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WordPress Themes: Alphabet Series

Since the launch of Perishable Press way back in 2005, I’ve been working on a series of “alphabet themes”, where each new WordPress theme design is named with a different letter of the alphabet. This began in 2005 with the first alphabet theme, “A” for Apathy. Several months later, the next theme design was “B” for Bananaz. Then “C” for Casket, and so on and so forth.

An entire set of 26 WordPress themes, one for each letter of the alphabet, “A” through “Z”.

Up until around the “V” theme, I used a theme-switch plugin to enable visitors to choose from any of the alphabet themes via dropdown menu. It was fun while it lasted, but honestly trying to maintain 20+ themes and keeping them current with all the changes in WordPress over the years.. well it just got to be too much. So while I continue working on the alphabet theme series, I had to remove the theme-switch functionality. For sanity’s sake.

Yes I know it’s all just so silly. But at my age, pretty much everything is silly. Besides, I started the alphabet themes thing just on a whim, after designing the first several themes: the names happened to begin with A, B, C, so I rolled with it and named the next theme “D” for DOS_FX. Fast-forward 10+ years, and I’ve nearly made it all the way to letter “Z”. After that, I’ll do all of the numbers.

Theme Switching

If you landed on this page from somewhere promising the thrill of “switching themes”, I’ve got bad news for you. I disabled theme switching several years ago. Back when switching was enabled, people could visit this page and select from any of the alphabet themes to customize the look and feel of the site. It was fun while it lasted, but the complexity of maintaining and updating 20+ simultaneous themes was just too much going forward. So now this post is just a glorified list of all the alphabet themes used here at Perishable Press.

Pro Tip: You can use a free WordPress plugin such as Theme Switcha to enable visitors to switch themes on your own WordPress-powered site.

