WordPress magazine themes are becoming increasingly popular. A major reason for this is that the way people consume news has changed beyond recognition over the past few years, thanks to the huge success of the iPad and other tablet devices.
To be successful, a magazine theme has to “pull readers in” and encourage them to stay on the site. Striking a good balance between image and text content is crucial to this.
It’s unsurprising that grid-style layouts are so popular. They present articles in a way that’s familiar to all, as grids are used to lay out content in printed newspapers and magazines. They allow readers to quickly home in on content that’s of interest to them after a perfunctory scan of the layout.
Of course, not everyone browses magazine-style sites on a mobile device, so in choosing our top twenty WordPress magazine themes, we have also given some attention to how they look when displayed on a traditional computer monitor.
So, without further ado, let’s proceed with our roundup of the twenty best WordPress magazine themes on the market today.
1. SUPREME ~ Cutting Edge and Colourful
Choosing our number one WordPress magazine theme proved rather subjective, as some themes are naturally more suited to certain topics and industries.
However, the Supreme theme by SwiftIdeas gained our vote, principally based on how well it adapts to use on different devices. Some theme designers truly put mobile devices first (and some even make a point of the fact), but Supreme looks just as good on a desktop screen.
The theme is also highly configurable, with unlimited colour options and a great drag and drop page designer that makes it easy to harness the power the theme has to offer. Needless to say for a winning theme, it is fully responsive and retina ready.
It’s surprisingly adaptable too: We can imagine the theme working for all kinds of topics, including travel, technology and art.
2. JARIDA ~ Elegant and Responsive
The Jarida theme, from developer mo3aser, is described as a “magazine, news and blog template,” and finds its way near to the top of this list for a few key reasons.
The main one is that the theme designer has clearly considered that people rarely put together magazine sites for purely altruistic reasons. As a result, this is a theme built with monetization in mind. The theme incorporates a great review system, and the default page layouts include lots of sensibly sized ad blocks.
Jarida isn’t as “state of the art” as some magazine themes. While it’s fully responsive, it’s not yet retina ready. However, for many people, generating money from a site is as important as anything else. You can read more about Jarida in our review.
3. VALENTI ~ A Glorious Grid
The Valenti theme from Cubell is dark, brooding, and oozing with class. It’s designed around the kind of grid layout that you’ll see in plenty of the themes in this roundup.
Valenti’s developer seems very adept at keeping users happy. The ThemeForest site displays lots of testimonials from happy users, several of whom comment that the theme is really easy to configure despite its flexibility.
The theme is responsive and retina ready, and features a range of post styles. The features list for this theme is as long as any we’ve seen, but thanks to a really well-designed page builder, it’s all simple to manage.
4. Newspaper ~ Flexible Colours, Flexible Layouts
The Newspaper theme from tagDiv has it all: retina support, a responsive design, integrated translation features and even a review system. It also offers an attractive range of colour options, which you can flick through on the demo – something so simple that more theme authors should think to provide.
Like Jarida (at number two, above), the developer has put plenty of thought into potential monetization. The theme features ad block spaces in sensible places, and incorporates advanced functionality for ads. For example, it’s possible to control which ads display on which device types.
We particularly like the infinite scroll feature, which continues to show older posts, helping you to keep users browsing your sites for more time.
5. WirePress ~ Simple but Stylish
Unlike some of the other themes in this roundup, WirePress doesn’t go all out to provide flexibility. In fact, EugeneO, the developer, makes a point of saying that themes needn’t be complicated.
What we do have here is a true magazine style theme that does everything it needs to. It uses the grid layout that people are familiar with thanks to apps like Huff Post and FlipBoard, and looks good on a PC screen as well as a tablet or smartphone (although we have to admit it’s a little more pleasing to use on mobile devices).
Also notable are the sensible addition of ad blocks for monetization.
6. Madidus ~ Clean and Versatile
Madidus, from different-themes, offers the popular grid-style layout that we’ve referred to throughout this roundup, but also the option of more traditional blog-style page designs.
In demo form, Madidus is understated, with plenty of white space, but the designer places no restrictions on colour customisation. This kind of flexibility can be dangerous in unskilled hands, but gives experienced designers a chance to make the theme their own.
Madidus is retina-ready, making the fonts look stunning on mobile devices. Also of note is that several existing users complement the designer on the quality of support provided.
