Simply Ornate: A Free WordPress Theme


We love our readers. We respect the hard work of designers and developers across the globe. And we do our best to make the web design community stronger and the Web a little bit prettier. Therefore we ask talented artists and creative professionals to showcase their skills and release something unique and beautiful as a gift to the community. And when designers agree, truly impressive works see the light of day.


Today we are glad to release Simply Ornate — a free professional WordPress-theme created by Evan Eckard2. This theme was designed with the main focus being on patterns and typography and comes in 5 flavours. It is designed 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.

Motivation behind the design

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

“I tried to make this theme as basic as possible. It uses one plugin (which you can find in the plugin folder within the zip file) to include a flickr feed. Just drop the “flickrrss.php” file in your plugins directory and activate within the dashboard. You can set how many photos appear in the feed, I’d suggest staying with multiples of 4 to keep the design balanced.

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The theme also includes a prototype-based tab effect (via stereotabs) that allows users to browse latest posts, comments and tags. The front page is set up to show excerpts of your 4 latest posts, and also includes a mini-nav in the upper right side to allow for page navigating.


The theme also uses a ton of png transparency that does work cross-browser (even in IE 6).

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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 us18 — 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:


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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.


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  1. 1

    nice one thanks

  2. 2

    Nice theme but quite a lot coding issues. Latest posts etc tabs and ‘continue reading’ button messed up on IE (6 & 7). Also not valid (x)html.

  3. 3

    Thanks a lot! Simply Ornate is a great Work of Evan Eckard and Din Pattern freebies. Thanks for sharing :)

  4. 4

    Looks very nice, for sure, but hopefully you’ll address the markup issues that Jacob stated above!

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    Looks good!!!

  7. 7

    WOW! This is an amazing theme. I think I found my next one here :D

  8. 8

    Very Good!!

  9. 9

    Not the best you’ve ever offered.

  10. 10

    When I install it on my blog the tabbed recent posts and comment thing make firefox stuck for some times. Does any one have any idea about this?

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    I think that the writing is not very clear with this theme. When reading a blog I want to see the letters more clearly with a neutral background.

  12. 12

    Looks good..

  13. 13

    Look at the Subscribers total top right!

  14. 14

    Sorry, not really feeling this one

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    Justin (

    October 1, 2008 4:45 am

    Freebies ! Gotta Love them ! Thanks Smashing and thanks to the guys who did them so people STOP GRUMBLING !


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    I’m gonna have to agree with Dave and Casey — this isn’t quite there yet. The layout and typography is good, but putting the text straight onto that pattern background just doesn’t work — it’s too dark and lacks structure because there’s no bounding box. I think the text should be dark on a light background content box; keep the pattern, but only use it for the page background.

    But hey, it’s free :) Thanks anyhow.

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    ugly … :(

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    To be honest, I don’t find posting a whole article about one average WP theme interesting. Even if it was the best theme in the world, c’mon, that’s it? One theme and a whole article for another few days? I hope you guys are not running out of topics to write about :-)

  19. 19

    don’t like it. sorry!

  20. 20

    T_T you missed a closing div

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    The blue pattern is really elegant and unobtrusive. I can see it on a traditional subject website. I very much like the transparent text boxes too, but not I’m sure if this effect has enough browser support for me to use it. How did you achieve it? Does it work on most older browsers too?

  22. 22

    hmm i not really like this theme… :/ very ugly background! but the fading tabs in the sidebar is cool.

  23. 23

    ok, so I’ve woken up now and read your notes (sorry for the last comment)………really useful tip on how to use png transparency that also works in IE6. thanks!

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    Friso van Kuilenburg

    October 1, 2008 6:17 am

    Posting “one whole” article about a theme (good one or bad one), is in my opinion good. Why? Because 1 ) it is a freebie 2) The author/designer deserves some credit in the post 3) It is interesting to read what the motivation is behind the design etc. 4) At one glance of the article you can view of the template suits you, you view the different colors and what it can do, and thus you can decide without having to try it, if you like it and would like to use it.

    About the 1 article per few days comment… C’mon, be glad this site exists and be patient or write something yourself and see how difficult en time consuming it is.

    This wordpress theme isn’t really up to the smashingmagazine standards (i.m.h.o.). Of course any freebie is appreciated but i do not think it is smashing. I just see a nice background and for the rest just text in this template. Creativity is pretty low on this one. But of course it is just my opinion.

    Thanks for the freebie!


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    For everyone that isn’t really digging this theme, let me just reiterate that “I tried to make this theme as basic as possible.”

    No fancy illustrations to work with, no weird plugins or designs, just a focus on typography, layout and a dash of color from the patterned background(s).

