Ollie Theme Now Available on WordPress.org

The free Ollie block theme, created by Mike McAlister and Patrick Posner, is now available for download on WordPress.org. A contentious review process led the team to remove the onboarding features, despite having gotten the green light from WordPress’ leadership who advocated for moving forward with the experiment. The version of Ollie available on WordPress.org is simply the theme without the guided onboarding experience that reduces the amount of time it takes to get through the first 30-40 minutes of setting up the theme.

McAlister explained why the team reached this surprising decision in a 10-minute video earlier this week, as well as in the theme’s launch post:

In a surprising twist of events, WordPress leadership actually wanted to give it a shot as an experiment! While it was awesome to see that kind of support, by this point it had become clear that it was too controversial to try this right now.

There were valid concerns that without a system or understanding in place at the directory level, this could set a precedent with unknown outcomes and potentially burden volunteers with longer theme review queues. We don’t want that, and the idea that a feature of Ollie would burden anyone is the antithesis of our aim of helping users through this exciting era of modern WordPress.

Ollie’s creators are working on putting the onboarding into a plugin in order to “deliver our original vision, free of constraints.” It will be available on GitHub and they plan to submit it to WordPress.org, but the severe backlog may prevent it from being live in the directory for a few months.

The theme on WordPress.org has more hurdles to getting started with a new website. Users will need to know how to navigate the Site Editor to edit templates and place patterns. After installing the theme, it’s painfully clear how much simpler the onboarding wizard would make everything. Ollie comes with seven full-page pattern layouts, which helps if you want to build a site similar to the demo. It also packages seven style variations and an astonishing 50 custom block patterns for building nearly any kind of website.

With different combinations of patterns, Ollie is suitable for personal websites, agencies, portfolios, nonprofit organizations, blogs, and businesses of various kinds. Although this version doesn’t deliver on the “40-hour head start” that the onboarding offers, it’s still a very well designed theme with meticulous attention to detail and an abundance of customizable patterns.

Check out the Ollie demo to see the theme in action and install/download it from WordPress.org to take it for a test drive.


9 responses to “Ollie Theme Now Available on WordPress.org”

  1. The onboarding features would have welcomed many new users with limited knowledge of WordPress.

    I understand the gatekeeping since their guidance comes from (fill in the blank) and not personal opinions on the WordPress ecosystem. The full site editing(FSE), patterns, blocks, etc., is highly confusing to a novice user, especially if there is no guidance.

    Ollie Theme offered that opportunity, the guidance, the onboarding, and the experience of learning something new.

    Also, undermining the theme review team from leadership sends a weird message to the community.

    This is a missed opportunity for onboarding the next generation of WordPress users.

    Let’s be honest, 99.95% of the themes on WordPress.org (fill in the blank).

    • It’s a different animal as Ollie uses the new Site Editor 100%. Give it a try when the onboarding is back. My hope is that themes like Ollie and Frost will eventually have enough patterns to replace legacy themes like Kadence and Astra. The niche starter sites make these older themes so useful but the Site Editor is the future.

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