7. Bucket ~ Smart and Funky
The Bucket theme, from pixelgrade, evokes thoughts of a funky high-end magazine promoting a fashionable destination. It would work well for “what’s on” style sites, but is also built with functionality to support other magazine formats.
For example, there’s a review system built in, along with a small selection of review post layouts, there’s also a variety of header layouts and plenty of social networking functionality.
“Bucket” may seem a rather odd name for an upscale magazine theme, but this responsive, retina ready design will please plenty of people. At the time of writing, this theme was very new and with minimal downloads, so a site built with it right now is sure to stand out.
8. WorldWide ~ Elegant and Businesslike
A quick glance at the WorldWide theme brings to mind The Economist magazine. This theme is elegant and corporate, and well-suited to finance and business topics.
The theme is responsive and retina ready, and offers a plethora of layout options. Thankfully these are all easy to manage due to the presence of a well-designed admin panel and page builder.
WorldWide looks just as good on a PC as it does on a tablet, and includes some sensibly placed ad blocks for monetization. We offer this theme a strong recommendation, though it may be a little too staid in look and feel for fashion and culture sites.
9. News Grid ~ Clean and Bold
News Grid is a clean and bold magazine / blog theme from designer Siimple. The main layout features a prominent header picture, with a post grid below.
There are seven key layouts and a wide choice of colour options and fonts. The grid layout is fully responsive and therefore adaptable for display on all kinds of device sizes.
The NewsGrid theme is retina ready, and also offers the benefit of being supplied with a wide range of premium plugins for things like ratings and social media.
10. Adams ~ Hectic but Striking
You will immediately notice from the screenshot above that the Adams theme is rather more hectic in design than most of the other themes in this roundup.
This isn’t really a criticism, as the hectic nature of the site quickly grabs attention, however it’s worth noting that loading all the page elements can prove a lengthy process on a slow Internet connection.
The Adams theme is perhaps best suited to technology sites, and the developer has included three different review systems for magazine sites that test and rate products.
In contrast to the rather busy desktop layout, the responsive mobile versions are a lot cleaner and well suited to viewing on smartphones and tablets.
11. Particle ~ Inviting and Easy-going
The Particle theme, from designer bluthemes, was developed as “mobile first,” but the site still looks great on a traditional computer. However, desktop users will obviously miss out on all the lovely touch interaction features (unless, of course, they are using a touchscreen Windows 8 machine!)
Particle minimises distractions and allows content to breathe, but if we were to offer one criticism it would be that text heavy content looks a little uninspiring.
Regardless, this is a great theme, especially for travel and lifestyle publications.
12. Fearless ~ Great for Boy’s Toys
“Bold, Modern and Responsive” is the strap line for the Fearless theme, and there’s no better way to describe it.
The general appearance of this theme makes it seem ideal for high-octane topics such as fast cars or extreme sports. Its high-tech look and feel would also make it appropriate for design or architecture.
Fearless features include seven different primary layouts and five different blog styles, but there’s not much of significant difference between them. However, everything is modular, and plenty of custom widgets and add-ons are supplied, so it’s easier than it first appears to add some creative influence to the overall design.
Like the majority of the themes featured in this round-up, Fearless is fully responsive and retina ready.
13. Braxton ~ All About the Fashion
The demo site for the Braxton theme focuses on fashion, and when we reviewed the theme we concluded that this is probably the most appropriate usage.
It is possible to tweak the colours, but trying to use Braxton for non fashion topics could seem like trying to squeeze square pegs into round holes.
Braxton ticks all the normal boxes: it’s translation-ready, retina-ready, and 100% responsive. It also brings some prestige to the party, having been named amongst Forbes’ Top 10 WordPress themes. If you are building a fashion (or health and beauty) site that you want to appear bold and modern, you need look no further.
14. Newsroom ~ Understated and Professional
The Newsroom theme, by designer ‘wpbandit’ is elegant and understated. It seems well suited to a surprising number of uses, and we could see it working well for music and technology sites, as well as straight-up news.
The theme offers a wide range of post formats, and the demo’s emphasis on audio and video makes you think that music-related sites were firmly in mind when the theme was designed.
In terms of customisation, Newsroom offers unlimited colours and unlimited sidebars, so there’s plenty here to help make the design your own. One thing to note, however, is that although the theme is fully responsive, it doesn’t offer retina support (at least at the time of writing).
