Call me old-fashioned but I think blogging is about writing. Not pictures, embeds, widgets, shortcodes or multiple layouts. I see that WP is used in different ways by different users for different purposes but what I do not see is a theme that has been designed solely for the writer.
Here are 4 that I think get closer than most:
Journalist is a smart, minimal theme designed for professional journalists.
Blaskan is a forever free high quality theme focused on what WordPress does best: blogging.
The Erudite – A theme for writers who want readers
Manifest – A clean and streamlined theme that focused on the content and not the distractions.
I think these along with those at http://www.plaintxt.org/ but none seem to hit the right spot where typography and overall design have been honed to perfection. The above stand out because they have no images when compared to almost every other theme.
What is stopping a designer crafting a theme that caters solely for the writer? Complexity maybe? The design would have to take fonts and all their properties along with the width of the theme, make the display of everything such as author, date published, comments, cats/tags/links customisable and optional then create some suggested defaults. Give the blog owner control of just about everything without using those two words ‘child theme’. (When a theme creator says “Just make a child theme” it should be treated in the same way as an established coder saying “Write a patch”. It means “if you can, do. If you can’t, ask someone else or put up with it”. Saying ‘Codex’ at this point means ‘go learn how to write a patch’ to which my reply would be “If you are so hot, create options in your themes not the obstacle that is a child theme”).
This post was inspired partly because this has annoyed me for a while but it was more so because over the last few days I have helped someone install WP and as a writer all they want to do is write. They have a very tidy sidebar, want no images apart from incidentals in posts and despite installing numerous themes not a single one looked or acted like it has the words at it’s heart for them. I was asked if I could help find and I could not get the answer. It looks like we’ll have to use typekit or google fonts but that’s not a great solution. What she wanted was a theme which had been very carefully created for a writer. Neither of us believe there is one.