A huge percentage of modern themes can be considered portfolio themes because most have some form of portfolio display options incorporated into the theme’s design. A true portfolio theme however, is built entirely for the purpose of showcasing and linking to content from a page or post such as images, video and text. Galleries are similar, but in truth they only display the image or video in a lightbox from within the post (s) and do not provide any page linking or what is commonly referred to in the design world as “pagination.”
Portfolio style designs allow website viewers to interact with thumbnails, large or full screen images, videos and other visual web content in order for them to quickly select the content that interests them. Content can be displayed in a number of ways including full screen, boxed layouts, grid style, multi column views and a great deal of other fancy options. Unlike galleries, portfolio content can be placed into sortable or “filtered” categories or added to navigation menus allowing for an even better user experience.
Modern design is based entirely on user experience and responsive interactive behaviors that is intended to capture the user’s attention and encourage them to remain on your website. The top portfolio themes make it easier for all users, including those with the tiniest of devices to view content in a more efficient and visually stunning way from the moment they arrive on your website.
When I started compiling this list, I decided that for all intents and purposes, I was not going to add many multi purpose or full screen portfolio type themes because those are deserving of their very own list. You can view the top twenty full screen themes list by clicking on the link.
I must admit, the themes in this list are some of the most visually stunning themes that I have ever seen, I cannot wait to show them to you, so without further adieu, let’s get started.
1. Chariot ~ Setting the world on Fire
Chariot Portfolio WordPress, is an elegant and modern theme packed with an incredibly high amount of features and is based on the Twitter Bootstrap Framework 3.0. The home page can be displayed in two different formats including a standard version or presentation style. Both layout styles can have either a full screen wide view or boxed grid view with or without slider effects and animation preloaders. A modified and somewhat scaled down version of the Visual Composer for WordPress allows you to build your own pages in a snap and see the end results in real time.
With awesome retina ready display, responsive design, an amazing shortcode generator, 2 header styles (sticky and normal) and an awesome blog layout, Chariot lights the path on fire for all portfolio themes.
2. Rockwell ~ Redefining Darkness
Even though there are one or two lighter skin choices in the Rockwell WordPress Portfolio theme, it is not hard to notice that this theme was definitely created for professionals who like dark themes, and it does it rather well. The theme might be dark, but the content is easy to read and the added highlights and effects are a colorful contrast, adding to its overall charm.
The page builder that you can clearly see in the image above is so easy to use, you simply click and choose on the layouts and backgrounds to add them to the page. There are 43 category templates, 20 post templates, 10 page templates, 14 portfolio layouts and some sharp stencils patterns to choose from and that’s just for starters.
The ability to use different templates on every single post or category including posts that are in the same category makes this one of the top customizable themes and the reason it is high on the list of top portfolio themes. It might be important to note that you need to purchase the latest version (2.0+). The entire theme was re-written to provide better functionality and is not backward compatible.
3. Moving Forward ~ In the right direction
To truly stand out in today’s competitive market, design needs to have personality. Personality is that “special something” that will capture your viewer’s attention and make your design stand out from the crowd. Beautiful, bold and extremely colorful, the Moving Forward portfolio WordPress theme has so much personality, it is bursting at the seams.
The theme was created with all the latest and greatest features and is so trendy, it is suitable for just about anyone who wants a modern and bold look to their website.
“When the design is bold, the message becomes bolder.” ~ M. F.
When you need full control over animated content, parallax backgrounds, colorful portfolio displays, then you need look no further, the future of design is moving forward and moving in the right direction with this theme.
4. Avada ~ Clean and powerful
Avada is the number one selling theme on ThemeForest with over forty four thousand sales to date and while it is actually a multi purpose theme, it also has some of the cleanest and best looking portfolio displays, that it simply had to be included in this list.
Avada comes with so many pre ready pages, customizable features and layouts, the design practically creates itself. Here is just a small example of what Avada has to offer: a top sliding widget bar, boxed and wide mode views, full translation support, unlimited colors, 5 amazing sliders with 3D and 2D effects, advanced portfolio and blog options, shortcodes, custom widgets, custom post types,unlimited sidebars, advanced background image options, and awesome customer support.
