The whole point of a good WordPress magazine theme is to handle fast evolving information on multiple topics. That is what online magazines and lots of blogs do. That explains why virtually all magazine and blog themes share lots of features. The common features include a neat layout, flexible text presentation with multiple headlines, image and video integration and ease of content updating. Most also try to pack an uncomplicated admin panel to make everything fast and easy.
Effective content management is therefore the first criteria that we have used to make our list of the 10 best WordPress magazine and blog themes. We have selected themes that have loads of features that quickly take care of the on-page business end of online publishing.
But an online magazine or blog also needs features that take care of the real business of making money. That includes user interaction features like content sharing and social media integration, flexible advertising placement and subscription functionality. We have factored those too.
Finally, we have looked at a few features that are not specific to news coverage.Perhaps the most important is theme responsiveness – the ability to resize and adapt to the different screen sizes of desktop computers and mobile devices. Responsiveness is simply a must-have feature. The age of a theme also matters. Newish or regularly updated themes are less likely to be affected by emerging bugs and more likely to integrate new features. And, of course, we have looked at customer support. A theme that has no customer support is an unnecessary gamble.
The good news is that most WordPress magazine themes – even those not in our list – coverthe basics. They generally look good, integrate text, image and video, and have social media features. Most are also responsive.
Still, there are some magazines and blog themes that stand out. The reasons vary. Some stand out because they have features not usually found in other themes. Others enjoy exceptional support from highly reputable theme developers. Others still combine sophistication with a competitive price.
Here then is our list of the top 10 WordPress magazine and blog themes:
1. The Source Theme
The Source is a WordPress theme by Elegant Themes, a big and highly regarded theme designer firm with a portfolio of over 87 themes. The Source theme reflects that reputation. It is a flashy, sophisticated and features loaded theme that goes beyond functionality. All the basic features are included – among them multimedia integration, color and layout options, social media integration and responsiveness. Plus multiple browser compatibility, localization feature and secure code.
The Source Theme also packs a bunch of the features that are only found in high-end premium themes, such as a 3 column grid, a full-length home slider and 15 shortcodes that cover everything from social media badges and password protection to author info and slide shows. The Source also has an automatic update feature – the perpetual update – that ensures the theme is always current.
But the really big deal about this theme is that it has the ePanel, an admin feature that comes only with Elegant Themes.The Panel integrates automatically with the WordPress Dashboard and simplifies customization of the theme.
The source Theme also has the added attraction of being offered as a package deal. If you purchase it, you get access to all 87 Elegant Themes – not necessarily a useful thing if all you want is one theme but quite useful if you run multiple sites or would like to borrow ideas from other themes.
Price: $69 per year subscription for 87 themes
2. Publisher Theme
The simply named Publisher WordPress magazine theme is a creation of WordPress.com. That is the site hosting arm of wordpress.org, the community-driven inventor and guardian of WordPress themes – and maker of no less than 308 themes.
Perhaps in keeping with the spirit of wordpress.org, the Publisher is a theme that leans towards simplicity and usability. Not that it is drab. Rather, it keeps flashiness at a minimum and focuses on neatness, ease of use and functionality.
The result is a theme that has all the features that a premium online magazine would need, including a 3 column layout with multimedia and social media integration. The emphasis on functionality is also evident in the Feature Image that doubles as a custom background and the three free posts formats –Standard, Image, and Quote formats – that save users from having to purchase custom CSS upgrades.
But the Publisher theme does pack at least one feature that stands out in the crowd. The theme has incredible customization flexibility that allows users to borrow features from no less than 300 other WordPress themes. That is besides having a variety of widgets to do the same job.
Being a wordPress.com theme also means the Publisher is well supported, rigorously quality tested and regularly updated.
3. Sahifa Theme
The unusual name of the Sahifa Magazine Theme probably has something to do with the fact that its creators, San Francisco based TieLabs, have an Egyptian connection. What is beyond speculation is that the Sahifa is a certified hit. The theme is one of the best selling themes at ThemeForest with over 10,000 users already. Theme Forest, of course, is the Walmart of WordPress themes.
Why is Sahifa such a hit? Because it is a theme that almost captures the best of two worlds – it is a neat, highly functional theme that still manages to fit in with the sophisticated high-end themes. On the functional side, the Sahifa covers the basics of neat content presentation, multimedia and social media integration, mobile responsiveness and translation readiness.
Then, on the sophistication side, it throws in a few special features. One is a customization flexibility of over 30 shortcodes covering just about everything, including tooltips and lightboxes. Another is an admin panel that draws from over 200 theme settings. Plus an apple friendly feature that allows users to add iPad and iPhone app home screen icons on their sites – which then automatically switch to Apple’s preferred browser, safari, whenever visitors click on them.
4. Hemlock Theme
The Hemlock Theme by Solo Pine is more of a magazine and blog theme than a news theme. It is sleek with a side bar option and a full width slider but has one column. That, of course, is perfect for blogging. It is also a theme by a relatively small theme development firm. Solo Pine is a Seattle husband-wife theme developer team – which, naturally, means it has a small support team.
