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July 03 2011

Mashable Picks: Our 11 Favorite Tumblr Themes

We all love Tumblr for its ease of use and unique social blogging features. But we really love Tumblr because the right theme can turn your humble cat musings into sophisticated works of web literature. Just click that “install” button and, “Look Ma, I’m a web designer!” (Our judges would have also accepted, “Mmm, I loves me some gradients.”)

Tumblr’s theme garden grows bigger by the day thanks to the contributions of some premier developers. Whether you’re looking to pimp your existing blog or arrive on the Tumblr scene in style, we thought it helpful to highlight a few of the themes we find beautiful, compelling and feature-rich.

See below for staff-picked Mashable favorites, and let us know which theme(s) you’re using in the comments.

1. Savory

Josh Catone: One of the things that makes Savory so nice is that it clearly defines different Tumblr post types while still cohesively tying them together. It also has a massive amount of customization options and built in support for Disqus and Typekit.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: $49

2. Field Notes

Lauren Rubin: Field Notes FTW. Not only do I love the products, I love how they've kept the branding consistent in the digital space.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

3. Plaid

Brenna Ehrlich: The theme that started my hipster media empire.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

4. Brutal Simplicity

Christina Warren: Brutal Simplicity, as the name implies is simple. It's also elegant and easy to customize.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

5. Chunky

Lauren Drell: I love Chunky, which I use for my typo blog (#nerdalert). For a lot of Tumblrs, you have to keep scroooooolling down to see older posts. For my purposes (flaunting people's careless spelling on signage), Chunky provides a collage aesthetic that makes the images super easy to consume -- barely any scrolling necessary! Plus, I love bright colors, and this theme is "slabby, colorful, fun."

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

6. Solaris

Matt Silverman: Few Tumblr themes make good use of white space while keeping posts organized. Solaris is modern, super clean, and instantly digestable. Well worth nine bucks.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: $9

7. Effector

Christina Warren: Lots of options, color styles and built-in social tools make Effector a great theme to use and tweak.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

8. Chalkdust

Stephanie Buck: I've always wanted to paint my apartment walls with that chalkboard paint. The "Chalkdust" Tumblr theme allows me to virtually paint - without inciting the wrath of my landlord.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

9. Rubber Cement

Stacy Green: I love the Rubber Cement theme from SleepoverSF, because thats what I use -- in purple of course. ;)

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

10. Storybook

Christina Warren: This illustrated Tumblr theme is just beautiful to look at.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: $49

11. Blank Slate

Christina Warren: Blank Slate indeed! I love the fixed sidebar and the textured background.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: $49

More About: blogging, List, Lists, social media, tumblr, tumblr themes, web design, Web Development

For more Dev & Design coverage:

May 28 2011

Top 10 Twitter Trends This Week [CHART]

Twitter Chart Image

We really can’t add any additional jokes about The Rapture that haven’t already been made. Some of the best Twitter humor we’ve seen sent this topic to the top of the week’s trends. We can confirm that The Rapture did not, in fact, happen as scheduled, but has been postponed until October 21. We look forward to seeing if there will be similar spikes on Twitter’s Snark-o-Meter.

As we’ve seen in Twitter trend charts of yore, U.S. award shows are almost guaranteed top play. Were it not for the impending apocalypse, the Billboard Music Awards might have taken the number one spot. Appearances by American pop royalty got tweeters chatting, sending sentiment about the show to number two on our chart.

And the world’s favorite pastime, soccer, remains at the top of the trends for weeks on end, this time falling in at number three.

To see the full list, check out the chart below. Because this is a topical list, hashtag memes and games have been omitted from the chart. The aggregate is based on Twitter’s own trending algorithm, and does not necessarily reflect raw tweet volume.

You can check past Twitter trends in our Top Twitter Topics section.

