Tag Archives: Design

20 WordPress Theme Design Trends for 2013

If you’ve been watching WordPress for years like I have, you will have noticed various design trends that come and go.  WordPress is old enough now that it has gone through a number of these cycles.  From minimalism to complexity, from sidebars to single column, here is an outline of the latest WordPress theme design trends for your perusal.

Minimalism

This style is coming back, strong.  Designers are figuring out how to do more with less and make things stylish without gimmicks.  This is very appreciated.

minimal design

Single Page

Single page designs were once popular because, well, the internet was boring and there was no reason for multiple pages.  Then we went through a phase when every site has millions of pages.  Now we are backing off to a more reasonable level.  A site that can put most content on a single scrollable page is a user-friendly site because page load speed is minimized.

Masonry Portfolio

Masonry is a jQuery library that has allowed designers to compile various block sizes automatically and dynamically.  This allows for some impressive portfolio and gallery layouts.  The most famous example is the new (WORST OPERATING SYSTEM EVER) Windows 8 desktop.

masonry design trend

Responsive Design

Responsive is the big kahuna.  A WordPress admin no longer has a need for a separate mobile theme.  Rather, new themes in 2013 have the ability to scale up and down seamlessly.

Retina Ready

Retina is the name of Apple’s latest screen resolution.  An ultra-sharp resolution is like a close up camera.  It makes pretty things beautiful and mediocre things ugly.  The retina displays has so many pixels crammed into each inch, the human eye can no longer distinguish between pixels.

retina design element

Image Sliders

Image sliders are back baby.  With the advent of new javascript libraries to handle transitions and effects, image sliders are flexing their muscles.  Big, bold images flying across the screen is a popular design element for 2013.

Shortcodes

Shortcodes are not new, but their widespread use in WordPress themes is relatively new in 2013.  Shortcodes make for good design continuity when they are developed by the theme designer.  When executed well, they keep the site fluid across pages, buttons, columns, etc.

shortcodes design

Unlimited Colors

Gone are the days of “skins” that pre-determine color schemes for your design.  New WordPress themes are including a color selection feature that chooses the primary and secondary colors that permeate the entire theme.  Good for most people, bad for the color blind.

Google Fonts

As mentioned below, people are focusing on typography more than ever.  The ability to integrate Google’s web-friendly font library has opened up a whole new world for designers.

google fonts in wordpress themes

Single Column

A good single column theme is a nice piece of art.  To incorporate usability into a theme of this layout is tricky.  But when done well, it makes for a  very cool design.

Custom Post Types

WordPress has offered custom post types since version 3.0.  But designers have just begun to really take this feature for a ride.  Post types let you determine how a particular theme displays content based on the type chosen by the author.  This lends itself to nice mixed-purpose blogs that may highlight a link, then a video, then an image, then some text.

custom post types

Integrated Plugins

New themes are starting to integrate premium plugins through partnerships with developers or custom plugins.  Sometimes these plugins are unavailable as a standalone purchase.  Sometimes they are readily available but are thrown in as a perk for the theme purchaser.

High Contrast

WordPress themes this year have definitely taken on more high contract color schemes.  Bright yellow on black is an example of a color combination we’re seeing more of.

high contrast web design

Infinite Scrolling

This is a technique made popular by Facebook and Pinterest.  Keep users on the page by not requiring a click to see more content.  Most designers utilize AJAX for this feature.

Block Designs

The blocky feel has definitely made a comeback.  This design trend uses blocks, squares, and sharp corners to define elements like menu items.  There was a time when this was a sign of an old, outdated design.  But now it’s progressive.  Huh.

blocky designs

Left Sidebar

For some reason the left sidebar has come back with a vengance.  It could be the natural inclination to look to the left for navigation. (as opposed to the top or right)

Big Typography

I’m not sure why, but I like the focus on typography in new WordPress themes.  Lately, the typography has gotten larger and more pronounced.  The text used to be what went in between design elements.  Now the text IS a design element.

typography wordpress

Image Reliant

There was a period of time when WordPress themes moved away from images incorporated into the design.  This was often because of the connection between page load speed and search engine rankings.  However with faster hardware and ubiquitous high speed internet, this has become less of an issue.  So designers are incorporating more image dependence into their themes.

