Medium is a blog publishing platform that has grown by leaps and bounds over the last year or so.
Its design is simple yet attractive, making sure to put a great deal of focus on the site’s content.
Both of these things have led some in the WordPress community to pay attention. And as is often the case, when something new arises and becomes popular in the web publishing space, many WordPressers look to either integrate it or take inspiration from it.
If You Dare
And that leads us to the “Should You Dare” part of our title.
Back in October, we did a roundup of Medium inspired themes. There weren’t many at that point, but the idea was definitely starting to catch on.
In the comments of that post, Brad Williams from BragThemes.com (updated 6/15/21 ― now defunct) reported that Medium contacted them and asked them to take their Medium inspired theme down. The reason they gave was that BragThemes was infringing upon Medium’s “look and feel” (trade dress, in legal terminology).
Now, I obviously don’t know the full story here. And it should be noted that BragThemes was attempting to sell a premium theme. It seems from the comment that they were also using the Medium name in their marketing. Whether any of that has anything to do with situation, I don’t know.
In any case, assuming the comment is a legitimate report (no reason to think it isn’t at this point), one has to wonder about the future of “Medium-inspired” themes in WordPress. What’s too close, and what’s OK?
As always, we’ll see. And if anything big is going to come from all this, it should make some waves. And one reason for that is that the very first theme on the list below, Bushwick (which seems absolutely “inspired” by Medium), is from Automattic, the company started by WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg.
Should Medium apply force on that one, there may be a little push back in return.
Or maybe not. Again, we’ll see.
Anyway, on with the themes.
Bushwick, as you can see, has a large image on the left, and then the content scrolls on the right (but the image on the left stays stationary).
In addition to the Home link in the upper left hand corner (on the image itself), it has a more traditional menu running across the top of the content area. Then it has an expandable menu in the upper right hand corner that looks like a mobile menu. Clicking this opens a large “sidebar” area from the top with your typical widget areas: categories, recent posts, etc.
The Writr theme gives you a left-aligned site with the familiar circular avatar/gravatar at the top of the left sidebar. Also in the left sidebar you’ll find your traditional widget areas.
This theme comes with six different color schemes: turquoise, blue, green, gray, purple, red.
You can also change the background color (which is seen to the right of the content area) or set a background image.
One other option this theme gives you is the ability to widen the content area simply by checking a box.
The Fastr theme takes the header image approach instead of the sidebar image approach. It keeps content front and center all the way to the footer, where the traditional sidebar widgets can be found, and even where the traditional header menu can be found. That’s right – no menu at the top in this theme. It’s found all the way at the bottom. The search bar is also found at the bottom.
Landline is kind of Medium in reverse. Instead of putting a large image on the left and having content on the right, this theme puts the content on the left and the large background image displays on the right, often of course, taking up most of the space on wide screens.
On the content area, there is a tradition top navigation menu. However, it appears this theme has no widget areas at all.
5. Analytical Lite
Analytical Lite has a left-aligned sidebar that can toggle out of sight, but it also has a widgets area on the right as well. The content (well, all the areas really – left sidebar and right sidebar included) are slightly transparent, letting the full-screen background image shine through.
While the left-aligned sidebar gives it a Medium style feel (along with the background image), you can also choose to change that area into a traditional top header area, making it look much more like a traditional WordPress theme. (The transparency and background image remain, however.)
6. Coffee Time
Coffee Time has a large left aligned image with a title, search box, and menu at the bottom of that area. To the right is the content area that scrolls while the left sidebar stays put. At the bottom of the content area is a widget area.
The Readr theme is left-aligned and has a left sidebar with a content area that scrolls. While this isn’t a dead ringer for Medium, it does get into the game at least a little bit. The sidebar contains typical widgets for things like recent posts and categories.
The Highwind theme is probably a lot like a traditional WordPress theme in most ways, but we’ve put it in here because of its circular avatar up in the middle of the header (a very Medium type feel). Apart from that, however, it has a traditional right-hand sidebar with widgets and a traditional top navigation bar.
One other feature of this theme is that the navigation bar at the top stays put when you scroll, leaving just a thin line of the header area to act as a border between the menu and the content area.
Wilson may be pushing the Medium inspired connection a little because it is centered rather than aligned to the left. It also doesn’t have a large image to the left or a prominent circular gravatar. However, it does have a left sidebar. And that, along with the strong background color (which includes the background of the left sidebar) at first glance give you a semi-Medium kind of vibe.
So, to be honest, this one may be a little bit of a stretch (we can’t say all left sidebar themes are Medium inspired), but it’s still a very nice looking theme that seems to give off a whiff of the Medium craze (intentionally or not).
And so there you go — 9 Medium inspired themes. I guess soon enough we’ll see how lucky we are in terms of the whole issue with infringing on Medium’s look and feel. Here’s hoping it comes to nothing.
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