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Justin Tadlock
I have been fascinated by the concept of Carolina Nymark’s Miniblock OOAK theme for a couple of weeks now. It has served as inspiration for a design idea I have been working on, and I am happy to see Nymark pushing boundaries in a space where few pioneers are left. Her design style always dares to take the road less traveled, a quality of which I am envious.
Despite loving the idea of the theme, I had yet to do a deep exploration of it until this week. It is geared toward small home businesses and hobbyists, allowing them to set up a simple landing page.
With a customized heading font and an on-brand color scheme, it seemed perfect for a family member who wants an online presence for an upcoming business. She is not ready to launch yet, but Miniblock OOAK would be an easy-to-use landing page to point people to her Etsy profile while having a point of contact for clients.
I often went with outside solutions for single-page websites in the classic era. WordPress always seemed like overkill for such projects. The software’s upkeep could be more resource-intensive than updating content. However, I have started coming around as of late. First, the prevalence of reasonably-priced managed hosting means there is less of a need to be a webmaster than even a decade ago. This has played a not-insignificant role in democratizing publishing for more and more people.
The second reason is WordPress 5.9’s introduction of the site editor and global styles. Small business owners can set up a single-page website without much fuss with the ideal block theme. Sure, there are still some kinks to smooth out in the user-experience department. Those are being actively worked on, and improvements have continued during the WordPress 6.0 development cycle.
We need more themes to create starting points for users to build their own homes on the web in this new system. Miniblock OOAK fits that mold for its niche. It is the first one-page block theme in the directory but will not be the last. With enough fellow pioneers clearing their own paths and redefining what themes are, the years to come could be a worthwhile adventure.
The theme is small enough that you can explore the entirety of its default design in about 10 seconds with a quick scroll down the page. It is set up for a fictional plush creator who is open for commissions and selling their wares via Etsy. It includes a quick-links menu for navigating to a bio, work showcase, and contact section.
As I said, there is not much to explore with the default setup.
The more pieces in the design, the more of those kinks in the user experience I mentioned earlier pop up in the site editor. However, editing Miniblock OOAK feels natural. I could move around, select blocks, and customize without issue.
The theme is not just a single template. Nymark has also included eight block patterns. Users can mix and match them to get the look they are after.
The theme uses the featured category to highlight patterns, something I have yet to see another do. I questioned the tactic at first, wondering if that was the ideal experience for users. This category pulls featured patterns from WordPress.org by default. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the decision for this specific theme. Because it is a one-page design, it makes sense that users would primarily rely on the patterns that are first provided to them.
I could see theme authors getting carried away with this, placing dozens of patterns into the featured category. However, it can also make finding those that the developer wants to highlight easier. Carefully curating the patterns that land there could create a welcome user experience.
Andrew Starr employs an alternative method of showcasing patterns in his Alara theme. He has an “Alara – New” category that highlights the latest designs.
I like the exploration with Miniblock OOAK. I especially like that the WordPress Themes Team has unlocked the shackles holding authors back, now allowing outside-the-box ideas. It was tough to break from tradition in the classic era for both themers and reviewers, but maybe this theme is the start of something new.
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