Filtering Media

The filterable portfolio is a design element we started to see widely used in late 2012 and early 2013.  This is really a user interface feature as much as a design element.

filterable portfolio

Grid Based

Grid based design is not new but it’s deployment in most new, premium themes is.  Grid based designs lay out the content is easy to find, intuitive locations so users experience an easy to interpret design.

How to customize your WordPress 404 page

I previous discussed how to customize your WordPress 404 page in a previous post, but I was brief.  This tutorial is intended to be a more comprehensive guide for this important customization step.  Customizing your 404 page tells your readers you went the extra mile to ensure they have a quality experience with your site.  Additionally, from an SEO perspective, users who need to take extra steps or “dig” to find your content are less likely to follow through.  They are also less likely to trust your site in search results in the future.

WordPress makes customization easy with logical theme files and template tags.  Here is how to leverage those features to customize your 404 page.  For those who don’t know, and I can’t imagine anyone reading Pingable that doesn’t, 404 pages are a catch-all page for any time a user stumbles upon content that does not exist.  Perhaps the URL has been changed, perhaps you’ve deleted the content, perhaps someone has incorrectly linked to a post.  The 404 page will be found by readers in these situations.

Step 1: Prevention

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  The best way to improve the 404 error page experience is to prevent it entirely.  Here are some steps to prevent most 404 errors.

  1. Use Google Webmaster tools to track dead links and 404 messages.  Google’s huge brain knows how to tell when it has found a 404 page, and if Webmaster Tools has been set up for the domain, it will notify the owner via some nifty charts.  Find out who is linking to these incorrect URL’s and kindly ask them to update their link.  If the error is from inside your site, go through each one and correct the links.
  2. Check and re-check your internal links.  There is no reason you should be the source of errors.
  3. Use a search engine approved site map.  There are several good free plugins that automatically generate sitemaps for you.  This allows search engines to track your content quickly and efficiently.
  4. Internally link through the WYSIWYG hyperlink generator.  This uses post ID’s to create internal links so if the slug is changed, the link is not broken.
  5. Use a consistent url structure.  This is selected through the WordPress settings.  Whatever you choose, don’t change it once your site goes live.
  6. If you must move a post, consider deleting the content and replacing it with a link or 303 redirect to the new location.

 Customizing the WordPress 404 Page

  1. Find the 404 template file. In most WordPress themes, there is a file called 404.php.  This is the 404 error page.  Also in most themes, it will not be customized much.  Only super premium themes come with a custom styled 404 page.  If there is not a 404.php file, you can create one and place it in the theme directory.  WordPress will look for this file automatically and use it in the event of a 404 file not found error.
  2. Edit the file. The file can be edited with the built-in theme editor.  In the WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Editor.  Choose your theme and choose the 404.php file to edit.
  3. Choose your message. Make this message a little quirky, a little different, but be clear and concise.  Give users a next step like a search link or a link to the main page.  Apologize and tell them you will be checking into this error.  A little personality goes a long way.
  4. Give them more information. Even better than asking them to search is displaying information automatically.  This plugin will display search results similar to the document title they attempted to access.
  5. Go the extra mile.Make the design something memorable, and funny.  Humor is tied to memory anchors.  If a site makes you laugh, you are more likely to remember it in the future.  If you aren’t a designer, consider using a pre-designed 404 error page.  Here are some very inexpensive options.
  6. Need more? The following premium themes come with custom 404 pages.  If you’re feeling the need for a professional and cohesive design, this is the way to go.

Additional Resources

Premium Theme Provider Roundup

I have wanted to do this post for a long time.  There are lots of premium WordPress theme designers and I love browsing the good ones.  But has anyone put together a comprehensive list of them all?  I have seen some short lists, but nothing that covers everyone.  This is the beginning of what I hope will be an all-inclusive list of premium WordPress theme designers.  I need your help to find other providers though.  If you have a favorite, leave it as a comment below.  If they’re good, I will move them up to the main section of this post.

ThemeForest

The first place I go to look for a new theme, hence it’s place in this list.  There are so many designers selling on the ThemeForest marketplace, you get a really eclectic selection of premium themes.  Some are junk, but most are vetted by their editors and therefore are of very high quality.  Support for these themes is up to the individual developers so read reviews and comments before buying.

Organic Themes

A relatively new (?) player to the premium theme game, Organic Themes has done a great job developing a core of high quality themes.  They are fresh (as their tagline suggests) and professional themes for multiple purposes.

