Will WordPress Block Themes ever be as popular as Classic Themes?

In this interview with Mike McAlister (Ollie Theme) we discuss some of the reasons for the slow uptake in WordPress Block Themes. 

Video summary (generated by AI)

WordPress block themes, with their potential to reshape website creation, have witnessed a measured pace towards widespread acceptance. Delving into the reasons provides intriguing insights and offers a glimpse of what the future might hold.

Why the Hesitation?

The primary reasons for the leisurely acceptance include:

  1. Inadequate Marketing – The innovative features of block themes haven’t been showcased effectively.
  2. Shifting Grounds – The constantly changing environment of block themes can be intimidating.
  3. Developer Challenges – Crafting a block theme brings with it a unique set of complexities, more so than traditional themes.

Moreover, producing high-quality block themes demands precision and a more intensive design effort to achieve those polished layouts.

The Learning Curve Dilemma

Classic themes provide a user-friendly introduction to WordPress. Given a classic theme, users can navigate comfortably within minutes. In contrast, block themes present a more intricate picture, necessitating a more profound understanding and patience.

The Road Ahead

There’s a palpable optimism around block themes. Many see them not just as a fleeting trend but as the definite future, particularly when larger agencies start incorporating them.

However, reaching a broader audience requires:

  • Improved Communication: A need exists to elucidate the advantages and mechanics of block themes more compellingly.
  • User-friendly Experiences: Streamlining the block theme experience is crucial to attract a larger user base.
  • Strengthening Foundations: A robust WordPress core is essential for block themes to reach their full potential.

Educational Efforts

Currently, educational resources for block themes are scant compared to those for classic themes. A more balanced availability of learning tools and resources can certainly pave the way for a smoother user experience.

Onboarding to the Rescue

To help users transition more comfortably, there’s an initiative to create an onboarding wizard. This tool aims to guide users through the setup, taking the guesswork out of initial configurations.

Enhancing the Editing Experience

Improving the block theme editing experience remains a priority. The focus lies on refining the WordPress interface itself before adding any more layers, always heeding user feedback.

In Conclusion

The measured adoption of block themes showcases the challenges this new frontier in website design faces. While there’s no quick solution, a blend of user-centric strategies, educational efforts, and refining the foundational aspects can indeed brighten the prospects for block themes, making the journey worthwhile.


6 responses to “Will WordPress Block Themes ever be as popular as Classic Themes?”

  1. There are “invisible” issues like a lack of a popularity filter for block themes in the WordPress.org theme repo that block adoption imo.

    People who want the social proof a popularity filter provides won’t see block themes if they use the default filter for both classic and block themes unless they scroll like mad.

    You can’t combine block theme and popularity filters to order block themes by popularity.

    I’ve opened a discussion on Github a while ago about this but strangely without engagement in the discussion yet: https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg/discussions/54327

    I think that other builders, their makers and ecosystem is much more growth and marketing focused and will just win because of that, not because they have the better technical solution. Their touchpoints just do much better jobs taking in new users..

    There are some commercial block niche theme succes already, like the guys behing the Popcorn theme (UK based) who already have 2k domains live with a paid block theme. They deserve some spotlight imo, also because it will motivate others to bet on blocks.

    1. Clarus Dignus Avatar
      Clarus Dignus

      Maybe create an issue instead of a discussion.

      1. Jamie Marsland Avatar
        Jamie Marsland

        Can you expand?

        1. Clarus Dignus Avatar
          Clarus Dignus

          Hi, Jamie. I’m replying to Ren. Regarding the popularity filter Ren speaks of, he posted a discussion on GitHub rather than an issue. I recommended he instead posts an issue as issues work like tickets and are more likely to be noticed and acted upon. I discussed this matter further with Ren on GitHub and advised him to submit a ticket via the Make WordPress Core section of WordPress.org, selecting ‘WordPress.org Site’ as the component category for the ticket.

          1. Jamie Marsland Avatar
            Jamie Marsland

            Ah understood – thanks

  2. […] Marsland interviewed Mike McAlister creator of the Ollie theme on Will WordPress Block Themes ever be as popular as Classic Themes? They discussed some reasons for a seemingly slow adoption of block […]

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