With all that going for it, it is not hard to see why it is the number one selling theme of all time.
5. Yin & Yang ~ Balance is everything
Yin & Yang is a beautifully handcrafted extremely light and very minimalistic WordPress portfolio theme that is easy to use and customize with its powerful admin panel. The skin pattern effects create a nice balance between a totally white and elegant design and a clean elegant design with a slight, albeit very subtle patterned one. The hover features and sortable category filters in this theme are highly interactive and part of what makes this theme come to life.
Perfect for any professional website, Yin & Yan creates the perfect balance between a portfolio showcase and an extremely elegant looking blog.
Portfolio design does not get much more elegant than this if you are looking for an “out of the box” custom theme.
6. Cartel ~ Simply smart
Cartel WordPress portfolio theme is one of the cleanest looking themes. It takes full advantage of the page’s white space by using a longer vertical rather than wider horizontal display, but you can add full screen backgrounds to the page if you want to make it appear wider, liven it up or add a more personalized touch. Its simplistic approach makes this a great theme for novice designers who want to create versatile portfolio themes with posts types that have captions and fancy titles without having to know a great deal about how to create complex page layouts and multi layered effects.
There are of course options like masonry galleries, awesome hover effects, full width sliders with touch support, fullscreen backgrounds, fashionable captions and tons of other professional styling options for the more creative designer.
Clean, simple and inexpensive the Cartel theme is the best deal for individuals who want to add a little bit of modern style into their design without a huge amount of effort.
To view our entire Cartel WP theme review please click on the link.
7. Lens ~ Reflect your own style
Lens WordPress portfolio theme has a pretty original vertical sidebar menu that closely resemble a film strip and is what makes this theme so unique. You do have the option to choose a more standard sidebar with the click of a button, however the film strip is part of this theme’s charm and not really what I would recommend. Its’ flat responsive design is both stunning and minimalistic at the very same time. While there may not be a great deal of global customizations that you can do, there are 12 custom designed templates and a multitude of display options that you can choose to make it reflect your own sense of style.
The transparent colorful hover feature adds a very nice touch and the fast animated page transitions are so well constructed, they appear totally seamless. Lens comes with all the options and features one would expect to see in a professional portfolio theme but there is one added element that I really like; the journal (blog) which comes in a nice masonry boxed style with post likes. Stylish, responsive and complete with stunning graphics, the Lens theme is the perfect choice for professionals photographers or other creative individuals.
8. Other ~ Definitely not like the others
One of the things that caught my attention about the Other WordPress theme was the very chic vertical portfolio style layout that makes the content appear to be displayed in somewhat of an accordion style. This feature is not available in any of the other portfolio themes and is what sets this theme apart.
The theme comes with a handful of unique layouts such as a full width, three quarter height post format and a masonry boxed style with a nifty transparent hover that is really fun to interact with. You might just find yourself making mouse or finger trails with it.
Overall, the theme is clean and elegant however, I would have liked the fonts and social media icons to be a touch bigger.
The posts are very clean and take full advantage of the large content area, a definite plus for bloggers. The blog page comes in a variety of different layouts from large, medium and small masonry type images.
Other is the perfect theme for bloggers and any other creative professionals who want to showcase their work in a really unique portfolio design without having to sacrifice textual content.
9. Division ~ Portfolio domination
Division is the quintessential WordPress portfolio theme in that, it does exactly what a portfolio theme is meant to do, showcase huge amounts of images and content in an infinite number of ways.
This theme is extremely powerful, so much so that you can even control the gallery and post gutters pixel by pixel which means your images can be divided and appears as close together or as far away from each other as you want. Choose between full width or fixed layouts, multiple headers, drag and drop image galleries, custom backgrounds and six different post types to add even more amazing display options and you got yourself one amazing theme that needs no other introduction.
