10 Solid WordPress Themes

Album Cover: The Bends

"All your insides fall to pieces; you just sit there wishing you could still make love."
Radiohead / High and Dry

Posted on July 30, 2007 2:24 AM in Web Design
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Since I've been dabbling in WordPress recently, I spent a good chunk of time tonight doing some theme research to try and get an idea of the extent of what's out there. Rather than wasting my time at the official theme viewer site (which didn't prove very fruitful on past visits), I decided to focus on the themes available at Wordpress Themes.

I'm personally looking for something clean and simple for a new blog I'm starting (which I'll announce here later), but I evaluated the following themes more generally, based on their completeness and the quality of their design. I looked through about 10 pages of random themes, then 10 pages of their most downloaded themes, and then 10 pages of their top rated themes, and eventually settled on the following themes as the most solid of the bunch (in no particular order).

1. Zweipunknull

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

I like this theme because it's clean and simple. The blue hues go well together (you'd be surprised by the number of themes that I looked at that were color scheme-challenged) and the small font works nicely. The only downside to this theme is the strange sperminess (new word) of the main header area.

2. IAMWW w2 DnD 0.5 and Grid Focus Public 1.0

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

I grouped these two together because they are very similar. IAMWW w2 DnD 0.5, shown above, stands out a little more visually because of the larger fonts, but they both share a 3-column layout and a dark color scheme. Grid Focus Public 1.0, shown below, is strictly monochrome, but it pulls it off quite well.

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

3. Stardust 1.0

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

I like this theme because it reminds me of the very first time I saw The White Stripes perform on television — their clothing, gear and entire set overpowered by red and white. Some of the items in the header section of the theme seem a little out-of-place, but other than that this is a pretty decent theme.

4. Simplicity 2.0

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

I really like the shininess of this theme, especially in the "Search Tags" box in the sidebar. The candy color scheme makes this theme a perfect fit for hip bloggers who might want to cover things like fashion or celebrity gossip. I also like how the blog title area allows the words to overlap a bit. It might not work as well for other word combinations, but it sure works for "Wordpress Themes."

5. Hello 2007 1.2

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

I think this theme stood out because it feels like the type of theme I'd see at one of the tech-related blogs I follow. I suppose the Ubuntu and Firefox ads and the big feed icon might have something to do with that, but the menu at the top and the grey colors do, too. This one's pretty straightforward, but I like it.

6. Internet Music 1.0

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

This one really stood out from a thumbnail point-of-view. It caught my eye immediately, but once I saw the theme in action, I wasn't as impressed. I think the color scheme and some of the design elements down the page are really well done, but the placement of the items in the main header area ruin it for me. Needless to say, someone with a even the slightest amount of skill could use some hackery to fix up the header and end up with a great overall theme. Plus, you gotta love a name like "Internet Music."

7. Rounded V2 blue edition 1.0

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

This theme stood out mainly because of the interesting blue floral design at the top. I don't like how much space was wasted up in that area, though. The general roundedness of the main page elements is pretty cool and I'm a big fan of the footer on this one. If someone could find a way to waste less space near the top, fix the padding around embedded images and make the links stand out differently, they'd really be on to something.

8. illacrimo 1.01

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

I really like the contrasts of this theme, combined with the fact that it kind of comes with its own identity. Most of the other WordPress themes I've seen don't really distinguish themselves in any way. Illacrimo 1.01 has its own logo (which even shows up as the favicon), even if it does unfortunately remind me of Degree deodorant.

While this is technically only a 3-column layout, you almost could count it as a 4-column layout because of the left-most bar reserved for the post dates. I hate to see all that wasted space that could otherwise be used for the main content, but it still adds a unique feel to the theme. The fonts are nice, too, and the little graphic elements that have been thrown in are a nice touch.

9. Japanese Cherry Blossom 1.0 and Hemingway 0.19

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

I grouped these two together for obvious reasons. They both employ the reverse-mullet strategy of blog design — long in the front and short in the back. I like Japanese Cherry Blossom 1.0, shown above, better than Hemingway 0.19, shown below, simply because of the added touch of color. They're both pretty well done, though.

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

10. Dark Black 1.3

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

I like Dark Black 1.3 because you can tell some real thought was put into it. I really like the links in the header and I like the fluidity of the theme. The blockquote elements look good, the pagination elements are very cleanly designed and the Recent Posts/Blogroll section is nicely done as well.

Honorable Mention: Free Fu 1.0

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

I would have loved to include this one in my top ten, because I really like the way the sidebar juts out at the top, and the subheader and out-of-bounds areas of the design have a nice look to them. However, the stuff going on in the main header really confuses me and the text in the main content is just too squished together to really consider this one as is.

Honorable Mention: PinkLove 1.0

Screenshot of WordPress Theme

I just had to include this one because October is, what, three months away now? If you're planning on going pink and you don't have the time to whip something up yourself, this would be a good alternative. Other than the unfortunate misspelling of "Search" in the search bar, the design elements are all pretty nicely done.

So that's that. If you agree or disagree with something I've said here, please be sure to comment. Also, if you know of another strong WordPress theme, definitely share a link.


jamie on August 01, 2007 at 2:20 PM:

These themes all look like they were designed by the designer of Franklin Day Planner refill pages. I tossed my planner and moved to a PDA because the refill pages were boring. Was the fluffy pink one designed by Barbie? It must be my taste that sucks...


Markus on August 06, 2007 at 5:10 AM:

Yeah! My design is first. ZweiPunkNull is my creation. The "strange sperminess" supposed to be flowers :D

A design has to simple and clearly arranged. And always use eye-friendly colors, like pink or yellow :P


QueenJean on October 08, 2007 at 6:53 AM:

Hey there. I'm new at this theme stuff in some ways. I only download widget ready themes, but sometimes get error message when in presentation/widgets that there's no sidebar activated.

Can you help with this? I've my current site theme "cleaker" is working well but I found you when googling "grid focus public 1.0 help"

Thanks for responding!
Jean Zei


fiorellino on January 29, 2011 at 12:52 PM:

Thanks for these templates.


AndrewStarlike on May 16, 2011 at 3:37 PM:

These themes look awfull. As an 2011 general guideline a theme ( nevermind wordpress or not ) should have javascript... loads of it! ( remember that web 2.0 thing... javascript/ajax makes it smoother! ).
And wordpress themes have a thing of looking good... what i have seen above is by far out of the looking good area.


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