Alphabet Theme Collection

Some of these themes are open source and freely available for download.
[ Thumbnail: Apathy Icon ] Apathy is a three-column newspaper-style theme. This is one of my oldest, least-used themes. It presents a lot of information right up front, which almost seems silly now. As far as I know, this is one of the first themes to employ a fully functional triple loop. Screenshot 1 2 »
[ Thumbnail: Bananaz Icon ] Bananaz is a traditional, two-column, fixed-width theme with all the trimmings. The original version of this theme was created in 2005, back when I was really digging into CSS and XHTML. I like the overall appearance of this theme, but the colors are a bit much. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Casket Icon ] Casket is a traditional, fixed-width, two-column theme with a post-modern “gothic” feel. This is one of my favorite themes, designed way back in 2005. Includes lots of nice features, including live comment preview and external link indication. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: DOS_FX Icon ] Produced on a whim, DOS_FX was inspired by the formatting and presentation of the DOS command prompt. DOS-FX is a fluid-width, two-column theme set in the legendary “Terminal” font. Simple, robust, and retro “cool”. Must see to believe. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Entropy Icon ] Entropy is simply the DOS_FX theme with an inverted color scheme. Instead of light text on dark background, Entropy features dark text on light background. Just as cool as DOS_FX, but easy on the eyes. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Finished Icon ] Finished is a fixed-width, two-column theme with fresh skeleton graphics and minimalist text styles. Maroon on white is one of my favorite blog color schemes, and the Finished theme throws ’em down with style. Features ultra-deluxe sidebar action. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Garbage Icon ] The Garbage theme began as an old B2Evolution theme before I had discovered the joys of working with WordPress. I have always like the cluttered look of this theme, even if it would never work in the “real world”. The struggle is real, folks. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Headline Icon ] Headline is a fixed-width version of the Apathy “newspaper” theme. Over the past few upgrades, Headline has evolved into a solid little theme, even if it looks a bit “old-school”. Lots of juicy embellishments permeate this stylish, triple-loop theme. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Information Icon ] Information is a monster of a theme that strives to streamline presentation of a well-rounded, multimedia portfolio. At the time, I was really trying to emphasize the different facets of my work, including photography, video, audio, art, and so on. The Information theme uses drop-down/pop-open JavaScript to consolidate different topical portions of the site while integrating them into a comprehensive presentation of content. Although this was a great idea in theory, the practicality of it all gets lost somewhere along the way. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Killer Icon ] After nine previous stabs at a theme I could live with, I finally designed something halfway decent. The Jupiter! theme will be recognizable to many you, as it reflects the look and feel of Perishable Press from the not-too-distant past. The first theme to feature the official Perishable Press sun logo, Jupiter! is a fixed width, pseudo-two-column theme with toggling meta information for each post. Live comment preview, link indication, Flash titles, and comment quicktags help to round out the overall functionality of this classic theme. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Jupiter Icon ] Another attempt at something different, the Killer theme is more of a study of XHTML markup and floated divs than anything else. Under the hood, this theme is doing things that CSS newbies would not understand. Overall I still enjoy the concept of what I was trying to achieve, but it ended up feeling awkward and “forced”. An interesting chapter in theme development, if nothing else. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Lithium Icon ] Once the Jupiter! theme had been online for awhile, traffic began to increase, and people were providing all sorts of useful feedback. Inspired, I decided to rework and refine Jupiter! into the much improved Lithium theme. In the process, I eliminated redundancy, streamlined code, and consolidated styles. I also enhanced the appearance of the text, making it cleaner and easier to read. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: minimalist Icon ] The minimalist theme is a sparse, flex-width, two-column theme with a nice, quiet appearance. The minimalist theme utilizes two special menu pages to help streamline links, organize content, and reduce clutter. Other features include comments appearing directly adjacent to posts and an “invisible” search box that I thought was way too cool for it’s own good. Even today, minimalist remains my most popular theme, as measured in sheer number of downloads. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Naked Icon ] Designed exclusively for CSS Naked Day, the Naked theme features succinct, XHTML-1.1 markup, ultra-optimized PHP code, and plenty of sweet, behind-the-scenes WordPress functionality. Virtually CSS-free (featuring only a pinch of style for my contact form), the Naked theme may not be the prettiest WordPress theme around, but it happens to be ideal for low-bandwidth users, mobile devices, and anyone who desires a lightning-fast browsing experience. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Optimized Icon ] Once traffic really began to pick up, I began work on another evolution of the Jupiter!/Lithium theme. Since the release of Lithium, my WordPress development skills had improved significantly, and I was determined to create something representative of my current level of understanding. And so several weeks later, I unveiled the Optimized theme. Similar in appearance to its predecessor, Optimized features better code, faster loading times, and greater functionality. Lots to love about this theme, but alas no screenshot currently available.
[ Thumbnail: Perishable Icon ] Replacing the Optimized theme toward the end of 2007, the Perishable theme is designed with a serious passion for minimalism and productivity. Of all my themes, I have found this one to be the most inspiring for writing and creating content. It gives me a sense of seriousness, speed, and accuracy that is very rewarding. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Quintessential Icon ] Replacing the Perishable theme in October of 2008, Quintessential is my finest design effort to date. Features include original artwork, translucent backgrounds, triple content-panel sliders, smooth scrolling to internal link targets, imported Twitter and Tumblr feeds, and crowdsourced cross-browser testing. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Requiem Icon ] Replacing the Quintessential theme in January of 2009, Requiem is a return to minimalism with a strong focus on usability. Features include simplified UI, streamlined archives, toggling metadata, and mega footer. Links kept pure with classic blue underline. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Serious Icon ] The Serious theme replaced the Requiem/Quintessential themes on November 30th, 2009. This theme keeps the focus on content via streamlined UI. Features include enhanced code display, Ajax recent posts, and imported photo feed. An actual screenshot of the Serious theme currently is not available. Until I can find a decent screenshot, here is a rough sketch to give you a basic idea of how it looked.
[ Thumbnail: Serious Icon ] Tether replaced the Serious theme on February 6th, 2011. Built with HTML5 and liberal doses of CSS3, the Tether theme is the first theme designed for multiple WordPress installations. Designed with readability in mind, Tether was built with DigWP’s Quantify theme. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Unicorner Icon ] The Unicorner theme replaced the Tether theme on March 7th, 2012. A virtual rainbow overdose, Unicorner is super playful and fun. It’s the first alphabet theme to be fully responsive. Also voted most hated alphabet theme, it was quickly replaced by the Volume theme. Basically Unicorner is the result of unbridled creativity mixed with too much coffee. Not many people saw this theme live on the site. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Volume Icon ] The Volume theme replaced Unicorner on April 8th, 2012. Built with HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery, the Volume theme brings lightweight, responsive design and streamlined, minimal interface focused on better usability. Keywords: details, energy, organic, no hacks. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: Wire Icon ] The Wire theme replaced Volume on August 15th, 2013. Free of the baggage and entanglements of the previous 22 themes, Wire serves as a breath of fresh air, with its minimal responsive design and streamlined code under the hood. As with previous themes, Wire is focused on performance, security, and usability. Screenshot »
[ Thumbnail: X Icon ] Inspired by the Perishable theme, the X theme is minimalist with a retro feel. It features user-customizable layout options, light/dark theme switching, and snazzy mega popup menu. The X theme also is aimed at optimal performance, with most peripheral data loaded on-demand via Ajax. Screenshot 1 2 3 4 »
[ Thumbnail: Yes Icon ] You are here. This is the site’s current theme. The Yes theme strives for optimal balance between performance and aesthetics, using the least amount of code possible to achieve the best possible user experience. You can learn more and check out screenshots on the Yes theme launch post.

