We Discuss Gutenberg, Classic & Full Website Editing Themes

Are you looking to build a fantastic website but don’t know which theme to choose? Look no further! This show discusses Gutenberg, Classic, and Full Website Editing Themes. We’ll take a look at the features and benefits of each theme so that you can make an informed decision on which one is right for you. Get ready to create your dream website easily – watch our video now!

Mike McAlister of Ollie, “Liftoff Creator Course,” and Atomic Blocks

Mike McAlister is a veteran product developer and designer in the WordPress space. He founded and sold successful WordPress products like Array Themes and Atomic Blocks. Now, Mike is focused on the future of WordPress with his new product brand, Ollie.

#1 – Mike, tell the audience more about Ollie and the “Liftoff Creator Course” and the main things you want to achieve with developing this complete website Gutenberg Block Theme

#2 – What are you on thought connected recent discussions connected to what has been called “classic Gutenberg themes” and entire website editing themes like Ollie?

#3 – What do you see as some of the opportunities that are offered with complete website editing themes and block frameworks?

#4 – What are some of the things you would like to see improvements in the world of the Gutenberg project?

#5 – If you return to a time machine at the beginning of your career, what essential advice would you give yourself?

#6 – Are there any online recourses or books you like to recommend to the audience?

This Week Show’s Sponsors

Zoho: Zoho.com

Sensei LMS: Sensei LMS

LifterLMS: LifterLMS

LaunchFlows: LaunchFlows

Episode Transcript


Welcome to the WP-Tonic This Week in WordPress and SaaS podcast, where Jonathan Denwood interviews the leading experts in WordPress, eLearning, and online marketing to help WordPress professionals launch their own SaaS.

[00:00:00.200] – Jonathan Denwood

 Welcome back to the WP-Tonic This Week in WordPress and SaaS. Got a great guest, got a great WordPress entrepreneur, a digital agency owner, got Mike McAlister, with us Olly, and a couple of other things. It should be a great discussion. So, Mike, would you like to introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers quickly?

[00:00:42.990] – Mike McAllister

Absolutely. First of all, thanks for having me on. I’ve been a long-time watcher of the show, so it’s cool to come on. My name is Mike McAllister. I’ve been in WordPress for a long time. I started a design and development company a long time ago and then transitioned into products. And for a long time, I had a successful theme and plug and business. And in 2018, I sold that to WP Engine and worked there for a bit. And then, just recently, earlier this year, I transitioned out of WP-Engine and back into the WordPress product space with a new product, an upcoming product called Olly. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today, Olly, Block Themes, and all that good stuff.

[00:01:28.670] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, there’s so much to talk about because you’ve been very active with Atomic and selling it to WP-Engine, your Liftoff Creator course. It should be a great discussion, folks. We got a lot to discuss, and Mike’s got a lot of, I feel, a lot of insights. But before we go into this great interview’s main meat and potatoes, I’ve got a couple of messages from our major sponsors. We will be back in a few moments, folks. Are you?

[00:02:00.750] – Mike McAllister

Looking for ways to make you.

[00:02:02.460] – Jonathan Denwood

Is content more engaging?

[00:02:04.090] – Advert

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[00:02:33.260] – Jonathan Denwood

Hi there, folks. It’s Jonathan Denwood here, and I want to tell you about one of our great sponsors, and that’s Zolo. Com. Zolo can provide this solution if you’ve got a WordPress or membership website and are looking to link it with a tremendous financial management package. So all your bookkeeping needs are done through Zolo. If you need new inbox email functionality and you don’t want to pay the high charges that Google will charge you, Zolo offers an excellent email inbox platform. They’ve got over 50 apps and services that all integrate fantastically with WordPress at great value levels, and they almost always offer a fully functioning free product as well. So it’s just fantastic value. Also, Zolo is looking for great partnerships in the WordPress space if you’re a WordPress developer or agency owner. To get all this information, all you have to do, folks, is go over to Zolo. Com, and they have the product that you’re looking for. Thank you so much, Zolo, for supporting WP-Tonic and the Machine Membership Shows. It’s much appreciated. We’re coming back, folks. I just want to point out that we got some great special deals from our major sponsors.

[00:04:10.950] – Jonathan Denwood

Plus, we got a curated list of the best WordPress plugin services and solutions, so you don’t have to troll the internet to find the best solution for yourself or for a client. To get all these goodies, all you have to do is go over to WP tonic. Com deals, WP tonic. Com deals, and you find all the free goodies there. What more could you ask for? Free goodies. We’re not children at heart, are we? Well, I’m not. Not at all am I a listener and viewer. So tell us a bit more about Olly. I don’t know if you also want to touch your Liftoff Creator course. What’s the main objective? But let’s start with Olly. So you’ve got a lot of experience; obviously, you had a successful exit with Atomic. You’ve gone back into the space in Olly. So what do you want to achieve with Olly? And how do you think the whole Guttenberg Block space has matured or changed over the past few years? Only minor questions, mate.