Top Twitter Trends This Week: 5/20 – 5/26

May 21st Rapture
People shared what they wanted to do before the world ended on May 21. Most users were not surprised when the Rapture didn’t happen on schedule.
Billboard Music Awards
Ken Jeong hosted the little known Billboard Music Awards, which was heavy on musical performances. The awards show made it to the weekly top 10 thanks to fans of Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Black Eyed Peas tweeting about their appearances.
#SurvivalSunday was the top football trend and was related to the final day in the English Premier League and not about how everyone survived the rapture. Football figures discussed Jorge Valdano, José Ángel Valdés Díaz, Augustine Azuka "Jay-Jay" Okocha and Kolo Touré who tested positive for a "specified substance."
American Idol Finale
While Scotty McCreery won American Idol’s 10th season, the primary trend was "Damn Beyonce," referring to Beyonce’s single "1+1" which she performed for the first time on American Idol. Users also talked about former contestants who showed up this week as well as other guests like Marc Anthony.
Fans of the Korean band SHINee sent several members’ names into the top 10 trends as the boy band celebrated their third anniversary.
Towel Day/Nerd Pride Day
The 25th of May is a bit of a mashup. For fans of Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the day is Towel Day. But, recently, users in Latin America, particularly Brazil, have been celebrating Towel Day as "Nerd Pride Day."
Mike Brown is the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and was recently ejected from their game against the Boston Celtics after drawing two technical foul calls. Fans also discussed player Derrick Rose and baseball player Sammy Sosa who attended the Bulls vs. Heat game but whose skin appears to be lighter.
Kim Possible
Kim Possible was an American animated television series that ran from 2002-2007. It was about a teenage crime fighter who has the task of dealing with worldwide, family, and school issues every day. Fans were reminiscing about the show.
Lady GaGa
Fans of Lady Gaga caused several of her songs ("Born This Way," "Electric Chapel," "Edge of Glory," "You & I") to trend on Twitter.
Randy Savage
Former WWF and WCW Champion "Macho Man" Randy Savage died on May 20, 2011 after suffering a heart attack while driving and crashing into a tree. Fans are remembering his great wrestling career and also that he was a colorful spokesperson for Slim Jim.

Data aggregate courtesy of What the Trend.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, 123render

Interested in more Twitter resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

More About: List, Lists, Top Twitter Topics, twitter, Twitter Lists, twitter trends

For more Social Media coverage:

May 01 2011

HOW TO: Create a Group Tumblr Blog

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Tumblr blogs are known for being easy to use and simple to set up. But the blogging platform lives up to its reputation only as far as standard accounts go.

Want to set up a company blog that contributors can post to from multiple accounts? Want to use a password-protected Tumblr internally? Get ready for some help-section browsing.

Because Tumblr wants everybody’s “primary blog” to represent them, it does not allow users to create group blogs or password-protected accounts. In order to do so, you’ll need to create an additional blog under your account and then invite other members to join it. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial to get you started:

1. Create an Additional Blog


Next to the title of your blog in the right panel of the Tumblr dashboard, there’s an arrow that opens a drop down menu. In that menu there’s an option to create a new blog. Click it.

2. Name Your Blog & Set a Password


After you click the “create new blog” tab, you’ll be asked to enter a title and domain name for your new blog. You also have the option to protect the blog with a password. If you decide to do so, only people who enter the password will be able to view your new blog.

3. Invite Members


In the dashboard of your new blog, select “members” from the menu on the right panel. You can invite members to post on the blog via email or by copying and pasting an invite link. Invited members will be able to add content to the new blog, but they won’t be able to change settings unless you promote them to be blog admins.

Important Questions

  • Can I add other contributors to my primary blog? Unfortunately, there’s no way to simply add other users to a blog that you have already started as your primary blog. There’s also no way to change which blog is your primary blog or transfer that content to another blog. Which means that if you want co-bloggers, you’ll need to either share the login information for your primary blog or create an additional group blog from scratch, as outlined above. Keep in mind that you need a primary Tumblr before you can start a group one.
  • Can my group blog follow or like other Tumblr blogs? Only primary blogs can follow and like other blogs. Since group blogs can’t be primary blogs, they cannot follow or like other people’s content.
  • Can other people follow or like my group blog? Yes.
  • Can I password protect my primary blog? Only additional blogs can be password protected.
  • Is there another platform that makes it easier to create a group blog? Depending on your needs and who you ask, Posterous, WordPress and Blogger are all excellent alternative platforms for collaborative blogs.

