Ex Libris

Ex Libris was designed for writers and typophiles.  Lacking fancy graphical bells and whistles, we focussed our attention, instead, on making your content readable with full typographic control.  Ex Libris features a unique approach to choosing the typography for your site.  Rather than relying on the tired basic web fonts, we’ve embedded the gorgeous free fonts from font foundry exljbris, giving you freedom to style your site with access to full font families and unique typefaces, while maintaining a consistent visual style.  We’ve also built the theme with a unique, optional home page layout (Magazine Style, pictured above), and kept an uncluttered approach to page layouts.

If you’re a writer, if you love minimalism, clean design and unique typography, Ex Libris was made for you.  Literally.

View Demo | Buy Ex Libris — $60

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A new theme in the works

We spent the day today hammering out some ideas for a new Museum Theme.  We wanted to do something for those typophiles and writers out there; something minimalist with an emphasis on typography and a unique design.  The result is Ex Libris, which will be coming very soon.

Design options

Ex Libris will have 3 different modes (for the home page, at least).  The first (pictured above) is a standard page-style layout.  If you want your content to be the focus, and have a lot of static pages, this is the design for you.

Next, there will be a more traditional blog layout (pictured right).  This will give you a sidebar, post excerpts and a familiar post format.  You will also be able to use this on a blog page if you’re using a static page for your home page or the…

Magazine-style home page (below).  This option will feature your most recent post prominently, with older posts displayed in columns below.  We haven’t started coding yet, so you can be sure we’ll be adding other features when we are digging through the code.  One idea is to use the featured post area in the magazine layout for static home page content rather than a blog post.  Another idea is to allow the number of subsequent posts to be configurable from the options page.

Typographic control

The other thing we wanted to do with this theme is to give you, not only custom font embeds, but to allow you to choose what types you want to use for what parts of the page.  We’ll be bundling several gorgeous fonts and font families from the talented Jos Buivenga’s exljbris font foundry (which also inspired the name of the theme).  exljbris has earned many notable mentions on MyFonts and is responsible for the Museo family you see on this site (and on the recently redesigned jazzsequence.com).

We’re excited about this new theme, and can’t wait to share it with you.  If there are features or ideas for things you’d like to see included in this theme, let us know in the comments!

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Middle Name: Danger

screenshot big1 750x438 Middle Name: Danger

Middle Name: Danger is the brother to Baby SweetTooth.  It’s got the same magazine-style layout and multiple widgetized sidebars with optional video embed and FeedBurner integration.  In fact, everything cool about Baby SweetTooth is there in Middle Name: Danger, the only difference is the boy colors vs. the pink and brown in SweetTooth.  Whereas Baby SweetTooth was a re-release, we never released Middle Name: Danger because we were waiting to work out the bugs of SweetTooth.  Now that we have, we can release both, side-by-side, as they were meant to be, so you can be set for your baby girl’s blog or your baby boy’s blog (or both!).

View Demo

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12 Free WordPress Themes I Like (and you should, too)

Just because we built free WordPress themes and Museum Themes doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the good work of others.  In fact, it’s through watching what’s going on in the greater WordPress theme community that gives us ideas, keeps us on our toes, and informs us of trends and what people are interested in.  Here are some interesting free WordPress themes that I like.

In no particular order:

1. P2, by Automattic

P2 is a revolutionary concept for a WordPress theme, namely — make WordPress act like Twitter.  P2 live updates allowing realtime commenting on posts.  Anyone with an account can post something, and, since it’s WordPress, what you can post ranges from a short tweet, to a full length post with multimedia content.  Matt Mullenweg even said that P2 changed the way Automattic communicated.

p2 750x432 12 Free WordPress Themes I Like (and you should, too)

View Demo | Theme Homepage | Download

2. Modern, by Ulf Petersson

Modern has been around for a few years (when it was released in its final 0.9 version, the latest browsers were Opera 9 (beta), Firefox 1.5, and Internet Explorer 6), but it still looks…well…modern.  The reason is its minimalist simplicity which gives it a timeless look.  The subtle splashes of color against the mostly white and light-gray backgrounds give the theme a playful and welcoming feeling.

modern 750x432 12 Free WordPress Themes I Like (and you should, too)

Theme Homepage | Download

3. Motion, by 85ideas

Motion’s dark, textured light and watercolor background and dark semi-transparent borders and frames tell me that this is a designer after my own heart.  It’s truly a gorgeous blog theme with a cool ocean-on-a-clear-day palette.

motion 750x432 12 Free WordPress Themes I Like (and you should, too)

View Demo | Theme Homepage | Download

4. Pixel, by 85ideas

Another theme by 85ideas, pixel also uses semi-transparent backgrounds, this time playing with concepts of light and dark.  A mostly-dark theme, Pixel has a lot of the same design ideas as Microsoft’s Windows Aero, responsible for that attractive glass-like effect in Windows Vista and Windows 7.  Pixel is perfect for a tech- or design-centric blog.

pixel 750x432 12 Free WordPress Themes I Like (and you should, too)

View Demo | Theme Homepage | Download

5. Piano Black, by mono-lab

Piano Black is a stunningly beautiful theme that makes you feel like you’re inside the machine.  The use of light and shade, dark transparencies, and bright hover colors over the gray and black background allude to LED displays on dark plastic and metal.  This theme uses WordPress 3.0 custom menus and jQuery sliding effects for dropdowns, back to top links and a lovely image zoom feature.

pianoblack 750x432 12 Free WordPress Themes I Like (and you should, too)

View Demo | Theme Homepage | Download

6. Retromania, by Jay Hafling

We’re well acquainted with how hard a sell it is for niche themes to catch on.  The general rule is to appeal to the critical masses, get lots of hits, links and downloads, but it’s often at the risk of doing something really interesting and creative with design.  But by no means does that mean that they shouldn’t be done, and Retromania’s kitchy 50s throwback feel is definitely worth checking out.  He even has PSD source files available to download if you don’t like the default header images (of course, you’d need PhotoShop or something else that knows what to do with a .psd).