[00:05:32.400] – Mike McAllister

Just those tiny little ones.

[00:05:34.210] – Jonathan Denwood

Questions here. We could spend 45.

[00:05:36.190] – Mike McAllister

Minutes on that. That’s right. We’ll chip away at it, though. As I said, I ran a WordPress theme and plug-in business for several years. My WordPress theme style was very minimal and beautifully designed, but I didn’t get into these mega themes and have all of these building features in there. I just wanted lean and mean themes that people could install on their sites, click activate, and hit the ground running. And for the longest time, I wanted more from just WordPress core. I wanted just the ability to be able to change colors on the fly and maybe make live edits. And so, for the longest time, I wanted that. It just wasn’t coming. It wasn’t coming. And then here we are. We’re at the Block Editor has arrived, the Site Editor has arrived, Global styles, Patterns. All of these things have exploded onto the scene. So naturally, my instincts were, Okay, well, what can I build for this? The space that I know so well is WordPress themes. And so I spent the past year digging deep into block themes. And you really got to spend some time because all of these things, they come together in different ways.

[00:07:01.780] – Mike McAllister

And some things are dependent on other things. And there’s a lot to it.

[00:07:06.740] – Jonathan Denwood

But after… I’m just amazed you still got all.

[00:07:10.130] – Mike McAllister

Your hair. It’s hard to see, but it is graying slowly but surely. But the final result of that was this Olly WordPress theme, which you can learn about at ollywp. Com. I’m taking the same approach. It’s beautifully designed. It comes with 50 plus patterns, which are pre-designed elements that you can spit onto the page and have a beautiful layout. I’m keeping it very close to WordPress core. It’s all built on core technology, so you don’t need any extra plugins or anything like that. And that’s the idea is to give somebody the experience where you have WordPress installed, you install a WordPress theme, and hopefully, that’s all you need to build an essential website. So that’s the gist around Olly. There are some other elements to it where I’m also trying to make it a space of education because I think that’s a huge problem we’re seeing right now. Many people are interested in block themes and the block editor and the site editor, but there’s a lot of frustration and confusion around how to work all this stuff and how that fits into their workflows. And so that’s also part of my offering is an educational element to pair with the product.

[00:08:28.210] – Jonathan Denwood

Right. So it’s basically to build a really a theme that utilizes the core technology, but that’s lightweight, that isn’t encroaching. I don’t know if you agree with this, but there’s always been a back-and-forth about certain themes that are really frameworks, in my opinion. And other things which are just, that’s the wrong word, but are a theme. They don’t have the potential to become a framework. I see WP cadence, or I always pronounce it incorrectly, people laugh, I call it Spector, Spector. The WP. I see them as frameworks rather than a theme if you know what I mean. Would you agree with my synopsis there?

[00:09:28.320] – Mike McAllister

Yeah, I think so. I think they’re offering under the hood a lot more. I would argue they’re for that builder crowd, the prolific builders who are building a lot need systems around the stuff that they’re building. So I say that’s a pretty fair assessment. Yeah.

[00:09:50.240] – Jonathan Denwood

That last bit there, because in some… That’s an interesting way because I always saw it the opposite. I always saw cadence and other frameworks offering a solution to the DIY, or somebody that just wanted to build a website for business where a product like yours and other products, I saw them focused at the more professional level of the market. But I might be wrong there. By the way, I think that’s one of the things about Guttenberg and where we are at the present moment. It seems to be trying to appeal to two very separate buckets of people. You’ve got the small business owner, the nonprofit, various types that want to build online presence and like WordPress. And then you’ve got another large crowd, which are the professional crowd, as I call them, the implementers, the developers, the designers, marketers. And trying to provide something that appeals to these various groups is only difficult. I think it’s semi impossible. What was I rambling? What do you think?

[00:11:19.460] – Mike McAllister

These kinds of conversations are great, rambling or not, because we are at this inflection point of so much of this is undefined with the block editor and Guttenberg and full site editing, who all this is for and who takes to it and what the product space does with it and who they aim it towards. One thing I’m thinking about, I’m very forward about, I’m building Olly for that futuristic crowd for the next 10 years. I’m not building it for the folks who are using cadence already or the folks who want the hybrid themes. I’m building this thing intentionally towards the future because the way I look at it is how many installs of WordPress are being installed every single day from. Org and WordPress. Com? Probably tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands. I don’t know, many, many, many, many installs. What they’re getting on their default install is the block editor, the site editor, a full site editing theme, a block theme with one of the 2023s. If you’re a new user to WordPress, that’s what you get and that’s all you know. You don’t know about cadence, you don’t know about Beaver Builder, you don’t know about all this is the experience that’s being presented to you.

