Ghost is a Node.js supported open-source blogging platform for those who aren’t appealed to the bloatedness of WordPress — the slogan of Ghost is to help others choose a less clutter-filled blogging platform for simple content publishing needs, a determined favorite amongst the web developer and software engineer communities, where those individuals are strictly focused on writing content, than adding funky widgets to their design. The Ghost Project was possible thanks to a highly successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2013 — where the projects fundraising goal was reached in just a couple of hours.
John O’Nolan, the Founder of Ghost, had the idea to start the project way back in 2012, he was at the time a part of the WordPress team and helped to build the WordPress UI, though at some point his gut instinct started telling him that WordPress might be too difficult to use just as a blogging platform, as we all know — WordPress is recognized as a content management system, and at this point John wrote a blog post — Project Ghost; an extensive look in what the future of blogging could look like, and boy was he right! Although not at the scale of WordPress, Ghost Platform has more than 30,000 premium users (all of whom enjoy DigitalOcean cloud services), and tens of thousands of free users.
Anyone who is running a WordPress, Tumblr or Blogger blog can easily migrate their existing blogs to Ghost, you can find documentation for these migrations on the Ghost Documentation page, the process is seamless! But, coming from your favorite content platform to a new one might mean that you have to give up a few things, maybe it’s widgets, but more than likely it is going to be your blog theme. We understand this. And because we do, we wanted to give back to the community and help out those trying to transfer to Ghost, but also existing Ghost bloggers who are looking to change up their blog style, by gathering up the absolutely best free Ghost themes out in the wild right now. These themes range from minimal, to fully multi-purpose that can be used to host news and other trending content.
Attila is a minimal Ghost theme that resembles Medium.com design in some ways. It is a mobile responsive theme that’s good fit for writers, bloggers, and programmers who just need a simple platform for sharing their thoughts. Parallax feature allows you to specify visual cover content for each post for adding that extra flavor. At the end of each post there’s room for displaying the content author information, also to display social media sharing buttons, and you can even enable Disqus comments to get that community aspect going. Some while ago we published a post about the best jQuery progress bar plugins, and Attila is a theme that utilizes one of those plugins to display the progress of content being read at the top of the page. Coders can enjoy syntax highlighting for their code, on automated basis; so just paste the code and that’s it.
We will be seeing quite a few minimal Ghost themes in this list, it’s what Ghost stands for — minimalistic approach to blogging. Vapor features a minimal layout that’s more focused on the typography appearance than the positioning of everything else. You can add cover images, and play with Google Fonts to change up the font appearance of your content, the modern feel is quite evident. At the end of each post there’s space to show sharing buttons, author info, and also to implement Disqus comments for increased engagement from your readers.
Ghost has also found great support from people who are into photography, as Ghost makes it easy to build templates that can be used to display visual content in grid-like layouts. Saga is one of those themes with full focus on photographic content. The main page is a Pinterest-like layout for displaying your latest posts, while the content pages themselves feature a full width featured image, with minimalistic content layout that can be used to describe your latest work. Some changes to the style will be necessary if you wish to add things like author info, or social media buttons. All easy to do.
Crisp is a lightweight Ghost theme that’s a great fit for individuals and authors who want to create a portfolio-like website, focusing only on content. It has a left hand side sidebar that you can use to outline your sites mission, display a social media widget, and also menu links to promote your more important pages. Great for sharing those insightful programming posts that only require a white background to work on, social sharing is powered by Ridiculously Responsive Social Sharing Buttons, and Disqus implementation is native.
Julian Ćwirko has published some truly amazing Ghost themes for everyone to use, and ABC Theme is amongst one of the best ones he has come up with. ABC Theme features many modern web development integrations, such as the Foundation Framework, SASS for styling, and the Highlight.js library for displaying your code. Yes, truly, this theme is an amazing fit for developers who know their way around the latest front-end tools. An amazing theme that lets you use custom Foundation elements within your content posts, allowing you to reach beyond the ordinary functionality of Ghost themes.
While we did say that there’s a theme in this post that looks awful lot similar to Medium’s design, Ghostium is the one that’s fully based on the UX & UI patterns of Medium’s style, and the end result is nothing short of stunning. Great choice of fonts and text alignment makes Ghostium a great platform for both bloggers and programmers who wish to share their thoughts and focus on the content aspects, to ensure maximum readability rate. Ghostium works with cross-devices. All content loads asynchronously, so there’s no jumping between pages. For highlighting code, Ghostium uses Prism. Those who are active on social media can enjoy an in-built integration for Twitter Cards, and also OpenGraph — so all your posts will look great on social media websites as well.
