As experienced web users, we often know when a website feels “modern.” It’s just something we naturally pick up on.But, what makes a website appear modern or contemporary? I’d argue that clean and minimal layouts, contrasting but pleasant color palettes, web-friendly text, smooth animations and transitions, and fast loading speeds all comprise modern websites. When implemented well, these elements promote a smooth and pleasant browsing experience.
Equally important, however, is what these websites don’t include. Web design should support your content and navigation. So, modern websites exclude popup windows, giant blocks of text, excessive CTAs, and other elements that distract from users’ goals.
That’s a lot to manage, especially for beginners. But, if you’re building with WordPress, the right WordPress theme will do much of this work for you. A modern WordPress theme allows you sufficient control over your content placement, layout, color schemes, and fonts, while also helping your site remain functional and tasteful.
We’ve compiled 18 WordPress themes to do just that — cut out the excess and keep only the essential and useful features, so your WordPress site fits perfectly within the modern web design landscape.
Best Modern WordPress Themes
- Zelle PRO
- Travel Agency
- Cafe and Restaurant
- Cycling Club
Divi is both a powerful multipurpose theme and page builder from Elegant Themes. Together, Divi helps you build modern pages quickly without worrying about integrations or finicky builder tools — the drag-and-drop Divi builder is one of the easiest. Use it to add useful pre-built modules like CTAs, dynamic menus, forms, and even countdown timers and audio players.
Divi comes with 800+ premade page designs and 100+ full website packs, all of which take on a strikingly professional look, but remain versatile so you can customize them to your liking. Have a look at these layouts yourself, and check out our full Divi review for a closer look.
H-Code is a feature-rich modern WordPress theme for online businesses and ecommerce stores. The H-Code theme boasts nearly unprecedented levels of frontend customization without the need for actual coding, bolstered by nearly 200 demo pages you can import.
While much of the customization is left to you, H-Code makes it easy to build out a modern site that grabs visitors’ attention with design, then keeps them there with its advanced functionality. H-Code’s shortcodes for image galleries, image and testimonial sliders, videos, and forms make this possible.
According to their website, X is “the best WordPress theme” available. While this claim is debatable, X is certainly up there — thousands of WordPress sites have used it to bring modern elegance to their pages without any programming experience necessary.
Or, for a faster setup, just choose from one of several full website layouts available on Design Cloud, X theme’s template library. There’s a template for many niches, from gyms to educational organizations to food trucks.
The X theme is built around its native page builder, Cornerstone. Cornerstone lets users view their changes live in the browser window, without the need to toggle between building view and preview. In the long run, this detail will save more involved designers a lot of time and clicks.
Not everyone needs an extremely powerful multipurpose theme — sometimes, it’s better to go minimalist. In this case, try the Hestia theme. Hestia is a hallmark one-page WordPress theme from ThemeIsle, designed for easy navigation, responsiveness, and, of course, modern design tastes.
Hestia compatible with the native Gutenberg editor, as well as other major page builders and the WooCommerce plugin. There are also templates with pre-built sections for your contact info, bio, client testimonials, shop, and more.
Hestia comes in a free and a premium version, Hestia Pro. Hestia Pro adds video headers and advanced sliders, allows for multiple headers, and other additional functionality.
With over 70,000 sales in the ThemeForest marketplace, Uncode has proven its value as one of the highest quality WordPress themes. It’s an especially good fit for users without extensive technical or coding experience — it offers over 70 demo sites ready for one-click import, including those for agencies, creatives, online stores, and bloggers.
Uncode also boasts an innovative system for building out grid layouts, the design foundation for many sites today. You’ll have control over all details of your grids, including column and row gap widths, animations, and even ways to shift and tastefully break your grids.
In addition to its demo sites and grid system, Uncode includes over 400 section templates, thanks to its integration with the Wireframes plugin. Use these templates in conjunction with Uncode’s array of other features to build unique, professional, modern pages.
The Kalium multipurpose WordPress theme is one of the most flexible options in the ThemeForest marketplace — use it to craft a modern website suited exactly to the needs of your business. Thanks to integration with the WPBakery page builder plugin, constructing the perfect pages is as simple as dragging and dropping.
Kalium also comes with one-click installation for over 20 mobile-friendly demo themes, as well as over 30 portfolio item types to help further customize your site. Its layouts are minimalist, sleek, and engaging. You’ll also get a plugin manager where you can keep watch over all your add-ons, integration from the Google Fonts and Adobe Fonts libraries, and automatic updates for life.
7. Zelle PRO
Zelle PRO is another one-page WordPress theme from ThemeIsle, ideal for modern small businesses looking to simplify their navigation and modernize their look. While best for minimalist sites, Zelle PRO packs advanced features nonetheless — parallax scrolling, animation effects, and a fully responsive layout to name a few.
