I’ve struggled for a very long time to find the “perfect” WordPress theme for a site like this, where I just want to write stuff and for that stuff to be super-readable. A typographic attention to detail, focus on readability and just simple minimalist nice design seems to have been something that nobody ever quite nailed.
Heck, I tried to make my own at the start of last year. I liked it a lot and used it on this site for a long time, but it didn’t do everything I wanted. That required someone more skilled at these things than I.
WordPress is still very much fundamentally a blogging platform, a platform for writers to publish their writing. And the piece missing — the beautiful design to accompany the beautiful written word — was pretty major.
It was thus my immense pleasure to stumble across install Independent Publisher a couple of weeks back. It took me about thirty seconds to decide I needed to install it on my blog right that minute.
Indepdent Publisher touts itself as;
“…for independent publishers, creators, makers, and believers in the open source movement.”
If you believe that everyone has a right to independent publishing and that a beautiful, well-maintained home for your published work should be beautifully designed…then this project is for you.”
I’m not entirely sure the knight in shining armour ideological rhetoric is entirely necessary, but you very quickly get the picture: this thing has been built from the ground up to be the home for writing for people who care about this stuff.
The theme isn’t quite perfect, but it ticks an awful lot of boxes and the regular updates are making it better and better all the time. This thing is what I’ve been looking/hoping for for a very long time.
One does have to wonder why there aren’t more themes like this, though. Independent Publisher has quite rightly been very successful; there’s obviously a large market for this kind of thing. You can thus imagine my immense delight at seeing a post about Just Tadlock’s new theme Saga on WPTavern earlier today.
WordPress themes made by people who actually blog using the platform on a regular basis are often significantly better than their non-blogger-made counterparts because if you are a blogger you fundamentally understand what it is bloggers want.
Justin’s Saga theme is a great example of that. Moreso than Independent Publisher, Saga completely gets out of the way and lets visitors enjoy the content without any distractions. It’s great.
Ooh, and things like designed-out-the-box integration with plugins like Subtitles are really nice touches. I hadn’t heard of that plugin before today either. It looks pretty neat.
Personally I’m not going to be making the switch; I’ve more or less given up on “featured images” ’cause I just wanna write and different themes handle different image setups differently etc etc and its a pain when you switch. I also quite like Independent Publisher retains some element of “personal branding” throughout; Saga does make for a slightly nicer reading experience, but it’s at the expense of this. It’s a small tradeoff I’m happy making.
These two themes are great, though. I’m delighted developers and designers are trying to fix the one thing that’s been missing from WordPress as a publishing platform. Lower the barrier to entry for making beautiful content, and then everybody will make beautiful content, right guys?