Part of the power of WordPress comes from the near absolute customization available to use, while still running on the same powerful backend CMS. You’re never going to compromise your design just to use WordPress.
On one hand, it’s entirely possible, viable and even profitable to create your own custom theme. It makes sure you stand out from the rest of the pack, and you’re different from all those bog-standard WordPress blogs. On the other hand, some themes are very customizable themselves, or they don’t need to be. They get the job done, and they don’t keep people away from your content. No barriers; just business.
Which themes are the best?
Sometimes, you don’t need a lot of fancy graphics, parallax scrolling, slideshow imagery or odd details. All you need is a place to showcase your text, maybe a single large image, a couple of CTA spaces and a bit for further reading. That’s what you get with Skeleton, a theme designed to give you the bare minimum necessary to support a robust site without overloading you with details to bend your content to fit. It’s a great little responsive theme that works for blogs, affiliate sites or app developers equally well.
Coda is a theme designed with sliders, jQuery and WordPress all merged into a beautiful, dark and synergistic whole. It’s excellent for a page selling a piece of software, with multiple tabs of information allowing you to give system requirements, use tutorials, knowledge base access and contact information all in sequestered tabs without disrupting your primary sales pitch. The one unfortunate negative is the lack of responsive design, which every other theme on this list has.
Folder is a design that’s specifically created to be the portfolio site for an artist, designer, graphical expert or writer. It’s a heavily graphical theme, so it works best for artists with a lot to showcase, but anyone with content can use it to great effect. It’s responsive, it’s elegant, it’s very well coded and best of all, it’s free. It uses the unique service “pay with a tweet” to garner some social media influence rather than direct sales profits.
This is a very unique theme when it comes to blogs online, because it does away with the typical homepage and instead becomes a Pinterest-style set of cards for every post you want to showcase. Think of it like a personal off-site pinboard for your content. You’ve got graphical previews, titles, snippets, read more links, categories and comments all in one easy location. Scroll down and you have more space for homepage links. With a little creative customization, you can add a top header and some additional navigation to make the theme as close to perfect as you could want, for a few industries anyway.
This theme is designed with one thing in mind; Google AdSense integration with a news site. If you’re establishing a site where you can publish 2-6 posts a day, with a solid stream of timely content, this is a great way to deliver that content. It’s also already set up with a number of different AdSense integration locations, including both sidebars in a fixed-width design. It’s also a fairly cheap theme, all things considered.
To me, Avada is just about the perfect theme for a niche affiliate, particularly in the health or nutrition fields. It just strikes me as perfect, with the ability to use huge pictures of healthy people in a clean, comfortable design. Your top navigation is perfectly robust, your design is responsive, and you have plenty of room to add information and links to your affiliate products. You would be hard pressed to go wrong with this theme.
Noteworthy is a theme designed specifically in reference to USA Today, and if you were ever curious about ways you can use it to post blogs and news articles, look no further than the model itself. It’s responsive, of course, and full of options for adding and removing previewed posts, categories, archives and anything else. Use as few or as many panes as you need to create the design you’ve always wanted. Personally, I recommend having enough available on screen to showcase the newest posts on your blog without stretching too far into the distant past.
This is a very basic theme, but it’s also very reminiscent of two very modern, popular designs; Ello and Twitter. The huge graphical top banner takes up most of the page until you scroll, and it scrolls off with typical HTML5 smoothness. Below, you have plenty of space for an About section, followed by sequential snippets of blog posts and space for widgets at the bottom. It’s all very simple, very elegant and surprisingly robust.
This theme is great for a blog with a central graphic and a lot of distributed information. It has a set of header links complete with sub-menus at the fingertips of your users. Just below it is a huge space for a customized piece of art, or a slideshow of images to fit your theme. Below that, information and about sections, completely customizable. It’s all responsive design, as you’ve come to expect from the best themes, and it’s designed specifically for portfolios and blogs.
Last but far from least, the Genesis Framework isn’t a theme so much as it is a modular platform for creating your own customized layout. You can use one to three columns, you can use sidebars, you can have a fixed or variable width, you can customize backgrounds and headers, and so much more. The best part is, it’s designed from the ground up to be mobile, responsive and extremely fast. Plus, other themes can be layered on top of it, for a completely unique and robust blog.
Of course, these are just ten out of the hundreds of thousands of skins and themes available for WordPress. It’s impossible to tell which are the best for monetization or traffic support; the best you can do is pick the one that fits with your business better than the rest.
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