Ever since the inception of blogging, the internet has seen varied experimentation and trends when it comes to the layouts and design of blogs.
A blog, in its simplest form, is meant to showcase content and the blogger’s personal thoughts. Of course, the content or thoughts can be in any form: photographs, text, videos, or even random links. This is why blog design layouts tend to have a diverse appeal to them: on the one hand, we have the traditional WordPress themes with a sidebar, popularized by the good old Kubrick, whereas we also have the single-column themes focusing heavily on support for post formats.
So, what are some of the top design layouts dominating WordPress blogging themes nowadays? Read on as I attempt to answer this question!
The Modern Single-Column Layout
The single-column layout, as already mentioned, was first introduced by Tumblr, because most tumblogs tend to be content-centric with no need of a sidebar. However, of late, this layout has been popularized by the “Back to Blogging” school, spearheaded by Ghost and Medium.
In general, this is an extremely simple layout: there are no sidebars to speak of. You just have a single column for the main content of the blog. Obviously, this layout puts the focus on your content, and eliminates any possible distraction, allowing your readers to focus on your blog in a straightforward manner.
Single-Column Design Traits
- Clean typography with body text generally being sans-serif fonts.
- Heavy use of big featured images.
- Single main menu; possibly a secondary social links menu.
- Large header for the blog logo or name.
Example Single-Column WordPress Themes
The Traditional Two-Column Layout
Popularized by the once-popular and now retired Kubrick WordPress theme, the two-column layout is what once stood as the de facto layout of blogs worldwide, and it continues to enjoy popularity even today.
This layout employs a sidebar on either side of the blog, with the main content occupying the adjacent space. The sidebar is used for useful navigation items such as the search bar, latest posts, subscribe forms, RSS links, and so on.
While nowadays the trend is in favor of retiring the sidebar, some bloggers still find the sidebar to be very useful.
Two-Column Design Traits
- Minimal background.
- Header region shared by menu links and blog’s name or logo.
- Optionally, search bar or menu may move towards the sidebar.
- Heavy use of widgets in the sidebar.
Example Two-Column WordPress Themes
The Journal Layout
Essentially viewed as a sub-genre within the magazine design style, the journal layout has evolved as a design trend in its own right. It makes use of either large featured images, or long chunks of text, or both, to present the content in a story-telling manner. The focus still remains on the content, and most of the time the sidebar is sacrificed too.
Journal Layout Design Traits
- Heavy reliance on featured images or long chunks of text.
- Preference shown for serif fonts, with large captions and headings.
- Clean and minimal design elements; logo is often small.
- Menus are often reduced to unobtrusive “click to open” buttons.
- Preferable for long-form content or serious bloggers.
Example Journal Layout WordPress Themes
The Masonry/Grid Layout
The Masonry layout presents content in the form of a grid, organized all over the page.
Introduced by Tumblr, and perfected by Pinterest, Masonry themes soon found their way into the WordPress community. With the rise of post formats, more and more designers favored a grid layout for their themes because WordPress began to be used for personal tumblogging as well.
The Masonry layout is marked by reliance on post formats: blog posts are shown in a grid-based layout, and the sidebar is obviously eliminated, most of the time anyway.
Masonry/Grid Layout Design Traits
- Clean and Minimal background.
- Generally no room for sidebar.
- Big header, albeit the space for the logo or the blog’s name is small. Header images are popular.
- Content is presented by means of post formats.
- Since the content is organized as a grid, responsive design becomes essential and almost mandatory.
- Aimed at the casual tumblogger/blogger with a diverse form of content.
- Footer widget areas are preferred.
Example Masonry/Grid Layout WordPress Themes
Design trends keep evolving, and what is hot today might fall out of favor tomorrow. Take a look at WordPress’ default themes: Twenty Eleven was a two-column traditional theme, Twenty Twelve toyed with the idea of a corporate homepage, Twenty Thirteen favored a colorful modern blogging layout, whereas Twenty Fourteen went the magazine-style route!
Much the same way, almost all WordPress themes tend to cater to current moods and design trends. For blogging WordPress themes, the above four styles or layouts are the most popular. While the traditional layout is still very popular, heavy preference nowadays is towards modern single-column layouts or even the Medium-inspired journal-based layouts.
This just goes to show that more and more bloggers are now taking the design of their blogs very seriously. After all, a good reading experience can only arise from good design!
Which is your favorite form or design for blogging sites? Got a favorite WordPress theme of your own too? Share it all in the comments below!