Themes: Not many? Theme Creators Missing/Abandoned

I’ve used in the past (a whiiiiiile ago!), substack, blogspot, jekyll on Netlify, Hugo on netlify, a self hosted HTML5 website, wordpress, Ghost (Pro), CargoSite, Webflow, Unicorn Platform and a bunch of others that don’t exist anymore.

My main issue with, and some of the other CMS’s such as Hugo, or Jekyll, is that you’ll find maybe 1 nice looking theme, but it’ll be outdated or not working or maintained anymore (and please don’t take this personally) but…

It’s like all the developers of these themes on have no fucking idea how important aesthetics are. What is this? Windows 95 still?

We have Teslas, Apple watches, Lofi, Disney+ and we’re creating self aware algorithms but we can’t make something look good and functional?

Write as reminds me shoes like the Sketchers brand. Functional, good price point, comfortable and ergonomic, but only your grandpa wears theme because most youths wouldn’t want to be seen dead in a pair of sketchers. We’d rather have wonky feet and wear some Nike Airforce, or jordans.

I’ve browsed the themes page and a lot of the themes, like Dark Theme, don’t have the same theme as the preview image anymore, or in the case of Crop Lee just don’t exist anymore, leaving me with ugly themes like writespace-as or Gabnotes (can’t like, link limit).

I can’t code my own theme because I don’t know enough about javascript to implement the features I’m looking for.

Can we please get some sexy themes please?

Here are some good examples for theme developers to take notes from.

Examples of good solid themes on the other platforms I’ve used are:

P.S. Would post more but have a limit.
&& Used to work as UX/UI designer back when Photoshop was considered the standard and before Macaw got bought by Adobe.

Bump: More Theme Links:

You see what I’m saying?
Aesthetics matter guys. How do you think most things IPO nowadays?

Hahaha true!

Anyways, I agree 100% here, but to offer some excuse I think WriteFreely/ is still a very young very small project, and the very instability behind the existing themes looking different/not-quite-right/broken is probably exactly why not much has been invested in fancier themes as of yet: the platform is still evolving too much.

From conversations I’ve had with matt, the theming engine may be getting an upgrade this year :crossed_fingers: , so when that happens I think it will be only natural that we see the development of a more flexible and powerful theming system possibly like Ghost’s handlebar themes and from that some much nicer themes. Once the backend gets there, it will happen!

As a sidenote, I wonder if at some point it would make sense to have the frontend rewritten in Elm, which also supports PWAs and would bring WriteFreely/ into the interest of a flourishing frontend developers community :wink:

4 Likes is a publishing tool for sharing ideas and stories with a well-defined set of core principles. One of those principles is that is built for their users. Developers behind this platform listen to its users through different communication channels–this forum is one of them. Matt, CJ Eller and Angelo (which I believe are the whole company) are quite busy dealing with users’ issues and listen to new feature proposals coming from us – besides developing the actual product, of course.

Balancing priorities when developing a new product is not an easy endeavour. Growing a company without wavering from its principles is even harder. I think (and maybe others agree) that principles and values are what its users value the most — even if not everything works perfectly all the time. is place for focused writing. It does one thing, and it does it right.

Yeah, more and nicer themes would be great. You can come back in a couple of years and I believe they will be way better. But probably other platforms (with different priorities and principles) could offer you better alternatives right now. Good luck with the search!

P.S. If you spend some time learning JS and come up with a beautiful theme for, I will be willing to give it a try :wink:


Tangentially, since I brought up Elm before, I really appreciate the care both of these communities take in terms of sticking to their principles and not compromising their integrity. For a glimpse of the thought which has been put into sustainability for the Elm language, see Evan’s writeup here: Costs/Funding in Open-Source Languages - Show and Tell - Elm

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There’s actually no “theme creators” for No one is actively working or developing themes for The themes that you see on here, are themes that users worked on themselves. They are shared on that site with permission from the users.

Some of those users have since updated their sites and so their current website might no longer match the screenshots you see on the Themes blog. That doesn’t mean that you can no longer copy the theme. It’s all just CSS anyway. No JavaScript required.

If you open one of the themes, like Painkiller Bullet for instance, you can still click the Copy Theme link at the bottom of the post, and it will still show you all the CSS you need to copy, to apply the theme on your own site.


Things ipo when they actually contain value. The shiny gum wrapper gets thrown in the trash, eventually.

Hate to play d advocate but I’ve been a visual artist my entire life and I gotta say that aesthetics are only to appeal to the flash in pan emotional value and enjoying using a thing, AND it is really~~~

Really not fun if the thing sucks use ability wise.

But yeah it’s nice if things look good. :slight_smile:

I just “released” a (vastly) new version of my theme which is (hopefully) optimized for modification. I’ve never actually done anything all with code before that considered other users so… It just occurred to me that I probably should have taken the time to annotate the CSS…

I will without question if anyone expresses interest.

