WordPress has been the base of many people’s blogs for quite a while now. It offers many great features on a stable platform and is also very easy to operate. The best part is customization: there are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins to enhance your readers’ experience. You can make WordPress do almost anything.
The only problem with having so many themes is that they’re not all the best for everyone. There’s WordPress themes to fit every taste and style imaginable, but that means you might have to pick through dozens to find the one you want. Today, I’m going to give you some insight on 20 WordPress themes that are clean and beautifully designed, especially if you like simpler themes that emphasize your content.
Gallery and Portfolio
I really love the magazine-type layout on this theme. It focuses on the content, which is good to see in a portfolio theme. AutoFocus features Flickr integration that will download images from your Flickr account in a few clicks, Lightbox integration, image cropping, an enhanced visual editor, the capability to display EXIF data, and more. You can try it out for free, but many of the great features won’t be enabled unless you buy it for $25.
Yet another great portfolio theme, except this one costs a pretty penny but also looks much, much more professional. It features support for a wide variety of fonts, animated drop-down menus, simple customization of many of the theme’s elements through the control panel, twelve custom page templates, support for threaded commenting, and more. It costs $79.99 for the basic edition and $169.99 for the developer edition, which includes technical support for up to five websites and all the theme’s PSD files for full customization.
This one is great for photographers who are looking for a slick way to showcase their work. It features automatic image resizing, a testimonial section, slideshows, custom menus, and more. Best of all, Fotofolio is completely free for any users that wish to use it for a personal portfolio, though it will cost $39 for commercial use — still, this isn’t that much at all for such a nice theme.
Blog and Magazine
A very clean theme with lots of useful features like integrated Google Analytics, automatic thumbnail resizing, WordPress menu compatibility, page navigation, and more. It’s quite surprising that the designer could offer this theme free, but they do.
I actually use this theme on my own technology blog and it works great. Some of the highlights in features are easy customization through the theme panel in the dashboard, including custom shortcodes for things like dropcap and easy YouTube embedding, special formatting for reviews, Facebook and Twitter widgets, and much more. I’d recommend this if you want a magazine-like look for your blog. This theme is $35.
I used to use this one on my technology blog, but it didn’t end up working well for the type of blog that I had, so I moved to Marisa. Anyway, this theme is perfect for magazines or blogs that like magazine layouts. It supports custom menus, includes custom page templates for anything from full width pages to a contact page, full typography customization, SEO options, great browser compatibility, and more. It’ll set you back $35, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for a polished magazine theme. However, might I note that WPCrunchy’s support is not that good and they take forever to reply.
This theme’s name implies true beauty. Elegant Themes, Inc. has worked very hard to make Polished one of the most beautiful themes that I’ve ever laid eyes on. The only problem is, it’s just meant to be a blog theme and is not for a portfolio or business. Regardless of this, the theme features six color schemes, an easy way to insert advertisements into the template, automatic thumbnail resizing using TimThumb, lots of great shortcodes for special circumstances, compatibility with many different browsers, many page templates, and more. One great thing about this theme is that the designers offer all their themes for a mere $39 one-time fee, which is great because there are a lot of great themes available from them.
Editor’s Note: I actually used to use this on my own personal site, before I switched to WooTheme’s Canvas theme.
This one seems like it can be a bit cliché, but with the right graphic designer, you can make it a bit more unique. It features four different color schemes, automatic thumbnail resizing, a variety of shortcodes, and a lot of other great stuff that will make your app look professional — provided its interface matches that of the theme. MyApp is available for $39 through an Elegant Themes, Inc. membership and includes all the PSDs that you’ll need for complete customization.
This one is a really clean and feature-packed theme for businesses. While many businesses prefer to have a professional designer make them a more unique theme for their websites, this one is great for a small local business or one that’s just getting started. It features full localization support, 14 custom widgets, fancy dropdown menus, three special page templates, easy custom logo settings, pricing tables, all PSDs, and in-depth documentation. The theme is available for $40, which is pretty good considering the many great features that it offers.
