It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since our last WordPress theme collection, but there you have it – the time has come again. Once a year we feature the most useful and interesting WordPress-themes that we are collecting over months and present them in a nice quick overview. The collections from 2007, 2008 and last year are still useful, but some of the themes are outdated or updated now.
Looking back over these previous theme articles, you can clearly see how and why WordPress has rapidly matured into the CMS powerhouse it is today. With all of the features that have been added and improvements made with every new WordPress version and with its ever-increasing popularity among the design and development community, the quality of free themes is evident. Developers are continually pushing WordPress’ boundaries, giving us today’s outstanding free theme collection.
Today, we present a fresh collection of useful WordPress themes. Please notice that some themes are a bit older, but they are included because we haven’t featured them last time. This round-up picks up where we left off last year: most themes below were released between June 2009 and August 2010. We’ve also split this collection into the following categories: gallery and portfolio themes, themes for bloggers, e-Commerce WordPress themes, clean themes, magazine-style themes, minimal themes, mobile themes; pre-launch themes; and finally “Themes That Take WordPress Beyond.”
[Offtopic: by the way, did you know that there is a Smashing eBook Series? Book #2 is Successful Freelancing for Web Designers, 260 pages for just $9,90.]
Gallery And Portfolio Themes
Free wordpress theme in modern-minimalist style. Imbalance is a very user friendly, jQuery powered theme which looks really well under any browser and OS. Perfectly fits for your blog, online magazine or portfolio websites. It is optimized for high-loads, contains WordPress 3.0 menu support, Twitter widget, jQuery-based gallery and WP Post Thumbnails support.
Shaken and Stirred Theme (demo)
This theme is perfect for you if you’re in need of a gallery/portfolio website or if you just want a website with a unique grid layout that not many websites have taken full advantage of yet. “Shaken Grid” uses the jQuery Masonry plugin which “arranges elements vertically then horizontally according to a grid.” The result is a gap-less layout even if you have varying post heights.
The theme is designed on an 800px, 8 column grid layout that truly allows your images to shine. The theme boasts a sharp typographic approach with a 22px baseline grid, and a Garamond/Helvetica (Times/Arial for you PC users) font stack that’s much easier to read.
Fotofolio Landscape (demo)
A nice dark WordPress theme with sidebar navigation and jQuery-powered lightbox for images. A good choice for photographers who want to feature their works in an online portfolio.
This theme contains a fluid grid-based layout, jQuery-based transitions and automatically resizing thumbnails. Also, you can choose between various page tamplates, and the theme has a widget-enabled area, too.
Mansion is a free photoblogger’s theme for WordPress. It features a flexible-width thumbnail grid for both images and photo journal entries. Mansion is perfect for those who want to primarily showcase their photographs and occasionally write blog posts.
PhotoView (the link is currently unavailable due to server problems of the theme’s author) (demo)
PhotoView was designed for displaying photos and videos in a simple and clean manner. The theme has an integrated lightbox. Also, a PSD file is included for easy customization.
SimpleFolio is a portfolio theme that includes a blog and a very extensive option page that allows you to exclude all your portfolio items from the blog page. It also includes a front page slider. It has 2 different widget areas and threaded comments, and also supports paged comments and has 2 different page templates for advanced usage. The control of images is done from the post page.
Smashing Multimedia (demo)
This theme was designed especially for podcasters, photographers and users who can now easily embed videos and images, rate them and showcase them in their own WordPress-based blog. It has a parent theme and an easily customizable child theme. This WordPress Theme comes with layered PSD source files, a visual help guide and is fully localized ready for you to translate it into your target language.
Fullscreen Photo and Multimedia (demo)
Fullscreen is a free one-column photography and multimedia theme for WordPress that can be used for portfolios, photoblogs, videoblogs, and virtually anything else where you want your content to be front and center. It provides visual artists a unique way of presenting their latest work online using a minimalist side-scrolling homepage.
Portfolio WPESP Theme (live demo)
Portfolio — WPESP Theme is a “minimalist” Theme based on the idea of portfolio created by DAILYWP. The Theme is a starting point in the creation of portfolios, using WordPress as CMS.
