Notepad Chaos: A Free WordPress Theme


Over the last years we’ve featured a number of designers and developers who released their work for free — among other things we presented high-quality free fonts, free WordPress themes, free wallpapers and, of course, free icons. You can find many of them in our section Freebies1.

Every release helps to make the Web a nicer place which is why we support designers and challenge them to release something for free in order to be featured on Smashing Magazine. And the results are quite often pretty impressive.

Notepad Chaos: A Free WordPress Theme2

Today we are glad to release Notepad Chaos — a free professional WordPress-theme. The theme has 2 columns, a quite vibrant design including “personal” design elements such as handwritten headings, stick-it-notes, clips and pins. The theme was designed by Evan Eckard3 especially for Smashing Magazine and its readers.

Download the theme for free!

You can use the theme for all your projects for free and without any restrictions. However, it’s forbidden to sell or redistribute the theme without both designer’s and Smashing Magazine’s permission — please link to this article if you would like to spread the word. You may modify the theme as you wish, but if you are planning to release your modification, please ask our permission first.


The theme has been updated to version 1.5. It’s now up-to-date with cleaner code and includes a lot more functionality (gravatars, dynamic sidebars, etc.). You can find the files and demo here9.

Motivation behind the design

Here are some insights about the design process and development from the designer himself.

“I had recently stumbled upon many websites with gorgeous, gigantic, illustrated backgrounds and wanted to try my hand at creating a site that shared that similar element. This theme was an experiment into layering multiple images and having everything line up and flow with the site’s content.

Notebook Chaos10
Among other things, the Notepad Chaos theme has handwritten search box and navigation at the top of the layout.

It was quite a challenge to develop the design after creating it, but in the end it helped me gain more experience in CSS and what we designers can do to try and create sites with plenty of visual depth. On the technical side of things, the theme doesn’t use any plugins or extras, and focuses simply on the design.

Sidebar in the Notepad Chaos is designed as a post-it-note and clipped at the top.

The themes uses a custom field called “thumbnail” where the user can add an image to their post. The instructions are within the readme file along with how to set up the menu links.”

Thank you, Evan. We appreciate your work and your good intentions.

Last but not least…

We are regularly looking for creative designers and artists. You may not know it yet, but we might feature you in one of our upcoming posts.

If you would like to release a high-quality free font, a WordPress-theme, some wallpapers or an icon-set please contact us12 — we would like to support you (both financially and with the broad coverage on Smashing Magazine).

You may be interested in the following free WordPress-themes as well:


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

The Smashing team loves high-quality content and cares about the little details. Through our online articles, Smashing Books, eBooks as well as Smashing Conferences, we are committed to stimulating creativity and strengthening the web design community’s creative forces.

  1. 1

    Pretty, but these kind of designs using photoshop brushes are a bit overdone nowadays!

  2. 52


  3. 103

    all these people moaning about contrast and what not. back up your claims!
    I happen to think Evan has done a great job and looks spot on.
    To much polish would very much detract from the sketchy look of the design. If you don’t like then don’t use it.
    I for one will probably be using this as a bare bones for a theme I might adapt.

    I think the more examples we see in the open of how unique designs are put together the better we will all be at understand how to realise our ideas.
    so giev the guy a break for giving us his hard work for FREE

  4. 154

    Great job on the theme! I’m even convinced to give up the theme of the last three years on my blog and change it to this! It’s perfect for personal blogs.

  5. 205

    Great work!

  6. 256

    @Elisa: I’m sure there would be quite a few people willing to convert this for Blogger, but they would need permission from Smashing Magazine and Evan Eckard first! There are a few similar designs (made for Blogger) available over at though (for free download).

  7. 307

    WOW, is so beautiful!! Thank you!

  8. 358

    wow…. its really nice theme!

  9. 409

    really awesome – home taste – theme

  10. 460

    I’ve installed it into my blog.

  11. 511

    Beautiful, very inspirational piece of work!

  12. 562

    awesome theme!

  13. 613


  14. 664

    Fernanda Prevedello

    August 21, 2008 7:24 am

    Very Nice Theme!

  15. 715

    nice color scheme and attention to detail, but this notepad/paper clip/post it note style is a bit dated IMO

  16. 766

    A very pretty theme!

  17. 817

    really great theme :)

    well done, thx

  18. 868

    looks good but not a editable theme.

  19. 919

    Thanks for the theme, very beautiful.
    Is there any way to add widgets to the sidebar?

  20. 970

    I know it’s been said, but this is a Web Designer Wall’s slightly uglier twin brother.

    I like the background illustration – the colour’s cool and unique – however the rest just doesn’t fly.

    The date tabs look completely out of place. The recent posts looks like its been cut out with the eraser tool. The typography is dull and disengaging. Instead of dropshadows it seems the background’s been erased.

    No depth. Bad Photoshop. Bad design. Good background image (was it stock?).

  21. 1021

    Beautiful work there.

  22. 1072

    Byron Castillo H.

