A free experimental block theme WooCommerce – WP Tavern

The Wowmall theme was released today. This is the second 100% block theme that integrates with WooCommerce to land in the WordPress directory. FSE Responsive was the first.

Two weeks ago, a reader posted a question for the Ask the Bartender column. He wanted to know where the WooCommerce block themes were. Literally a day after posting this article, Wowmall was submitted to the WordPress theme review system. Maybe it was fate or just luck, but I had no choice but to test it.

The theme adds an admin side welcome and notification page. The author specifies that the project is not currently intended for use on production sites. It is currently in the experimental stage. It is not known who is really behind the Wowmall project. The associated Twitter account has been suspended and its other social profiles are deprived of information. And, the Wowmall website currently offers few details.

I won’t claim that Wowmall is one of my favorite themes. The design is way too busy for my taste. I prefer something small that focuses on content, but I don’t fit into the main audience for this theme.

For an ecommerce theme, it’s much cleaner than others I’ve seen, and it leverages almost every element of the block system. It ships over 30 block models. Six of them are headers and three more are footers. However, the rest is for general use in content, including call-to-action layouts and hero sections.

A call-to-action layout section with a header, followed by text on the left.  On the right is a reservation button.
A model call to action.

It also offers several styles of custom blocks. Some of them offer design variations that compensate for things like the lack of border controls for some blocks. Others, like the “Dark” style of the social icon, would be better left with the existing color options.

The question most people probably want to answer is whether it works well with WooCommerce. From what I’ve seen, it works like any other regular WooCommerce theme. You know the look, the default design seen by 90% of the themes built for the eCommerce plugin. Maybe there’s a custom color scheme or some simple stylistic changes. However, at the end of the day, you know this is a WooCommerce store.

Product listing page with a product grid for the Wowmall WordPress theme.
Wowmall store page.

If it works, don’t mess with the formula. The most glaring issue I saw with the WooCommerce part of the theme was the release of a comments section on the main store page and the product category archives. I haven’t seen specific block templates for these pages, so I’m taking a wild hit and guessing it all comes down to a single product or page template that would normally produce reviews.

Wowmall does not perform well as a pure blog theme. It handles the basics pretty well, but has far too many characters per line to comfortably read long content. Strict 18px font size, variable-width content area (989px full width on my laptop), and mid-gray text color make it difficult to read anything other than short blurbs.

However, this theme is not presented as a blog theme. He is super focused on presenting an online store.

Where the theme flexes the most is its selection of block patterns. They are primarily designed to create a unique showcase. Users can pull a lot of kilometers out of it.

The breadcrumb trail of the theme is not at all a breadcrumb trail. He just pretends to be one. Under the hood, it’s a navigation block with a link to the home page followed by the title of the current article / page. At no time does it display the crumbs (eg parent pages) that lead back to the site root. Themes notoriously offered a sub-standard breadcrumb trail in the Classical era. Maybe the developers will leave that to the plugin authors in their block themes.

As far as I know, there are no breadcrumb navigation plugins on WordPress.org to integrate. However, there is a proposal to add a block for this in the kernel. And, for the sake of transparency, I have such a plugin under development and intend to publish it to .ORG.

Wowmall does not claim that this is a finished and production ready WordPress theme. It is an ongoing project that should improve over time. Additionally, we are still waiting for WooCommerce to expand its blocking system support.

What I love more than anything is seeing themed stores push the boundaries with blocks. What I see from Wowmall and recent block themes is that many of the limitations from the past year are simply not there anymore.

Comments are closed.