This is the second installment of a post series Oliver started when he looked at business theme trends, we take a theme category and dive into some common trends/features. Not only do we point those trends out but we also give a bit of commentary and opinion based on the fact that we tend to see, test and (in Oliver's case) create many WordPress themes each year. Today I'll be analyzing creative portfolio themes.
There's no denying that large image sliders filled with great art looks both flashy and impressive. That's why when you're picking out your creative portfolio theme you are bound to come across approximately one billion WordPress themes with this feature. It is also often paired with a three or four button/icon list to promote freelance or creative agency services.
I'm not entirely sure how long this trend will last. There's nothing inherently wrong with large sliders and service icons for creative portfolios, it's just been going strong as a trend for a few years now and I'm personally pretty tired of it. In my opinion both customers and theme designers are going to start looking for something new and fresh so that their websites don't come across as boring or typical. But that might just be me.
Bold Home/Landing Pages
A big (usually bright) image or background with just one or a at least very limited home page options is pretty popular right now. Not only does it convert well on the call to action you've displayed but it's memorable and impressive when done right. I like to think of this as a great first line in a story. It visually grabs your attention and begins telling you about the artist and their work in an awe inspiring way.
Standard & Masonic Grids
Since most of the web is designed on various grid layouts, it should come as no surprise that many theme designers "let the grid shine through". For image and/or video based websites like a portfolio site I think this is fine. If the art is good then it's hard to make something this visually varied appear boring or stagnant. But I would be surprised to see it around for too much longer as such a prominent trend if for no other reason than I think people are getting tired of it.
Clean & Minimal
To me a clean and minimal site design is as close to timeless as it gets on the web. I've seen the minimal black and white look on portfolio sites all the way back to 2008 and earlier and it still looks good. Granted, some of the ways in which this look is accomplished has changed - as have the motivations for it.
Oliver made a great point in the first installment of this post series that many theme designers are trying to keep their main page elements centered with lots of whitespace to either side because it makes creating responsive designs easier. Regardless, minimalism seems to be here to stay.
So those were the current WordPress theme design trends I'm seeing for creative portfolio themes in 2013. Most popular themes in this category have one or two very strong trend elements working in their favor and many others choose to mix and match these trends throughout to great success. But that doesn't mean it can't begin to look jumbled, so be careful.
One trend that I expect to become dominant in 2014 is a combination between a simplified version of the current bold landing pages above and one page "smart sites" that tell a concise story via the down scrolling action rather than big flashy sliders.
What is your pick for the next big trend in WordPress theme design for creative portfolios?