    August 21, 2008 2:22 pm

    Realmente bello !!!

    es muy buen trabajo, realmente genial.

    alguien podria ayudarme a instalarlo ?

    Gracias !!!

  23. 1123

    Use the Pages widget? How? This theme is not widget-aware.

  24. 1174

    Beautiful theme! Thanks for sharing.

  25. 1225

    I love this theme. It was exactly what i had been looking for! @henry – stuff it. you are wrong. thank you very much. I took it and am using it already!

  26. 1276

    @Henry Hoffman – the top of the recent posts was cut out w/ the eraser tool :)

    And yes, the background was erased at certain parts to bring more focus onto the content. I tried a drop shadow and outer glow from the notepad, but that rendered the design way too busy. So in the end, I masked off certain areas of the background.

  27. 1327

    This is seriously one of the most beautiful designs I have seen in a very long time. Amazing!!!!

  28. 1378


  29. 1429

    Lovely. Thanks so much for sharing.

  30. 1480

    Looks fine, but is acting a little weird on the top…?

  31. 1531

    Oh my Lord! You’re such a sour grape!
    If you can make it better yourself- and still want to give it up for free- DO SO!

    Else: button your tounge!

  32. 1582

    I love it ! I love it ! I love it! This is EXACTLY what I was looking for one of my blog.

    This theme is amazing, thank you.

  33. 1633

    çok oş bir tema umarım erhan abim bu temayı türkçeleştirir

  34. 1684

    @ Sandie Sørensen

    If you feel that people with constructive criticism should ‘button their tongue’, then you are going to have rather dull and unchallenging future.

    I’m sure Evan will take on-board helpful negative comments and use them to his advantage in the future, because that is how you progress in life.

    Secondly, I was also just expressing my opinion, which I am free to do.

  35. 1735

    I like the design and the overall metaphor, but I have to replace the background. I don’t care how cliche, the whole wood, desktop background thing is, to me it just completes the metaphor. That being said, I’m having a nightmare of a time changing out the background. The theme relies on a solid color in the background and can’t be easily remixed to use a texture/pattern instead. I’m bummed, but not giving up just yet.

    @Evan: Thanks for the theme, but thank you even more for the valuable lessons I’ve learned.

  36. 1786


    I’m looking for a free wordpress theme designer to redesign the theme of my blog. Of course, you’ll could publish them here, in Smashing Magazine :)

    Thank you!


  37. 1837

    wow It is very pretty. I like to its color

  38. 1888

    Very nice theme, I’d really like to use it, however I have 8 years of posts, some of which contain images. The theme doesn’t allow any images other than the thumnail field to appear. I’ve tried different workarounds and I can’t seem to get them to show (@ max-width to 425)? I’d really like to use the theme, any idea how I can tweak it for my images?

  39. 1939

    This is a very cool theme. I’m using it on my site!

    I’ll have to change a few things around, but overall, this is by far one of the nicest looking free themes available.

  40. 1990

    Tutorials To Earn

    August 22, 2008 3:47 pm

    Great theme :) I am going to use this on my Personal blog…….

    Thanks a lot to Smashing Mag …

  41. 2041

    It’s beautiful. I love it.

    But. And it’s a BIG but.

    No sidebar widget capabilities?
    Limited picture sizes in the posts?

    It’s a beautiful theme, but pretty much unusable for 99% of folks out there that want to use it!

  42. 2092

    No sidebar widget capabilities?

    i hope it can include that as well.

    it’s great, thanks evans

  43. 2143

    Evan’s own site has the coolest nav bar I’ve seen in a long time. I spent an hour one evening deconstructing it to see how it worked, and if I could replicate it. I believe his site was featured in an earlier Smashing Mag column.

  44. 2194

    Wonderful theme. I’m going to use it. I was just wondering what’s the font we used for the handwritting? It’s because my blog doesn’t have an archives page so I wanna change it for another page. Can you tell me please? Thanks in advance

  45. 2245

    Hey Need Theme Provided Viia his 1st adsense ready wordpress theme i need the download link of that.will u provide me that

  46. 2296

    nice theme. Must visit this site more often

  47. 2347

    very good !

  48. 2398

    I love this theme and have chosen it for my personal blog. I do miss the widget-ability and will be investigating how to add… my dashboard says there is no sidebar defined on this theme, so I will investigate how to do that also (I’m “novice class” blogger. *grin*)

    Since my blog is a family blog, it is photo-heavy. I have found no problems with either my full sized pics or my thumbnails. It may make a difference that I am using the akWplightbox plugin.

    Great work on the theme. It looks GREAT!

  49. 2449

    Thank you Amanda for responding, I’ll have a look at BT too :)

  50. 2500

    Whoops! I spoke to soon. It seems that pictures that are too wide for the main column (posts) disappear in my version of IE (I usually use Firefox). I am manually going in and reducing the size of those too-wide pics, but if anyone comes up with a fix, I’d love to know about it.


↑ Back to top