Theme Homepage/Demo | Download

7. Urban Life, by Jay Hafling

Another one by Jay Hafling, Urban Life shares Retromania’s light grunge, but rather than being vintage-centric, this one has an inner city vibe, with a city skyline in the header (silhouetted in the footer) and a striped band in the header and behind the sidebar boxes evocative of Warning! signs or caution tape.  Urban Life also has a built-in contact form (some configuration required), which lightens up the load on your site by eliminating the need to pull in a plugin to do that for you.  For those inclined to work in Photoshop, he also has his Photoshop source files available for this one as well.

Theme Homepage/Demo | Download

8. Mimbo, by Darren Hoyt

Darren Hoyt’s name is known in the WordPress theme community, and part of that is a result of this theme.  Mimbo is an oldie-but-goodie, packing dual-navbar action, configurable sidebars, and a home page layout that could make lesser news sites weep.  For developers, it can be used as a theme framework, upon which child themes can be built.  Darren Hoyt is also responsible for TimThumb, the little script that’s been pretty much single-handedly responsible for displaying post thumbnails on blog pages until WordPress added that feature in 2.9.  Now almost 3 years old, Mimbo still holds its own in magazine-style themes.

mimbo 750x432 12 Free WordPress Themes I Like (and you should, too)

View Demo | Theme Homepage | Download

9. Dark Zen, by DailyBlogTips

Dark Zen is a minimalist theme suitable for just about anything you could want to use it for.  It has a simple, stylish design with a spacious sidebar, built-in social bookmarking and room for adding banner- and sidebar ads.  If you’re looking for something to use as a theme framework for something new, the bullet-proof layout of Dark Zen is a good choice.

dark zen 750x432 12 Free WordPress Themes I Like (and you should, too)

View Demo | Theme Homepage | Download

10. Structure, by Organic Themes

Structure knocks my socks off.  It’s simultaneously bold and minimalist, with huge post thumbnails and multiple columns.  In that sense, it’s similar to Mimbo with a bigger featured content area, but it’s taken to a whole new level with the jQuery slider for featured posts (only available in the premium version).

structure 750x432 12 Free WordPress Themes I Like (and you should, too)

View Demo | Theme Homepage | Download

11. The Morning After, by WooThemes

The Morning After is quite possibly my all-time favorite theme, ever.  The story goes that the author, Arun Kale, surveyed WordPress users and asked what they’d like to see in a magazine-style theme and The Morning After is the result.  Just a few weeks ago, the Arun contacted WooThemes and asked them if they’d be interested in taking the reigns for developing and maintaining TMA, and it is now, officially, a WooTheme.  TMA has a unique, slim header image that can be customized for different pages.  It’s got different styles for Asides (now called Updates) and built-in post thumbnails.  It’s got a little configurable description area above the sidebar on the home page and different page layouts depending on what you’re looking at.  It is, in short, awesome.

the morning after 750x432 12 Free WordPress Themes I Like (and you should, too)

View Demo | Theme Homepage | Download

12. Mansion, by Graphpaper Press

Wow.  I’ve seen some interesting grid layouts for themes, and I’ve seen some awesome photography themes, but this one tops both.  Bearing more in common with an image gallery than a blog, Mansion creates a mosaic of images pulled from your posts that can be sorted by category.  It also comes with a page template for your blog, which takes a similar approach to your posts.  Images gently light up when hovered over, as does the navigation area.  And all of it sits on top of a black background, giving it a lightbox-like effect.

View Demo | Theme Homepage | Download

Of course, I can’t end a post on free WordPress themes without so much as a nod at our own free themes area.  And as I said, we often take inspiration from other themes.  So, you think there’s some ideas brewing for new themes in our devious little brains?  As Sarah Palin would say, “you betcha.”

Baby SweetTooth

Baby SweetTooth is a magazine-style theme styled for your baby girl.  It takes inspiration from premium WordPress themes, scrapbooking, and baby girl’s clothing and decor.  It’s built to share all of your thoughts and memories, pictures and videos in an easy-to-access page.  If you use FeedBurner, you can add your FeedBurner ID in the theme options page and have your visitors, friends and family subscribe to updates by email.  The theme options page allows you to specify which categories display on the home page, what images to use, everything that requires setting up, and the theme is smart enough to know if you haven’t set up some crucial areas, it won’t display them.  Rather than forcing you to edit code just to get your site set up (which, if you’re doing a baby blog, you probably have much better things to do), we put all those variables in the back-end with easy documentation and a welcome page that lets you know when you need to set up your theme options.

In short, we took all the power and functionality of a premium theme and combined that with the appeal and design of a simple mommyblog.  And made it free.

View Demo

Download Baby SweetTooth 1.2 MB
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