As a WordPress designer and full time reviewer, I have had the opportunity to examine hundreds, if not thousands of themes and even though I truly believe that each theme is unique in its own way, overall they are pretty standard and closely resemble one another, save for the menus, colors and content layouts.
The author’s of the themes in this collection have stepped out of their comfort zone to add a little extra pizzazz to their themes and the results are pretty amazing, to say the least.
It could be a simple design effect, complete layout makeover or added functionality that makes a theme unique, but you will definitely know a theme is unique, as soon as you see it.
Like all themes, they have basic features and fit into general categories like multi purpose, magazine and blog, but they are definitely in a class all by themselves.
I call this class, “Creativity 101.”
Creativity comes from looking for the unexpected and stepping outside your own experience. ~ Masaru Ibuka
1. Empire II ~ Movable Menu
At first glance, the Empire II WordPress resembles the popular King Size theme, because of its rather similar vertical navigation menu that is positioned in the middle of the page. Depending on the background that you choose, this can provide the opportunity to create awesome split screen design effects.
I am not certain if many people will like or hate the idea of having a menu right in the center of the page, however, Empire’s author’s have done a great job at solving this “potential” issue by adding two additional layouts. The menu can be “moved” to the right or left side of the page.
Some people might appreciate the creativity behind the theme, while others will prefer a more standard view of things. Either way, the author’s attention to detail and focus on usability, is the sign of good design. It is the theme’s elegant transparent like menu that makes it unique.
Looking under its hood, the theme is packed with loads of features and options such as WPML, full ajax engine, responsive and retina ready, widgets, short codes and comes complete with the popular slider revolution plugin.
2. Time Travel ~ Out of this world
A bad cliche ~ perhaps. However, the Time Travel, timeline WordPress theme is definitely not from this era. It is way ahead of its time and clearly not like the others.
For one, it can be voice activated.
A leading edge technology, Time Travel uses built-in intuitive voice control to allow visitors to interact with the theme via 14 different voice commands and you can set the language to be used for your particular clients’ needs.
The concept of a timeline theme (also known as a tumblog) is to literally take the reader on a chronological tour of the website’s posts, entries and social media updates. This is usually done in a vertical or horizontal organizational “tree” type structure.
Time Travel WordPress theme takes your website way beyond a simple timeline view in its own unique way. In what feels like a trip on an intergalactic highway, the timeline moves as if it is passing through time in a three dimensional fashion. It is actually hard to describe, one must simply see it to understand it.
Voice activated and a thrilling ride through time and space, Time Travel tops it all off with two different image frames, those being; circles and boxes, 19 color schemes and a host of other standard options for creating “out of this” world timeline style websites.
3. Fitness ~ creating balance
The Fitness WordPress Theme has a very unique and modern split screen design. This design separates the websites into two distinct parts; widgets occupy the left hand side, while the right hand side is used to display content.
The concept behind the theme is to create a website that resembles a brochure or booklet. Fitness was obviously created for the fitness industry, however this theme can be used for fashion magazines, restaurant menus and hotel websites.
The theme features support for WPML, color customizations, short-codes, sliders and ready made pages for quick and easy installation, is responsive and WordPress 3.8 ready.
Design tip: use as is, or alongside your current website for a unique brochure, blog or magazine website for your company.
4. NillBox ~ 3 minute perfection
For the most part, NillBox WordPress theme seems quite ordinary, it has a clean and fresh corporate style design that does not really do that much, well that is, until the slider does what it was intended to do, impress. And impress it does, with a variety of unique transitions and easing features.
Its very distinct polygonal transition effects are really quite awesome and is what attracted me to the design in the first place. Using the popular revolution slider, this theme takes slider effects to new heights.
It is the unique way in which the slider is used that makes Nillbox worthy of a top spot on this list, but it is the tons of amazing features and ease of use that makes it a great theme. Literally, this theme can be set up and running in three minutes with its modular based easy to use framework.
From page builders, short codes, price lists, promotion modules to unlimited short-codes, colors and pages, this theme has everything you could ever want in a corporate theme and more.
