In this Siteturner roundup we take a look at the best free responsive WordPress blog themes for writers. If you’re a blogger looking for a simple, great-looking WordPress blogging theme, there’s plenty of great options out there that can get you started without having to reach for your wallet.
Obviously, there are a lot of free WordPress themes out there. How could we possible narrow it down, you ask? Though the selections on this list were partly influenced by personal taste, we did have some specific must-haves in mind when putting it together.
High readability was at the top of the list, meaning that any clunky themes with too much visual noise that could distract readers and pull focus from the content were automatically rejected. User experience is paramount, and even if you have a great looking site filled with literary genius, it won’t matter a bit when your reader gets frustrated (or confused), reaching for the back button.
We also favored modern, contemporary aesthetics. This generally equates to flatter designs, plenty of open, white space, and larger-than-average typography. Though we understand that some might find this aesthetic dull, preferring animated gizmos, cool parallax scrolling, and mind-blowing slide shows, the minimalist designs have flourished for a reason: it all comes back to usability and UX.
We tried to avoid ‘freemium’ themes when possible or, at least, not include themes that are so restricted that they’re unusable. Several of these do have premium upgrade options, but none of them are necessary unless you want extra features or paid support.
And one more thing, because we’ve got to eat: if you’re still looking for a web host for your WordPress website, we enthusiastically recommend Bluehost. They’re reliable, inexpensive, and undoubtedly one of the top low-cost hosting solutions going.
Now, on with the list!
Created by talented front-end developer Felix Dorner, this popular, responsive blogging theme makes use of striking, full-width photography and will make an impression on your visitors and readers. Large typography and modern CSS techniques add to the classy, elegant aesthetic. The theme especially excels at its use of WordPress’s core post formats, which are often not supported by free themes. Highly recommended.More Info/Download
Serene is a free theme courtesy of legendary theme developer ElegantThemes. All their premium designs are stand-outs, and Serene is no exception. There are options for color customization on the back-end, via the Theme Customizer, and all post supports are supported. Social media icons can also be set up in the theme settings to help you promote your Facebook and Twitter pages.More Info/Download
Our next choice comes to us from ModernThemes. All their free products are awesome and worth a look. Essentially, it’s premium-quality for free. The theme is adjustable via a back-end options panel, and supports Google fonts to boot. The groundwork is immaculate and coded with best practices and SEO in mind. Readit is fully translatable, responsive, and even comes with demo content for a quick, painless installation.More Info/Download
Anders Noren is easily one the best designers/WordPress developer currently contributing free themes for the platform. The craftsmanship rivals (and even surpasses) many premium, commercial developers. In fact, it makes us wonder why he does it for free – what are his motives?
Anyway, motives aside, Radcliffe is a content-focused theme designed especially for writers. Readability is prioritized, with excellent typography, and the theme makes great use of eye-popping photography to engage visitors visually. Not only is Radcliffe responsive, but it’s retina-ready too; it’s going to look crisp on clean on all the latest high-res devices. You can also change the logo and accent colors using the built-in options panel.More Info/Download
Quidus takes a minimalistic approach, and executes it perfectly – the screenshot isn’t immediately striking, but this understated theme is worth a closer look.
It’s mobile-ready, so it’s going to resize and work great on all the mobile devices you load it on, and it’s also retina-ready for high-resolution iPads and MacBooks. And I guess for that 5K iMac they’ve got now. Wish I could afford it.
Anyway, colors can be adjusted, Contact Form 7 is supported out of the box, and the theme is well documented.More Info/Download
Next up, we’ve got a free selection from FortisThemes. This theme full embraces modern, minimalist design trends and succeeds. It’s gorgeous in its own simple way, and the stripped down, content-first aesthetic ensures high-readability and guarantees a positive user experience. Performance and navigation is responsive & snappy. The developer recommends Jetpack for this one, and the theme can be tweaked and customized using its included options panel.More Info/Download
Luna is another selection from ModernThemes. This one incorporates a popular masonry layout, reminiscent of Pinterest (albeit a much simpler implementation aimed toward bloggers and publishers). Like all ModernThemes free themes, this one has plenty of premium-level features like SEO friendly coding, a back-end options panel, support for Google fonts, and XML demo content for fast setup. Don’t want to build an English language site? Well, good news — Luna is fully translatable!
Hemingway is another popular theme by talented WordPress designer Anders Noren. Beyond its clean-cut good looks, Hemingway includes customization options (color picker), mobile-ready design, support for WordPress’s core post formats, and the ability to upload a custom header image. And it’s also retina-ready and fully responsive. Whiskey not included.More Info/Download
Alright, alright. It’s another one from Anders. I guess it’s not too surprising that such a prolific, skilled contributor ends up with more than one of his themes on a “best WordPress blog themes” roundup. And this one has even more features than the others we’ve looked so far: a social media menu, Jetpack integration, and full post format support. It’s also ready to translate and includes a Swedish translation.More Info/Download
That brings us to Flat, from the WordPress designers at ThemeIsle. Its name isn’t terribly imaginative, but that’s nitpicking: Flat is a great-looking free theme that performs wonderfully and is just about as user-friendly as it gets. This clean, expertly coded template includes a handy options panel that gives you control over your logo, colors, and layout. It’s also ready to translate and fully responsive.More Info/Download
In our opinion, DesignWall is one of the best WordPress designers out there, and their (premium) themes appear on several other of our roundups. DW Minion doesn’t disappoint, and the free version can be upgraded to the Developer package later on. DW Minion is responsive, customizable, and supports all of WordPress’s core post formats out-of-the-box.More Info/Download
Alizee is a blogging theme by the folks at aThemes, a well-regarded and popular provider of both free themes and premium WordPress products (be sure to check out the other good stuff they have to offer). aThemes doesn’t skimp on features when it comes to its free products, and this responsive theme has parallax graphics, responsive menus, custom widgets and more. It’s another masonry-based layout inspired by Pinterest and similar “grid” sites.More Info/Download
Resonar probably boasts the most modern design on our list, with a simple, content-focused design and the prominent use of full-screen, vibrant photographs & illustrations (serving as cover photos). High-readability is the most notable feature of this responsive blogging theme, with large, tasteful typography and plenty of white space that draws the eye to your content.More Info/Download
Wembley is a responsive blog theme for WordPress built on the robust, ubiquitous Bootstrap 3 framework from Twitter. It has a nifty grid layout and a few options on the back-end (for adjusting colors and uploading a logo). It even has options for banner advertisements, which might come in pretty handy if you intend to monetize your blog at some point down the road. (Or, hell, why not right away?)More Info/Download
We think the stylish Tracks from CompeteThemes might make a good theme for a blog about luxury products – or maybe travel. It’s got a posh, upscale aesthetic going on, right? Anyway, it looks great, and it’s a breeze to use (for site admins and visitors alike).More Info/Download
Here’s one you might have already stumbled across: the developer, Colorlib, seems to show up in every WordPress-related Google search somewhere along the line. But with good reason: their free themes are awesome, rivaling those of many commercial developers. They’re minimalistic without sacrificing character, and provide a selection of premium-quality features you don’t usually find in free products. Out of all the themes they offer, we think Sparkling is the best. They’re working on integrating WooCommerce, too!More Info/Download
Hey, do you like color? Sorbet has color! And it’s a well thought-out theme. Check ‘er out if you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use option.
And that’s it for our roundup of the best free & responsive WordPress blog themes. We’ll be updating and adding to this list as new themes come along. Feel free to send us a suggestion if you’ve got one.