To give you a sense of all the different kinds of blog themes that are possible, we have hand-selected five of the top blogs from the Internet and are now showcasing their respective themes. As far as we can tell, all five of these sites make use of custom themes and while they may or may not all be powered by WordPress, such layouts and styles are achievable using a WordPress framework.
MEGATechNews: Focused on Reviews
As a technology site, MEGATechNews is inherently catering to people who are perhaps more tech-savvy than the average consumer. These are people who want to know about all the latest news and happenings in the technology world, but they also want comprehensive reviews of these products to help with their purchasing decisions.
For this site, the design allows for a series of featured articles to scroll near the top of the content area, but there are six substantial boxes located beneath that area to highlight the “MegaTech Reviews.” These are the product reviews that serve as the focal point for the site. Below that, readers can look for the latest news and find the latest videos in the sidebar. The theme has also been optimized for advertising, since it is a commercial property with a goal of turning a profit.
The theme is relatively “clean”, but it is robust enough to offer a range of content and enough advertising opportunity as a revenue source.
John Chow dot Com: Two Themes, One Blog
John Chow is perhaps best known online as the “dot com mogul” who makes money online. He has made a name for himself not only as a professional blogger, but also as an affiliate marketer and Internet entrepreneur. He also has two different sets of audiences to consider and that’s why he fundamentally has two themes within the same blog.
On the main John Chow dot Com site, you find a magazine style layout where John is able to show featured articles near the top. Perhaps just as importantly is the slot below that for his “Dot Com Lifestyle” video. This main site caters primarily to people who are new to John’s site and this gives them the best overview of what they can expect from his blog.
If you go to JohnChow.com/blog, however, you’ll find a much more standard reverse chronological configuration for his site. The header, sidebar, and footer areas stay the same, but the style for the content area is more standard. That’s because the “blog” subsection caters more to regular readers and people who are already familiar with Chow and what he does. They don’t need the “overview” or “introduction” that the magazine style aims to achieve.
XKCD: Simplicity of a Webcomic
XKCD is a popular webcomic that is said to offer “romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” Its aesthetic style is very simple, as the webcomic itself only involves stick figures and speech bubbles. Thsi simplistic style lends itself to a simplistic site layout as well.
The main site for XKCD is single column and displays today’s webcomic. Above and below the webcomic are links for navigating to previous, next, and random webcomics found in the XKCD archives. This simplified interface is perfect for a webcomic that is itself quite simplified. XKCD also has a blog (“blag”), but they are only using the default theme for WordPress. Once again, this speaks to the simplicity that the author is trying to portray for his webcomic.
Joystiq: Consoles, Media, and Networks
A part of the Weblogs, Inc. network owned by AOL, Joystiq aims to combine several key elements into a single blog theme. Since it is a blog that is dedicated to video games, the theme includes a series of icons next to the main logo that indicate each of the major video game consoles.
This is important, because someone who owns an Xbox 360 may not necessarily be interested in news and rumors surrounding products for the PlayStation 3. The site is also highly optimized for advertising and multimedia, both of which are integral to its overall success. The main content takes on a largely conventional reverse chronological design, but the footer lends itself to promoting other blogs in the Weblogs, Inc. network, including Engadget, Autoblog, and Urlesque.
You’ll also notice that the choice of fonts, color scheme, and other features lends itself to a great deal of branding on the Joystiq site. This is important, because the blog needs to set itself apart from the countless other blogs that also write about the video game industry.
Huffington Post: The Internet Newspaper
Calling itself “The Internet Newspaper,” the Huffington Post is essentially “just a blog,” but it has the same kind of stature, reach, and respectability of a conventional newspaper. It presents itself with this same level of professionalism and polish, borrowing elements from some of its larger, corporate counterparts.
The main page for the Huffington Post, for example, features one very large image toward the top of the page, just below the navigational links for different cities and site sections. This is not unlike the front page story that you might find on a newspaper, clearly featured above the fold and designed to draw you deeper into the newspaper. It’s meant to be a selling point and the one that catches your eye before anything else.
Every blog post in the left-most column before this clearly has its “section” highlighted too, just as you would find in the different sections of a conventional newspaper, whether it be world, entertainment, or business. The other two columns are more image-heavy, as multimedia is much more important in the Internet-based arena. The site reads like a newspaper, but for the modern age.
Completely Different Designs for Completely Different Sites
Every blog is different and every blog should be different. If you want to give your blog the best possible chance for success, you really do want to invest in a custom blog theme that best suits your type of content, the “brand” that you want to portray, and the preferences you have that would provide for the best experience given your target audience. These five examples are a good launching point for you to ponder these considerations.