Best WordPress Themes: March 2012

Spring has officially arrived in New York City as I write to you with every window open in the house. It’s a great day to start thinking about getting a new business website and it has been a great month for fresh new WordPress themes. Without further delay, I bring you some of my favorite WordPress themes of March 2012:


Perfect to Showcase a Portfolio

You’ve probably learned by now that of all things, I prefer minimalist website designs with a modern touch. That’s why I love this theme from templatesquare. The clean, no nonsense layout is clear, easy to read, but still cutting edge. Some of my favorite features include the 3D-looking box effect around all the content, the clean widget design, and the thin columned blog layout. (I once read it’s easiest to read lines spanning no more than 8 – 12 words per line and this theme follows that rule exactly.)

Magnum WordPress Theme

Magnum Theme

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Perfect for Blogs

When it comes to WordPress websites and bog-specific templates, it can be difficult to find anything outside of your standard top-of-the-page slider that takes up all the room on your homepage.  The Sprout theme from wpbandit is one of the few themes to offer something different, and the unusual approach to this magazine theme pays off.  The top slider not only highlights featured posts, it also begs for interaction without taking up too much of the page.

Sprout also wins big with it’s clear header tags, clean sidebar widgets, and flashy, customizable background image slider.  Magazine themes don’t get much more legible than this and the comment forms (pictured below) are to die for.

Sprout Comment Form Sprout WordPress Theme Sprout Magazine Theme

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Mercato e-Commerce

Perfect for “Making That Paper”

The time has come, and the WordPress community is finally ramping up its e-commerce capabilities.  We’re starting to see a few great WP e-commerce theme debuts and this rockethemes release means business.  The preexisting e-commerce integration means you don’t have to worry about fidgeting with your own e-commerce plugins while the drag and drop capabilities make setup simple for just about anyone.

The only thing I’m not too crazy about with this theme is the blog and single post layout.  The super-wide design can make it difficult to find just the right pictures, as well as take away from some of the readability in your theme.  Still, this is one of my favorite e-commerce WordPress themes to date and I imagine we’ll see quite a few Mercato e-commerce sites pop up in the near future.

Note: If you’re looking for a similar aesthetic but don’t want to go the e-commerce route, I highly recommend Mu Types from Elite Themeforest author HawkTheme.  I installed that theme for a client a couple weeks ago and loved the page templates, theme options, and sheer power of the theme.

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Perfect for Car Dealerships

The WordPress community has been talking a lot about the importance of creating niche themes to meet specific needs, from restauranteurs to real estate, but this is one of the first times I’ve ever seen a theme specifically for car dealers.  That’s why  premiumcoding‘s Radial WordPress theme caught my eye.  The specialized car-specific search engine is worthy of the March top list alone, as are the custom car post features.

The only thing that’s got me second guessing this top list recommendation is this theme’s 4 out of 5 star rating on Themeforest.  Since I haven’t actually used this theme I can’t say for sure where the breakdown is.  Under normal circumstances I’m extra cautious when it comes to purchasing 4 star themes, but it sounds like some users are having trouble with video integration and working through customizations.  It looks like the developers are extremely responsive and willing to go into the backend of your site to solve any issues though, so that’s promising.

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Perfect for Full Websites

Some people still think of WordPress as if it’s only good for blogging, but the new Freshie theme from iWebStudio proves you can do just about anything with WordPress and make it look good in the process.  I love the jQuery header ticker that rotates through one-lined sentences one at a time and know for sure this site has hover effects down pat.  Not only are the blue graph paper-looking buttons one of a kind, but the line-moving hover effect looks cool too.

This is a site that knows the power of subtlety but it still has all the bells and whistles from clean pricing tables to localization support, a filterable portfolio, various blog styles, and more.  This theme makes for a great base to work off of and the rest is up to you.

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Perfect for Building Community

Anytime a developer releases a new community-based WordPress theme I just about flip.  As a digitial marketing consultant I believe that in the future social conventions will exist not only on sites like Facebook and Twitter, but on all the best websites in the world.   That’s why I was immediately drawn to this new of FacePress release from CosmoThemes.

FacePress takes advantage of all the Pinterest rage to create a similarly styled homepage design for public sharing.  Instead of pinning images with a bookmarklet though, Facepress takes advantage of multimedia front-end posting capabilities.  To top off the trendiness site administrators can also choose between a grid or Facebook Timeline style blog layout.  Facebook comments integration adds some social to the community platform, giving community builders another reason to put FacePress to use.

What’s missing for me on this theme though is actual single post styling.  When you move past the cool grid layout and envelope-pushing front end posts, the actual formatting of the posts people submit doesn’t leave much room for formatting.  For example, images have to be huge to look good and the actual body of the text looks like a chunky after thought.

If you can move past those particulars (or even if you can’t) FacePress might very well be the way to go when it comes to community themes.  After all, there isn’t much out there like it and CosmoThemes is certainly well respected.

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About the author: Entrepreneur with ten years of experience running a digital marketing agency out of New York City. I work with startups and brands such as Virgin Airlines, L2 Inc (Gartner), American Express, Fabletics, LOFT, and more. When I’m not helping companies increase their audience and revenues, I love to travel, sail, and read. I also moonlight as a bartender at a classic cocktail bar.