Selecta (demo, WordPress 3.0+ compatible)
Selecta’s rounded edges and bold, modern color palettes make for a fresh theme that’s best suited to blogs where video will be the main focus. The wider-than-usual frames around thumbnails and videos bring to mind the retro-cool of Polaroid photographs and old home movies.
BlueBubble WordPress Theme (demo)
The theme is clean and simple, contains a theme options page, uses post image thumbnail plugin, has 2 widget ready sidebars and uses jQuery/PHP-based contact form with easy customization. Requires WordPress 2.9+.
WordPress Themes For Bloggers
Lap of Luxury (demo)
This theme uses gold in the logo, and white and black are used as the main colors. The 2-col theme contains a sidebar on the right that allows for a large square ad up top, and splitting into 2 columns below that. Comes fully widgetized. A special feature of this theme is the logo changer.
This theme has a simple layout based on anime or game niche. Theme will be suitable for blogs of such niches. Theme has features like featured post section, post thumbnails, banner ads, adsense, twitter widgets etc. Theme uses custom fonts for various titles. It has an intuitive theme option page which lets you configure the theme.
Koi Theme (demo)
Koi is a simplified version of N.Design Studio’s theme (2009 redesign). Key features: multi-level dropdown menus, social media buttons, threaded & paged comments, and sidebar widget plus three footer widgets. This theme includes an option page to manage dropdown menus, favicon, footer tracking code, and social media buttons. Requires WordPress 2.9+.
Bueno is a clean, minimalistic design which sophistication in both its typography and structure. It uses a grid-based design, has integrated banner ad management, widgetized sidebar and 7 different color schemes. Also, the theme is packaged wth a .po file for easy theme integration.
Notepad Theme (demo)
The theme is inspired by the iPhone’s Notes.app. This new theme is widget compatible with threaded comments, social media buttons, and multi-level dropdown menus. It has been tested on WordPress 2.9 with Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and IE7+. It also includes some nice CSS3 enhancement such as rounded corners and drop shadow.
E-Commerce WordPress Themes
Clean WordPress Themes
The Ideal Website
The Ideal Website is designed to fit Fibonacci’s Golden Section — otherwise known as the divine proportions. These measurements are said to be the most pleasing to the eye, and have been widely used for everything from judging beauty of a face, to the design of bank notes.
Un.complicated Theme (demo)
Voidy is the perfect theme for your great blog. It is clean, clear and beautiful. It is minimalistic two-cloumn theme with the widgets all arranged in the right sidebar. Voidy was designed to make your content stand out and make everything else get out of the way.
Clear is the perfect theme for great authors. It is clean, clear and beautiful. It is minimalistic one-cloumn theme with the widgets all arranged at the bottom. Clear was designed to make your content stand out and make everything else get out of the way.
The theme is based on the design ideas of Jan Tschichold, Josef MÃ¼ller-Brockmann, Dieter Rams, and other modernists. Beautifully built yet transparent, it was designed with a focus on optimal typography in order to better showcase your content: text, images and video.
The Erudite (demo)
A theme for writers who want readers, not visitors, traffic, click-throughs, CPMs or what-have-you. Carefully crafted typography and generous use of whitespace lets your writing shine. Version 2 includes a dark theme option.
The Columnist WordPress theme is inspired by traditional newspaper layouts and the grid structures and typography techniques they employ. It has WordPress thumbnail support, widget support, CSS3 column structure, jQuery animations, custom fields for images and featured latest post area.
The Structure Theme (the link was removed because the pricing was changed after the article was published, demo)
The Structure Theme is a free WordPress theme with a modern minimalist design. There are 4 themes included with the Structure Theme download; a white theme, black theme, two column blog and a single column blog design. The theme was created with a simple and clean aesthetic meant to easily adopt the style of the content added to the site. The Structure Theme is also designed with customization in mind. Meaning, with a little work, the theme can be completely personalized to suit your brand.
Minimal WordPress Themes
The goal with Manifest was to create a clean and streamlined theme that focused on the content and not the distractions. It utilizes a single column, 500 pixel wide layout. No sidebars. No widgets.
Vostok is for those who don’t want attention to be distracted from content. Colors and typography have been carefully chosen to achieve maximum legibility with minimum eye fatigue. Also, code has been written with extreme care for web standards and accessibility.
