5 favorite WordPress.com themes for bloggers

You know how useful it can be when a cook or magazine has a “test-kitchen” and tries out recipes or brands before recommending them to others?  Well, I created a virtual “test-kitchen” for blogging this past weekend.  I tested out many, many WordPress themes, and evaluated them for style and functionality.  If you are considering starting a blog, updating your blog, or making over your website as a blog, this list is for you.

In terms of functionality, each of these WordPress.com themes has top-level page navigation with drop-down menus (especially important if your blog is your main website), and two columns.  I also prefer themes with custom headers and sticky post options, which you should also consider as options if you are using your blog as a website.

Regarding style, each of these themes gets my vote because they are attractive, well-designed, easy to read, and easy to navigate.  I gravitate toward blog templates that have light backgrounds and dark text for readability.  I have tested each of these WordPress.com themes to see how they display elements like YouTube video and blog categories — impressed with all.

All of these themes can easily be previewed and added from your WordPress.com dashboard; you don’t have to download anything (unless you have a self-hosted blog). Here are my recommendations for the best WordPress.com themes for bloggers.

  1. Coraline — Crisp and clean, easy to add a header, it’s generic (until you play with it) but it gets the job done.  This is the theme I am currently using for my video interview blog, Conversations in Public Relations.
  2. Greyzed — Rock-n-roll! I almost didn’t include this one on my favorites list, but it was so fun, energetic, and edgy, I couldn’t resist.  I was really rather impressed with the oomph it gave my blog in the “test kitchen.”  Twitter integration is built in, so if you’re not getting retweeted, pick another theme.  Not for everyone!
  3. Notepad — More casual in style, and there is no custom header option, but very readable and a refreshing change from the white background blog themes, while remaining legible.
  4. Paperpunch — Elegant and corporate; easy to customize.  If Twitter is important to you and you anticipate being retweeted often, this may  be the theme to pick because the design highlights retweets, although with the new retweet button available on all WordPress blogs, it looked a little redundant when I tested it.
  5. Twenty Ten — My all-time favorite theme. It does everything I want it to do, and is there ever room for widgets!  This is the theme I am currently using for The Fletcher Prince Blog and also the theme I used for my aunt’s restaurant blog, News From The Waterfront Cafe.  As you can see if you click on the links, one of the ways you can customize this theme is to change the background, which you can do by changing the background color (as I did for The Fletcher Prince Blog) or by uploading a background image (as I did for News From The Waterfront Cafe).

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And I’m going to go ahead and give a Honorable Mention to Digg 3, which is the theme I selected when creating the blog for the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.  If you’re going to go with three columns, this is the blog theme I recommend that you use.  Laudable theme options include tab navigation for Pages and custom header option (David designed the one on the PRSA NCC blog, isn’t it nice?), but the Digg 3 WordPress theme didn’t make my top five list because drop-down menus are really quite important to me 🙂

A person with no formal design training could customize some of these blog themes and make them their own by experimenting with different header and background images (with the exception of Greyzed, which has a personality all its own, and Notepad, which does not offer the custom header option).  However, if you would like a branded look for your blog, we would be happy to design a creative and affordable blog for you.

Of course, if your blog is not going to be a corporate blog, you have plenty of creative theme options to try, and I encourage anyone who is going to start a blog for their business to experiment with blogs in other ways.  For example, there are themes I use for personal blogs for which branding/customization options and drop down menus are not quite so important as for corporate blogs, such as the lovely seasonal theme Vermilion Christmas for my holiday blog — Cool Yule — and the pretty Albeo for my personal blog/vlog, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.

Good luck with your blogging efforts, and please let me know if I can help you.

I invite you to subscribe to the blogs mentioned in this article, and if you liked this post, please go ahead and click the like button for me!

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on September 15, 2010, in Blogging Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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