Magazine-style WordPress themes have a complex homepage layout.
Unlike a blogging theme, which usually has one sidebar and a list of your posts, a magazine theme lets you feature groups of posts and pages arranged by category.
Magazines and news outlets use magazine themes to give readers a taste of the most important content on the site. Think CNN.com, for example, where you’ll see the most important story at the top. Then as you scroll down the page, you’ll come across other topics that lead you into sections of the site.
If you click on a featured article, you’ll notice images and links to many other articles in that topic area alongside it.
That’s what a good magazine theme does — it lets you highlight the most important blocks of content on your site, and group them together.
That’s great if you’re putting together an online magazine, but what if you’re not?
There are still plenty of uses for a magazine-style WordPress theme. For example:
- Author CatherineKietsu uses the Lucid Theme from Elegant Themes for her website
- My client Noel Gama uses StudioPress Lifestyle theme for his site about the history and culture of Damao, the Portuguese-influenced area of India
- All Things Connecticut uses the StudioPress Metro theme, and demonstrates that it’s beautiful in color as well as in black and white
Magazine-style themes are a bit more complicated to set up than most other types, but there’s no better way to present several different types of content quickly.
Here’s a collection of top-notch Magazine-style themes from my favorite designers, StudioPress and Elegant Themes. These are premium themes.
Aggregate comes with the Elegant Themes font customizer, which lets you easily change the type styles, sizes and colors on your site. New widgets include the Recent Videos slider, a photostream, and custom posts.
See the Aggregate Theme demo here.
Lifestyle comes with six different color options and six layout styles built in. Take advantage of the included widgets to put together a homepage that tells your story.
See the Lifestyle Pro demo here.
Sleek, modern and uncluttered. If you want a magazine-style theme but like the minimalist look, Lucid’s a good choice.
Lucid comes with five prebuilt color schemes, including yellow, green, blue, purple and red.
See the Lucid Theme demo here.
Versatile layouts. . . four prebuilt color schemes, including green, blue, orange and red. . . and a high-gloss look and feel set Magazine Pro apart.
See the Magazine Pro demo here.
Although the demo shows this theme in black and white, it’s absolutely stunning with color. Its most obvious feature is the custom background.
Preset color schemes include blue, green, orange, pink and red. Six page layouts are available, in addition to the homepage.
Nexus uses custom widgets and content modules to construct a highly versatile homepage.
It comes with five preset color schemes, or you can use the color customizer to easily create your own unique colors.
The Homepage Builder makes it easy to arrange content using drag-and-drop.
You can see my complete review of Nexus here, or visit the demo.
News Pro supports all your written, audio and video content with great design. Five preset color schemes include blue, green, pink, orange and red.
Custom widgets let you create the homepage you want.
How do Premium Themes Work?
Both StudioPress and Elegant Themes let you use the theme on as many sites as you want. Since the StudioPress themes work on the Genesis Framework, you need to have it as well ($59.95).
Each of these premium themes is mobile responsive and HTML5 ready. In a nutshell, this means they behave well and look good on any device, from a large computer screen to a phone.
Pricing for most StudioPress themes is $99.95 if you buy the theme and the Genesis Framework together; $44.95 for just the theme.
Elegant Themes uses a slightly different payment model: you subscribe, for a $69 annual fee. This gets you unlimited access to all of their themes, as well as support and updates. To continue receiving updates and support, renew your subscription every year. If you don’t choose to do so, your theme will still work but you won’t have updates.
When you install WordPress, you also get an excellent, free, magazine-style theme. Twenty Fourteen.
60 Free Magazine-Style Themes
My friends over at WPMU recently put together a list of 60 free magazine themes. I’m not making any recommendations here, just passing along the information from them.
Got questions about using magazine themes? Feel free to use the form below.
A good read for me, as I am looking for a new magazine style theme. Have you tested any of these for speed of loading? In particular the elegant theme ones..
Once again, great post.
Good question, Colin. No, I’ve not speed-tested any of them. Of course, a lot of your site speed depends on your hosting, the way you have your site set up with plugins, etc., images and lots more factors.
Great post. Thanks for the info. Some beautiful themes there. Looks like we need an upgrade 🙂
Jim, are you not happy with your hyperlocal theme?
The Flying Drunken Monkey
Very informative post! I’ve considered changing to a magazine layout so will bookmark this for future thinking. Thanks!