15. Typegrid ~ The Cleanest Theme on the Block
The first thing you notice when you look at the demo of the Typegrid theme is the amount of white space is the main design. This has the effect of making the theme seem both understated and original.
According to the designer, Typegrid is focussed on providing a good reading experience, and the responsive and retina-ready nature of the design ensures that this is the case across all devices.
Although the theme features various different options for formats, styles and layouts, colour customisation is limited to accent colours. In this context, we actually think this was a wise decision, as an unskilled designer making the wrong colour choices could quickly undo all that is good about the theme.
It’s also worthy of comment that ThemeForest features plenty of good feedback on this theme from past purchasers, and strong technical support is also mentioned.
16. Goodnews ~ So Fresh, So Clean
Intended (unsurprisingly) as a news theme, Goodnews is best suited to current affairs sites. The theme is clean and simple in design, and shares Typegrid’s emphasis on white space. However, Goodnews offers a deeper level of customisation, with a detailed page builder and the ability to use unlimited colours and over 500 different Google fonts.
Goodnews has a huge features list, including lots of custom widgets. These include advertising boxes covering all the usual banner sizes, so this is a good choice if monetization is on your mind.
This is a very popular theme, with over 3000 downloads at the time of writing. The theme is fully responsive for different screen sizes, but NOT retina-ready at the time of writing.
17. Sahifa ~ Responsive and Innovative
Sahifa is the second theme in this roundup from designer mo3aser. It’s another clean and understated theme, and although the chosen orange accent colours may not appeal to all, we were rather taken with this design choice.
Functionality is the order of the day with this WordPress theme. All the usual features are present and correct, such as a HomePage builder, rating system for reviews, and a vast range of short codes, but there are also a few unusual (but welcome) additions, such as the ability to build in App button functionality for Apple devices, so that iPhone and iPad users can quickly return to your site from their home screen.
As we discovered in our review, Sahifa is far from being a “one trick pony.” WooCommerce integration makes building in an online shop a straightforward process. In terms of functionality and flexibility, Sahifa is hard to match, even though the design itself may not be the most exciting in the world.
18. Hot Topix ~ Bold and Fashionable
The Hot Topix theme makes no attempt at being a “jack of all trades.” This is a straight-up, bold magazine theme, well suited to cutting edge fashion, music or celebrity news.
The tile grid on the main home page screen reminds us of both Windows Metro and the Flipboard app. In fact, it strikes a great balance between the two. The theme allows you to draw attention to many different stories concurrently, whilst still avoiding clutter.
We also like the thought given to advertising, especially the large free block on the default page layout – a space that could make for a lucrative advertising sale on a high-traffic site. There is also an easy way to implement wallpaper ads if you manage to obtain all-out site sponsorship.
The site is responsive and retina ready. We do have one criticism on this, however, which is that the smallest layout for smartphones just doesn’t have the impact the theme has when shown on larger displays.
19. Gameday ~ The Best Choice for Sport Sites
Gameday is marketed as a sports theme, and we can’t really imagine it being used for any other kind of magazine site. For its intended purpose, however, it’s perfect.
The theme is retina ready and responsive, and includes functionality to display live score feeds. There is also a small selection of ad units available, as well as background ad functionality – just waiting for when you convince your favoured sports team to lucratively sponsor your site!
There’s not a huge amount to customise here: while there’s a drag and drop editor for homepage elements, colour customisation is notably absent from the features list. Designers are instead expected to make use of custom background and featured images to make their mark on the site.
This small limitation doesn’t seem to have put people off. Over 1000 people had downloaded Gameday at the time of writing.
20. Effective News ~ Elegant and Feature Packed
If you’re someone who feels intimidated by too many choices and options, then the Effective News theme probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you want a theme you can customise to your heart’s content, it’s well worth a look.
The basic design is clear and slick, if not the most exciting we’ve ever seen. It’s when it comes to configurability that things get interesting. Effective news has a page builder, a review system, a range of article formats and page templates, and unlimited sidebars and colours. There are also advanced typography options, over 50 short codes and widgets, and the ability to build in shops with WooCommerce integration.
We could go on: news ticker, advertising widgets etc. – but we think you probably get the idea. Effective News can be bent to your will with ease. Designers should just be careful with colour and font options – with this many options, it’s easy to end up with a poorly designed mess!