[00:12:43.210] – Mike McAllister

And so that is the experience that I’m looking to build towards. I’m looking for that customer who says, I might be new to WordPress. I don’t know about all this. Do I need a page builder? What’s this thing that’s built into WordPress? How can I work with that? That’s what I know. That’s what I’m getting. That is a huge market that is growing every single day. Every install is a new potential customer. And that’s who I’m aiming these products at, is these people who are in this new WordPress experience and maybe looking around like, Okay, well, what next? What do I do with this thing? I’m giving them something like Olly, which is far more advanced than a default theme in that it actually looks like a business website, or you can make it an agency or portfolio. It has a real website feel to it. So that’s where I’m pointing this towards. But as you say, all of these things are pointed at different people, and how they take to it is anyone’s guess.


[00:13:46.610] – Jonathan Denwood

The only thing I’ll put to you about… Obviously, Oli, I’m presuming it’s a full site editing theme. I was discussing it. I do another podcast with Spencer Forman, forum, and we were discussing this last week, and he thinks full site editing is a bridge too far. He thinks it’s caused a lot of confusion. It causes a lot of confusion to the people that you’ve just outlined that you want Olly to appeal to because it just offers too much, too quick. So do you think there is a problem with that? Because obviously you could say it’s early days, but where does it end? I think a better thing is to have so much functionality to offer to the newer user and have a developer kit and be able to lock down certain features. What’s your own thoughts about this?


[00:14:59.230] – Mike McAllister

There are certain things about that that resonate with me, obviously. I think this was going to be… First of all, I think we can all agree, hopefully we can all agree, WordPress had to evolve to some degree. We were stuck in the past for a long time. The block editor was a huge lurch forward. That alone, just being able to have more expressive content, huge. I think even the folks who are maybe a little hesitant can also see that we had to move into more of an advanced site building space with everything else evolving around us. WordPress just couldn’t stay where it was. Even in the hybrid theme space, we just can’t stay there too long because everything else is moving so much quicker. So this was never going to be… This is the biggest CMS on the planet. It’s bigger than all the other ones combined. So this was never going to be an easy transition, and it’s never going to be super smooth and well thought out per se because it’s also volunteer driven. This isn’t some big corporation that has a big entity of product management around WordPress. They do their best, but we’re all volunteers and so it is what it is.


[00:16:22.520] – Mike McAllister

Now, having said that, I think that even from WordPress leadership, they acknowledged early on that the roll out of some of the stuff was a lot rougher than it needed to be. And that maybe just poor planning and timing and some of the stuff that’s happening on WordPress. Org is goofy. So I don’t know. I would hope that there’s lessons learned in that, and it seems like maybe there is. I was developing atomic blocks on the bleeding edge of the block editor where every single day it was breaking. It was a painful experience, but I learned a lot in the process. But comparing what WordPress was like in that stage to where we are now, it’s far more stable. There aren’t huge features being added. We’re largely just shaping up the stuff that’s in there. It’s still all very new, so it does seem a little precarious to some folks. But with this second phase coming to an end in this polish phase and collaboration and workflows, we are getting out of that growth thing now and now we’re into a polish phase. So I don’t know. I don’t know if I agree that it was too much in entirety.


[00:17:45.890] – Mike McAllister

I feel like this is where we needed to be. And I feel like some of the stuff that I’m seeing in Figma and the concepts that are coming together in GitHub, the ultimate vision of this makes perfect sense to me as an entrepreneur and as a product creator and a long time WordPress person, it makes perfect sense. I just think we will have to have patience and grow through it. But I think the end result will be something we’re all happy we have in the end.


[00:18:20.100] – Jonathan Denwood

What do you envision? What would you like? The Block editor, the full site editor, what do you see as the opportunities in the future? What really gets your juices going about where you think this might be in a year’s time, in 18 months, which we are talking about web development, so they’re like cat ears or something. Just to say a year, which is where would you like to see things be? If you had your… You could rub the gene. I’m Monday, my work, my metaphor’s here. But what would you really like to see in a year’s time?