It is a stunning display of modern design meets professional know how and is truly worth considering, if you are looking for a creative and elegant business theme.
5. Case ~ The flip side
As you can clearly see in the image above, the Case WordPress one page parallax theme’s entire layout is slanted to one side providing it with a diagonal scrolling effect.
I cannot decide if I like this effect or not, but in some ways that is the part about this design that makes it so unique. I cannot seem to take my eyes off it and regardless of whether I like it or not, it has me captivated.
Technically, this is all your webdesign needs to do, is captivate your audience long enough to sell them your ideas, products or services.
Case certainly does that, and more!
While this theme will certainly not be for everyone, if you are looking for a really creative theme with features like parallax, one page layouts, interactive and unique scrolling effects, layered slider, comes in both a colored and black and white version, and has a really unique video header version (slanted), then this is definitely the theme for you.
Perfect for creative agencies, photographers and anybody wanting a quick and easy set it and forget modern and unique theme.
The Leap WordPress Blogging theme takes a very expressive and minimalistic approach to a personal journal (blog).
It has a ready made design that is playful, personal and simplistic. “All be it humble, there is no place like home,” is the main concept behind Leap.
Leap is so personal, it makes you feel like you are reading someone’s personal diary right on your screen. It does not contain huge sliders, headers or advertisement areas because it’s main focus is on the individual writer and that is what makes it so different. Truly a breathe of fresh air, Leap is actually just a personal blog and nothing more.
For a young hipster or creative writer, Leap is the perfect solution for a quick and easy starter blog.
Leap has been around since May of 2012 and has been regularly updated, therefore it is responsive and WordPress 3.8 ready. Cudos to its’ design team for standing behind its product and for offering continuous support.
Leap’s main features include dark and light color layouts, custom widgets, custom pages, short-codes and portfolios.
What’s so unique about it? Well for starters, the home page horizontal carousel uses content display boxes designed to resemble stand up placards to showcase individuals, services or products. These placards put your products, employees, models or services front page and center with a true to life featured image.
Viewers simply “scroll” through the slider to find the content that interests them making for a highly interactive and playful corporate theme. The content area is similar to flipping through a personal business card file or Rolodex.
In my opinion, the content area is best suited for showcasing individuals rather than products, but it certainly can do both.
This theme can be used by modelling agencies, employment agencies, law firms or any corporation that highlights personal achievement.
Rather minimalistic, the theme has everything you need and nothing more, however what it does have is a modern approach to on line business ~ personalizing it!
8. Flamingo ~ A flock of its own
I am not certain if its a fad, or if its just sheer coincidence, but the diagonal slanting feature in the Flamingo portfolio WordPress theme is reminiscent of the one seen in the Cases theme above. Each theme however, looks and feels very different.
Flamingo has one of the most flexible layouts, you can easily choose between a straight, minimal or diagonal scheme for creating a totally unique time and time again.
Design tip: Use the diagonal theme layout for holidays and special celebrations and then put it back to a straight one during regular time periods, for a quick and easy design change without having to install another theme or plugin.
Flamingo is the perfect theme for graphic designers, illustrators, photographers or any kind of creative individual who wants an easy to use and set up portfolio to showcase their work in a variety of different ways.
It is clean, elegant and unique all at the same time and comes complete with a number of features such as responsive behavior, retina ready, parallax, page builder, shortcodes, custom animations, five different navigations, masonry layouts and so much more.
9. Ink Tattoo Studio~ A branding on its own
One of only two modern “ink” or tattoo WordPress themes found on Themeforest, the category is as unique as the studio design itself. Its bold boxed menu and artistic colored headers is what makes this theme so elegant, bold and different.
Created with tattoo and body piercing studios in mind, Ink Tattoo Studio is primarily a HTML5, Bootstrap3 based, responsive, single page theme that comes with additional page options.
Its transparent showcases and animated hover effects are stunning, and offers a very artistic approach to the overall design, which one might actually expect to see in a theme of this type.
