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.
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.