[00:19:11.210] – Mike McAllister

Yeah, I’m a bit of a radical when it comes to that stuff. And I’m more of a let’s just go for it guy. And I know that a lot of people don’t love that. But if you look at the site editor now, we have this new view, right? Site editor. It’s got the black sidebar. You can navigate around. You click it, edit your site. I would like to see that view be pretty much the view of WordPress. I don’t love this idea that you’re in the site editor and you exit out and then you’re back in the old crusty dashboard and you’re clicking the posts and pages and they don’t quite look like they do on the front end because there’s a title at the top and all this stuff. I’m so far into this at this point that I want to go full fledged into the site editor view where all of this stuff is easily accessible within that view. And if you look through the GitHub tickets, that’s where we’re going. Being able to edit a post live in the site editor, see your stuff on the left hand side. All that’s coming.


[00:20:23.980] – Mike McAllister

It’s just a big process to transition to. So that’s where I would like to see the great unification of this UI, these many different UIs that we’re tiptoeing into. I would like to see all that stuff combined into a unified vision.


[00:20:40.040] – Jonathan Denwood

I totally agree with you. I think it would be really helpful where the admin back end is really divorced from the day to day editing and updating because I don’t think the average user in a lot of organizations need to go into the back end. And the experience of the back end, some people in the back end have slightly abused and degraded the experience. I won’t name names. You know who you are. You have damaged and degrade the overall experience of utilizing WordPress. God have mercy on your soul.


[00:21:32.290] – Mike McAllister

That’s exactly right.


[00:21:34.740] – Jonathan Denwood

So yeah, see that. Anything else?


[00:21:43.600] – Mike McAllister

Developing Olly and having it out there and getting people using it, beta testing it. I still just see there’s just a lot of just confusion around the UI. So maybe unifying all the stuff helps. I’ve started my own educational stuff to help around that stuff as well. But I would say that if you’re making a product for this new stuff, whether it’s a block theme or Block plugin stuff, I would just ask that make education a part of your product in some way, shape or form. Onboarding videos, tutorials because the old WordPress, we benefited from 20 years of blog posts, YouTube videos, endless content. You could find anything about anything with the old WordPress because everyone was creating content. There was monetization around creating content. There was just so much content created for the old WordPress. Well, we don’t quite have that for the new WordPress yet. It’s too early and I feel like the same WordPress content creation machine that was going for so long has slowed down because WordPress just is where it is. So we need that stuff desperately. We need more content out there, tutorials, and making that a part of your product adds that much more knowledge to the overall pie of WordPress, so to speak.


[00:23:23.120] – Jonathan Denwood

I agree with you there. We are in agreement. It’s a fabulous thing. It’s a WordPress thing. We all agree with one another. Big family. Yeah, we’re a big, loving family. It’s a bit of child abuse going on as well. That was a bit of a dark remark, wasn’t it? We will be back in a few moments for this fabulous interview.


[00:23:53.000] – Mike McAllister

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[00:25:03.460] – Jonathan Denwood

We’re coming back, folks. I just want to point out, if you’re implemented developer designer and you’re looking for a great hosting provider that has real history in the WordPress space, why don’t you look at becoming a partner with WP Tonic? We specialize in the learning space, learning management systems, community websites, but we can host other types of websites. We would love you to consider becoming a partner coming in our WordPress host partner with us. To find out more, all you have to do is go over to WP Tonic. Com partners, WP Tonic tonic. Com partners and see what we offer. And we’d love you to follow you to consider to do outreach and we can discuss how we can work together. It’s nothing like working together, isn’t it? So we go on this interview. I think you touched it in the first half about what you would like to happen is what could be improved in Gutentberg. I think the main I think I hope you’re correct that some of the most major elements are behind us. But I think I also agree with you, what is important is UX improvements around the Gutemberg. I think it was one of the main, reflecting back.


[00:26:39.220] – Jonathan Denwood

I’m interested to see if you agree with this, one of the major initial problems and things that were not really the importance of consistent, because I’ve noticed with your work, which I love, when it comes to is that UX design is obviously very important to you. Would you agree? I think the team that’s working on Guttenberg, they are really trying to improve that. And you can see that in their work. But I think there’s still some work to be done. Do you think it was one of the major things that made this process not as smooth as it could be?


[00:27:33.140] – Mike McAllister

Yeah, I do agree. And it makes sense if you think about it. A lot of these features were coming about and it’s always like, yeah, that’s a great feature. Let’s add it and we’ll wedge it in there and figure.