    This theme was really designed for the ease of modification, so have fun with it! The layout and font styles are taken care of; you can take the foundation and create new flavors or color palettes pretty easily.

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    Ehh.. ;-)

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    i dont like it :s, i think that we can vote it before the designers code it!

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    Hmm… I don’t really like this theme. Even though there is room for modification, I think it lacks… style. The only thing original about it is the background and the text bubbles. Sorry, but I’m a bit disappointed by this theme.

    I’ve seen your other themes though in your portfolio and think they are beautiful. You are very talented :). I just don’t like this one design.

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    Out of curiosity, what is everyone looking for in a WordPress theme? Feel free to email me directly at evan (at)

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    Freebie or not, it doesn’t say much for one’s work ethic to not address such major issues as previously stated. Also, the design leaves out a lot of the accessibility and usability that WordPress includes. (I.e. direct access to admin, links, etc.)

    Yes, its free. And yes, (some people find it to be) a great aesthetic design. However, let us not forget that designers aren’t just here to make things look pretty. This only supports that theory.

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    To be totally honest, I don’t think this theme was good at all. The HR lines was more ugly than pretty, and also the overall design was rather annoying with the huge numbers etc. I also think that the background-image is demanding way too much attention.

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    primera cosa de smashingmagazine que no me gusta!

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    @Jacob – I don’t seem to see any of the errors you’re referring to in IE 6 or 7… can you email me a screenshot? evan (at)

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    I like a lot this design… but the plugin doesn’t show any “latest post” or “latest comment”, etc…


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    Great work, Evan.
    The theme looks quite good.
    Take the points from the criticisms and leave out the rest.
    The theme suits for a personal blog and I liked the GrayScale version the most among them.

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    I’m not quite understand with the critisisms here :(

    It’s a nice theme.

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    hey hey smashingmag. i finally got it… April Fools’ Day good one :D

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    All in all, the theme layout, typography and design is good. The constructive criticism comes down to a couple minor validation errors, but more importantly would be readability of the content. Design should accentuate the content and not crowd it out. With either a softer background pattern, or a background color for the main content, the theme could polish up nicely.

    Good work! I love your patterns.

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    This theme reminds me the Jason Santa Maria’s site. Isn’t?

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    I think that Elena from Design Disease set high standards for a wp theme, Simply Ornate looks like taken randomly from, not worth of smashingmagazine, however Evan’s website is using a worth theme.

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    I like this theme.

    Take the criticism and who knows what will be available in the future, but in the meantime lets enjoy this one. I love the grey colour scheme and will be able to use this.

    Cheers very much

  42. 42

    Alright ya’ll, I get the hint :)

    Well, I really dig this theme, but I must be the minority. To make it all up to you, I streamlined, updated and let loose my theme.

    I’ve had a lot of people over the years asking for it, and I finally got it updated enough for everyone to use (the original code was pretty ugly). So here you go; have at it:

    And yes, it validates. Also, check the readme files for details on how to implement imagery.

  43. 43

    Everyone loves freebies! Great theme!

    I love the different schemes available.

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    @WPJunkie yeah we loves freebies but not random selected themes freebies

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    Nice themes. I like the typro there.
    Thank you for sharing the great stuff.

    Freelance Developer

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    Leonardo Ferreira

    October 3, 2008 6:41 pm


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    Christopher Ross (

    October 4, 2008 12:16 pm

    Simply Ornate is a wonderful theme, I recently installed it on my blog as a test and was really impressed.

    Christopher Ross

  49. 49

    wonderful theme…

    kereeeeeeennnnnnn :D

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    Although this theme doesn’t meet my personal likings, I have to say this theme meets the standards when it comes to simplicity. Just the fact that you can create a complete new theme by just changing the background is stunning.

    Greate job!

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    wow what a nice theme!!….

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    thanks man these are amazing :)

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    Wow, I’m surprised by the way people responded to this post. If you don’t like the theme you just HAVE to say something right? No one cares if you don’t like it. No one wants your professional opinion. The designer offered this theme for free and I’m sure he spent hours working on it. Posting rude comments to someone who has worked hard on something is like the crappy little kid who comes by and knocks over another kids sand castle. So in my opinion your all crappy little kids with bad attitudes. Where’s your contribution? Save your rude opinions for your own blog oh and I’m sure all your blogs are winning designs..uh huh sure. By the way to the designer: I think the themes are unique and something different and new. It’s always nice to see a new take on the average WP theme. Thanks for sharing. Ignore the punks.

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    Pretty nice theme. But I have a little problem, it doesnt display my latest posts, commnts and tags!

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