GoDaddy launched its Go WordPress theme last week. It has been publicly available through its GitHub repository for several months, but the theme review team finally approved and set it live in the theme directory. Thus far, the theme has garnered 7,000 active installs and is likely to hit the popular list, given GoDaddy’s history of releasing popular themes. It also provides translations in 27 languages out of the box.
Go is simple. After working with the theme through GoDaddy’s managed hosting onboarding process in October last year, I was admittedly a little disappointed this time around. The onboarding process made things almost too easy. I had a predesigned site without thinking about it. After installing and activating Go in my test environment, I couldn’t help but feel like it would take 100 times more work to recreate the magic I once basked in. I knew the power of the theme because I had been presented an ideal set of options that were preconfigured for me in the past. Without the configuration, the theme seemed a little less impressive.
That’s the beauty of great marketing and onboarding. GoDaddy had already reeled me in.
While the Go theme is simple, it is also powerful. A lot of that power is in its block styles. Instead of focusing on theme-specific features, the team behind the project poured their work into creating an experience that allows theme users to piece their sites together with the block editor. The theme is ideal for users who want to utilize the block editor as a page builder.
The theme has a handful of customizer options that provide additional flexibility, but the main selling point is that it gets out of the way and lets the user do the designing. I suspect we will see many similar themes in the next year as theme authors come to grips with building themes in a block world. A large part of the market will want themes that are essentially open canvases for site owners to manipulate the output of their site via blocks.
Go is also designed to work with WooCommerce, which is a large part of the company’s eCommerce hosting service. This integration should make it a nice option for small business owners.
CoBlocks Companion Recommended
The magic of Go is not in the theme itself. It’s in GoDaddy’s companion plugin CoBlocks, which the company acquired last year in a deal with ThemeBeans. The plugin has soared from a mere 3,000 active installs to over 100,000 since.
CoBlocks offers everything from accordions to maps, from logos to pricing tables, and a lot more in between. It covers a lot of ground that the core WordPress editor blocks do not cover.
The Go theme is designed to go hand-in-hand with CoBlocks (can we get GoDaddy to just go ahead and rename the plugin to GoBlocks?). The theme is meant to offer a page-building experience. Because GoDaddy owns both products, it makes sense they would offer one of the nicer integrations between the plugin and a theme.
Not Ideal for Blogging
The theme makes generous use of whitespace, but its overuse can often break the reading flow for blog posts. The flow from paragraph to paragraph is fine. However, the moment you drop an image, gallery, pull-quote, or one of many other blocks into the content, the theme adds an extra 140 pixels of whitespace above and below the block. It completely throws off the vertical rhythm of the post.
Go also displays the full posts on the blog posts page instead of excerpts. There are few things I dislike more when it comes to blogs. Providing an option for users to choose between a full and summary view would be ideal.
The theme does not claim to be well-suited to blogging. None of the demos for the theme show off a blog. If you’re looking for a theme to handle blogging with media mixed in the content, you will find better offerings elsewhere, such as the Blocksy theme
Limited Yet Useful Theme Options
The theme adds five sections to the customizer:
- Site Design
- Site Settings
Within each section, Go provides a few basic options, most of which are related to colors and layout. The most useful options reside under the “Site Design” section. The theme presents a design style option that changes the theme’s fonts and colors. Currently, there are five design styles: traditional, modern, trendy, welcoming, and playful. Once a design style is selected, users can choose from four color schemes for that style. The design of this system is brilliant. It gives users choices without forcing them to become designers and handpick the perfect hex code for each color.
Users who prefer to manage individual colors are not left out. The theme also provides options for overriding any of the colors from the chosen color scheme.
I was disappointed that Go opted for creating individual options for various social networks instead of using a navigation menu. Using WordPress’ built-in nav menu system for social links has become the de facto standard in the last several years, which allows users to carry their social links from one theme to the next. Unfortunately, users are required to retype all of their links with this theme.
The theme keeps does not go overboard with options but provides enough customizability to make the theme unique to the user.
How Does the Code Stack Up?
The theme templates were primarily HTML with PHP sprinkled in. For DIY users who like to hack away at theme templates, you should not find any surprises.
Users who want to customize every page of their site will likely enjoy this theme. It is well-suited for small business owners and others with small sites. It could work well for artists and others with portfolios as well.
It does not fit with my personal taste because it does not cater to my blogging style, which is my primary interest in themes. However, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wants a ton of control over their site’s inner page design.
The following is a list of the available demos. There is a lot that can be done in combination with the CoBlocks plugin, which you will want to use in combination with Go.
Demos with the CoBlocks plugin:
Demos with the CoBlocks and WooCommerce plugins: