Grigora Blocks has the potential to be a solid starter theme – WP Tavern

At first glance, Grigora Blocks from Latracal Solutions seems almost unremarkable. It looks like a theme that you would use as a starting point to create your own thing. It won’t have enough personality for everyone to get into it. However, for others, a basic layout to customize is what they might be looking for. I really like starter-type themes because they’re often ideal for client work or DIYers who want to take control.

Moreover, Grigora has a feature that only a handful of existing block themes in the WordPress directory can boast of. It includes a sidebar in its output by default:

Single post view with sidebar.

There is a quirk with the sidebar. For some reason, the theme author specifically targets the last group block in it, adding 30 pixels of padding to the left. All the blocks added above do not share the same offset from the content area as shown in the screenshot.

Sidebar-less designs are becoming more and more the norm, especially in a time when most people browse the web via mobile devices. However, several Tavern readers asked if I would share some block themes with sidebars. Grigora’s implementation is how I would go about creating a similar layout (aside from the weird padding issue, of course).

For once, someone created a theme that didn’t automatically load all 90+ of my pages in the default navigation menu. Almost every time I activate a new block theme that does this, it’s broken on the front-end. For this break from madness, I can only thank the developer.

The most disappointing thing about Grigora was that her default design didn’t match her screenshot from WordPress.org. Anyone who’s ever installed a theme from the directory knows that’s not unusual. Theme authors have been asking for better tools to solve this problem for years, and block templates and global styles are the answer.

There are no more limits to delivering the experience users expect when they see that cute screenshot that caught their eye in the first place. Instead of a neat design, users are presented with the typical list of blog posts. And, there are no instructions on how to recreate the look of the screenshot.

I managed to put something back together with the theme’s “Empty” page template and some templates. The testimonial template was easy to locate, but I couldn’t find one that matched the header. The closest was “Parallax Centered Transparent Header”. However, I had to customize it to get something more closely aligned with the screenshot.

A WordPress site homepage with a large hero header and three quote boxes following it.
Recreate the theme screenshot.

Such DIY should not be a prerequisite to get the same design as the screenshot.

Grigora has over a dozen templates, but where it really shines is its custom block styles. I had a lot of fun tinkering with the title options:

WordPress post editor with six title blocks.  Each has a different design.
Test title block styles.

In total, the theme saves 98 styles for users to choose from. Some of them are duplicates used on similar block types. However, it’s still an impressive range of styling options.

The following screenshot shows some of his Button and List block styles:

WordPress post editor with a row of button blocks with different styles.  Below are two list blocks with different designs.
Inserting Button and List blocks with custom styles.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Grigora. I see a ton of potential for this to be a rock solid base theme. All the pieces are in place, but several quirks are scattered around. Every time I think I’ve met them all, another pops up. A few are due to WordPress 5.9 missing some necessary block checks. However, others are easy to deal with with the existing toolset.

For example, the spacing between blocks in the right column of the following template is everywhere:

Two-column cover block.  To the right is a title, paragraph, and button.
Pattern with inconsistent spacing.

Users can adjust it with the margin design option for each block or by wrapping it in a group and changing its spacing. However, this should be handled by the out-of-the-box theme.

Most of the issues I encountered with Grigora Blocks revolved around fixable spacing issues. Other than that, the content width was a little wide for the 18px font size deployed by the theme. Increasing this to 19px, or even 20px, or reducing the width would be ideal for users who will be writing long content.

I expect this theme to only improve as more user feedback comes in and the author experiments more with WordPress design controls. A little more quality control and testing will make it a nicer base for creating all kinds of websites.

Additional note: I tested Grigora against WordPress 5.9 as some of its template designs were slightly off with the latest Gutenberg plugin active. Even just a few months after the last major release of WordPress, the editor already feels dated. For those who haven’t tested the most recent Gutenberg updates, I recommend doing so. The experience has improved a lot across the board, and I expect you’ll be pleasantly surprised when version 6.0 launches.

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