[00:27:46.910] – Jonathan Denwood



[00:27:47.870] – Mike McAllister

Out. Just tape it up there and we’ll get back to it. That’s one thing and not to make it sound like they’re just haphazardly putting stuff in there. All this stuff comes from a great place. But I think one of the biggest hurdles, though, is that when you develop stuff like this, let’s just use patterns, for example, or whatever. The coming up with the idea of patterns is like, Cool, great, got the idea. Now you have to develop it. Well, it’s easy in a way to get developers to contribute code. WordPress has spent a long time code development contribution space. So we’re used to that. But what we don’t have is a ton of designers hanging around WordPress. We just don’t. We just have not historically had a bunch of designers, and it’s specifically UI designers. And there’s a lot of reasons we could go into a whole conversation why we haven’t attracted the best designers. So it’s tough to get. You can do a code commit in an hour or two and just get in there, fix something, submit it, and go about your day. You can’t really sit down and solve big UX problems on a whim in a past.


[00:29:09.990] – Mike McAllister

Sit down an hour, do it. You honestly have to spend hours and hours and hours in these discussions and follow ticket after ticket after ticket to understand the context, the flow, what the.


[00:29:20.810] – Jonathan Denwood

Problem is. It’s a grind.


[00:29:22.590] – Mike McAllister

It’s such a huge problem. And so I get why they don’t have that because it’s one of the most difficult things to get people to commit to is to sit and focus on the.


[00:29:31.980] – Jonathan Denwood

Stuff all time. Well, I totally agree with you. And I think with open source or projects like this, I’ve interrupted it. Hopefully you got some insights. I thought you would be a great guest to maybe give some insights about how this situation. But the truth is, I feel it’s one of the great strengths of a SaaS. They can get a unified interface design, a UX design where open source. So I think it’s an area where, especially the biggest open source project out there, needs to find some method to… So I interrupted you, I apologize. Would you agree what I just outlined? And you got any insights? I think you were just about to give some insight about how this might be improved.


[00:30:25.770] – Mike McAllister

Yeah. Well, SaaS is like, in comparison SaaS is so easy to get a good UI because it’s a contained environment. You control every aspect of it. You can measure everything. You can watch people how they use it. You can measure and test and iterate. You can’t really do that with a distributed product like WordPress. There’s millions of people using it millions of different ways. And so you have to find a UX baseline, a user experience baseline that is good enough for everyone but doesn’t cater specifically to any one person because then you’re leaving other people out. So it’s a fine line of user research and user experience and user interface. So all that to say, I think there are more dedicated designers and design minded people on the project now. Automatic has some people full-time on there, and I just know other people with those sensibilities are on there. So watching some of this come together over the past, I would say, six months, particularly, does have me quite excited as I’m seeing these concepts posted on GitHub. And then a few weeks later, a month later, seeing them being shifted into Guttenberg, which was ultimately going to land in WordPress.


[00:31:53.450] – Mike McAllister

So I’m super motivated. And now, again, going back to Olly, these are all the things I’ve wanted for so long in a solution. That’s why I haven’t left WordPress largely, because I can see the endless potential. I’ve built a successful company before, and now I have even more tools to my advantage, all natively built into WordPress and it’s getting better by the day. I’m excited. That doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated.


[00:32:24.430] – Jonathan Denwood



[00:32:25.340] – Mike McAllister

Don’t want to hear the things that I say to myself sometimes as I’m poking around the WordPress docs, trying to find something very specific and it’s just not there because it’s not documented. It can be frustrating. But I would say we’re in a better position now than we’ve ever been in terms of the resources we need to bring this thing to.


[00:32:45.960] – Jonathan Denwood

The finish line. Well, some people think, they might not say it in front of me, but I’ve heard I’ve definitely got whispers back, that I’m categorized as a Gutentberg hater. Totally incorrect, because I think I totally understand why the leaders in automatic or WordPress, which is another where is the boundary between WordPress. Org and automatic? That’s a whole other discussion. But I understand why they had to do Goombird, and I totally support it because they were between a rock and a hard place. But if they publicity, modern web development was going to JavaScript, React, or one of the other libraries, you could just stay with pHB if you wanted. But that would have meant the total slow death of the project in technology terms and also in usability terms. So if you wanted the future for the project, you had to grab the bull by the horns. I’ve got my metaphors going here in this show. And you just had to do it. I think it could have been done slightly better. I think at the beginning, there were some major decisions that on reflection were extremely problematic, but that’s great. I’m not there. I’m not in the trenches.


[00:34:25.690] – Jonathan Denwood

I’m not there dealing with stuff. I’m just a back seat driver, which is fantastic, isn’t it?


[00:34:34.440] – Mike McAllister

It’s a good.


[00:34:34.870] – Jonathan Denwood

Place to be. It’s just gorgeous, isn’t it? Especially when you’re driving. So you build up Atomic and then you sold it to WP Tonic. Now, every business in the end will either die or be sold.