Who says Ghost is ONLY for blogging? Ghost has many uses, and one of them is to build one-page websites that you can use to promote yourself, to promote a business, or even to create a gateway portal for your actual products. GhostScroll is the culmination and the perfect example of what is possible when creating a single-page Ghost website. Unlike WordPress, Drupal and others, Ghost offers a simple admin dashboard where editing content and layout is that simple, which makes GhostScroll a great choice for those who seek simplicity within the process of setting up a production ready website. Immerse yourself in the demo page to experience the potential of Ghost themes.
Mnml is a lightweight, fully responsive, content-oriented Ghost theme with amazing typography choices. Typographic scale that’s responsive and a wise selection of line-length is why Mnml is able to achieve such a high-level content experience. To make posts look more appealing on the homepage, Mnml is in-built with a thumbnails feature, similar to what you would see in WordPress for example; well, exactly the same anyway. Another feature that keeps Ghost bloggers attracted to this theme is the performance tweaks. All thumbnails are resized in accordance to the device, scripts and also styles are loaded on asynchronous basis, same goes for the comment section. Beauty and speed together are rare, but Mnml has achieved that feat.
Ghostwriter focuses on typography to deliver a smooth content reading experience. It’s also built with AJAX principles to provide a smooth transition experience between browsing posts and other site pages. Uses SASS for styling, and the required files are provided. Works and looks great on mobile devices. Has featured content support. The other thing we enjoyed is that you can specify (feature posts) a single homepage post, and then use the menu to direct users to the archives of the site, allowing you to always promote the latest most interesting content on the homepage. We see this theme best fit for startups who only do product announcements on their blogs.
If we didn’t know any better, it would seem that the WebKid demo page is built on top of WordPress. Boxed layout, widgetized sidebar, all the things that we usually see trending in WordPress themes, but not to worry. WebKid is a Ghost theme that’s going to rock your socks off! Right away, WebKid implies the use of the theme for the purpose of reporting news, writing tutorials, and sharing news on a frequent basis. Modify and optimize sidebar widgets with your own choice of widgets, whether social or dynamic related.
Are you a passionate food blogger, perhaps a travel writer? Detox is the Ghost theme for you! With minimal yet full-page approach to content, Detox makes it easy for any Ghost blogger to tell stories that will capture attention based on the design layout alone. Big images, small fonts, comments and custom styling options is what will keep you coming back for more. Take Detox for a spin and see what you can come up with.
Gunter is a Ghost theme with character! Its strong typography and function to add cover photos for each post make it a great choice for coders and bloggers who want to share latest stories in a way that will trigger others to focus their attention on the content, as there’s no room for anything else. Has Font Awesome support, and code highlighting is thanks to the Highlight library! Enjoy this one.
The Shell, as the name implies, is a great theme for the hacker type! It’s dark, it uses technical font types, and it’s somewhat straightforward. The theme is built using pure CSS, so at any given point you can quickly adjust the CSS to reflect your own desires. Has support for Google Analytics, Disqus comments, and code highlighting. What more could a developer ask for?
Nonsense is themes is a rising trend, not just for Ghost. Themes packed with plugins and widgets that overload the system are common for any blogging platform, Mihnea Dobrescu-Balaur knows this, and has published a No Nonsense Ghost theme that although is minimal, packs a pretty punch when it comes to useful features. With No Nonsense you can quickly set up a multi-author blog that supports cover photos for posts, tags for tagging content, even custom error pages for sites that run a ton of content at the same time.
You can embed responsive video content thanks to Fitvid library. Moreover, it utilizes Prism to support syntax highlights and your content is readily available for social sharing through useful buttons. What’s more, there’s Google Analytics integrated, and built-in Disqus comments. Although simple, No Nonsense is a good fit for Ghost blogging sites that wish to push out a lot of content.
Casper is the default Ghost theme, and Odin is a fork of Casper that builds upon some necessary features for developers who wish to get into the blogging sphere and are in need of a flexible way to share articles that consists of code snippets. Odin also supports Ridiculously Responsive Social Sharing Buttons, but more than that it supports all the libraries which you can use for building a community site in seconds.
Komik sounds awful lot like Comic, and yes, Komik is in fact a Ghost theme for sharing comics and visual stories. It’s similar to XKDC in a sense where the layout is similar, but all the comics are still required to be built by you. This theme assumes that you create a new post per comic strip / page. You also must use the featured image setting in your post to upload your picture. You get to this setting by clicking the “gear” icon while editing a post.