But the Hemlock theme, which is also available at Theme Forest, has been raising quite a buzz for good reasons. It has the expected magazine features – neat content presentation, multimedia integration, social media, and responsiveness. But it takes matters a step better with a music post format besides the usual standard, video and gallery post formats. It also has contact form 7 support and a thoughtful variety of widgets such as ‘about me’ and ‘latest post’ widgets.
And it is a lot less expensive compared to the other themes in our list.
5. Lifestyle Pro Theme
The Lifestyle Pro Magazine Theme is a baby of StudioPress. That alone says something about the theme. StudioPress is one of the best known WordPress themes developers with over 43 themes to its name. It is also the creator of the famed Genesis Foundation – a child theme that is typically coupled with other WordPress themes to provide an incredible array of possibilities. For example, Genesis Foundation provides extra website security and search-engine-optimization functionality. It also provides instant updating functionality, and an array of shortcodes and widgets.
Not surprisingly, the Lifestyle Pro magazine theme comes with the Genesis Foundation. The result is a flashy, very sophisticated theme that covers just about everything you would expect of a premium magazine theme, including a 6 color and multiple layout option, multimedia integration and responsiveness.
The Lifestyle Pro is also one of the best supported themes. It comes with unlimited support, tutorials and, unusually for a big theme, a one-time purchase fee.
6. MediaMag theme
The MediaMag Theme is a sort of compromise between the sophisticated magazine themes preferred by big developers and the sleek, creatively functional themes of less established developers. It is even priced that way.
The theme is sleek, two-columned with a widget sidebar and a range of features that go beyond the basics. That includes a featured content glider, threaded comments, Gravatar integration and drop-down navigation. That is besides the more basic features such as multimedia integration, responsiveness, easy customization and social media networking integration.
Plus, the MediaMag theme is a creation of a big developer, SoloStream, and comes with the advantages that come with size. SoloStrea has 66 premium themes and the support backup, updates, tutorials and theme guides to match.
7. MagXP Theme
MagXP theme falls into the sophisticated themes category. It has premium features – such as multiple home page layout options, unlimited sidebars and colors and 15 widgets, besides the basic features such as easy translation, social media and multimedia integration.
That is perhaps not surprisingly because MagXP theme is a creation of MyThemeShop, a major developer with 80 premium themes and plugins and over 166,000 users. As you would expect, the theme is backed by superb support, tutorials and updates.
The MagXP theme is also striking because of its integrated content rating and review system that hugely improves user interaction. It also stands out for having the WooCommerce plugin that makes the theme eCommerce ready. While not exactly special, the search engine optimization feature of this theme is also better than most.
Perhaps best of all, the MagXP theme is priced competitively in the range of less sophisticated themes.
8. Massive Press Theme
Massive Press is a neat, functional and highly customizable theme that leans towards efficiency rather than glamour. It has the looks without being flashy, and covers the basics. Among its standout features is a flexible Ad placement feature, custom menus and multiple theme options. It is also responsive and social media ready.
The big deal about Massive Press is that it has the Infinite Scroll capability – a feature that loads posts continuously as the user scrolls down the page, much like Facebook. The theme also comes with the bragging rights of being a product of one of the oldest successful theme developers around. Press75, a mid-size developer has been in business since 2008 – a big deal in an industry where most players are a lot newer to the game. If experience matters, Massive theme has the benefit of it.
It is important, however, to note that there are two versions of Massive Press themes. One version – which we have focused on in this review – works in self-hosted WordPress sites. The other version which is available at wordpress.com, can be independently hosted.
9. Magazine Theme by Themify
Themify is one of the big boys in WordPress theme development and it shows in their Magazine theme. This is, quite simply, the full, high-end package deal. Not only are the features you would expect in a magazine theme present but they are there almost in excess. A good example is the 42 pre-built layout options – 6 sidebar options plus 7 different post layouts. That basically means you can customize the look of this theme to just about anything you like.
Another example is the truly mega menu. Not only does the menu have a wide variety of categories but it also has a hovering feature. When you hover on an item in the menu, it highlights the latest four posts in that category.
Themify’s magazine theme also comes with a drag and drop builder and a breaking news ticker at the header. And, as if those are not enough premium features, the theme comes with the Themify Framework, a child theme that adds a variety of additional functionalities such as auto theme update, WooCommerce support and a styling panel. Another feature which makes this theme stand out from the crowd is the built in ads support. It is the only Google Adsense ready WordPress theme in this list which support monetization out of the box without installation of any extra plugins.
10. Magazine Theme from Templatic
The Magazine Theme by Templatic is special because it combines sophisticated premium features with a price that is usually associated with minimalist functionality-focused themes. It is, in fact, the lowest priced theme in our list. That combination is the key advantage of this theme.
The premium features include threaded comments functionality, breadcrumbs navigation feature for the inner pages and four levels of drop-down navigation. Also in that category is a dynamic image gallery that allows users to zoom the thumbnail images into full preview. The header is also separately customizable, making it easier to upload a personalized header background, graphic or logo.
The Templatic Magazine theme also has the added value of a good support system which includes a theme guide and tutorial. It probably helps, too, that the theme’s creators, Templatic, though a mid-sized theme maker, has an excellent profile – the firm is 6 years old and has over 50 themes.