[00:34:54.600] – Mike McAllister

But was.


[00:34:55.570] – Jonathan Denwood

It a difficult decision, or was the cheque so large that it made it very difficult? It made it very easy. What was it in the middle? And did you really have to think about it? And what was, apart from the financial side of it, which is important, what was some of the decisions that made you sell it, basically?


[00:35:19.410] – Mike McAllister

Yeah, there was a few things to it. I think one thing was I had just run a theme and a plug and shop for 10 years by that point. I think there’s that natural, maybe ready for a transition thing. And also, I had built up atomic blocks so quickly and I started to get a following pretty quickly. You never know what that’s going to be. Maybe it’s going to put her out, maybe not. Maybe if I get some more resources behind it, maybe we build it up. You never know. So I think it just ultimately the email came just at the right time where I was just ready to talk about something different, I think, and just sharpen some different skills. I did a lot of leadership stuff at WP Engine, and that.


[00:36:14.670] – Jonathan Denwood

Was well, they’re a great crowd, aren’t they? I’m not just saying that. Jason’s been on the podcast a few times. I really get he’s a fabulous guy. They seem a quality crowd to me. Absolutely. But that’s what I.


[00:36:29.690] – Mike McAllister

Said. that was the first job job I had in a long time. And so I was hesitant to go from freelancing, I’m sorry, like an entrepreneurial posture to a nine to five gig. But it was very the culture there was very open and free and collaborative. And so it made a lot of sense. That was another reason why it just felt like it made sense to do that. But I guess.


[00:36:57.660] – Jonathan Denwood

It’s a bit like the automatic crowd s ometimes. I’ve always gotten with them well, actually. Most of them are really nice people. I’ve had a few of them as guests, and I’ve always got on with them. I have a little dig at the boss, but I’m not sure some of my little digs have got down that well, but I don’t know. I haven’t got any whispers back about that. I doubt if I’m even on his radar. But in general, I’ve always got on with that crowd fine.


[00:37:30.360] – Mike McAllister

Yeah, everyone’s awesome. I think.


[00:37:32.790] – Jonathan Denwood

No, they’re not. Some people with this space, I absolutely despise with a passion.


[00:37:40.600] – Mike McAllister

I try to keep just a collaborative because it’s a huge environment, WordPress, but it’s a small community. If you’re a person that’s creating and interacting with the WordPress creator space, it’s a small crowd, ultimately. And so I try to keep just the cordial… And I’ve worked with some of these people in the past, and I will probably work with them in the future. So I just try to keep it above board.


[00:38:09.570] – Jonathan Denwood

There’s a certain minority that are tied to hypocritical jerks to their core. They are absolutely the scum of the highest order.


[00:38:21.460] – Mike McAllister

I’m not interacting with those folks. Hopefully I don’t.


[00:38:27.620] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah. All right. We’re on a rant there, but it’s true. But the majority of people, like you say, I agree with you. They’re great people. And I think I couldn’t go because I’m planning another journey to South America in August. So I couldn’t go to Athens. But I went to Porto last year and it was just a great event. I know some people went to Athens this year to the European World Cup, folks. And you really saw the thing that you were before I went on my little rant, which you refuse to have anything to do with, is that you really saw the strength of WordPress at Port and that Athens, which you just don’t see that passion commitment with other software projects, either open source or not, do you?


[00:39:26.420] – Mike McAllister

No. And I think that just underscores the folks who are trying to claim WordPress is dead or whatever. It’s like, you don’t understand how big WordPress is. If you think WordPress, even if it’s on a slight, very minute decline, it’s still so massive that even if it was declining, it would take over a decade for it to be noticeably in decline. When you see the word camps and just the people coming together, the amount of people, if you were to measure the amount of people writing code for WordPress every day, even on GitHub alone, it’s so huge. I love seeing it. I love seeing the rejuvenation of WordPress for the next 10 years, which I think is exactly what we saw. And that’s why it was jarring and shocking and a tough transition because change is hard. Even small changes in WordPress piss off some people, let alone this.


[00:40:24.890] – Jonathan Denwood

Massive thing. You could never really piss off.


[00:40:32.160] – Mike McAllister

Check out the reviews on.


[00:40:33.620] – Jonathan Denwood

The Good Times plug in. The wrong tweet or the wrong comment. That’s right. Oh, God, we’re going to be buying him forever. Fair due, you keyboard warrior. Off you go. So let’s go on. So if you had a time machine and you could go back, let’s say, 10 years when you were in junior school, because you look very young for your experience.


[00:41:01.890] – Mike McAllister

I’m almost 40.


