OlympusWP is the new kid on the block (sorry for the pun). In this review I’m looking at the theme, pro addon, and the Gutenberg plugin. A little bit of background first. OlympusWP is from the same team that created the OceanWP theme. OcearnWP is still one of the most installed third party free themes in the WordPress plugin directory. It offered a lot of features in the free version and worked well with Elementor and WooCommerce. The idea is to use the knowledge and experience from the past to make a more modern, faster theme, but this time to focus more on Gutenberg.
The free theme has been out for a while, but generally this suite can be viewed as an initial foray into the marketplace, so I don’t expect it to yet be as complete as Kadence or GeneratePress, two other offerings that pair a theme with a Gutenberg plugin. However, this first look will give us some insight into the philosophy and direction and hopefully let you know if this is something you want to follow.
The video has the complete walk-through and is the best place to learn about OlympusWP. This text version is a summary.
The Free Theme
The theme is available for free in the WordPress theme directory. It currently has more than 300 active installs and 4 five star reviews.
I installed and activated it on a site with some test content. This is what the default page looks like. I like gold as an accent color. It is elegant, but on the white background it is a bit hard to read.
At this point I haven’t yet activated the pro addon or the blocks plugin, and this is what we have in the Customizer. It is attractive and has a decent number of Customizer options, but not as many as Kadence or Blocksy. It is still new.
The Pro Theme
The pro version of the theme is a plugin that is available on the OlympusWP website. It launched with nine modules in the pro version:
- Blog Module
- Disable Elements
- Header Module
- Hooks Module
- Mega Menu Module
- Top Bar Module
- While Label option
- EDD Module
- WooCommerce Module
The features in the pro version work well, but are not as extensive as in some other pro themes.
The Pro addon for the theme and the blocks plugin were both launched together and are brand new. There are six blocks in the Gutenberg addon. The section and Layout blocks are containers. Then the Buttons, Spacer/Divider, Advanced Heading, and Icon Box are the other four.
The Layout block provides columns, which are actually section blocks themselves with many of the same options and the separate Section block. The Spacer/Divider is a nice improvement over the core spacer block and the Icon Box is nice also. Two areas for improvement are that the icons are loaded from another site and the blocks don’t support dynamic data.
Discussion And Conclusions
First, the free theme. The layout and style is pretty tight. I like the way it looks. It reminds me of OceanWP. It is nice to see some performance options, but we don’t see as extensive a range of Customizer options as with other General purpose themes, even free versions. Part of that may be because it is new, but also I think the plan is to make this a hybrid theme that will support Full Site Editing, so it remains to be seen how customizable it will become. I was disappointed that the Customizer colors didn’t carry over to Gutenberg and I hope that is something that is added.
In terms of the pro version of the theme, I like the options for the blog module. Again, there were not as many options as with some other themes, but what there was seemed coherent and to work well. The Hooks module was another one I was interested in. I imagine that the idea is that you use the Olympus Blocks here, which would make sense. Not to sound like a broken record, but while the features were easy to use and worked well, they were not as extensive as with other pro themes.
Finally, the Gutenberg blocks plugin. There seem to be two approaches to blocks addons. One approach is to provide a good number of blocks, along the lines of what you might expect with a page builder. The other approach is to provide only a small number of blocks with the idea that these give the user what they need to build up their own composite blocks. This latter approach seems like what is going on here. That will appeal to site builders who are concerned with performance and who want more control. The actual blocks options available seemed pretty good. Also, I hope that in the future the blocks can support custom fields, which will make them attractive with creating theme templates either with the hooks feature or the Full Site Editor.
There has been some discussion about the future of themes, given new block-based themes and full site editing. Generate Press and Kadence have stood out by offering both a general purpose theme and a companion Gutenberg blocks plugin. OlympusWP is doing the same thing. However, both Generate Press and Kadence have their own theme builder in the pro version of the theme. These don’t use Full Site Editing. OlympusWP plans to become a hybrid theme using the Full Site Editor and that will be a different approach. Perhaps that will help align this theme with new trends and be a way that it stands out from the crowd.
It is difficult to make an assessment now because the theme, pro addon, and blocks plugin are all new. I’d say that initially, if you are already working with a theme and are happy with it, there is no compelling reason to switch yet. However, what I see at this point are good design choices, an attention to performance, and a solid foundation to build on. Even though it is a crowded market, this is a talented team and I have the feeling that they intend to make their mark and have high expectations. They have a good first version and we will see what future offerings bring.