Today, GT Basic became the second theme from GermanThemes to go live in the WordPress theme directory. Like the company’s previous theme, GT Ambition, it is built around the block editor. It also introduces several custom block patterns.
The theme will not knock anyone’s socks off with its artistic merit. GT Basic is very much business in the front and business in the back, so it will not immediately appeal to everyone. However, it has everything you need and none of the things you don’t for setting up a WordPress website.
Out of the box, it is an architecturally-sound business theme. Its layout, structure, and typography make for a well-rounded design applicable to nearly any site. With a few modifications via the customizer, users can personalize it.
Its open-canvas feel gives ample room for using the entire content area for building custom page layouts, which is what business site owners should be looking for. The theme’s typography is on-point, creating a comfortable reading atmosphere for long-form content. It could serve well for a general blogging theme.
The theme is ripe for the possibility of child themes. These types of well-designed themes from a purely structural standpoint leave plenty of room for customization. GT Basic has just the right amount of visual options for users to put their unique spins on it. However, there is a lot of room for design-savvy people to do more.
GT Basic is, well, a basic theme. It is kind of there in the name. However, it includes enough options to make it more visually palatable. A few color and font changes could spice things up — the theme offers a range of system and Google font-family choices.
The theme also manages to not make a complete and utter mess of the customizer. GT Basic neatly tucks all of its options under a custom panel named Theme Options. Even its “theme links” section is in there. It is refreshing to see a theme not regurgitate pro links and single-use sections across the entire customizer controls frame. You will rarely see me use emoji, but the theme author deserves one on this point alone: 👏.
Where the theme gets things right is its support of the block editor. It does not try to do too much, relying on the core block styles as a foundation. It then tacks on a mere 46kb of additional CSS, unminifed, which is almost unheard of in today’s theme market.
GT Basic is one of the few themes I have seen that adds a custom block editor sidebar panel. Instead of going the page template route, it adds a full-width option, a method I have preferred over the years. It also has settings for users to disable the title and remove white space at the end of the content area.
The biggest downside to the theme is that the blog/posts page and archives display the full post instead of excerpts. It is one of my pet-peeves with theme design. Users should at least have the option to switch to an excerpt view.
The other cringe-worthy feature is the automatic output of the featured image alongside the full post content. This creates the dreaded double featured-image effect if the user also uses the same image within their post content. Again, a simple option to disable this would suffice.
I am a sucker for block patterns. Throw a few in any theme, and I will install it and see what I can build. The pattern system remains one of my favorite features of WordPress. It is also one of the areas where business themes can make their mark.
GT Basic includes four patterns for users:
It does not take much to create unique layouts by mixing and matching two or more of them.
Thomas Weichselbaumer, the founder of GermanThemes, announced the adoption of block patterns in August 2020. He introduced block patterns across GermanThemes’ product line shortly after WordPress 5.5 introduced the feature.
GT Basic’s patterns would be more appealing if they included imagery and a spectrum of colors. The pattern layouts are designed well, but they lack the visual umph that inspires users. This is a missed opportunity to showcase how useful the patterns are. However, the theme author has built a few demos that could serve as inspiration.
Oh wow, thanks so much for reviewing my theme, Justin. I really did not expect this 🙂
I stripped down the options to a bare minimum, but I see your point that the blog/archives pages could use a few more settings. Thanks for the feedback about featured images and showing excerpts, I’ll think about adding these.
I’m a huge fan of the Block Editor and specifically founded GermanThemes to build things with Gutenberg. My own Block collection was not successful so I re-focused on Themes for now. Can’t wait until FSE is finally here 🙂
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