10. Essenza ~ Infinite possibilities
While it might look like a flat design, Essenza WordPress really isn’t. It uses a kind of mockup flat portfolio design and does it so much better. Essenza comes with a massive admin panel that includes a template customizing tool, drag and drop page builder, visual slider builder and other features such as unlimited fonts, colors, backgrounds and sidebars making this one of the most versatile portfolio themes.
There are four different demos with dummy content to import which provides the user with a visual demonstration of what different designs are possible. This is a feature that I wish was in a great deal more themes because most often the limits to webdesign are in not knowing what a theme is truly capable of.
Multiple gallery displays, 12 column thumbnails, showreels, sliders, dribble feed portfolio, masonry posts and a whole lot of other ways to your showcase work is what truly defines a portfolio theme.
Essenza defines it as having limitless possibilities.
11. Tripod ~ Simply elegant
Tripod WordPress theme has one of the cleanest and most elegant looking designs and is the perfect theme for more formal websites such as wedding shops, jewelers and photographers. It comes with a few unique features including a built in “hot post” like feature and an incredibly beautiful sly slider gallery post option that displays the images in a horizontal view that is somewhat panoramic.
The template builder can be used to display any content type on posts and pages, including category posts, tags, banners, team groups, testimonials, latest or featured post, widgets, and for each added element, you can choose to display it in any of the following ways; carousel, filter, load more button or pagination on full width, sidebar, mosaic, grid, thumbnail or list-view layouts.
The homepage can be viewed in a mosaic grid style, full width slider or e-commerce store making it one of the best suited designs for anyone selling high end products and it is ecommerce ready for your convenience.
12. Titan ~ Colossal Resolution
From the first moment you see it, it is not hard to notice that the Titan responsive portfolio theme from WordPress, was built with photographers in mind. The high resolution graphics are so stunning and crystal clear, it does not get any better than this.
Fourteen different galleries displays, seven portfolio templates and three different posts types allows for a huge amount of customizable options along with the numerous other typographical features included.
While the Titan theme might have been created with an emphasis on showcasing high resolution images and videos, the textual content was certainly not an after thought. This theme has one of the nicest transparent style blogs which adds an elegant personal touch to the overall design. This transparency is not lost in the masonry boxed style view either, in fact it makes for one of the nicest looking blogs in all of the themes on this list.
13. Reaper ~ Fearless simplicity
Reaper is the simplest and most minimalistic WordPress portfolio themes on the market and while it may not have been packed with hundreds of features, it does have quite a few options that are comparable to the more advanced portfolio themes. Highly responsive, Reaper was created intentionally for people who need a simple website or blog solution with portfolio displays.
Extremely simple to use and manage, the theme includes some customizable features that let’s you build a portfolio type blog or website in a matter of minutes.
It is the perfect starter theme for individuals wanting to experiment with portfolio themes but are not sure how or where to begin.
It is always the simple that produces the marvelous. ~ Amelia Barr
14. Aware ~ Alive with the touch of design
A clean and well organized theme, Aware WordPress portfolio theme looks more like a magazine style theme. It has two really nice interactive features, one that filters the content and one that fades the content providing a unique home page viewing option.
This theme is perfect for creating a more modern style magazine or blog that puts portfolio showcasing front page and center instead of the more traditional slider options.
The individual post pages and the blog page are so elegant, they add “savoir flair” to the overall design.
What it lacks in features, it makes up for in its elegant magazine style and for any personal blogger or freelancer wanting a quick and easy portfolio design solution, this theme is definitely for you.
15. Photolux ~ Lights, camera, action
Powered by the advanced Pexeto Panel, Photolux photography portfolio WordPress theme gives a whole new meaning to mosaic box style. The homepage display comes in three different skin variations including light, dark and dark transparent that allows for the addition of a full page background image that can be used globally or changed on each content page.
The default image size can be resized on each gallery page and you can create as many galleries as you need with over fourteen different display options.