(Off topic, sortof: unless I’m mistaken, we don’t have a show off your way over-developed themes category on the forum yet lol.)

Hi everyone, I’m brand new to the world of / WriteFreely, having only discovered it yesterday. As a very experienced web designer, I’d be interested in creating themes for the platform. However, true customisation is only really possible when the HTML can be changed, not just the CSS. is there any way of modifying the HTML? I couldn’t find anything in the Pro features for that?

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There is not currently a user-facing means of altering the HTML as far as I know, no, but imo this is actually one of WriteFreely/Writeas’ unique advantages. If you’re willing, I’d encourage you to give the system (as in, “themes” as pure CSS/JS modifications) a chance. I would vouch for my own theme as documented above for an example of how configurable this platform can be while remaining uniquely robust/frugal/functional.

(Also, welcome! Come bother me in the community Discord I’ve been trying to start, if you’d like.)

Not really. Like David said, it can be an advantage depending on how you look at it. Anyway, you can tweak the HTML using Custom JavaScript.

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Thanks for the reply David, you make a very good point. I’ll see what I can do with just CSS/JS modifications: sometimes hard constraints can make us more creative. If I get the time, I’ll check out your Discord too. Thanks again.

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Hey @matthill! In addition to letting our current constraints guide your creativity (definitely something to be said about that!), I wanted to add that we do plan to add support for templates and modifying HTML in the future.

This is part of a new initiative to make more flexible and useful – the templating system upgrade @kxra mentioned earlier in the thread (development tracked here). We’ll keep everyone updated as we make progress there in the coming months, but I’ll be especially interested in feedback from professional designers like you guys as that evolves.


I’m excited for this work (as @matt already knows). It’ll be valuable to many writers, especially those who want to find ways to express themselves and tie the aesthetic of the medium to the content in more ways.

Absolutely, and I can’t think of a better team to try to design a theming system that keeps the platform focused on writing, but gives writers greater expressive powers. Minimalist and maximalist design and everything in between have different benefits and limitations to writers of all sorts—hobbyists, scientists, artists, workers, teachers, students, activists, journalists, etc. The [westernized] concept of minimalism always gets tied up in some vapid idea of “purity”, but nothing can exist in isolation; all meaning emerges from context.

The tradeoff in my mind is not about keeping/abandoning a writing-focused environment, but about the usability and maintenance investment, which I have faith in the team and the technical aspects of the project to “do it right”. Anyways, more powerful theming capabilities opens up a broader and deeper range of expressive possibility, that’s all :grin:


@matt Please don’t end up like Ghost or Wordpress where themes are always premium or loaded with adware.

I love the simplicity of and, although I do think themes would be welcome, I want the themes to be as clean and simple as the focus on writing.


I agree that the new theming will probably be awesome - and is direly needed. But all the links that Anon provided are horrible. They are like a painting, nice to look at but not very useful for a service that focuses on writing.

I strongly agree with @ChloeDontCode that the themes should be as clean and simple as the focus on writing. While more themes would be good, I don’t want to lose its essence.

Whilst I agree with your comments, I think the point about ‘Write’ is that it is what it says. It’s more (for me anyway) a dumping ground of ‘stuff’. It’s an area to not get caught up with endless hours making something look fancy, finding CSS, editing JS, hunting down the latest trends of UX…

It’s about banging out something that’s on your mind. Not getting distracted with worrying about how a heading should be formatted or if that multi-column widget will work properly on a mobile device from space. It’s a clean environment to lay down and dump out your thoughts, ideas and concepts.

It is a writing pad (IMHO), a notebook of thoughts. For me it’s not about being ‘discovered’ and ‘followed’. For me it’s about have a space that I can ‘put shit down’ as and when I think about it.

If you have an old domain name knocking about and not using it, use it. Join the dots and get that content on there. Share it with others if they ask, but don’t go spending days worrying about SEO Schema’s, on and off page, title tags and all the other crap. Just focus on a brain dump and move on.

Personally I love it and long may it survive without getting bogged down with complexity. I use it with many other tools including ‘Simplenote’ - which I use for different reasons.

I think its simplicity is its strength. If you want plugins, themes, and a million options - go for Wordpress. I have developed 100’s of Wordpress sites and they certainly have their place for those things you are talking about.

Horses for courses as they say…

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fair enough

I agree here, but it would be very useful for some types of blogs to be able to use a theme that could break posts up into sections. It would be bad to force that on all themes, but the option would let you have a theme that splits up, for example, latest posts, posts about family, posts about philosophy, my art, etc. I think the single-feed is the correct default, but having some organization would bring in a lot of people who need more, especially (but not only) larger publications.