Five interesting free tumblr themes

I like tumblr, but haven’t really contemplated much where it sits in the social media sphere of influence and what it is all about. I saw a job to bid for on People Per Hour relating to revamping someone’s tumblr pages and I thought I’d use it as an excuse to reacquaint myself with tumblr and ponder it a while.

In relation to freshening up a site there are loads of theme options. I think finding the right one, indeed finding your way through the plethora of themes on offer, is a tricky business. There doesn’t seem to be the option to filter by features and price that there is for wordpress themes, as far as I can tell, although there is some grouping together of themes under particular categories.

I’m generally someone who wants to use free things and then donate if I like how they work rather than paying for something up front on a promise without the chance to be sure what it will do for me. With that in mind, the following are a selection of free tumblr themes that have caught my eye.

Esten

Theme: https://www.tumblr.com/theme/39042
Demo: http://esten-theme.tumblr.com/
Massively customisable, at first glance perhaps overwhelmingly so, but it does have comprehensive documentation to find your way around all of the features http://esten-theme.tumblr.com/documentation You can change all the colours, have up to 5 header images that work on a slider. The best dimensions for the header image are not given in the instructions, but there is the option to change the header height to 220px, 300px or 380px, 520px (full width or boxed). The first header image on the website theme is shared with the app page header (this is not always the case with themes), so you need to pick an image that works in both formats. My calculation is the optimum image is 1365px x 765px for the app header, but make sure that you are not bothered about what is in the top and bottom that will be cropped to 520px or less in the website format. I was concerned about the pattern background, but you can change it to plain or select from a number of alternative patterns. At time of writing this theme is installed on https://bernardyoungpoet.tumblr.com/

Hipster

Theme: https://www.tumblr.com/theme/39445
Demo: http://hipster.precrafted.com/
Narrow header image with avatar picture (round), fixed ‘about’ information panel with social media icons and menu items. Single column scrolling of posts, with the option of sticky post at the top (by specific tag on the post – default #featured). It uses the same header1 image as the app version, so there is the issue about picking an image that works in both circumstances. Option for up to 5 header images, which would appear to display randomly each time the site is visited, rather than being a slider.

No instructions that I could see, but full list of the features in this post http://hipster.precrafted.com/post/104672043629/customize-everything. The header image used on the demo site is 1600x600px, but the full height of the image is not displaying. Doesn’t have sharing icons/options on individual posts, other than the standard tumblr options.

Vintage

Theme: https://www.tumblr.com/theme/40276
Demo: http://vintage.themelantic.com/
This theme is packed with features and customisability. I like it because of how much you can do with it, but I wasn’t able to make the slider work, which was something that attracted me in the first place. The plus is that there is a help ticketing system, so I sent a message about it, but the downside was I never got a reply. There are also some FAQs covering some points on setting up all of the options, but not everything. It would be great for a blog that is based on square pictures, as this is how it presents the image for each post (without any title or text) on the home page. For me it doesn’t work so well for videos, because they are cropped square rather than having space filling in the rectangle. You can select which social media channel options are presented for posts. I tried it out on a private blog and the reblog option of the sharing choices had no icon, but I eventually figured out that it did show up when I switched the blog to public (which I suppose is obvious). It also has the option of icons to your own social media channels presented in the footer. And you can alter the colour of pretty much everything and pick the fonts (google fonts) for different elements. There is the option to have a menu item for selected tags that you can give what ever title you want on the menu. The default is portfolio. The item doesn’t show until you put in the list of tags that you want to use. The design is responsive. I found that search in mobile small screen version is confusing, works if you hit return, but not clicking on the search button. I really haven’t tried everything out, but it is definitely very customisable.

Miyo

Theme: https://www.tumblr.com/theme/40283
Demo: http://miyotheme.tumblr.com/
Another theme with lots of customisation options. Two column format with a header image that forms a kind of arrow down. You can change the amount of slope and alter fonts and colours. It has share options for posts, but not icons to your own social media accounts. So I have rulled this one out for my purposes. It has good documentation here: http://miyotheme.tumblr.com/MiyoThemeGuide

Copycat

Theme: https://www.tumblr.com/theme/39019
Demo: https://copycat-theme.tumblr.com/
This is a 3 column masonery layout, that keeps the proportions of your images (ie doesn’t make them square). It keeps the proportions for videos too. You can switch the captions for video and photos on or off separately in the theme options. You can add a header image or leave the header black and have a background image. You can alter the header height useful if you want to have it just a colour but not too dominant. Has options for the most common social media channels (except Google plus) – facebook, twitter, instagram, Pinterest, SoundCloud, Vine, YouTube and ‘store’. These appear in a drop down menu from the top left, where there is also a copyright notice. You cannot choose what sharing options there are on posts – just 3 standard reblog, twitter, facebook. No option for putting in a logo. The header image is separate to the image that shows in the app, so you can use a different one and don’t need to worry and out one that works in different settings. I personally don’t like how it appears on my laptop, the 3 columns are bunched together in the centre with a wide margin either side. I prefer a responsive design that fills a larger landscape orientation screen.

So far I haven’t found a theme that really has everything I’d like so I’m coming back to the idea I have had before that I really need to know how to make a theme myself. So I will be taking a look at the course suggested by tumblr.com: https://dash.generalassemb.ly/projects/tumblr

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