ElegantThemes

I have been a member for years.  So long ago, I have a much less expensive grandfathered price.  These themes are not updated as frequently as others, but are very high quality and have lots of built-in features.  And for some reason, they have a different “feel” than other themes.  I can spot an Elegant Theme a mile away, even if I’ve never seen it before.

GraphPaperPress

Besides have a very clever logo, they produce some very nice minimalist themes.  GPP knows how to do WordPress themes right.  These themes are great for media folks like photographers and videographers because the themes are light and fast.

WooThemes

A good old standby, WooThemes has been around a long time.  Just check out how many themes they produce!  You’ll see a new one each month consistently.  They have also gone into the framework business, producing their own ecommerce framework.

YooTheme

These are by far the most tricked-out themes I have ever seen.  When new technologies emerge for theme designers, they tend to show up in YooTheme stuff first.  Just browse their themes, there are features incorporated that the other players haven’t even begun to use yet.

RocketTheme

I am a recovering Joomla! user.  Back in my J! days, I used Rockettheme consistently.  They produce really high quality themes for Drupal and Joomla!  A couple years back, they wised up and started created stuff for WordPress.  The rest, is history.

Premise (by CopyBlogger)

A themeshop with a very specific purpose: to create a versatile landing page theme.  They achieved this goal.  Is it an ethical way to clutter up the interweb?  Not so much.  But lots of people are making lots of money with themes like this.

WPShower

WPShower, although an odd name, produces some of the nicest minimalist themes I have seen in a long time.  And they do so consistently and dependably.  Nice, clean style.

StudioPress

The copyblogger theme shop, StudioPress makes some pretty good stuff.  Some good real estate themes and other specific function themes come out of here.  No designs are “knock-your-socks-off” good.  But many are worth the price.

DIY Themes

They’re famous for one theme which is arguably a million themes in one.  The Thesis Framework was designed by DIY themes. Lots of people swear by this theme with allegedly amazing SEO.  Personally I think they reached fame and fortune with an aggressive affiliate program.

Templatic

Templatic specializes in specialty themes.  Each one is designed with a specific purpose.  This is great for real estate professionals, wiki admins and shop owners.

Press 75

Simple, functional themes with nice styling.  Press75 designs great themes for professional media moguls -er- producers.  Photographers and artists rejoice!

WPZoom

Minimal themes with lifetime support.  WPZoom has some really nice stuff.

Who did we miss?  Either leave a comment or drop us a line with your favorite premium WordPress theme developer.

 

50 Amazing Free and Premium WordPress Themes for Photographers

WordPress is many things: a blog, a business site, a portfolio, a resume and even a community.  But it can do one thing incredibly well: handle media.  That is why WordPress is perfectly set up to be a platform for photographers.  It processes media fast, and comes with a number of different uploading and editing options.  Of course, you need the right theme to pull an amazing WordPress photography site.  Check out these 50 Amazing WordPress Themes for Photographers.  You may also be interested in our previous article about WordPress Photo Gallery Themes.  The kindest compliment you can make is to share this post with your friends.

Urban (free!)

 Photocrati WordPress Theme for Photographers

By far, the most expansive and variable WordPress Themes for Photographers.  It comes with 15 style variations and 4 layouts which come together to offer 60 different variations.  This one theme could be considered 60 themes-in-one.  But that would be cheating, so here are 49 more!

Photography by ThemeForge

Announcement by WooThemes

Simply Delicious (free!)

Statua by WooThemes

Imbalance (free!)

Imbalance 2 (also free!)

Object by WooThemes

Aperture

Postcard

Portfolium (free!)

Suburbia (Free!)

TheStyle by Elegant Themes

Envisioned by ElegantThemes

Autofocus (Free!)

Notebook by ElegantThemes

 

Photography by Organic Themes

Photographer Theme (free!)

Invictus

Flashlike Photographer

Photo Nexus

Radiance by YooTheme

Inspire by Yootheme

The Big Easy by YooTheme

Crystal by StudioPress

Blocco by Press75

 Hoon by Press75

Folio

Photocraft by Templatic

Photonote

Vimes

Photoria

Elegance

Graphix

Polaris

Proudfolio

Artistica

Photoland

Gallery

 

Photoblog

 Retouch Pro

 

Retouch

Emporia

Immense

Sidewinder

Uno

Mansion

Widescreen

Fullscreen

Amazing Designs: WordPress Examples for 2012

It’s time for amazing designs: WordPress examples for 2012.  It might be redundant and completely duplicative to say WordPress is the absolute best publishing platform that exists today.  The following are some amazing WordPress designs.  Some are themes that are available and some are completely custom designs.  Either way, these 2012 WordPress examples serve as excellent inspiration for your next WordPress design.  You may also find this post about big websites using WordPress interesting.