Ink is truly a work of art in itself and is one of the nicest layouts that I have come across in quite some time. The small splash of color adds a soft touch to the otherwise dark theme and the pink is definitely my favorite, it just adds a bit of irony to the theme.
While it is a theme for tattoo and piercing studios, it can definitely be used by a number of different creative type industry professionals.
A relatively new theme, I suspect that in no time, Ink will be a break out artist in its own right because not only is it extremely gorgeous, it is responsive and comes will full screen images, portfolios and short codes to make it even better.
Ink tattoo studio is unique in every way!
10. Chameleon ~ Clearly different
It’s dark, its elegant, its simple and it is clearly different.
A simple slider adorns the front page of the Chameleon Portfolio WordPress theme amid a very dark and empty background bringing focus directly to the content. It’s design is so elegant, it really does not need anything else to make it work, simply add your own content and its ready to go.
The concept behind the theme is to display images in what appears to be an art gallery with studio lighting effects. It is not hard to see that Chameleon is all about showcasing your work and everything else including the footer is secondary. In fact, it is hidden somewhere in the background, but I won’t tell you where, that would spoil all the fun. A huge header creates ambience lighting and adds the perfect touch to the theme.
It’s “lighted” navigation menu is really quaint and adds a distinct element all on its own.
With 2 different skin choices, hundreds of colors for the header, 9 options for the slideshow and a pretty great looking blog, Chameleon is the perfect portfolio theme, for a quick and easy starter photography or creative freelance website.
11. Milli ~ made to order
Tons of layouts and showcase displays like the horizontal/vertical one seen above is what makes Milli WordPress theme unique. There are an unlimited number of gallery displays in this theme, making for one of the most unique and flexible themes ever. It is the quintessential “display it your way” theme.
Configure millions of gallery layouts on a WordPress page, rather than per post basis using the simple image sizing, crop, layout and margin controls features. Display your posts in one or two column long vertical layouts, smaller image views, masonry views, thumbnail to wider horizontal views and even mixed views. Literally, the choice is in your hands as to how the posts will appear on the page.
In terms of SEO, this theme is very effective because it will index pages rather than posts.
It doesn’t end here, Milli is also packed with powerful features such as the drag and drop image order option, is WP 3.8+ ready, responsive and comes with 2 header layouts, social media integration, bulk image upload, 300 background textures, ready made pages for coming soon and under construction, boxed and no boxed versions, a short-code generator plugin, and so much more.
While it boasts that it is a simple three step method, I would not recommend this theme for a beginner or novice user. The designer should clearly understand the difference between posts and pages and how galleries work before attempting to use a theme like this one, otherwise it is a truly amazingly flexible theme that is worthy of consideration for a variety of different websites.
12. Architec ~ Inspiration
The Architec WordPress theme’s half screen”oddly” shaped slider has long been a favorite of mine. It is the slider and how the slider creates a unique navigation menu effect that provides the creative elements in this theme.
A subtle change in the front page layout creates an amazing architectural effect and makes this theme unique.
It is the smallest things that can often make the biggest difference between mediocre design and great design. In the case of the Architec WordPress theme, that small difference is a simple, but fancy slider and nothing more.
In every other aspect, it is just a simple standard clean and professional minimal corporate theme with features such as portfolio displays, 9 templates, short codes, widgets, responsive behavior and comes in both a light and dark version.
Unique and innovative, it is the perfect theme for any architectural industry website.
13. Trinket Box ~ Magazine Life
A trinket box is a case or box that was used for hiding valuables such as artwork, diamond rings, earrings, furniture and linens in the earlier centuries and was considered to be a luxury item that were afforded only by the rich and famous. In fact, many of these items are quite valuable in today’s antique market.
Like its’ popular namesake, the Trinket Box WordPress theme is a highly interactive collection of display types that uncovers hidden treasures as you move throughout the website. The full front page image appears to disappear and then reappear near the footer. What provides the overall charm in this theme? Delightfully, deceiving effects.