    More About: blogger, group blog, multi-user blog, posterous, tumblr, WordPress

    For more Business & Marketing coverage:

January 18 2011

October 04 2010

12 Essential News Media Tumblrs You Should Follow

With Tumblr growing rapidly, it’s attracted a number of media organizations both local and national that are looking to engage their audience in a new way and perhaps attract new readers. But it’s not just about promoting their own content.

Many of the media organizations jumping on the simple blogging platform are using the tool to curate content for their audience and start a dialogue with readers. Mark Coatney, the media evangelist at Tumblr who was likely hired in part because of his tremendous success managing the Newsweek Tumblr, said participation in the Tumblr community is what makes a media blog effective. That is, they are having a conversation with the community, not just about what the brand is doing.

“They’re good conversationalists — they have interesting things to say, they’re courteous, and they’re interested in what others have to say,” Coatney said. “A great media Tumblr is one that does all that and has a great individual voice.”

We’ve highlighted 12 media Tumblrs that are well worth following, along with a bonus list of others worth a look. If there are any great ones we’ve missed, please share them in the comments.


Newsweek's Tumblr is often credited as one of the best media Tumblrs. In fact, it was so good that Tumblr hired its author, Mark Coatney, to be their media evangelist.Not only does it sport a nicely customized theme, but the content shows a clear understanding of the Tumblr community. At the same time, it provides content that is consistent with the Newsweek brand (most of the time). Although the Tumblr does point to Newsweek.com content, it also shows great voice and personality, often curating content from around the web.

Front Pages

Front Pages is just that: the daily front pages of major newspapers and links to their top stories brought to you by the Newseum. The Tumblr includes the front pages of The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and The San Francisco Chronicle. A very simple and easy way to get your news fix in the morning, right from your Tumblr Dashboard.

The Atlantic

If you love The Atlantic, you'll love its Tumblr. Taking a few notes from Newsweek's playbook, The Atlantic does a good job of curating content from the web (or the Tumblr community via reblogs) and featuring snippets of their own content in unique ways.

The Los Angeles Times: Go

Instead of creating a corresponding Tumblr, The Los Angeles Times did something unique. They created created Go Mobile, which focuses specifically on "what to do with your phone." L.A. Times Go is all about mobile, utilizing Tumblr as a way to not only post original snippets but to connect with its audience through Tumblr's built-in engagement features, like its "Answers" functionality.

Today Show

The Today Show Tumblr is a great complement to the broadcast, often posting videos from the show or content from MSNBC, which also has a Tumblr. However, the gems (like this quote) it finds from across the web are what make it truly worth following.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker Tumblr mostly promotes its website and magazine content in a more conversational tone. It also utilizes the many unique posting formats Tumblr offers, from audio to quotes to video. If you enjoy the quality content The New Yorker puts out, you'll won't go wrong by following that content it tumbles.


ProPublica, the independent, non-profit that produces investigative journalism, has created a great Tumblr that serves one purpose: showcasing the "darndest" quotes from public officials.


LIFE was made for Tumblr, were photography is so elegantly shared. It's easy to scroll through photos, or click through slideshows on the platform, and LIFE uses its Tumblr to showcase its iconic photography. It also focuses on engaging with its readers and creating a place where dialogue can take place easily around the content.

The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post Tumblr is part behind-the-scenes promotions of its projects and part curation of the Tumblr and web community. The content is everything from reblogs of interesting news or video to a blurb about a new feature on the main site.

NPR Fresh Air

NPR Fresh Air, an extension of National Public Radio's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, does a great job using its Tumblr to engage readers through the questions feature, and often receives dozens of responses. NPR has a general Tumblr as well.

The Economist

The Economist Tumblr has a great voice behind its posts and a beautiful magazine theme design, showcasing its content in a grid format. It takes part in the Tumblr community by recommending other blogs to follow for "Tumblr Tuesday."

Utne Reader

Utne Reader, an alternative magazine, offers some great finds in its Tumblr that match its editorial voice on "independent ideas and alternative culture."

BONUS: MashableHQ.com

Of course, you can't go wrong with the Mashable HQ Tumblr if you want a behind-the-scenes look at Mashable. It's the place to go for reader submissions, contests and curated content from the Tumblr community.

