Magazine vs. Newspaper: How to choose the right WordPress theme for editorial websites

Advantages of magazine and newspaper WordPress themes

Newspaper
Image Source: Unsplash – Pixabay.com / License: CC0 Public Domain

Magazine and newspaper themes both offer dynamic, aesthetically pleasing designs that highlight editorial content in different ways. These kind of WordPress themes are ideal for news magazines and online newspapers with lots of content. But which one should you choose? In this article we’ll have a look at common elements and advantages of magazine and newspaper themes:

Web design vs. print publishing

Website Layout
Image Source: Pexels – Pixabay.com / License: CC0 Public Domain

Some print publishing elements affect how news- and magazine-style themes are rendered in the browser. Based on the purpose and vision of your website, this may impact your decision as to which layout style best suits your WordPress site or blog, so let’s look at them briefly.

Above the fold

Above the fold
Image Source: Screenshot – NiftyLaw.com

In newspaper publishing, above the fold is the area above the crease where the paper is typically folded. It’s typically where the biggest headlines and stories go. That concept loses a little meaning in web design, but it can still be used as a reference point in some theme layouts. In web design, it just means the part of the page that loads in the browser window before you have to scroll down to see more content. Therefore, this is quite similar to print publishing.

Sidebars are typically found in print magazines as well. They’re used for supplemental information that illuminates or expands on the primary content in the main body of the article. They serve a similar purpose in traditional blogs, although the trend in web design is toward full-width no-sidebar designs. Though, sidebars still are very popular for website monetisation.

Gutter

The gutter is simply the imaginary or actual line or space that divides columns. Usually the gutter is invisible in newspapers, though it might be printed for callout quote boxes. It serves the same purpose in multicolumn web design to separate content or website elements.

The header in papers generally includes the date, section, and newspaper name, possibly with additional information. On sites and blogs, the header serves to identify the site name and other key information on every page. With the exception of sales or landing pages, the header generally doesn’t change from page to page. Although this might be a feature in WordPress themes.

Common elements of newspaper-style WordPress themes

MH Newsdesk WordPress Theme

News sites have to fit a lot of information into a somewhat limited space. And if your site is monetized through advertising, you also need to incorporate the ads into the layout in an unobtrusive way that doesn’t cause banner blindness.

Newspaper-style WordPress themes can help you meet those needs through some commonly found design elements (although you can always find exceptions, of course). One such element is dark text on a light background. It parallels our expectations of traditional print papers and may also make it easier to read your text as opposed to scan it, especially for aging users.

News-style themes also generally allow for the banner ads. Blogs typically use 125px square ads in sidebar areas, but news sites tend to gravitate towards either skyscrapers (much taller than they are wide) or banners that stretch across wide headers. For example, see the LA Times site’s 728px x 90px ad space below the header in the screenshot below.

LA Times Header
Image Source: Screenshot – LAtimes.com

Most news sites also place the primary navigation menu at the top of the page. The screenshot below of the Boston Globe is a good example of this.

Boston Globe Navigation
Image Source: Screenshot – BostonGlobe.com

Many newspaper-style themes allow you to incorporate a tabbed content area in various positions on your pages to maximize the precious real estate on the page, as shown in the New York Times screenshot below.

NY Times Tabbed Section
Image Source: Screenshot – NYtimes.com

You’ll also see the same grid-based design as you’d find with print papers. The screenshot below of the Washington Post helps you visualize that grid.

Washington Post Grid
Image Source: Screenshot – WashingtonPost.com

Essential elements of magazine theme layouts for WordPress

Magazine style layouts tend to be more visually dynamic. They may also use the grid based layout, but the display tends to be more graphically oriented than text-heavy.

Politico Magazine
Image Source: Screenshot – Politico.com

Magazine themes also give you greater control than most blog-based themes over what content gets featured on the top-level and home pages. Usually, this is accomplished by way of a “featured” category or by placing various widgets with content on the front page.

ScreenCrush Magazine
Image Source: Screenshot – Screencrush.com

To feature a piece of content, you’d assign it to the “featured” category. That article would then get automatically pulled into the prime space reserved by the design for features.

Glamour Paris Magazine
Image Source: Screenshot – Glamourparis.com

Magazine WordPress themes scale to effectively handle great quantities of content. They also let you easily create separate “sections” (e.g. beauty, fashion, health, etc.), which could be a more effective way to categorize a diverse collection of editorial content.

You’ll also generally see in magazine layouts a removal of full-length content itself from the front page and relocation to deeper pages. For some blogs this is an advantage. You’ll get extra clicks, and if it’s a compelling visual design and layout, you’ll enjoy a little “boost” in persuading readers to browse your site. This also lowers your bounce rate.

One potential downside to using magazine and newspaper WordPress themes is that they can often require more work to set up and configure properly. Straight out of the box, without configuration, some WordPress themes might present a cluttered or simple blog look, as opposed to the modern trend towards larger, full-screen, image-heavy designs.

However, once you master the theme’s learning curve, you get in return a stunning and professional design with a clean layout that compels viewers to click and browse.

Choosing a newspaper or magazine theme for your WordPress site

MH Magazine Variations

Is a magazine or newspaper theme right for your WordPress site or blog? It always depends on what you want to achieve with your website and how much content you have. Magazine and news themes tend to work best in the following situations:

  • You’ve got a lot of content. You’ll need a decent amount of content to make a magazine or news layout work. It also works with less content, but then it’s rather a classic blog.
  • You plan to have a consistent, frequent influx of new content on an ongoing basis. You’ll need to swap out new stories for old on a regular schedule to keep and grow your site’s readership.
  • You want to be able to highlight and feature some pieces of content over others.
  • If your site is in a niche where magazine or newspaper type layouts are common or expected, your audience will likely take to that format more readily since it’s familiar to them.

If you’re still not sure which layout style would work best for your site, consider choosing a WordPress theme that offers more flexibility. As a result, you can adjust the layout of your WordPress theme whenever you need changes.

MH Magazine WordPress theme for blogs, magazine and news sites

Features MH Magazine WordPress Theme

For instance, MH Magazine WordPress theme gives you the choice between magazine-style and newspaper-style editorial layouts. There are several theme demos for MH Magazine available where you can see its flexibility. If your site’s needs change in the future, it’s a relatively straightforward matter to change. For example, you can create a magazine-style editorial site based in the food niche just by making use of the included options and custom widgets:

Food Magazine

Or you can use the same theme to build out a news site and showcase content about current events and politics. Have a look at the screenshot below which shows the news demo of MH Magazine:

News Magazine

Or you could even create your own digital publishing empire by building out a few sites in each style. The choice is yours. For inspiration, have a look at the various theme demos and examples of real user sites to see what is possible with MH Magazine.

Conclusion: WordPress themes for magazine and news sites

Consider your goals for your site, the type of content you plan to create and publish, and your audience’s expectations in deciding between newspaper and magazine WordPress themes for editorial sites and blogs. And if you’re ready to invest in a well-coded, flexible theme that offers you the best of both worlds, check out MH Magazine WordPress theme.

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