The Soaring Popularity of Medium‘s Website Design

Medium exploded in popularity by providing a polished, visually focused blogging platform. Launched in 2012, it rapidly changed the aesthetic for modern online publishing.

Over 100 million people now visit Medium each month. What made their minimalist, full-bleed image-centric design stand out and gain so many fans?

There are a few key factors driving Medium‘s appeal:

  • Readability – The clean fonts and ample white space are easy on the eyes. Studies show wide paragraphs and minimal clutter improve reading comprehension.

  • Scannability – Brief paragraphs and prominent visuals allow readers to quickly scan and absorb content.

  • Usability – The uncluttered interface and lack of ads or distracting widgets enhance site navigation.

  • Visual impact – Photography and graphics are displayed big and boldly on Medium sites to capture attention.

  • Adaptability – The core layouts work well for longform articles, short blogs, portfolios, and more.

Let‘s look at how WordPress themes in 2023 are implementing the most popular aspects of Medium‘s idiosyncratic style.

WordPress powers over 40% of all websites, with thousands of free and paid themes available. Website owners of all kinds have fallen in love with Medium‘s aesthetic.

This demand has led theme developers to create WordPress themes that mimic Medium‘s style:

Medium style WordPress themes growth over time

Google search popularity for "Medium style WordPress themes" from January 2018 to January 2023 – the demand has more than doubled!

As a webmaster with over 15 years in the industry, I‘ve witnessed the evolution of web design trends firsthand. This shift towards minimalist, content-first themes is a significant one.

Businesses, bloggers and publishers are all attracted to the visual appeal and enhanced user experience of Medium-inspired designs.

Based on my experience and analysis, I expect this trend to continue growing in 2023. More WordPress site owners will look to incorporate Medium‘s aesthetic into their websites.

Next, let‘s take a look at some of the most popular examples of Medium-influenced themes available for WordPress.

With so many themes on the market claiming to mimic Medium‘s style, it can be tricky to identify the best options. Here are the key factors I recommend focusing on:

Factor Description
Responsiveness Sites must adapt elegantly for mobile, tablet and desktop
Readability Ample line lengths, margins and font sizes
Scannability Strategic use of paragraphs, images and white space
Typography Customizable clean, simple fonts
Consistent Layout Navigation, logo and layouts stay consistent
Visual Impact Full-bleed images and videos displayed prominently
Customization Fonts, colors, backgrounds should be adjustable
Performance Images and scripts optimized for fast load times

Getting these factors right results in the engaging, intuitive user experience Medium is loved for.

The WordPress themes covered next excel in these areas to provide authentic Medium styling.

After testing dozens of options hands-on, these are my top picks for Medium-style themes based on the criteria above:

1. Stockholm – Most Flexible Layouts

Stockholm is one of the most configurable Medium-style themes available. You get multiple templates for key pages like the blog index, single posts, and about page.

The drag-and-drop page builder integration also makes it easy to customize layouts exactly how you like. You can adjust column widths, text sizing, margins and more with just a few clicks.

Key Features:

  • 5 homepage layout choices
  • Custom page templates
  • Elementor page builder integration
  • Responsive design and retina graphics
  • Custom fonts and colors

In my experience, Stockholm provides the greatest flexibility to adapt the theme‘s design for different content types. The multitude of templates and layout options allow fine-grained control over the user experience.

2. Fraktur – Best for Photography

Fraktur is specifically designed for photography and visual content. The fullscreen slideshow header and gallery templates make images the star of the show.

Parallax scrolling and animation effects add visual interest as you scroll through posts. Figures are presented in a clean, gallery-style layout with lightboxes to enlarge images.

Key Features:

  • Fullscreen header slideshows
  • Parallax scrolling animations
  • Markdown editor for posts
  • Photo and video galleries
  • 8 homepage layout options
  • Lightboxes to enlarge images

Fraktur is fantastic for portfolios, nature or travel sites where the imagery tells the story. The polished animations and galleries make photos shine.

3. Narrative – Best for Longform Writing

Narrative lives up to its name by providing a fantastic theme for longform articles and essays. The reading experience is seamless, with adjustable font sizes and line lengths ideal for extended reading.

Distraction-free paragraph widening and highlights give articles a polished Medium vibe. Fullwidth and boxed content modes allow you to optimize layouts for all content types.

Key Features

  • Responsive paragraph widening
  • Custom text and body highlights
  • Fullwidth and boxed modes
  • Adjustable font scale
  • Custom text and heading styles
  • Automatic dark mode

For publishers and bloggers regularly writing long essays, Narrative provides an authentic Medium feel. The content-first styling keeps readers engaged from the first word to the last.

4. Stori – Top for Magazine-Style Sites

Stori bills itself as providing the stories theme for WordPress. It‘s designed for building magazine or news-style websites.

The block-focused theme pairs perfectly with the WordPress block editor. You can choose from dozens of section layouts like Hero headers, content cards and featured media to build pages.

Key Features:

  • 50+ block patterns
  • Newspaper and magazine templates
  • Custom layouts and palettes
  • Fullscreen media support
  • Responsive design
  • Block-based menus

For publishing houses, editorial sites or multi-author blogs, Stori provides the tools to create polished online magazines. You have fine control over the look and feel using blocks and styles.

5. Contrast – Best Free Option

Contrast is a popular free theme for small business sites looking for an approachable Medium vibe. The bright, friendly tones make for inviting landing pages and about pages.

Despite being free, Contrast still allows impressive customizations like font uploads, color changes, layout adjustments and header media. The optional Gutenberg templates provide pre-designed page layouts.

Key Features:

  • Free download
  • Custom fonts and colors
  • Blog and landing page templates
  • Responsive design
  • Drag and drop footer widgets
  • Optional Gutenberg block templates

For publishers on a budget, Contrast provides plenty of Medium style without the price tag. The intuitive admin makes it beginner-friendly.

Once you‘ve selected a suitable theme, how do you fine-tune the styling for that flawless Medium polish? Here are my top tips:

Set Wide Paragraph Widths

Medium maximizes paragraph widths for improved readability. Wider lines reduce eye movement and increase reading speed.

Set paragraph max-width in CSS:

p {
  max-width: 90%;

This expands paragraphs while retaining good line length.

Increase Font Sizes

Bumping up font sizes also enhances readability. Medium uses sizes like 22px for body text.

Increase base font sizes in Theme Settings or CSS:

body {
 font-size: 22px; 

Reduce Margins

Medium sites have narrow page margins, bringing content center stage.

Tighten margins in Theme Settings or CSS:

.content {
  max-width: 720px;
  margin: 0 auto;

Optimize Images

Large full-bleed images should use optimized formats like WebP and responsive sizes:

<img src="photo.webp" sizes="(min-width: 720px) 720px, 100vw" />

This maximizes visual impact across device sizes.

Recreating Medium‘s engaging aesthetic in WordPress is easier than ever thanks to these polished themes. They allow you to tap into the readability, visual appeal and usability that draw millions to Medium each day.

The themes highlighted here provide the flexibility to craft sites perfectly tailored to your content. Through their careful use of fonts, spacing, layouts and imagery, your content will shine.

As Medium continues to influence web design tastes, I expect these themes to increase in popularity among discerning site owners. Their clean minimalism results in sites where the focus stays on your content.

Hopefully these themes provide inspiration to bring a refined yet customizable Medium touch to your own WordPress site! Let me know in the comments if you have any other favorite Medium-style themes I should check out.

Written by Jason Striegel

C/C++, Java, Python, Linux developer for 18 years, A-Tech enthusiast love to share some useful tech hacks.