Other Media Tumblrs

Reviews: Tumblr

More About: atlantic, blogging, BLOGS, Economist, media, News, Newsweek, simple blogging, tumblr

For more Social Media coverage:

October 03 2010

HOW TO: Help Your Child Set Up a Blog

Reporters from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times probably didn’t expect to be joined by TechNewsKids, a blog run by 11-year-olds. Yet all three covered Apple’s press conference this September. Benno Kass and Max Iger of TechNewsKids watched the live-stream of the announcement online so that they could “live blog” its contents as soon as possible.

Simplified blogging platforms and increased access to online information — even breaking stories like the Apple announcement — make it easier than ever for Kass, Iger and other young bloggers to independently post to the web. And as they post, they’re also learning how to research, write and use a web publishing platform.

Parents should be thrilled by this educational opportunity, says Dr. Patricia Fioriello, the author of kidslearntoblog.com. Unfortunately, they’re more often unsure of how they can help their children take advantage of it.

It doesn’t need to be daunting. To help their children get started blogging, she suggests parents follow these five simple guidelines.

1. Learn About Blogging Yourself

technewskids image

The best way to learn is by doing, and parents who want to help their children set up a blog should set up their own blogs first in order to educate themselves and model good online behavior.

“I know that might sound time consuming and silly or pointless,” Fioriello says. “But through action and modeling, your child is going to get the benefit of your learning.”

Even if you have no intention of having anyone read your blog, try setting one up on a simple site like WordPress, Tumblr or Blogger. In some cases, your child might already know a lot more about this process than you do. That’s OK, says Karl Meinhardt, who helped develop a pilot social media program in a Portland, Oregon middle school last year.

“I would argue the kids can help the parents in terms of setting up the blogs,” he says. “But where the parents come in is helping students identify… different things they’re passionate about or help them understand how to express themselves in that actual space.”

2. Choose an Appropriate Blogging Platform for Your Child

kidzworld image

“Some people do not like to hear this, but I really feel very strongly that a child’s interest in blogging and social media should be encouraged as young as they’re interested,” Fioriello says.

But that doesn’t mean that every type of blog is appropriate for every child.

There are a number of blogging sites specifically designed for children that provide some moderation and exclusivity. Teachers can use platforms like Edmodo or Kidblog.org to organize and monitor classroom blogs. At home, children can sign up for blogs on monitored sites like kidzworld or Kidswirl.

Kass and his parents, Ron and Terry, decided to use an unmonitored platform that would allow everyone on the web to read the blog. This was decided for various reasons: Kass’ parents trust his maturity and discretion at age 11, the technical aspects of putting a blog up were something Kass wanted to learn, and Kass was blogging about technology, not his life.

Fioriello, who has worked in education for more than 25 years, says there’s no magic age when a child is better suited for a particular blogging platform.

“Keep a focus,” she tells parents. “What is your goal, what is your objective, what do you want [your child to learn from the blog]? And then take into consideration the age of your child and research things that would be appropriate.”

3. Teach Your Child About Safety and Citizenship

kids learn to blog image

For many parents, the idea of their child posting information to an anonymous audience on the Internet is frightening. These concerns are justified, but there are ways to reduce the risks without banning a blog.

Kass’ parents, for instance, have some boundaries: He doesn’t post photos of himself on the blog (even when it makes sense for a story), he doesn’t use his last name, and the only way to contact him is via an e-mail address his parents monitor.

For the most part, they don’t consider the blog to be much of a risk. “I don’t think that’s any different on the online world than if you’re out meeting somebody in the not-online world,” Ron says. “I think you just have to instill in your kids kind of a radar.” Make sure they know that if something feels wrong, they should immediately try to remove themselves and talk to a parent about it.

Blogging can also be an excellent opportunity to teach children the appropriate way to interact online. Liz Delmatoff, a 7th and 8th grade teacher who started using blogs in her Portland, Oregon classroom last year, added “citizenship and safety lessons” to her curriculum.