Free Viral Launch Theme

Launch Effect was recently brought to our attention as a solution for pre-launch and early launch applications.  Launch Effect is a one-page WordPress theme intended to help developers and new businesses generate buzz before launch.

The theme is incredibly customizable and serves one very important function.  Users visiting the site can enter their email address to receive future updates.  That’s something many themes can do.  But here is where Launch Effect stands apart.  Users who sign up are provided with a custom generated URL they can use to share with friends.

You can then track referrals so top performers can be rewarded, or just thanked with a kind email.  The following are screenshots of the signup and sharing screens.

As you can see, users can share the launch in lots of different popular ways.

The free version of this theme has all the features described above including a powerful design dashboard and lots of customization options.  It also comes with a small footer linking back to the developer.

The design dashboard allows for complete color and style customization from top to bottom.  All colors, fonts and text is customizable through this dashboard.

The premium version adds functionality to include a progress bar, countdown timer, brandable footer, and full theme functionality to use as a regular WordPress site.  In development for future releases is the ability to add extra form fields and sell single products with Paypal support.

Launch Effect can also integrate seamlessly with Mailchimp (my personal favorite), Google Analytics, AWeber and PressTrends.

The stats are also impressive, allowing the site admin to track signups and conversions each person has generated.  This is great for content entries and true viral launches.

Launch Effect is in use by lots of exciting new concepts right now.  One nice feature of Launch Effect is that no theme ends up looking the same so you don’t have to worry about lots of other sites using the same design.  Check out some of these cool designs:

Go ahead, check out Launch Effect for yourself.  If you’re experienced with this theme, we would love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

50 Ajax WordPress Themes for Fall 2011

You’ll find some really incredible AJAX WordPress Themes out there.  AJAX stands for Asynchronous Javascript and XHTML.  If you’re not familiar with AJAX, you may be familiar with some of the features it is responsible for on WordPress sites.  For example, almost any feature that allows you to stay on the page while updating the content is using AJAX.  Search results are a common use of AJAX in WordPress themes.  When you search and the results automatically appear without clicking search or pressing “enter”, this is AJAX.

The following are 50 of the best AJAX powered WordPress Themes for Fall of 2011.  We sincerely hope you enjoy.  If you liked this post, we would love to share more with you with Facebook.

Grace powerful HTML CSS AJAX template

Revoltz – Premium WordPress Theme – 3 in 1

Distinct – Portfolio and Business WordPress Theme

Style and Fashion

cleanTypo Website Template 6-1 for clean websites

web access Website Template web 2.0 look

RamInfo Clean Corporate Business Website Template

Integrity Website Template web 2.0 style

Carta – Minimalistic Html Template

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Review of WordPress Theme Designer Birdtone

If you have ever come across BloggingTips.com, you’ll have noticed they have an incredible design.  It is use-friendly, professional and there’s just something about it that makes you want to subscribe to their content.  That feeling is due in part to the high quality content found on that site.  It is also due in part because of the design.  I contacted Birdtone to see what makes them tick and how they conceive designs.  This is an unpaid review of Birdtone Designs, the shop responsible for this cutting edge design.

Using Bloggtips as an example of their design strategies, you can see the content is priority one.  There are no flashy, distracting features.  If you notice two things on the page, they are either the content or the conversion tools (subscribe form and social media links).  That’s it.

They specialize in blogging designs with a focus on user experience and content.  Their designs are simple and so very easy to use, even a two year old could find what they need.  That’s a compliment.

They do two things really well.  Simplicity and a nifty “ripped paper” effect.  When each are used in the proper form, they create exceptional packages.  I don’t want to speak out of turn, but the cost of their designs are less than you might think.  Although it sounds otherwise, this was an unpaid review of Birdtone.  Here are a few designs from their portfolio.

blogging tips custom wordpress design

pizza reign custom wordpress theme

flippa tips custom wordpress design

Amazing new portfolio theme

Folioway is a new, amazing and unique WordPress theme for showcasing your work.  It is also a great option for a business wanting to display their products.  It features a smooth slider, unlimited built-in styles, shortcode support and stunning typography.