Mobile Themes For WordPress
iPhonsta WordPress theme (demo)
iPhonsta Theme is made for iPhone but it also looks nice on other mobile phones and gadgets. iPhonsta wordpress theme is an easy way to expand your visitor’s loyality by providing them with a mobile version of your website.
WordPress Mobile Pack
The WordPress Mobile Pack includes the following: a mobile switcher to select themes based on the type of user visiting your website; a selection of mobile themes; extra widgets; device adaptation; and a mobile administration panel to allow users to edit the website or write posts while out and about.
WordPress Mobile Theme
This is a minimalist theme that can be used to target mobile users. The theme works with any mobile phone of any resolution. And with its light weight, it also drastically reduces loading times.
MÃ¶bius is compatible with iPhone (and iPod Touch), Android, BlackBerry, Windows, Palm Pre and Symbian touchscreen mobile phones.
News Press Mobile
The News Press theme is a simple and elegant solution for creating an iPhone-friendly news, blog or other text-centric WordPress website. It comes complete with all the standard WordPress blog features: search, log-in, categories, tags, archives, photos and more.
Carrington Mobile is an elegant mobile theme that supports advanced touchscreen browsers (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Pre) and that is also backwards-compatible with older mobile devices.
Pre-Launch WordPress Themes
Themes That Take WordPress Beyond
P2 (Like Twitter in a Box)
P2 is a theme for WordPress that transforms a mild-mannered blog into a super-blog, with features like inline comments on the home page, a posting form right on the home page, inline editing of posts and comments, real-time updates (to display new posts and comments without reloading) and much more.
GTD (private theme for teams to collaborate)
The MiniCard theme supports hCard and vCard microformats, it supports a ton of social networks, it can accommodate some portfolio items (optional), and it does much more, all from the dedicated theme configuration page.
WordPress Theme Tools
Elastic Theme Editor
The awesome Elastic is a visual theme editor and engine for WordPress. It takes a completely innovative approach to theme development. To get an idea of what it can do, check out this video:
Divine (Convert PSD to WordPress)
Divine is a Photoshop plug-in that allows you to assign WordPress roles to your main elements (e.g. #footer, #header, etc.). The plug-in then prepares all the files you need. Once you set up FTP access, the tool uploads the theme automatically to your server. Look at this video for insight into how Divine works:
WordPress Debug Theme
The WordPress Debug theme allows you to check early on for any possible issues you might have with your WordPress installation. It is quite simple for now, doing only a few things, but it does them very effectively.
Starter And Blank WordPress Themes
Starkers HTML5 WordPress Theme Kit
Starkers is a bare bones WordPress theme created to act as a starting point for the theme designer… Free of all style, presentational elements, and non-semantic markup, Starkers is the perfect ‘blank slate’ for your projects, as it’s a stripped-back version of the ‘Default’ theme that ships with WordPress
WordPress Constructor is a many-in-one theme. It contains 6 sidebar variations and three layouts (and you can create new is easy). You can configure colors and fonts. The theme also has post thumbnails (WordPress 2.9+) and navigation menu customization options (WordPress 3.0+).
Buddymatic Theme Framework
Buddymatic is a highly extensible theme framework for WordPress and WordPress MU blogs, including BuddyPress-enabled home and member blogs.
ET Starter Theme for WordPress
The ET starter theme lets you easily choose between a one-, two- and three-column layout. It supports the WP-PageNavi, Twitter Tools and Contact Form 7 plug-ins and also includes a built-in jQuery drop-down menu.
WordPress Skeleton Theme
The feature-rich WordPress Skeleton Theme has been developed to speed up and streamline your WordPress development. One of its outstanding out-of-the-box features is CSS support for the iPhone and iPad (both portrait and landscape); simply edit the iPhone.css and iPad.css files.
Blank is a theme with all the functionality of a typical WordPress theme but almost none of the styling. The idea is that using this as your base theme is far easier than using one that is already styled.
© Paul Andrew for Smashing Magazine, 2010. | Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us | Digg this | Stumble on StumbleUpon! | Tweet it! | Submit to Reddit | Forum Smashing Magazine
Post tags: themes, wordpress