddy Pro for their support of the WP Builds podcast.

We shall be back next Thursday for a podcast episode. That'll be with David Waumsley and myself. We'll also be back on Monday Live for our this week in WordPress show at the very easy to remember url, WP Builds.com/live.

Come and join us and make a comment. Don't forget as well, if you wanna put the calendar dates in for the shows with Mark West Guard, all about WS form. And the next turnaround, the U I U X show with Peach and E. Go to the homepage of WP Build. Scroll down just a little bit and you'll see a couple of cards with some calendar links and so on.

So that's all on WP Builds.com. That's it for this week. We will see you hopefully at some point in the next week. I'm about to fade in some cheesy music and. Ask you to stay safe , bye bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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