She taught kids why her safety rules were important by showing them a YouTube video about how easy it is to find where someone lives using only the information they post on their profile. She also discussed what was appropriate for students to put in the comments on each other’s blogs, and other guidelines for posting to community spaces.

4. Enhance the Educational Experience

edmodo image

“[Blogging] became something that Benno [Kass] could do and get a little help from his parents, and it didn’t really feel like homework, but it’s still building a lot of skills and a lot of education for him at the same time,” says Ron, Kass’ father and the sole investor in TechNewsKids.

There are a number of ways parents can add to the inherent educational value of blogging.

Kass’ mother, Terry, helps Kass edit each post for grammar and punctuation. His father helped him design the site’s logo. And the family often discusses story ideas and current tech news together.

Aside from the obvious benefits of working with children on their writing, parents can add value to the experience by pushing their children to explore a particular passion, discussing content and the research process, or by exploring the global reach of Internet communities.

5. Monitor What Your Child Posts Online

kidblog image

Put some sort of supervision in place. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every post needs to be pre-approved or that parents should watch over their child’s shoulder every moment he or she is working on a blog. Some parents are more comfortable if they keep the computer in an open space, make sure any e-mail associated with the blog is delivered to an account that they have access to, and check the blog daily. The amount of monitoring that is appropriate depends on your child.

“You know best the maturity and how much interaction your child can handle,” explains Fioriello. “Supervise them or monitor them or check their browsing history. Do whatever you need to do as a parent, but still allow them to grow and learn.”

More Education Resources from Mashable:

- The Case For Social Media in Schools
- Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation
- How Social Gaming is Improving Education
- 3 Ways Educators Are Embracing Social Technology
- 10 Ways Universities Are Engaging Alumni Using Social Media

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, monkeybusinessimages

Reviews: Internet, Tumblr, WordPress, YouTube, blogger, iStockphoto

More About: benno kass, blog, blogging, Children, education, Kids, kids blog, max iger, online safety, parenting, parents, technewskids, tumblr, Wordpress

For more Social Media coverage:

September 23 2010

5 Beautiful Tumblr Themes for Small Businesses

Tumblr Business Image

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Having a blog is a great way for small business owners to communicate with their customers and to give their business a voice. There are tons of blogging platforms and services out there, but one of the growing favorites is Tumblr. Quite often, Tumblr is considered a micro-blogging service because you can use it to quickly post links, videos, quotes, audio files and pictures. Tumblr also lets users easily re-blog content from other Tumblr sites.

Because it’s lightweight, easy to use, and has support for multiple users, many businesses big and small are turning to Tumblr to power their blogs. Because Tumblr is hosted, you don’t have to worry about server maintenance or being hacked and you can even configure the URL to match a domain you already own.

There are hundreds of great themes that you can use with Tumblr to give your blog or site its own unique look. Here are five of our favorites for small business owners.

1. Just Plain Theme

Tumblr’s own Peter Vidani has designed nearly twenty themes for the platform and all of them are clean and easy to customize.

With Just Plain Theme, Vidani offers exactly what is advertised, a very simple two column Tumblr theme with support for pages, advanced features and Disqus comments. Check out Kickstarter’s customization on its blog to get an idea of what you can do.

With a little bit of custom CSS editing, you could make Just Plain Theme a lot more unique!

2. Brand New Day

Brand New Day by Roy David Farber and Hunson is a great looking two-column theme. The theme includes support for people that you follow and you can really go nuts customizing the colors.

Check out The Travel Channel’s modification. The theme colors match the Travel Channel logo and the sidebar includes links to other social media properties.

3. Scaffold

Scaffold is a feature-rich premium Tumblr theme from Mark Harding. It’s $9 but packs a huge punch in terms of features, customization options and is frequently updated. We love the vertical navigation sidebar that moves as you scroll down the page, as well as the juxtaposition of how posts are displayed.

Tons of users are doing some amazing things with Scaffold, check out Diedrik Dijkstra’s modification. By adding some texture and a new background, the theme takes on a whole new look.

4. Headline

Headline is a great looking magazine theme for Tumblr. It has three columns and some really nice typography, plus support for pages and links to other sites.