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16 responses to “WordPress Themes: Alphabet Series”

  1. Johan Bostrom 2008/10/03 7:22 am

    I’m a frequent reader and your articles have been proven very useful to me, so thank you for that! However, I think I’ll stick to the previous theme. This new psykadelic stuff is way to hard on the eyes. Might be better if you let the background scroll with the page, and if it would fade into black or dark grey.

  2. Jeff Starr 2008/10/05 1:38 pm

    Hi Johan, thanks for the feedback about the new design. Looking at the design in various browsers and platforms (thanks to a ton of screenshots), I have noticed that, on Macs, the background image seems to show through the panels to a much greater degree than it does on most PCs. I am not sure whether or not you are Mac user, but even if not, many of my readers do use Macs, so I may end up increasing the opacity of the panels slightly to improve readability. Whether or not this helps with the eye strain in your case, I am not sure, but you are more than welcome to use the previous theme if you prefer (that’s what they’re there for!); I am happy enough just to have you as a reader ;)

  3. Johan Bostrom 2008/10/05 1:50 pm


    I tried switching to the new theme again ant it’ sway better than I remember it to be before your opacity tweak. I am indeed a Mac user (since 2002 :) ) and I mainly use whatever the latest version of Safari is.

    Being a web developer, I have seen every common browser and it’s behaviours in various situations, and I don’t think Safari’s rendering of images differs between the different platforms that it supports.

    One thing that should be important to remember is that the default gamma setting in Mac OS is gamma 2.2, while in Windows it is defaulted to somewhere around 1.8 depending on your graphics card drivers and display brand. So my screen renders colors as much more vivid, and the darker areas of your psykadelic background will be quite darker than it is in Windows web browser.

    I do not know if you’re a Mac user. If you’re not, I recommend that you take a look at what options you have for temporarily changing your displays gamma value, and reviewing your website with gamma 2.2.

    Thanks, and keep up your witty, insightful and highly educational writing!

    Johan Bostrom, currently at 3°C. *shivers*

  4. Jeff Starr 2008/10/07 6:07 pm

    Hi Johan, glad to hear the site is looking better for you. I am still in the process of fine-tuning and enhancing many aspects of the design, so hopefully things will continue to improve.

    Interesting to hear about the differences in gamma settings for Mac versus Windows systems. This is good information that I will file away for future investigation and diagnostics. As both a Windows user (on my primary computer) and a Mac user (Macbook laptop), visual testing via temporary gamma adjustment could prove to be a very helpful technique for testing new designs.

    Btw, 3°C? May I ask whereabouts one might encounter such frigid October weather? Sounds like an excellent excuse to stay warm indoors and surf the Web!

  5. Johan Bostrom 2008/10/07 10:58 pm

    Correction to my previous statement: It is the opposite, Windows is default 2.2 and Mac OS is default 1.8! And so, it makes perfect sense as to why I thought the opacity was to low at first, since everything is brighter in Mac OS and the text blended into the background. I don’t know how I could mix that up. Too much work I guess.

    If you visit my website, you can see where I’m located on Google Maps. The middle of Sweden! And yes, ofcourse I stay inside these cold days. ;)

    Take care,


  6. wow! I( like so much the theme that I want to use it on my site LOL

  7. Are these downloadable or just for people to admire?

  8. @Shelly: The themes on this page enable users to customize their experience here at the site. Some of them are available for download and others are not. You can see a complete list of available themes here.

  9. The Quintessential theme looks great to me, however when scrolling up or down on the page, it makes my laptop work harder than it should do – it seems to “resume normal speed” once i’ve scrolled past the right column, or even faster still, when disabling background images using the web developer extension in firefox, this however leaves the site rather naked :)

  10. Jeff Starr 2009/01/07 6:14 pm

    @zubfatal: Yes indeed, the Quintessential theme is image-intensive and makes use of transparent PNGs and backgrounds, rounded corners, and much more. Unfortunately, displaying such graphical complexity requires a significant amount of processing power, something which is not always available on all machines. No reason to panic, however, as I currently offer 22 alternate themes from which to choose. Personally, I am quite fond of the “Perishable” theme and also the “minimalist” theme, both of which are easy on the imagery and work well even on the slowest of machines (such as my trusty, 7-year-old Sony Vaio laptop!). I hope this helps; please let me know if I may be of any further assisitance :)

  11. I love the new theme, though I have always liked very simple and uncluttered designs. It may inspire me to redo my own sites CSS.

  12. Jeff Starr 2009/01/19 9:17 am

    Thank you Ben — it is great to hear that you enjoy the new design. Cheers! :)

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Perishable Press is operated by Jeff Starr, a professional web developer and book author with two decades of experience. Here you will find posts about web development, WordPress, security, and more »
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