Slick Gallery Feature

The theme comes with a nice gallery component that lets you display your graphic work or products in a stylish way.  Great for artists or other creative folk, it will simplify the need to show lots of images on one page.

Custom Shortcodes

Custom shortcodes make styling your blog easy.  No CSS necessary, just frame something in a brief code snippet and voila!  Shortcodes can create styled boxes, dropcaps, buttons, anything.  This helps keep the style of your blog uniform and professional.

Custom Styles

The theme comes with built-in background styles as well as an infinite color option using the unlimited palette that exists in, umm, the world.  With a few clicks, you can customize the look of your design without having to actually customize the theme.

Professional Typography

WordPress themes often neglect quality typography.  Folioway comes with an impressive set of typography that lends credibility and professionalism to your site.  High quality typography communicates your message effectively.

Folioway is a professional, stunning and impressive theme for almost any use.  It is particularly equipped to be used as a portfolio or design showcase blog.  The designer has paid attention to every detail, producing a high quality product for only $35.  Check it out now.

10 WordPress Theme Designers you may not have heard of

We all know Themeforest, ElegantThemes, Woothemes and the other major theme designers.  But there are hundreds if not thousands of other theme designers out there that are either obscure, new or quietly producing some of the best WordPress themes out there.

These theme designers offer high quality designs for a comparable price.  However there is one huge benefit to using these little-known designers: their themes are largely unique.  For example, some major providers sell thousands of themes each month.  That means if you deploy that theme on your WordPress site, several thousands other sites are using the same design.  On the contrary, choosing one of these designs means your site looks unique to a lot more people.

Check out some of these designers.  We think you will be pleasantly surprised, and hopefully you learn of a couple new designers you never knew about.

YooTheme

If you’re looking for a jazzy, creative and completely original theme, check out YooTheme.  Pingable’s design is actually a modification of a YooTheme product.  They started by creating Joomla templates, then realized Joomla is dumb, bloated and a sinking ship.  Now they make both, porting all of their previous Joomla templates onto the WordPress theme framework.

Design Disease

You may have seen their work over at SmashingMagazine.com, but they don’t tend to churn out a great deal of themes, just the occasional, high quality, funky looking design.  They also do custom work starting at $1,500.

Organic Themes

I have to admit, the name caught my eye.  Obviously themes can’t be organic, but I appreciate the sentiment.  I also appreciate their designs.  I’m going to go ahead and make up a word now, simplism.  That’s what comes to mind when I browse Organic Themes’ work.

SoloStream

Although their themes aren’t drop-dead gorgeous, they may be the right foundation for your custom work.  Every vision needs a starting point.  Every painter needs a canvas.  And so on.

RocketTheme

They also started with Joomla and just recently launched their WordPress membership package.  Unlike most designers, you can’t buy these themes individually, you must join their “club”.  This is a much more common model in the Joomla community.  By joining the club, you get access to all their themes, but can only use them on a specific number of sites depending on which license you purchase.  Similar to Elegant Themes.  RocketTheme has always led the pack with Joomla designs, now they are bringing their expertise to WordPress.

Mojo Themes

Mojo Themes is one of the larger providers listed here.  They also produce Magento and Tumblr themes and have a really killer deal going on at press time to celebrate their anniversary: 14 premium items worth $442 for $25.  Similar to the themeforest bundles that occasionally come out.

Up Themes

I have seen their work elsewhere, but perhaps there has been a rebranding at some point.  EVO in particular is familiar looking.  Either way, there is some nice work and creativity displayed here.

Pagelines

If I hadn’t already invented the word “simplism”, I would invent it again to describe the work of Pagelines.  Their work is both elegant and minimal, which is a lot harder to pull off than one might think.  Kudos Pagelines.  They also feature a drag-n-drop feature which is really nice.  Although I haven’t personally tested it, it promises to be handy.

Graphpaper Press

I’ve always been a fan of graph paper.  The actual paper with the little squares on it.  So neat, confined, clear.  It really makes one feel secure.  Oh, and the design shop isn’t bad either.  Their stuff looks really classy.  You can never trust a design shop that uses someone else’s theme on their own site.  GraphpaperPress’ work is truly unique.

The WP Ninja

Your run of the mill, standard WordPress themes, with a little kick added in.  There is something for everyone over there, a good mix of functional, blog and professional themes.  Definitely worth checking out.