As with all Tumblr themes, the real power comes with personal customizations. Check out MashableHQ, the Tumblr that chronicles office life at Mashable, to see what we did with the Headline theme.

5. Rank & File

Rank & File is another premium theme and it is also $49. What you get for $49 is a beautifully designed magazine-theme that could easily power an entire website.

The theme supports pages, includes links to your various social media profiles and supports comments via Disqus. You can even customize the header with your own logo or graphic.

Your Picks

Do you use Tumblr for your small business blog or website? What are some of your favorite themes? Let us know in the comments.

More Business Resources from Mashable:

- HOW TO: Choose the Best Workspace for Your Business
- 5 Winning Social Media Campaigns to Learn From
- 10 Emerging Social Platforms and How Businesses Can Use Them
- 10 Free WordPress Themes for Small Businesses
- 8 Funding Contests to Kick Start Your Big Idea

More About: blog, blogging, BLOGS, business, small business, theme, themes, tumblr

For more Business coverage:

July 22 2010

10 Terrific New Tumblr Themes

This series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. Learn more about Rackspace’s hosting solutions here.

We’re big fans of the micro-blogging service Tumblr. Like other blogging platforms including WordPress.com, Posterous and Blogger, Tumblr is free to use and doesn’t require users to install or manage any software on their own servers.

What really makes Tumblr — and Posterous for that matter — stand apart from the pack is that these platforms are extremely easy to use. Posting an image, a quote, a link or a video is very simple, and the reblog feature is a great way to share cool things your friends post.

While Tumblr isn’t quite as advanced as hosted content management systems like WordPress or Drupal, new features have recently hit the service, including Pages and reader-submitted Q&A and contributions.

Tumblr has also ramped up its theme customization options, adding new features to its theme documentation and even offering its own marketplace for premium Tumblr themes.

Over the past few months, Tumblr theming has really been taken up a notch; you might be amazed at some of the designs you can install on your own Tumblr blog.

Check out this slideshow for ten of our favorite new Tumblr themes, and please share your own favorites in the comments!

1. Royal Ribbon

Simon Fletcher's Royal Ribbon theme is a really elegant way to display your content. The colors are beautiful and the typography just pops. We love the subtle use of JavaScript animations for post descriptions and for navigating forward and back.


2. International

Chambers Judd's International theme is really simple but really, really beautiful. We like the JavaScript tooltip for the Share functionality and the use of whitespace.

The off-grey background is also a great choice.


3. Modern1

Jiew Meng's Modern1 theme is just that, modern. The color combination of light blue and red, matched with stenciled icons and a terrific font make this theme really eye catching.

We also love the use of the sidebar for more options and for linking to other sites and networks.


4. Neue

Matt Kempster's Neue theme might not have tons of contrast (though you can make those edits on your own), but it uses large icons and typography in a unique way.

We also love the subtle roll-over effects on the post-type icons.


5. Rockstar

WooThemes might be best known for its WordPress creations, but the company also has a line of Tumblr themes! While all of the choices are attractive, Rockstar -- which is based on a personal design that one of the founders used on a previous version of his own blog -- has some great jQuery effects and it's also free!

We love the colors, the use of animations and the hover effects on the different elements.


6. Headline

Headline is an impressive theme from Airspace Workshop. In fact, without the Tumblr "Follow/Reblog" buttons, you would likely never even know it was a Tumblr theme.

Great use of space, columns and post types, along with lots of great elements and little touches. If you've ever wanted a magazine-style theme for your Tumblr blog, check out Headline!


7. Cardstock

Cardstock is a theme from Parker Quinn that is simple yet beautiful. It's perfect for the minimalist lover and it has some great typography.


8. Peapod

Peapod is another theme from Parker Quinn and it, again, uses a great font and stunning typography. It's also utilizes some color elements and post type designations that make the theme really stand out, while still remaining elegant and minimalist.


9. Solaris

Solaris is a premium theme from Matthew Buchanan and at $9, it's a solid package.

It comes with support for all kinds of options, including recent tweets, Facebook like buttons and even the option for a dark background.

I like Solaris so much that I use it on my own rarely updated Tumblr blog.


