Michelle WordPress theme launches with dozens of templates and block styles – WordPress Tavern

Oliver Juhas recently released his sixth WordPress community theme for free. Michelle is a block ready theme. However, it also supports Beaver Builder, Elementor, and other page builder plugins.

It’s a versatile theme, which is often an immediate stop for me. I prefer to see a goal-oriented design with a unique view of a niche. However, it’s hard not to like Michelle’s personality. Juhas didn’t hesitate to put his style mark on the project, which is evident in his past. free themes.

Juhas markets Michelle as an accessibility-ready theme. However, it has yet to receive an accessibility review for the Theme Directory, which would allow it to be labeled as such. From a quick scan of common issues, everything seems to be in order. It will likely pass its exam like some of its old free themes. And “inclusive, suitable for people with disabilities and barrier-free” are at the forefront of its branding strategy for WebMan Design.

As has become common for block-ready themes, Michelle offers a “Content Only” template. This is a post / page template that allows end users to use the Block Editor as a page builder by showing nothing but the content of the post.

The theme is yet another showcase of what is possible with the Block Editor. A few weeks after the arrival of Anders Norén’s Eksell in the directory, Juhas presented the community with another quality theme. The two have a totally different style and approach, but they both make the block system shine in their own way.

Portfolio designed using multiple blocks.

Users can learn more about the theme and browse multiple demos through the official theme page.

Block patterns and styles

Michelle may be the only free theme in existence with 67 templates. And, no, you haven’t misinterpreted it. It literally saves 67 block patterns. Yeah, that’s a lot.

It has a bit of everything. From team galleries to logos, hero headers to contact cards, it’s hard not to find what you need. There was no way I could realistically test them all. However, for the dozen or so that I’ve tried, they’ve performed well and offered a simple one-click option for end users.

Inserting a variable gallery block template in the WordPress editor.
Variable gallery with description template.

I always knew that the day would come when a theme author would push the boundaries of the number of templates they should offer. While 67 seems a bit excessive, I know from experience that someday we will see models numbered in the 100s.

I hate to keep beating a dead horse, but WordPress has to use an overlay system for block templates, at least for desktop users. Michelle is showing more than ever that a little sliding panel won’t cut it.

If the theme’s range of patterns isn’t enough to whet users’ appetites, its two dozen block styles could.

Make a header block hidden but readable by screen readers.
Hide a header block from everyone except screen readers.

The options range from light and dark text shadows to variable galleries. It even has an “accessible hidden” style for header blocks, which hides screen text but makes it available to screen readers.

Block ready footer and 404 page

The theme allows end users to build their footer and 404 error pages through the block system. Since the site editor is not yet available and the block editor is limited to post content, Juhas had to think outside the box to make this possible. He used the reusable block system. It’s the kind of ingenuity that happens when theme writers aren’t burdened with too many rules.

In the customizer, users can select the Theme Options> Content section. From there, they are asked to choose a reusable block for their footer and 404 pages. Or they can just unsubscribe. The personalization section is also linked to the semi-secret administration page to create reusable blocks.

Michelle WordPress theme customization options to modify the content of the 404 page and the footer.
Select reusable blocks for the 404 content and the footer.

In the past I have used a similar technique for 404 views. Instead of following the reusable block route, theme users can select a private page. Both options are acceptable to allow users to edit content that they may not have been able to customize in the past.

Starter content

Michelle makes extensive use of the WordPress starter content feature. This allows new WordPress users to see what their site might look like with pre-loaded content. The theme creates Home, About, Blog, Services, FAQs, and Contact pages.

Home page splash content for Michelle theme with an image gallery.
Home page start content.

Functionality has languished in recent years. Many theme authors had hoped that they could eventually use the feature for non-new installations. However, Helen Hou-Sandí got the ball rolling again in November 2020, breathing new life into an old idea. WordPress.org would start showing the theme’s starter content through the theme’s preview system. Only themes twenty-one, twenty-twenty and twenty-seven received this treatment last year. Now it looks like it’s being rolled out for others.

It’s a welcome change in the directory. Users can now get a feel for Michelle theme without finding the author’s demo. It’s a better experience than the old-fashioned demo content.

One problem is that the preview uses the first sentence of the theme description for the demo tagline. This can create long and unusual text. It can also mess up the layout of a theme like it does with Michelle. Hopefully this will be resolved soon as soon as WordPress ends.

Other theme authors should note that starter content can determine whether a user skips or downloads their theme.

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