It’s general layout is very “boxy,” but unique, simple and elegant at the same time. The featured images and text are very large and bold which blends quite well. The concept of this theme is to provide a magazine style theme that focuses on providing an easy and familiar way of posting content in a “set it and forget it” fashion. It has no complicated page builders, additions to admin panel needed or unnecessary effects, it is as simple and clean as it gets in a magazine theme.
Rather nostalgic looking, the trinket box is a rare and unique hidden gem and the perfect theme for modern day “simplistic” blogging.
When choice is what you want, Dictate delivers with 6 unique and totally different ready made designs that are specific to the Medical, Fashion, Spa, Saloon, Business and Blog niche websites. Dictate is a 6-in-one premium WordPress theme that you can use to create and modify hundreds of websites using its 78+ built-in elements and advanced Visual Composer page builder. If you do not want to spend a great deal of time configuring a website, simply use the ready made designs provided with the theme. It’s greatest appeal and best feature lies not only in the 6 real cool ready made starter designs, but in the easy way that you can create a fully featured website with little or no basic knowledge, effort or time.
The fashion layout seen above, is just one example of the unique designs that you can make.
I really like the fashion theme, the triangle thumbnail galleries really stand out and provides a unique effect. You can easily make themes similar to this with the versatile and flexible Dictate theme and best of all, you don’t really have to, you can use one of the ready made niche specific pre packaged designs, which are all equally stunning and unique.
Sometimes its the functionality and flexibility in a theme that is its true charm, second only to X, Dictate offers a world of design possibilities and tons of ready made designs.
For information regarding the “ultimate theme” known simply as X, please see the full X review here.
The De7igner Flat IOS7 Inspired One Page Parallax WordPress theme is a fully configurable and easy to use responsive WordPress themes that has three home page designs types including a full screen image background, video or photo slide background, each of which are set with a unique diamond shaped navigation menu system that is extremely creative. Designed for easy customizations, it is a theme for creative individuals who are not afraid to take a walk on the wild side.
There is something strange and very odd about the design and yet this is part of its charm.
Mentioned in many past collections, the De7igner theme, sadly, has not been updated from WordPress Version 3.7. This is one of its only drawbacks and the only reason it sits in the last position on this list.
De7inger is fully packed with a host of features such as masonry blog layouts, responsive behavior, parallax scrolling, over ten pre-configured page blocks including, Home, About Us, Service, F.A.Q., Portfolio, Features and Contact us, custom forms, the Contact-Form-7 Plugin, Advanced Theme Options Manager and tons of short codes.
Odd display shapes, diagonal scrolling, triangle thumbnails, interactive hovers and navigation menus are just some of the unique elements that we have discovered in this collection, but the truth is, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of elements, layouts and unique theme options in the vast market of WordPress themes.
The trick to creating amazing designs is to be creative and experiment with the different features and plugins that are available. In other words, take the theme for a ride.
WordPress themes are really quite stable and part of the reason they are so popular and gaining popularity each and every day. It is pretty safe to “tinker” with them, if you have a little bit of HTML, CSS and WP knowledge. The truth is, the only real limit to creative and unique design is your imagination.
If the author’s of these themes have taught us anything, it is that stepping out of the box is necessary if you want to have your theme stand out from the crowd. Far to often, a new theme is introduced and it simply looks like the last twenty that were introduced that very same day.
In this case, the price and amount of features is the only real way a viewer will be able to distinguish the theme.
This is not what you want to be the deciding factor between your theme and someone else’s, or your website for that matter. This is the reason, unique design plays a huge factor.
When you offer a theme that is clearly different and captivates the viewer, chances are they will want to purchase it or at the very least consider doing so.
Unfortunately, first impressions are the only ones and no true words can be said about web design, if a viewer is not impressed upon arriving at your website, you have probably already lost the chance to convince them of buying anything.
Unique design is captivating, creative and one of the best ways to sell your ideas, products, services and makes for pretty awesome themes!
I often find myself limited to choosing the best of each collection, even though there are many other deserving themes worth mentioning.
In order to rectify this, I have decided that in addition to covering the themes, I would also add a small portfolio gallery of some other themes that I think are worthy of consideration or at the very least, a second look.