[00:41:03.400] – Jonathan Denwood

Oh, my God. You don’t look it.


[00:41:05.900] – Mike McAllister

I moisturized.


[00:41:10.680] – Jonathan Denwood

It’s just your essence seems very relaxed. Somebody that’s run a plugging theme shot of the size that you have, you look too relaxed to me. So if you had a time machine and you could go back and maybe tell yourself a couple of things that you wish you knew then that you know now, what would they be?


[00:41:36.900] – Mike McAllister

I think I would tell myself to keep a product mind because you could be a great developer, and this is not to say that you shouldn’t be, but you could be a great developer, you could be a great designer. But without the product brain and constantly thinking about how this comes together in a product that you can sell to people and maybe even have acquired one day. For me, that’s what I love doing. I love crafting something from the ground up, revolved around solving a problem. And having a product brain helps me solve that problem better, helps me communicate. Coming on a podcast like this, I don’t have to think about things or prepare for them because all of the stuff is stuff that I think about all day long.


[00:42:33.540] – Jonathan Denwood

You’re telling me you didn’t do a big dive and got yourself ready for this? No homework. I’m deeply upset now.


[00:42:41.300] – Mike McAllister

I’m crushed. I looked through your questions. I did. I at least did that.


[00:42:48.320] – Jonathan Denwood

It’s obvious some of my guests don’t read the questions to be quite true. So obvious.


[00:42:55.940] – Mike McAllister

I bet. But yeah, WordPress is ordpress is such an immature product space in a way. Now, I know that sounds weird to say because we have big products like WooCommerce. There’s plenty of theme shops, these big themes like Divy and stuff that do big numbers. But I think overall, if you were to look at it, it’s pretty immature product space compared to how big WordPress is. It’s an anomaly in a way. In the greater SaaS and tech world, you have all of these great products with great interfaces and all that stuff, and you look at WordPress and you’re like, Oh, okay. This thing seems like it’s 10 years behind everything else. And so I think that leans into part of what I was saying earlier about the lack of maybe design or product minded folks in WordPress and the bootstrap nature of it, it’s hard to get that level of craft and quality when you’re just scraping together hours here and there, and then you put something on the repo, it’s like, whatever. It’s just a plug.


[00:43:59.870] – Jonathan Denwood

I think it’s one of the areas that automatic and sponsorship and encouraging UX professionals or people to be able to spend time. I think it’s an area which needs to be reviewed and some resources put into it because I think you are correct about the developer side. You can go in, fix a bug, push it, walk on, get on with your other. When it’s a UX problem or a project, it’s a more in time, which equals money, basically, you can’t live on fresh air. It needs support and resources to put into place. Would you agree with that?


[00:44:56.250] – Mike McAllister

Yeah, 100 %. It needs investment UI and UX. You can’t just scrape together UI UX volunteer time. It has to be a concerted effort always on every day. And I think we are getting there. So for what it’s worth, I see huge improvement, and it’s what is largely encouraging me now. I’m not worried about any extra features coming into WordPress. I feel like we have everything we need to be a competent, futuristic, complete website builder. It’s just the experience now. That’s what I think we need. We have everything. We all going.


[00:45:43.010] – Jonathan Denwood

To be replaced by AI anyway. That’s right.


[00:45:45.940] – Jonathan Denwood

We got a few years. We got a feature anyway.


[00:45:48.990] – Mike McAllister

Haven’t we? Yeah, a few years and we won’t have to worry about this.


[00:45:53.840] – Jonathan Denwood

We’re all finished anyway.


[00:45:55.540] – Mike McAllister

We’re doomed. That’s right.


[00:45:58.790] – Jonathan Denwood

So are there any resources? What influences? Where do you get your influences from? Who do you listen to that you think… You probably be highly influenced by the WP engine crowd working for them and that. But who podcast, blogs out there? Who are some of the people that you listen to and you get some value from?


[00:46:28.190] – Mike McAllister

I always have a tough time answering this question because I think I don’t listen.


[00:46:32.290] – Jonathan Denwood

To podcast. People think that I’m thinking of dropping it because in some ways it seems an easy question, but in some ways it isn’t, is it?


[00:46:40.010] – Mike McAllister

Yeah. No, it’s tough because for me as a designer and a creative, I pull inspiration from everywhere. But in turn…


[00:46:48.740] – Jonathan Denwood

Who do you use, as Picasso said, who.


[00:46:52.060] – Mike McAllister

Do you use? Yeah, who do.


[00:46:53.080] – Jonathan Denwood

You steal from? Who do you steal from? Come on, tell us. Who do you steal from?