Zelle PRO comes with a live customizer feature for previewing your design changes in real-time and is also compatible with all major mage builder plugins. Or, if you’re short on time, take advantage of their one-click demo imports, which, according to ThemeIsle, take under a minute to install.
Webify is an up-and-coming theme for businesses and portfolios that emphasizes flexibility and a clean interface. With global styling options, you can ensure a cohesive, modern look throughout your site. Then, hone in on specific pages by implementing any of Webify’s 14 pre-built templates.
Among Webify’s features are its customizer for real-time previews of any changes you make to layout and appearance, web and mobile-friendly typography options, and extensive customization capabilities through dozens of shortcodes.
Total is another multipurpose theme that dominates the Theme Forest library in sales and features. This powerful option works for nearly any type of website — it allows you to customize any aspect of any page with the integrated WPBakery page builder, and incorporate pre-built page demos ready to install with a click. Demos are elegant, professional, and tastefully minimal. Have a look for yourself.
Total comes with over $80 worth of premium plugins and is compatible with WooCommerce, Yoast SEO, Jetpack, and other leading free plugins to enhance your site.
Typically, the highest quality WordPress themes come with a price. The Astra theme is an exception — this theme maintains a simple and modern look in its demos, great for businesses, organizations, online portfolios, and blogging sites. And, best of all, Astra is free.
Astra understands that visitors won’t appreciate any modern WordPress website if pages are laggy. An added benefit of this minimal theme is its lightweight build — because it shaves off the excess bits often found in multipurpose themes, Astra’s pages load quickly, around 0.07 seconds on average according to WP Rocket.
Neve is ThemeIsle’s mobile-first theme. Its responsive and lightweight design keeps this modern multipurpose option fast on all devices. Sites built with Neve score consistently high on speed tests like Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom.
Of course, Neve is also highly customizable as well — you’ll have control over your content, layout, colors, and fonts. There are over 80 pre-built demos to apply to your site, and you can use a leading page builder plugin to fine-tune the details.
Casual bloggers in search of a free modern theme should try Writee, a simple option for showcasing and sharing your work. The homepage includes a full-page slider, accompanied by clean, straightforward post listings.
Thanks to its minimal design, Writee’s pages load quickly, even after adding additional built-in elements like social sharing buttons, breadcrumbs, a sidebar, and/or a related posts widget.
Pool is a minimalist theme for online businesses and services. The homepage is equipped with full-width background images and a parallax scrolling effect, and the theme allows modules for user testimonials, service listings, galleries, and contact information, all of which you can place on any page.
Pool’s pages are fully mobile responsive, retina-ready, and integrate with the Bootstrap framework for simplifying your responsive design and improving mobile performance. Finally, Pool is fully compatible with the MotoPress editor, a simple and user-friendly drag-and-drop page builder.
Creative freelancers and agencies can try the LUISA theme, a modern WordPress theme for graphic designers, photographers, and illustrators. With this theme, you can build out a modern portfolio with smooth animated transitions and menus, clean layouts, subdued color palettes, and custom typography. There’s even support for videos.
15. Travel Agency
Looking for a theme to inspire a thirst for adventure? We recommend the Travel Agency theme, best suited for travel, real estate, hotel, and design websites.
Travel Agency boasts plenty of post areas for content-heavy sites, widgets for the header, footer, and sidebars, and custom page templates that make it easier to personalize the design to meet your requirements.
To find their destination, users will need to find you first — that’s why this theme is built based on SEO principles, and its templates are fully responsive for desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
Chantalle is a grid-based theme for fashion blogs and portfolio websites. But, if you need to use it for a different business niche, this can be easily achieved with the theme’s powerful toolkit. Chantalle’s layout is fully responsive, so all site content will be properly adjusted to any screen resolution.
The theme was developed on Bootstrap 3 and Cherry Framework 3.1.5, which will make the design process quick and straightforward. The well-balanced layout organization helps make any website look ordered and presentable, and visitors will appreciate the visual appeal and navigational ease.
Cafe and Restaurant is mobile-friendly, perfect for users looking for a bite on the go. In these cases, you want your site to function on smaller screens. When it comes to responsive design, this theme does the heavy lifting for you.
18. Cycling Club
Cycling Club is designed for sport-related websites. Whether it be a personal blog, portfolios, industry news, or business website, you can promote your content and/or products on Cycling Club’s sleek, responsive, and SEO-friendly layout.
WordPress custom post types and premade page templates were all added to the pack to make the build process faster and smoother, while the powerful backend provides access to multiple theme options that allow you to tweak the design however you prefer.
Modern Designs for Modern Users
Like I mentioned, we have an innate sense of which websites appear modern, and which are out-of-date and out-of-touch. A modern WordPress theme will help translate this sense into a concrete website that users will appreciate, while leaving enough room to inject your own content and creativity into the mix.
In need of some inspiration? Check out our favorite examples of modern web design.
Originally published Oct 28, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated October 28 2020