10. Antiquity

Antiquity is a premium theme from Obox Design, that not only gives you two choices of home page style (single column or multi-column), but also includes quick links to your various social networks, has some great JavaScript effects and incorporates colors and fonts that truly stand out.

This is one of my favorite recent entries to the Tumblr premium marketplace, and the Obox guys continue to add new features to their themes all the time.


Series supported by Rackspace

Rackspace is the better way to do hosting. No more worrying about web hosting uptime. No more spending your time, energy and resources trying to stay on top of things like patching, updating, monitoring, backing up data and the like. Learn why.

More About: tumblr, tumblr themes, web design

For more Dev & Design coverage:

March 01 2010

January 28 2010

HOW TO: Build a More Beautiful Blog

This series is supported by Webdesigner Depot, a popular web design blog covering tutorials, design trends, blogging and inspirational posts. You can visit WDD at webdesignerdepot.com and follow WDD on Twitter @designerdepot.

blogs imageWhether you’re blogging for business or pleasure, now is the time to take your little corner of the web to the next level. Social media makes your blog more visible and valuable than ever, and the amount of resources available to beautify and streamline your blog is enormous, and ever growing.

The best part is, you don’t have to be a designer or a programmer to create a great looking blog, but you should know where to find the right resources, and how to align your blog’s design with its purpose.

Learn Some HTML

We all wish the web was 100% drag and drop, but we’re not quite there yet. You can get away with pushing the knobs and levers on the back-end for a while, but you may never get your blog to look exactly how you envision it without knowing a little bit of HTML.

A basic understanding of the web’s nuts and bolts will allow you to make custom design tweaks, fix template problems, and format your posts more precisely. Rest assured, there’s no need to sign up for classes. Everything you need to know about the web is right here on the web.

A great place to start is W3Schools, a site that provides great free tutorials on web development. The HTML tutorial covers exactly the core basics you should know. While you won’t need to code your new blog design from the ground up, understanding how tags, text formatting, and embedding work will be extremely valuable when you want to start customizing the pre-built boxes and widgets on your site.

Blog customization is an experimental, learn-by-doing process. With a little bit of coding knowledge, a wealth of options will be open to you. If there’s something you’d like to achieve, or something that’s not quite working in your template, a Google Search can be your best friend. Chances are, someone else has had the same problem, and posted an answer or code snippet on the web that you can use.

Find the Right Template

The world of blog design has come of age, and the web is bursting with beautiful, free design resources that are easy to plug right into your platform of choice. There’s no need to settle for simple color scheme changes or built-in layouts. Brilliant designers are sharing their custom-built templates on the web in droves.

Here are a few resources that you can browse in your search for the perfect design. Not sure which platform to set up your blog on? Hopefully some of the designs cataloged on these sites will inspire you in one direction or another.


WordPress Theme Directory

Free WordPress Themes


Deluxe Templates



Tumblr Theme Garden


Posterous Themes

Note that Tumblr themes are also compatible with Posterous.


Shopping for your template can be a lot of fun, but as you start narrowing down your top choices, it’s time to ask yourself: What is the purpose of my blog, and how can the design facilitate it?

Think about utility and user experience when choosing your layout.

Will you be embedding lots of YouTube videos or large graphic elements in your posts? Then perhaps a one or two column template, with lots of horizontal space, is your best bet.

Are you planning to display a lot of content side by side, with links to other posts and advertising? Consider a three column template.

The key to good blog design is to strike a balance between content and clutter. You want to present yourself artfully, without being distracting.

One Column

Simple and straightforward, a one column blog is all about the posts, with no sidebars or other distractions. If the most important content on your blog is always at the very top, a one column layout might be a great choice.

Blue Basic (WordPress)

Terminal Flashback (Tumblr)

Two Column

The blogging standard these days, two column layouts leave plenty of real estate for your content, but also a lot for sidebars full of links, contact info, and other information your readers might find useful.

356 Days of Astronomy (WordPress)

Futura (Tumblr)

Three Column

Use three columns if you plan to spread lots of content, links, and ads out onto your page. But, be wary of clutter. Be sure to choose a three column layout with ample spacing and breathing room for content.

Typography (Blogger)

Majestic (Blogger)

Outside the Box

For something a little more interesting, break out of the column mold and consider some unique layouts like these.