[00:46:56.540] – Mike McAllister

I probably steal more from the SaaS world than anywhere in WordPress, just because I don’t…


[00:47:06.640] – Jonathan Denwood

What are a couple SaaS products in UX design that you think are really get you look at them and you think, Wow, I want to do that.


[00:47:19.350] – Mike McAllister

I would say not so much specific sites, but I might be one of the few people who still use Dribbble. Dribbble is a design community and you can go and see how people design certain things. I just love flipping through that because it’s not so much huge corporate websites. It’s real world designers building real world stuff. And so you get fresh ideas about maybe things that aren’t trends yet, or a color palette, or a way of doing a pop up, or something like that. I just like to look through there and then just go on my own.


[00:47:56.250] – Jonathan Denwood

I’m going to tell you something. My crowd probably don’t read it. I’ve got a Masters in UX design.


[00:48:01.440] – Mike McAllister

I went.


[00:48:02.260] – Jonathan Denwood

To the London School of Print and Design to do my master’s. Wow, all right. Here you go. It’s probably too young for this because I’m showing my age. But you remember the first Adobe website? Lots of white space, big, bold colors, really polished design. I can still see that website, that Adobe website. Shame about the company, but the.


[00:48:32.900] – Mike McAllister

Website was great.


[00:48:36.340] – Jonathan Denwood

You can still sponsor me Adobe if you want to. But I remember and I’ve always been influenced by the German Gestalt sensibilities, that sensibilities, this is more.


[00:48:59.490] – Mike McAllister

Functionally and.


[00:49:00.320] – Jonathan Denwood

All that. That Danish, that’s my bag, that thing. I think you’re influenced by it as well, aren’t you? I can see that in your work as well.


[00:49:14.910] – Mike McAllister

Yeah, absolutely. No, I love Deter Rams and the Scandinavian, and all of that influence of design is very type based, clean white space, all of that is my bag as well, for sure.


[00:49:36.760] – Jonathan Denwood

It’s been a great discussion. Hopefully you come back. Well, I’m going to leave it. Hopefully you come back. I think it’s been a great discussion. How do people find out more about you and what you’re up to?


[00:49:51.630] – Mike McAllister

Yeah. If you want to learn about Olly, you can go to olly. Wp. Com, O L, L, I E, WP. Com. Keep an eye out there for there’s going to be a pro version of that coming out. And otherwise, I’m on Twitter fairly actively @ Mike McAllister. Or you could just Google Mike McAllister.


[00:50:12.430] – Jonathan Denwood

What about your course? What is your course, folk?


[00:50:15.040] – Mike McAllister

What’s the type? Last year, I think it was; I created a course for creators to learn how to make digital products. So that could be something like WordPress themes, or it could be stock photos, templates, and things like that. I created a whole course called Liftoff course.com, and that teaches you how to take an idea, digitize it, turn it into a digital product, and monetize it. So it walks you through the whole process of getting an idea of how to turn it into a digital product, how to market it, and how to launch it.


[00:50:54.410] – Jonathan Denwood

How much is it?


[00:50:56.800] – Mike McAllister

I think the eBook… There’s just an eBook only.


[00:51:01.440] – Jonathan Denwood

You should know this by heart.


[00:51:05.440] – Mike McAllister

Yeah, an eBook only is 29 bucks. The ebook only is 29 bucks. I have an all-access, which gives you an online course. It gives you an eBook, an audiobook, and some other goodies.


[00:51:16.230] – Jonathan Denwood

129 bucks. Wow, what a.


[00:51:18.170] – Mike McAllister



[00:51:18.510] – Jonathan Denwood

Folks. Do you want to go over there and bag that, folks? Mike knows what he’s talking about. So you want to buy it myself? Hopefully, you will offer me.


[00:51:31.110] – Mike McAllister

A coupon.


[00:51:31.830] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s right. Yeah. After the feed. But you definitely want to go over there, bag that, folks. I’ll ensure the links to everything Mike has will be in the show notes. But you definitely want to go over there and purchase that because that’s a bargain of the year. That’s right. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. I think we’ve had a great discussion. We’ve had a wonderful, haven’t we? You’ve handled me with… Obviously, you do listen to the show because you’ve handled my badness quite effectively. We will return next week with another great discussion or our monthly roundtable show. We will see you soon, folks. Bye. Hey, thanks for listening. We really do appreciate it. Why not visit the Mastermind Facebook group? And also, to keep up with the latest news, click WP. Tonic. Com newsletter. We’ll see you next time.


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#767 WP-Tonic This Week in WordPress & SaaS, We Interview Mike McAlister of Ollie, A Powerful New WordPress Block Theme was last modified: by