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10 Remarkable (and Free) WordPress Themes

The following post on great free WordPress Templates was written by Reese Spykerman from Design by Reese.

A search for free WordPress themes yields thousands of results, some dull or cluttered, some utilitarian, and many inspiring and beautiful. Numerous other well-designed WordPress themes are available to you, but these are 10 that stand out to me for various features including good usability, organization, attractive use of graphics, cross-genre appropriateness and even search engine optimization.

1. GridFocus Public

GridfocusSkellie can’t be wrong: she uses this theme on both of her blogs.

Super easy to navigate and clear in its structure and hierarchy, GridFocus can impart a more serious, trustworthy tone to your blog.

Ideal for: ProBloggers, Frequent Bloggers, Minimalists, Authors, Internal Corporate Blogs

2. Blue Zinfandel Squared Enhanced

BluezinfandelWhen you want your words to stand out without unnecessary clutter, try Blue Zinfandel.

The main body text size could be increased for greater legibility (you can change this in the style sheet under style.css>#content p and add a rule for “font-size” (such as font-size: 14px;).

The classical look of this design makes it a good fit for journalists and other writers.

Ideal for: Journalists, PR Reps, Authors

3. BlueBird

BluebirdLooking for a lovely, classy little design for your personal blog?

3-column BlueBird fits the bill well, especially for female bloggers.

Life coaches and counselors on a low budget might also find this an appropriate theme for a promotional blog.

Ideal for: Personal Blogs, Life Coaches

4. Rockin’ Biz Red

RockinbizredThis conservative 2-column theme works well for corporate, business and legal bloggers.

With plenty of whitespace and judicious use of the color red, Rockin’ Biz Red is great for the business blogger who wants a bit more personality than some of the minimalist themes listed here.

The top header image of an office can be easily swapped out with an image of your choice.

Rockin’ Biz Red is also available in a more robust 3-column version.

Ideal for: Business Blogs, Corporate Blogging, Legal Blogs, Finance-related topics (swap out the top header for a more appropriate image. Istockphoto has low-cost, high-quality images.)

5. Colors of Rainbow

Colorsofrainbow

For the obligatory “web 2.0 style” theme, TechnRoll uses popular colors and effects without going overboard.

Its top area can be easily rebranded with your personal or business logo.

The prominent location of the RSS feed link in the upper right can help drive subscriptions to your feed, so it gets a promotional and usability thumbs up.

Ideal for: personal blogs, business blogs, review sites, real estate blogging

6. Elite

EliteA design with dark tones can set your blog apart from the majority of white designs used on blogs.

Elite uses shades of dark gray, which are offset by friendly blue and green typography.

Although simple in its layout and usage of details, Elite helps your blog look both authoritative and approachable.

Ideal for: Review blogs, Tech blogs, Authority Bloggers, Personal Blogs, Gadget sites, Finance and Stock Blogs

7.Fresh

Fresh

Fresh is bright enough to make your readers stand up and take notice, but mature enough to brand you as a professional.

Well organized, easy to read and notable in its attention to small details such as icons and supporting graphics, Fresh is appropriate for just about anyone.

However, its blue theme may resonate best with male visitors.

Ideal for: Personal blogs, tech-related blogs

8. Blix

Blix

Many theme designers claim their code is search engine optimized (SEO), but Blix is one of the few that is created with SEO specifically in mind.

Blix’s code uses best practices more than the majority of other WordPress themes and is optimized for Google Adsense integration.

Blix is a good start if you aren’t consulting with an SEO and optimization is your primary concern when downloading a theme. A version with greater optimization is also available for sale. (Note: Michael Gray has great tips on further optimizing your WordPress blog for SEO.

Ideal for: SEO, Product-Based Sites, Monetized Blogs, Internet Marketing

9. GridLock

GridlockOrder and balance define Gridlock, which uses a lovely, magazine-style layout that makes for a visually stunning, clean and usable design for your readers.

When you want to look sophisticated and polished, this is the WordPress theme for you.

Ideal for: ProBloggers, Writers, Corporate Blogs, Business Blogs, Anyone who loves order and balance.

10. Jello-Wala-Mello

JellowalamelloAlternative layouts beyond the usual 2-column or 3-column setup are difficult to find.

Jello-Wala-Mello turns your WordPress blog into cubed, magazine-style format.

By featuring your latest entry as a large blurb on top, with blurbs from your prior entries below, this theme helps pull readers into your archives and decreases endless scrolling on your home page.

Ideal for: creative professionals, small media (independent online publications, alternative media), journalists, review sites.

Watch Out for Malicious Code

When downloading WordPress themes, keep in mind a lot of themes get redistributed without the original creator’s permission and are often modified with spyware or other malicious code. Check out the theme’s ìfooter.phpî file and look for code that looks garbled. A legitimate footer file will either be blank or have some html and php code in it. A hacked footer file has one long line of code that looks encrypted. Derek Punsalon has more info http://5thirtyone.com/archives/870 about issues with themes on 3rd-Party sites.

Modifying Credit Links in the Footer File

Sometimes the modifications are less overt: the footer file will be modified with spam-type credit links (stuffed with keywords to online banking, poker, prescriptions, etc). These can be edited as well and replaced with links of your choice or removed entirely. Before you remove a credit link that looks legitimate, see if the author has a license that requires the credit to remain.

