WordPress isn’t a lemon or just some standard, run-of-the-mill publishing platform. With more than a decade under its belt, the open-source platform has embraced thousands of developers and designers, adding to a laundry list of contributors constantly driving the impressive content management system well beyond its humble roots and barebones beginnings. Nowadays, it serves bloggers and businesses hellbent on pushing a product, service or content in the hopes of being seen in the bustling industry that is the Internet.
However, not everyone thinks about how their WordPress theme is a reflection of themselves. Although individual aesthetics play a role in website design, you need to factor in the kind of site you’re building and the audience you’re trying to appeal to. Different themes offer different page templates and widgets, coding and fonts, layout builders and design responsiveness that can be custom tailored to become your site’s personal mouthpiece without ever actually saying a word. Simply put, they’re an easy way to make your site your own and stand out among the pack. Now, if only there weren’t more than 2,000 (and counting) WordPress themes to choose from at any given moment.
Here are our picks for the best WordPress themes available, whether you’re looking for premium customization or a simple, free alternative. Some cater to the professional blogger or business, some to the photo aficionado, but each caters to someone. While you’re at it, check out WordPress’ full theme directory for a comprehensive list of additional options as well our top picks for the best WordPress plugins to cap it all off.
Choose your category:
- Free WordPress themes
- Premium WordPress themes
Free WordPress themes
Attitude certainly has the right frame of mind when it comes to simplicity and elegance. Themehorse’s flagship offering includes highly-customizable page builder featuring two site layouts, five page templates, five widgets areas and many more standout aspects that make it a perfect foundation on which to begin building your site. It also supports a variety of plugins (Breadcrumb NavXT, WP-PageNavi, etc.) and is retina optimized, meaning it automatically adapts to tablets and other mobile devices.
Swift Basic has been hailed time and time again for its incredible loading speeds and intelligent loading process that gives first priority to the most important elements on the page. Its feature post slider, eight widget areas, and built-in sidebar options make for a magazine-heavy design, but various design aspects and meta info can always be customized using the drag-and-drop interface. All the standard WordPress features are present — menus, post types, post formats, etc. — all bundled with streamlined design optimized for breakneck speeds and advanced SEO purposes.
Built on the Twitter Bootstrap framework with HTML5 and CSS3, Customizr aptly fits the name. Nikeo’s theme comes paired with an assortment of features and design elements to choose from including individual skins, logos, social profiles, sliders, featured home blocks, and varied designs for the overall layout. It’s clean and responsive, equipped with a responsive slider generator and a bold call-to-action button to entice your audience to click further, all of which are easily accessible using the built-in WordPress theme customizer and suitable for beginners.
If a picture says a thousand words, than sometimes the proper theme to showcase it is well worth the download. Lensa is just that, a full-screen gallery theme loaded with slideshow effects, custom shortcodes, five gallery templates, and a widget-sidebar manager for dragging and dropping customized widgets within the admin panel. The theme is built on HTML5 and CSS3 to ensure compatibility across Web browsers and mobile devices, and includes multilingual support as well as a simple minimization button to hide content and reveal your background image at a moment’s notice.
CyberChimps’ Responsive is the most popular WordPress theme to date, garnering more than 750,000 downloads since its initial release and offering a fluid grid system that retains its visual appeal across desktop and mobile devices alike. The theme is robust, loaded with nine page templates, 11 widget areas, six template layouts, four menu positions in addition to the already-comprehensive CSS control and bundled social-networking tools. Plus, it’s known for it’s minimalism and rock-steady reliability, making it a straightforward theme anyone can admire.
In terms of drag-and-drop elements and sheer responsiveness, CyberChimps’ Eclipse reigns supreme. Among the various drag-and-drop components — such as those for working with portfolios, the feature slider, and post or page content — lies additional options for culling different layouts and sidebars to help tailor each and every page of your website to your liking. It’s polished and offers a good amount of customization, but it may prove rather daunting for those who are.. err.. less than tech-savvy when it comes to Web design.
Carloine Moore’s Spun dons homespun appeal (no pun intended) in a clean design that would likely intrigue even the most hesitant user. It’s highly distinctive, crafted with a primary emphasis on featured images representing your posts, and a responsive layout that remains just as distinctive whether viewing the content on a tower desktop or and iPad. Various sections, including those pertaining to additional information and footer widgets, are also grayed out until the cursor hovers over them — making your content pop with more eye-catching flare than any other theme on our roundup.
Though Boldr Lite doesn’t pack as much punch as the pro version, the theme still offers its fair share of tools and customization settings based on the same Icefit framework. The intuitive layout builder provides options for selecting multiple layout schemes, along with more than 600 fonts and unlimited sidebars, while the coupled visual content editor utilizes shortcodes in lieu of more advanced coding procedures. It’s also responsive like most of our recommended themes, automatically resizing for clear viewing no matter the screen size.
With virtually unlimited layout options and custom designs, it’s safe to say Pinboard was designed with multimedia content in mind. It runs on a flexible and advanced grid system, smoothly adapting to the viewport of your browser no matter the device and offering easy access to custom landing pages and the dedicated portfolio section. In addition, users can alter post thumbnails, formats and embed audio and video to go alongside normal text and standard design elements. It’s well-organized to boot, making quick navigation and advanced editing features comprehensible to even a novice.
There isn’t an abundance to say about Fizz, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Site5 theme is gorgeously crafted and sparse, offering just enough features to appease newcomers and WordPress veterans alike. The theme is equipped with two page layouts, widget support, a threaded comment section and vertical-sliding feature posts tailorable to the eight premade color schemes (black, blue, red, brown, pink, white and green). Custom typography and Google Web Fonts are also supported, along with built-in pagination and stats codes, but thankfully, the admin panel makes setup a breeze.
Next Page: Best premium WordPress themes.