While it may look and feel rather minimalistic, the theme has a number of cool features including dynamic sidebar generation functionality, a nivo slider and easy to change layouts including; full width and right or left sidebar.
If you’re looking for something a little bit different and a little bit bolder, this is the theme for you.
16. Wonder ~ Delightfully playful
Wonder WordPress portfolio theme boasts itself as being “unapologetically simple-to-use” and I could not agree more. It has a very easy to use live theme customizer and comes with a handy we are under construction page for letting visitors know that you are working on the theme and it will up and ready in a jiffy. I really like this theme because it has a rather playful side to it. Portfolio themes can often be overly powerful, way too serious and restrictive.
Wonder is anything but restrictive, in fact its really interactive, responsive and flexible for creating a variety of different user friendly display options.
A great theme for less formal websites, the Wonder theme as its name implies is simply wonderful and delightfully playful!
17. Angular ~ Clean line perfection
Every once in awhile a theme comes along that truly stands out and is not like anything you have seen before and you simply must have it, if only for that purpose. Angular WordPress Portfolio is one such theme, its sleek clean line design is so perfect, it is almost obsessive.
Its design seems rather minimalistic, but make no mistake, this theme has a whole lot more to offer than first meets the eye with 28 predefined skins that are easy to modify creating unlimited possibilities.
Fully loaded with a host of modern features, the Angular theme will no doubt grab your viewers attention, hook line and sinker. It caught mine!
18. Rise ~ A cut above the rest
Rise is a one page responsive WordPress portfolio that is a cut above some of the other theme’s in its class and for that reason is worthy of a mention in this list. The theme is flexible enough so that you can add more pages if needed and comes with mailchimp integration for creating marketing landing pages and building email lists, something rarely seen in today’s themes.
Its one page design creates a rather nice presentation style theme that closely resembles parallax.
It has a really nice sticky navigation feature and overall, the theme is well designed. Perhaps the one flaw in the theme is the default color scheme choices that have some very odd color combinations, thankfully you can create your own, which also comes in handy for branding purposes.
This theme is a great option for marketing websites.
19. Mercurial ~ Easy, breazy
Mercurial is a one page parallax WordPress theme and perhaps not considered a true portfolio theme however, based on the fact that it is one of the simplest themes to use in order to create portfolios, it is definitely worthy of a mention. With its pre-made custom shortcodes, you will be able to create beautiful typographic effects, insert a multitude of portfolios, social sharing icons, awesome sliders, pricing tables, or even add your twitter feed in seconds.
The portfolio design in this theme is so bold and powerful, it provides the theme with a uniqueness not found in other parallax designs and for this reason, it really is worth considering if your looking for a quick and easy way to showcase your work in a one page presentation.
One of our favorite themes, read the full review of Mercurial WordPress theme here.
20. Marble ~ Simply, smooth and flat
Marble WordPress is a completely flat responsive theme with six different homepage views including showcase views, portfolio views and full width slider. The theme has an awesome one page, full width interactive grid style showcase that accommodates a huge variety of post content formats including audio and video which can be viewed in up to six columns in a variety of different ways.
The easy to use drag and drop editor is a great option for creating a variety of customizations.
WooCommerce ready, you can easily turn this theme into a fully operational e-commerce online store in a matter of minutes with the addition of a plugin.
Perhaps not the most visually stunning themes, Mable’s flat design provides one of the best user experiences proving that sometimes, simple is definitely better.
While each theme has something different to offer and are unique in their own way, they are all have one thing in common, they happen to be the most visually stunning designs that ThemeForest has to offer. Responsive, interactive and user friendly, portfolio themes come with a huge amount of features and are the best value for your money because they already have everything you could possibly need for creating complex designs.
Contrary to popular belief, portfolio themes do not have to be limited for use in photography and other creative type designs, they are useful in just about any professional website and are the future of web design.
If you’re not comfortable with using these type of themes, begin with a smaller one page minimalistic theme and work your way up to the more advanced themes. In no time, you will be showcasing your designs just like the professionals.