WordPress driven websites are everywhere. For many, the platform provides that perfect middle zone of solid customization and ease of use. You can invest hours getting your visual elements just so, but just as easily you can set it and forget it.
While there’s a verdant jungle of awesome general themes out there, there’s also a solid offering of designs which are beautiful simply because they’re customized to fit one specific need perfectly.
Here are 8 beautifully customized WordPress designs which excel at meeting a very specific design imperative.
For Compelling Magazine Style Content
The Bridge theme is all about presenting information in that compelling magazine format we all know and recognize.
Making content “feel” like a magazine is no easy task. There’s a certain indefinable balance of text weightings, image sizes and layout which produces the magazine experience. If just one element is slightly off-kilter, the feeling is lost.
Bridge kicks butt at getting the balance just so. All the visual elements you’d expect of a magazine can easily be incorporated with a bare minimum of tweak ‘n test.
Right out of the box it also comes with some powerful listing features, allowing publishers to dynamically curate complex themed content.
The beauty of Bridge lies in how effectively it recreates the magazine-style reading experience with limited manual intervention on the part of the publisher.
Portfolio Driven Minimalism
Yep, pretty much every WordPress theme out there has some kind of portfolio module built into it, and they’ll all work well enough if you’re willing to compromise here and there.
The strength of Core Minimalist Photography Portfolio is precisely because it refuses to compromise.
This theme unapologetically places visual elements front and center—and that’s where they stay. You can add text, but the template makes clear it’s there purely to support and contextualize images.
The best thing about this design though is the sense of motion it fosters. You never get the feeling of having hit a visual dead-end. There’s always a pictorial cue nudging you to the next image.
It’s actually not unlike the sensation of wandering through a gallery. It creates a visually rich experience, making it perfect for artists and photographers.
Core Minimalist Photography Portfolio is also richly featured enough to give the designer abundant ways to make their content appear distinctive and unique. It avoids that cookie cutter gallery feeling, and this elevates the content.
The All-in-One Solution for People in a Hurry
Now you could argue that Total Plus is a pocket knife theme. It incorporates an enormous catalog of features that will sooner or later be useful for pretty much everyone.
I’d argue though that Total Plus provides one unique quality which makes it perfect for a very specific kind of designer. It’s the quintessentially perfect theme for someone who is in a hurry.
The fact is, not everyone likes designing websites! (*gasp*) Some people see it as an unfortunate necessity they’d simply rather get out of the way.
Total Plus will actively reward you for that apathy.
Header layouts, complex menu systems, predesigned page layouts—they all slip neatly into place and create a clear visual feel without the user ever having to stray from the default settings.
The end result: with Total Plus you can do in a half hour what it’d take several days in most other themes. Its utilitarian consistency alone is enough to make it beautiful.
For Visually Oriented Designers
A lot of people despise numbers and settings. They long for a way to build a site where the ones and zeros of the design remain blissfully concealed beneath that thick, velvet technological curtain.
Divi allows that to happen.
It lets you manipulate almost every element and variable using only a visual interface. This is the realm of real-time design where you can forget about the inner workings. To make a change you simply drag and drop elements to where your eye says they should be.
Despite its visual approach, Divi also packs a serious design punch, with 46 content elements. These work as basic beginning points from which to craft your own site.
By sidestepping the whole idea of a back end versus a front end, Divi makes the experience of building a site feel more like moulding clay than crunching numbers. And that’s a beautiful thing!
Delivering Bold Business Punch
While a design built for pure business application is a harder sell from a beauty and aesthetic standpoint, it has to be said that Genesis gets pretty darn close.
Nothing about this theme is fussy. It evokes words like “crisp”, “clean” and “solid.” What you end up with is rock solid believable content.
Copy comes first with this theme. It’s easy to locate the content you’re searching for and when you find it, the serif typography politely grabs you by the nose and tells you to get ready for the science to be laid down.
Genesis is perfectly customized for a serious business wanting to build up its presence with solid, high-quality copy.
Check out https://www.ecosecretariat.org for an example of Genesis in practice.
When You Are the Product
If you’re an academic or selling your skills based around your personal experience and story, Faculty is the gold standard.
Because it’s designed with personal promotion in mind, it places the site owner’s personal details and bio front and center. Additional content flows around that, gently keeping the user’s focus on the mind behind the content.
The beauty of this design is that, somehow, Faculty achieves an odd balance of self-promotion and self-effacement. Sure, the site implies, this person is awesome at what they do. But let’s not make a big deal of it, ok?
The design also comes with a publications management tool, making it a particularly strong choice for academics or people involved in regular publishing.
For Teaching and Instruction Driven Content
Instructional sites have become extremely popular in recent years. Online courses are everywhere, from tomes of curated content on vast training-dedicated sites to quick short-courses offered behind a paywall on someone’s personal site.
It’s kind of odd, therefore, that it’s really quite hard to find a template built specifically to deliver a learning experience.
OnlineTutor does exactly that. This theme is a little similar to a portfolio site, with the one notable difference being that the content is heavily geared to theming collections of videos around ideas.
Using Online Tutor, you can generate a range of overlapping curriculum and easily curate them into a range of different courses, all of which can be partially or completely tucked away behind an unobtrusive paywall.
The beauty of its design is that from the ground up it’s built to be an elegant solution for the dissemination of teaching products.
For Folks Who Sing for Their Supper
If you’re a freelancer, one of the biggest challenges of building a solid site is integrating a call to action which looks neither too pushy nor too apologetic.
This is a tricky alchemy! It can be a really tough balance to get your deets out there in a way which avoids that obnoxious, clammy whiff of pressurized desperation.
Lawyer Landing Page Pro is a site built around one simple priority: getting that all-important contact form placed right into the thick of the action … with elegance.
Effectively, this site design operates as an extension to your business card. It’s built to establish your credentials with as few visual “bleuch” points as possible.
In this widgetized world, design philosophy that is simple, clean and effective can be elusive to find.
While there are any number of generic themes out there which are pretty good for a wide range of people, it’s a beautiful thing to encounter products that are built to do one thing really well.