Note from Darren: Of course blog design is a fairly subjective thing. I asked Reese to write this post as I get a lot of questions from readers wanting to know which WordPress theme they should choose for their blog and in the hope that this might highlight a few places to start (as well as some of the things to look for in other themes). Both Reese and I would love to hear your own suggestions on free WordPress Themes that you like also.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Thanks Sharon Hurley Hall and Monica O’Brien. The two themes they mentioned are free and can be downloaded at my site: Structure and Visionary.

    Reese, this is a great list, but as some others mentioned, Smashing Magazine just released a 100-theme list. I prefer the smaller lists though. I can only take in so much at a time.

  2. Great list! You should also check out and bookmark our site which only lists “quality” free WordPress themes. Our staff combs many template sites and only selects the best of the best.

    http://www.eblogtemplates.com

    ~David

  3. It’s unfortunate that these aren’t available for bloggers using TypePad. How about a similar post for those of us using TypePad?

  4. Cynthia says:

    I’ve become very partial to Darren Hoyt’s Mimbo Magazine style. I do a lot of interviews and it allows me to keep my top stories available for as long as I want, while my smaller, daily posts filter through. I really like the photo option because I’m covering TV so it really helps.

    http://www.darrenhoyt.com/2007/08/05/wordpress-magazine-theme-released/

  5. techminds says:

    I think we need to add this to our last review

    http://www.tech-minds.com/wordpress-cms-themes-and-plugins-search-made-easy/

    great stuff, thanks!

  6. terence says:

    thanks darren, gonna bkmk for future reference :)

  7. @Justin Yes, when I was doing my research, I came across that list of 100. I didn’t look at it closely but am sure a couple of them on here are also on smashing’s list.

    Some people have posted links to other great WP themes on here–that feedback is the coolest thing about this article. Thanks to all who gave links to some of their favorite themes–I saw a few in there that are inspiring to me as a designer.

  8. I rather like Dilectio Theme by Design Disease. Okay, I like it a lot, which is why I’m using it for my blog.

  9. Really good and simple themes ..good post

  10. Kelly DuMar says:

    My daughter’s elementary school librarian is using the BlueBird design for the school’s Read This! blog – a blog for sharing book reviews amongst parents, kids, teachers. Kelly

  11. acosmin says:
  12. Nice list.
    I hope one day my themes take place on your list :)

  13. Abhijit says:

    Hey nice, any body knows good theme for stock market related blog?

  14. Kevin says:

    I host a small conventional website for a local writers group that I’m involved with. The site has been sitting there for a few years and is in need of refreshing.

    I’m thinking about switching from my conventional website to a blog site. When looking into this possibility I came across Magazine type blogs; I didn’t even know they existed and some of them really do look like standard sites. There are two templates I feel would serve me well.

    http://demo.justintadlock.com/
    and
    http://www.wp-themes.der-prinz.com/magazine/

    While I don’t mind spending time getting something like this up and running this is my first venture into the world of WordPress and Blogging, I would appreciate a few comments on how much experience with WP does a person need to get a magazine type theme like I mentioned above up and running?

    Is it a relatively straight-forward process or is it one that you really have to have some experience of WP before you begin?

    Anyway thanks for your patience and any answers. Fell free to point me in the direction of magazine type blogs that you feel might be of interest to a Creative Writers Group.

    Kevin

  15. Eddie Poh says:

    Suppose I like blog #7(Fresh) but how to get it monetize?

  16. Eddie Poh says:

    Theme #7 is down due to xml parsing error: duplicate attribute, I hope he can fix it soon…

  17. Marlon says:

    I find that this site Premium WordPress http://www.premiumwp.com/ to be a good source of information about new good quality free and premium WordPress themes

  18. Penny says:

    I loooooove the Cleaker-21 WordPress theme, which I use on both my blogs. I just edited the css a little bit and edited the images to change the colors and made it more to my liking, but I really do love the Cleaker-21 theme. I have not found another wordpress theme that I really like as much.

  19. nocturna says:

    Be advised! The guy who created the Jello Wala Mello theme sold his website to someone else and there is no more support for it! There is a support forum, but it is unmanaged and filled with spam! I didn’t find this out until I had already spent many hours customizing the theme. I love the theme but have some issues that I have no hope of getting resolved because the creator has left the planet.

  20. Lenin Nair says:

    This is beautiful, Darren. People would love to see their blogs in action with one of them. In the mean time, I would like to recommend the WordPress Premium theme. I adopted the theme recently for my blog. Here is the post on this theme change. I hope it will be a good read for other commenters here.

    Lenin Nair

  21. Chris says:

    Great list! I’ll be adding some of those to my theme site too!
    Themes That Don’t Suck!
    http://www.themesthatdontsuck.com

    Thanks!

  22. hari says:

    thanks for your list of themes darren but i am searching for a theme that you are using…..

    http://www.earnersguide.info

  23. This blog Is very informative , I am really pleased to post my comment on this blog . It helped me with ocean of knowledge so I really belive you will do much better in the future . Good job web master .

  24. Great list and thanks so much for including my Bluebird theme! I love the grid based themes,

  25. Shawn says:

    These are really nice wordpress themes you have, Darren :-)

    Happy new years,

    Shawn

  26. Nice lists of themes, to see what other designers are up to. I mostly use custom themes for all of my blogs, except for a few of my clients which have not much money.

    The Madmouse Blog is designing and releasing WordPress themes. Hope you stop on by and have a look.

  27. this is a good list for blogger who creating blogs using worpress. I Specially thanks to problogger who provide this list, because few days ago i was surfing for worpress theme. now I got good theme from problooger list

    Thanks for the list of wordpress theme