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You do not always need a premium WordPress theme to make a quality website. There are some very good free themes that give you pretty much the same results without having to shell out money.
One such theme I recently came across is Blocksy, so named because it was designed by Creative Themes to work with WordPress’ block editor, Gutenberg.
The theme is also very compatible with theme builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer, Brizy Builder and more.
I installed this theme on a personal website that I use to test stuff like this and I’m writing this review to tell you my thoughts on this awesome free WordPress theme.
Blocksy is a relatively new WordPress theme developed by Creative Themes.
Like all modern themes, it was designed to meet all standards and is responsive, SEO-ready, lightning fast, clean coded and highly customizable. It was designed to work well with the Gutenberg block editor hence the name and is compatible with all the major theme builder plugins.
Since its release, Blocksy has been downloaded over 1000 times and has, up to the time of this writing, 60 out of 60 5-star reviews in the WordPress theme repository. When you really start creating with Blocksy, you’ll see why everyone just loves this theme.
The theme can be used for any purpose, whether you’re building an agency site, portfolio, small local business, blog or even an ecommerce store as it is also Woocommerce-ready.
I found customizing the theme fun because there are so many options for every aspect of the site. It doesn’t matter if you want to change the header, footer, sidebar, individual blog posts in terms of color, font, design or where to put different elements. You can do just about everything your mind conceives with this theme it seems.
What I Liked About Blocksy
There’s a lot to love and very little to hate about this versatile WordPress theme. I think I fell in love with it when I started playing with the customizer.
The theme looks great out the box and if you’re a beginner then you don’t need to do much to get a lot out of Blocksy.
When you first activate the theme, you’ll be asked to also install a plugin called Blocksy Companion which lets you add a lot of other enhancements, demo templates and extensions to the theme.
Blocksy Companion is optional but you would be doing yourself a disservice by not adding it. For example, the posts widget with thumbnails that show in the screenshots of the theme can only be activated by having this useful plugin installed.
Let’s take a look at some of the best features of the Blocksy WordPress theme.
1. Customizing Your Site
All the theme options can be found in the live customizer so that you can see your changes as you make them to your site. They’re found under four different sections:
- General Options
- Post Types
- Visitor Engagement
- WordPress Core
Under “General Options” you can customize most of the sitewide settings. These include:
- General Settings – stuff like site background color, site width, container widths etc. You can also toggle to add a scroll-to-top button and more.
- Header – change the header section to your liking by adding elements and changing the background design.
- Footer – edit the footer area however you like by drag and dropping elements and changing the background design.
- Sidebar – choose a global sidebar layout, adjust the widths and the design elements.
- Colors – choose a color palette for your site and adjust the global colors
- Typography – customize font settings for content, headings, buttons, quotes etc.
- Performance – enable lazy load and other performance settings
“Post Types” settings let you customize how blog posts archives, single posts and other pages on your site look.
- Blog Posts – choose how your blog archive page is set up, what meta info goes in the cards and so on.
- Single Posts – choose the default layout for single posts and what elements to include (related posts, share box, author box etc).
- Categories – customize the look of your categories page, whether it has a sidebar, card options and more.
- Pages – choose your page design, look and feel and what elements to include
- Author Page – choose how your author page looks
- Search Page – customize your search results page, where to pull results from etc.
For “Visitor Engagement” settings there are only two options:
- General – lets you add Google Analytics id and enable Schema markup if you don’t have an SEO plugin that does this.
- Social Networks – allows you to add all your social network links so you can display them on your site.
“WordPress Core” settings are the ones you’d find in the customizer regardless of what theme you have installed. For the Blocksy theme they include:
- Site Identity – edit site title, tagline and upload your site icon here
- Menu – create your menus and edit their properties
- Widgets – add widgets to your widget areas here
- Homepage Settings – static homepage or your latest posts?
- Additional CSS – add custom CSS here to further customize your website
The most impressive customizer options for the Blocksy theme were for the header. Astra Theme, which I previously used on this site, doesn’t have as much flexibility to customize the header and that is one of it’s major complaints. The Blocksy theme lets you do almost anything to it.
