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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 Eckard. 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! Link

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 Link

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.

Wordpress Theme

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).

Wordpress Theme

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

Last but not least… Link

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 us — 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:

Smashing Book #5

Hold on tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? For example, Smashing Book 5, packed with smart responsive design patterns and techniques.

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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!

  5. 5


  6. 6

    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?

  11. 11

    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

  15. 15

    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.

  16. 16

    ugly … :(

  17. 17

    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 :-)

  18. 18

    don’t like it. sorry!

  19. 19

    T_T you missed a closing div

  20. 20

    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?

  21. 21

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

  22. 22

    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!

  23. 23

    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!


  24. 24

    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.

  25. 25

    Ehh.. ;-)

  26. 26

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

  27. 27

    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.

  28. 28

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

  29. 29

    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.

  30. 30

    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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