Art In My Coffee (Tumblr)

Gondaba (Tumblr)

Be a Layout Sleuth

Have you stumbled upon a blog design that you’ve absolutely fallen in love with? It’s possibly a template that you might be able to use for your own blog. If so, there are a few ways to figure out where it came from, and how to get it.

Many templates are free under a Creative Commons license, and as such, include a link back to the source or designer. Scroll to the very bottom of the blog’s home page and look for a template attribution. There you may find the name of the theme, a link where to find it, and the platform on which the blog is hosted (WordPress, Blogger, etc.).

If there’s no attribution on the page itself, a little detective work can help. On the blog’s home page, use your browser to view the source code. There may be clues, including the blog platform, attribution notes about the template, and possibly a URL where you can find it. Use the “Find” function (Control + F in Windows, Apple + F on a Mac) to search for key words like Theme, Template, Tumblr, or WordPress to find any clues in the code.

Of course not all templates are free. Some are custom built, or purchased from designers, and won’t necessarily have attributions.

Make It Your Own

Now that you’ve implemented your beautiful new blog template, it looks exactly like the 3,000 other users who have downloaded the same one.

Use your blog’s back-end bells and whistles, in combination with your new HTML knowledge, to add your own brand to the design. The first thing you can do is add a simple logo or moniker in the header of your blog.

Find the box, widget, or code at the top of your blog that contains the template graphic, and replace it with your own. Be sure to keep the size and shape of the image consistent with the template to avoid layout issues. The key to making it ‘fit’ into your new design is to use complimentary colors and fonts.

Sample the color(s) from your new design and input it into Color Scheme Designer 3, a great tool that will generate complimentary and tertiary colors you can use for headers and additional graphic elements.

If you’re not a designer, simple is better. Let your new template do the talking, and keep your header image clean and basic. Looking for a great logo font to express your blog’s content? Check out 1001 Free Fonts and FontSquirrel for some great looking freebies.

For the Non-Designer: Go Minimalist

If you’re not design-minded, but in the market for a slick looking blog that you can manage aesthetically, think simple. Minimalist themes often use neutral colors, clean layouts, and lots of white space, making them ideal for easy customization.

Don’t fret over color schemes and texture cohesion. Simply pop your logo into a good minimalist theme and let the white space speak for itself. Check out these examples.

Shalom*Typo (WordPress)

Wu Wei (WordPress)

Expi (Blogger)

Need More Inspiration?

The blogosphere is jam packed with extraordinary designs — clever, functional, and just plain gorgeous. Even if you’re already set with your own new layout, it’s always fun to just kick back and enjoy the creative work of others. Here are some more designs that may get your ideas and creativity churning.

Work Awesome

App Boy

Paul Giacherio

Have any more tips on building a more beautiful blog? Be sure to share them in the comments below.

Series supported by Web Designer Depot

Webdesigner Depot is one of the most popular web design blogs in the world. It covers tutorials, design trends, blogging as well as inspirational posts. It’s run by Walter Apai, a web designer from Vancouver, Canada. The blog is a great resource for both beginners and advanced designers looking to expand and improve their knowledge. The site is visited by Fortune 500 companies and is used as a reference by many design schools. Visited by almost 2 million readers per month, WDD is a prime resource for both graphic and web designers. Visit WDD at webdesignerdepot.com. Follow on Twitter: twitter.com/designerdepot. Subscribe to RSS feed: webdesignerdepot.com/rss.htm.

More design resources from Mashable:

- HOW TO: Create Custom Backgrounds for Twitter, YouTube, & MySpace
- Oprah’s Designer Nate Berkus Tackles Twitter Backgrounds
- A Guide to Mobile Web Design Tips and Tricks
- 85+ of the Best Twitterers Designers Should Follow
- 100 Great Resources for Design Inspiration
- 5 Ways Social Media Changed Fashion in 2009
- 20 Creative Apps For Your iPhone

Tags: blog, blogger, blogger templates, blogging, design, layout, posterous, templates, themes, tumblr, tumblr themes, web design, web design tips series, Wordpress, wordpress themes

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