For example, I can duplicate any of Astra’s header options with Blocksy but I can’t do the same in Astra for Blocky’s headers.
Blocksy Header Options
There are three header layouts for Blocksy which you can enable and they include the default layout that you get out-the-box, a secondary layout and a centered layout.
Each layout is a starting point that you can further customize by dragging and dropping any combination of 7 elements into the header’s editable areas. Each header has three sections each of which can be enabled by adding elements. So you can have two section headers or just a header with one section.
The elements you can add to the header section include a button, a search icon, your logo, two menus, social icons and an html section. Each of these elements can be further customized.
In addition to customizing how the header looks on desktop, you can also customize how it looks on mobile as well.
The customizer options offer a lot of options to make your blog page look great including layout options, what elements to include on your cards and how the design should look (fonts and colors).
For single posts, you have sitewide options that you can turn on and off.
Should you include a left sidebar or a right sidebar? Should you include a sidebar at all? If you’re like me, you’d want the option to turn off featured images because you upload them right at the top of the post as well as the featured image section.
You can also choose whether to include a share box, an author box, post tags, previous/next post as well as related posts and comments.
These are sitewide options. The best part is that you can turn on/off any of these on each individual post via a Page Settings tab in the post editor sidebar. If you have a right sidebar by default, you can choose a layout for that post with no sidebar.
What I would have loved to see though is the ability to create different sidebars for each post or page. I don’t know if I somehow missed this but I know I can do that with some themes.
2. Built-in Options
I’m always grateful when a theme has built-in options that usually require a plugin for most themes. These options can save you having to load up on plugins which may slow down your websites. Whenever, I can eliminate the use of a plugin, I take the chance.
There are a couple built-in options in Blocksy that I usually have to use another plugin for and the most important ones are:
- Related posts
- Social sharing
You can enable related posts under the “Single Posts” section in the customizer. Then you can customize the layout and other stuff like whether you want to pull related posts from categories or tags and if you want to show it before the comments or after.
Related posts are good for internal linking and also for lowering your bounce rate by getting your visitors to go to other pages on your website. So I always try to have related posts on my blog when I can. MyThemeShop themes has related posts built in as well but the two other themes I use don’t (Astra and StudioPress).
I have a hard time trying to find a social sharing plugin that doesn’t suck. I use Social Snap Lite for this site but I’d rather the social sharing be built into the theme. Again, MyThemeShop themes has this built in too but neither Astra nor StudioPress themes have this.
In Blocksy, you can enable social sharing for posts under single post settings and there is also a section where you can add your social networks so that you can display them for your visitors.
Blocksy Companion extends your site further by adding more stuff like custom widgets, MailChimp Subscribe, and Instagram feed and even a Cookies Consent popup for GDPR compliance.
Each extension can be activated by clicking on the Blocksy menu link in your WordPress dashboard and then clicking extensions on the page that comes up.
You can also further customize these options when you enable them.
What I Didn’t Like About Blocksy
I don’t know if there is anything that I don’t like about Blocksy as yet. It is hard to not like anything about this theme because it seems that it can do anything and you can customize everything.
As I mentioned before though, it would have been nice if I could be able to create different sidebars for each post or page. I know I can do this in some themes but I’m not sure if I missed it somewhere in this theme. It doesn’t seem to have the option to do so.
Other than that, I probably don’t like that Blocksy made me appreciate some other premium themes a lot less because I’m now thinking about doing more with this theme and probably changing a couple of my sites to use it.
When the discussion comes up about what the best free theme available right now is, Astra is usually the first one mentioned. Then there is also Generate Press and Ocean WP among them.
It seems a lot of people don’t yet know about Blocksy but in my opinion, based on my experience, I’m impressed with the theme and would say that this theme beats Astra and is probably the best free WordPress theme available right now.
If you’d like to try it, you can download it and try it out on your new site.