Whether you’re planning to launch a news website or an online magazine, you’ll need an attractive template design that puts your writing into focus.
You’ll need a blog page for your stories, plus a robust set of features for audience engagement, including post categorization, comment enabling, a recommended articles section, and prominent social media buttons.
I’ve tested dozens of WordPress templates and picked the four best journalistic designs to help you get started. And if WordPress isn’t your cup of tea, I’ve also included a few magazine-oriented website builder templates that will get you in the mood for writing.
Or, if you have a specific idea in mind for your site and just need a pro to carry it out, I’ll show you how to get a custom template for an affordable price.
Gloria from ThemeForest has a modern feel and plenty of design options, with multiple demos for tech, art, sports, and general news websites. You can further customize your site by choosing from six homepage layouts and a range of blog designs.
The demo I chose starts off with a large slider displaying featured posts. Below are thumbnails of the top articles in each category. And on the right, readers can filter your content by Recent, Popular, and Comments.
Each post ends with a Related Articles section, and a Recommended Articles popup appears when visitors scroll to the bottom of the page.
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ThemeForest’s Journo has a Variety-like hipster vibe that makes it a great choice for fashion and lifestyle websites, although it would work for any type of online magazine. You can choose from nine homepage layouts (Solveig was my pick) and various post types and layouts, including video, gallery, audio, slider, carousel.
What I like about Solveig is that the entire homepage is basically a wall-to-wall gallery grid of your blog posts – each one becomes a piece of the overall puzzle, which gives the design a playful feel.
All of the Journo demos have practical pages built-in, such as FAQs, Contact Us, and Editorial Staff. And thanks to the theme’s compatibility with WooCommerce, you can even sell products online. Meanwhile, features like a pop-up newsletter and Instagram and Twitter feed widgets help your readers keep in touch with you.
The default demo for BitNews from TemplateMonster is for a city news portal, but this theme is a great option for any content-heavy website. The card-based layout makes it easy for visitors to skim through your featured posts, and the white space between each article keeps the page from looking cluttered.
You can filter articles by author, category, and tag, and there are six post formats, as well as three blog layouts. The theme is compatible with Mailchimp so you can easily create email marketing campaigns. Plus, you can set up an online store with Ecwid.
Magazine from Divi has a clean and modern design that would suit any writing niche. The homepage displays featured and trending stories, a note from the editor, recommended products (if you plan to sell online), and a newsletter form.
There are dedicated pages for each of your categories and authors, and I especially like the highlighted section with featured authors and staff picks, which you could use to spotlight fresh content and different writers throughout the year.
There are two different post formats (one is heavier on visuals, the other on text), both of which end with a Related Articles section to encourage visitors to keep on reading.
Website Builder Templates
If you’re not keen on WordPress, you might try using a website builder instead. Site builders offer flexible customization options, so you can easily adjust your chosen template to get the look you want.
They’re super simple to use even if you have zero technical knowledge, and the templates come with lots of features to help you attract visitors and expand your readership.
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News Blog from Wix’s News & Business section has a simple, straightforward design that puts all the focus on your content. The homepage contains a Breaking News section and featured posts for each category.
Each post will display the number of views, likes, and comments. There’s an About page to introduce your mission and staff, and an Advertise page to help you monetize your site.
Wix’s advantage is that it has a huge app market to extend your site’s functionality. For example, you can get email marketing tools to take advantage of your mailing list, Wix Forms to create custom forms, or Wix SEO Wiz, which generates an SEO checklist for you to follow to put your site on the map.
Mérida from Squarespace features a sleek design with a dark background, which gives the page a spacious, elegant feel. The homepage displays your articles in various layouts – straight across, hierarchical grid, and full-width images with descriptions (for top stories).
Squarespace offers some solid blogging options – you can categorize and schedule posts, change fonts and colors for individual posts, add tags, image galleries, slideshows, videos, and more. You can even set posts to be reviewed by your colleagues before publishing if you want.
Plus, thanks to Squarespace’s third-party integrations, you can also cross-promote all of your blog posts on social media and cross-publish your blog to the Apple News app to reach a wider audience.
SITE123 doesn’t have a template category just for magazines, but B&M Blog is my favorite choice for this niche. The homepage features a full-screen header image with large title text, and as you scroll down, there’s a “latest news” section, featured blog posts, and a contact form. It’s a compact and well-balanced structure that’s simple, yet effective.
SITE123 allows you to upload photos, galleries, and videos, choose between a single-page and a multi-page site structure, change colors and fonts, add CTA buttons, and more. Also, the builder itself is available in 21 languages, and you can set up your site to display in up to 5 languages.
How to Get a Custom Template for a Great Price
If you want your publication to have a truly unique look and you need an affordable designer to bring it to life, you can try Fiverr. This platform will help you find experienced and reputable professionals who can create a custom template for you based on your instructions.
Using Fiverr can save you time you might have to spend tweaking templates yourself. But it also saves you money, since you get great results at a very affordable price.
For example, ayra_designer has been in the website development business for over four years, and she specializes in UX/UI design. She’s willing to get creative and experiment with her work, and the results speak for themselves.
Epoca_vision is another experienced UX/UI designer with plenty of impressive examples of his work. His designs are clean and modern, and his package includes up to three project revisions.
Choose a Template That Emphasizes the Quality of Your Content
If you already use WordPress, the themes on this list will all make your news website or online magazine stand out from the competition. If not, you can try one of my top template picks from website builders like Wix or Squarespace. These platforms are all easy to use, and you can customize the templates to your heart’s content.
Or, if you want a specific design you can’t find elsewhere, you can hire a professional from Fiverr to create a custom template for you.
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Which WordPress theme is best for magazines?WordPress has lots of themes geared towards online magazines, and you can’t really go wrong with any of the themes I’ve highlighted above. Journo and Gloria are especially good options for magazine websites thanks to their advanced blogging and social media features.How do I create an online magazine in WordPress?You can easily create an online magazine in WordPress by picking some of the magazine-oriented themes from its theme gallery. You’ll get tons of pre-defined layouts to choose from, which you can then customize to your liking.Which website builder is best for online magazines? Wix and Squarespace both have solid blogging features and huge app centers to help you extend your site’s functionality. They’re easy to use even without technical expertise, and they offer lots of customization options so you can create a unique style for your publication. For more hassle-free site building options, take a look at our list of the best website builders for 2021.What are the best free website templates for magazines? Both WordPress and website builders like Wix and SITE123 offer plenty of free magazine templates, but finding the best one will depend on your taste and preferences. I’ve highlighted a few good options in the article above. That said, if you want to connect a custom domain to your magazine, most website builders will ask you to upgrade to a paid plan. Still, you can cut down on your subscription costs by using our great coupons.