The day has finally arrived where a block theme does something interesting with the featured image on single post views. One of my biggest pet peeves is when themers just drop it at the top of content and call it a day.
I almost always rush to get the site editor to remove the single post featured image when installing block themes from some authors. However, after installing Archeo, the latest from Automattic, I just let it be. At least in this case, the implementation didn’t make me wonder if we were ever going to get all this themed block-based adventure. law.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Single Post Header design is that it works with the limited toolset offered by the current Featured Image Block.
If there’s one choice I have, it’s that the titles of posts and sites don’t align to the left side of the page, at least on wide desktop views.
Thus, the single-message header is well-designed. How does the rest of the theme hold up? I get there, but every now and then something special in a design catches my eye. And I can’t wait to let others know.
Automattic is the most prolific block theme builder to date. Its theme team has rolled out a dozen designs to the WordPress directory over the past year. Many of his initial releases had a familiar feel – tiny variations on a simple base. However, things have come alive recently. Livro, the dark theme that made me hate dark themes a little less, and Skatepark, a unique experience in itself, represented a fresh start after previous months started to feel stale.
Archeo continues on this momentum. The theme is bold when it needs to be while still using enough whitespace to not overwhelm readers.
This is one of the few faithful representations of magazine designs I’ve seen. No, I’m not talking about the confusing term in some circles that confuses it with news design. It reminds me of those great feature layouts that would draw a reader into a story as they flip through the latest glossy-covered print that arrived in the mail. I’m a product of my generation and will always have a sense of nostalgia for this dying art form, and love seeing implementations of it on the web when they work well.
Almost all of Archeo’s categorized-by-image designs capture the essence of a magazine article. The following is one of my favorites.
The theme is described as inspired by Mayan history and culture. Archeo’s models are littered with snippets of historical text and images that make me want to know more about the subject. Great design can speak to us in ways we didn’t expect.
By the way, I’d love to see designers who describe their creations as “inspired by” something to better understand the subject via a blog post. For those unfamiliar with this topic, that would pull back the curtain a bit, giving us some insight into why it was important to the designer.
Archeo is the first theme I’ve seen using the upcoming web font API which is set to land in WordPress 6.0. Users with the Gutenberg plugin installed should see the theme’s only font, Chivo, gracing the front-end and editor. Those who don’t have the plugin should see their system’s default sans-serif font.
The following screenshot is of the theme’s 404 template and shows the Chivo font:
It looks much better than the default, at least on Windows. I recommend running this theme with the Gutenberg plugin for ideal results.
I’m surprised the theme team didn’t include a backward compatible method of managing web fonts for WordPress 5.9 users. It wouldn’t have taken a lot of code: a single hook and a check to see if the
wp_webfonts() function exists.
Archeo is now the 59th block theme to land in the WordPress.org directory. I look forward to seeing more from the Automattic theme team, especially if this will be their minimum standard with future designs.