Clean and Minimal
If you want to focus on the content, and the content alone, then Clear is your best friend. It features widget support at the bottom of the page with content on the rest. Pages are displayed in the header and, well, that’s it. It’s free, so maybe you should try it out.
I personally love this one. In fact, I was using it on my personal blog before deciding to switch to an even cleaner look — which just happens to be the theme below this one. Anyway, Manifest handles blockquotes very well, has support for threaded comments, has full compatibility with the WordPress photo gallery feature, and is the cleanest slate you’ll ever write on. It’s only 500 pixels wide and does not support any widgets, which means there’s nothing to obstruct your content. Manifest is free.
I really love this theme and am currently using it on my personal opinion blog. It’s mainly good for personal blogs, but could me made into nearly anything because it’s very small and clean. The only notable feature in this theme is drop-cap, which you can see in the screenshot above. It really looks distinguished and will give your blog a more literary feel. Other than that, content is the only feature that you’ll find — and you’re providing it. Melville is free.
WooThemes’ Announcement is the perfect theme for those special events of your life. It’s ideal for weddings, engagements, the birth of a new child, a graduation, and more. Announcement features a custom home page layout, a special slideshow, custom post layouts, custom typography, baby grid statistics, 8 custom widgets, and more. The theme is available for $70 with two bonus themes from the designers or $150 with three bonus themes and the PSD files.
Aware works well for portfolio websites and responds very well to different devices. It has beautiful animations, over 70 Google fonts, 5 custom widgets, light and dark variations, 6 featured section textures, a contact form in the footer, shortcode buttons in the editor, is fully prepared for translation, and more. It’ll set you back $35.
Evolution has a great responsive layout that will adjust nicely on any device. It features four different color schemes, threaded comments support, automatic thumbnail resizing, an easy way to set up advertisements, many shortcodes for formatting, special page templates, complete localization, a WordPress admin options panel, and more. It’s $39, includes the PSDs and a membership to Elegant Themes, Inc.
Propulsion is the perfect responsive business and eCommerce theme. It features support for special post formats (standard, gallery, link, and quote), three responsive slideshows, 21 skins, sidebar defining for each page, custom widgets, complete color customization, and more. The theme is available for $35 with the PSDs.
The best part about this theme is that it has a responsive layout, which means that it will look good on nearly any device. It adjusts the width automatically on an iPhone or iPad. In addition, it’s very clean and simple, which would be most desirable for a business blog or maybe a graphics blog. The large featured slider that looks very nice with big images. It also has very nice typography and Twitter and Flickr widgets, yet another great advantage for photographers or other types of artists. In addition, there is a full scalable gallery with swipe support for those of you who have many pictures and wish to upload them into a cloud portfolio of sorts. This theme costs $35.
There are some who need a theme that’s optimized for mobile users, and that’s exactly what HandHeld offers. It’s a secondary theme that works alongside your current one, which means that it won’t replace your current theme. It features Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone compatibility, threaded comments support, a theme options page in the WordPress admin panel, custom thumbnail images, full color customization, and valid XHTML and CSS. It’ll set you back $39 for a membership to Elegant Themes, Inc., as previously stated, though it’s worth it and you’ll also get the PSD files with the theme.
Yet another mobile WordPress theme, though I believe that this one is the most beautiful available. It features custom logo integration, a featured post slider, support for many languages, threaded comments support, author information below each post, a custom archive page layout, Google Analytics integration, automatic image resizing for making your content look better on a mobile device, beautiful effects, and more. The theme is available for $50, which is quite a lot for a mobile theme, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for something very professional and polished.
Onswipe is a revolutionary tablet-optimized theme for your WordPress blog. It will fit best if you actually use WordPress for blogging and not for a portfolio or business. Onswipe takes only a few minutes to set up and will make your website look beautiful on any tablet. It features gesture support, 10 different main page layouts, 4 different article layouts, social sharing on articles, an “Add to homescreen” option that will make the web app feel like a real app, and more. It’s available for free to anyone, so try it out today!
That’s all for this time: 20 of the themes that have caught our eye for content-centered blogs and sites powered by WordPress. Do you have another favorite WordPress theme that’s cleanly designed and is great for showcasing writing or photography? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!