Bleak might be the name for this Ghost theme, but rest assured its design is nowhere near being bleak! The tool features a full site wide image feature that transforms the appearance of your content and posts that you have to share, Bleak is another one of those themes that will be best suitable for those who wish to share coding related stuff. The right sidebar makes it easy to add widgets, navigation items, and other general information about yourself, or your website.
Coder is a minimal Ghost theme for coders! Left sidebar is for displaying your logo and info about yourself, while the content pages allow a single thumbnail per post, great typography choices, and overall a straightforward feel of sharing content as you go. Syntax highlighting looks amazing on the white background.
Bootstrap is not as common in content platform themes as one might wish, mostly because native HTML5 and CSS3 provides a much more broader spectrum of choices when it comes to styling, that is not to say that there isn’t an appeal to Bootstrap though, and Elena Torró has taken her sweet time to provide the Ghost community with a beautiful Boostrap built Ghost theme that will work well for telling stories, writing blogs, or simply sharing your thoughts on anything. One of the best features is the header cover photo for each post where you can input your own image.
So Clean has the potential to become the home for a foodie blogger, and not just because the theme is clean, but it uses a very creamy layout pattern that makes the posts almost edible by themselves; we kid, we kid. Enjoy this clean Ghost theme, great for writers who wish to focus strictly on content only!
Uno Zen is a HTML5 and CSS3 built Ghost theme that features a different approach to displaying content. The homepage is a full-width page where you can specify a background image, your own portfolio photo, some social media icons, and also navigation items, such as Posts. Once clicking on Posts, a new page slides out from the right side of the homepage, and all the content posts become accessible by their titles and publish dates. The style is quite simple, robotic in some ways, and Uno Zen is yet another beautiful fit for developers looking to share their portfolio, ideas, and insights.
Material Design is coming to Ghost, big time! GodoFredo delivers a stunning material design experience in the form of Ghost theme. The design is very similar to what you can see on TechCrunch, and if something like that is calling to you definitely give Mapache a try. It looks beautiful on mobile devices, and packs all the great features that a fully sustainable blogging site would require.
We continue down our roundup with another blog-feel Ghost theme GoClean. If you miss the good old feel of boxed layouts and traditional blog post patterns that WordPress can provide, you will immenesly enjoy GoClean and what it brings to the table.
We end our list of free Ghost themes with Whisper — a clean, modern and simple Ghost theme for the purpose of sharing content and nothing else. Its modern feel will appeal to those who wish to work with their content in ways such as highlighting content. Whisper uses big fonts and letter types to outline important parts of the content. On top of that, it also works with very light colors that are easy on the eye.
Premium Ghost Themes
We just wrapped up our list of the best free Ghost themes, but letting go won’t be that easy. Not before we take a deeper look at what the premium Ghost themes market brings to the table. That’s right, we will count down several of the most prestigious and most sought after premium Ghost themes. These extend way beyond the functionality that open-source Ghost themes have brought to the table. Perhaps not always, but the majority of the time, the following themes pack some unique features and additions that you won’t find anywhere else on the web.
Kuta gives Ghost bloggers all they could possible need to start up their own blog enterprise. In-built buttons for saving and sharing content on the most reputable bookmarking sites and MailChimp integration for collecting emails to your list. Furthermore, multi-author feature allows others to share content on your blog and responsive design ensures full mobile compatibility. Integrated are also Disqus comments and you can set up custom sidebars as you require. Each post is accompanied by a header widget for displaying other content through featured photo widgets. Flickr and Instagram users can enjoy in-built widgets for displaying your most trending content. SEO optimized with Schema markup and more.
Paperleaf boasts a masonry grid layout which will allow for visitors to quickly access all your content within a single page, or as many posts as you allow to display on the homepage. It is a minimal theme that will work in situations where you need a business blog, a simple blog site to share your stories, or simply to share interesting list posts. Paperleaf is the bridge for sharing your ideas to the world in an eloquent way. Theme is fully responsive and works well on many device types, from mobile phones to desktop computers. Graphics and icons are ready for high-resolution screens.
Aspire is a full-scale Ghost blogging theme that you may use on blogging projects that involve media reporting, constant content updates, and generally content that aims at an interactive audience. Blog posts are carefully tailored to feature things like a full sidebar, content tags, author bio information, related navigation posts (previous and next), comments and recommended content. It’s everything you would expect from a blogging theme. Has support for Twitter and Instagram feeds to display your latest social shares. Optimized for search engines.
BlogInn implies that this is a blogging theme, and it sure is. But while it is a blogging theme, it’s going to be more suitable for those who want to share their posts in a simple blogging environment. We find it hard to imagine this theme being used on sites that constantly push out new content, and receive tons of visitors for their posts. It’s more of a sentimental style that will be great for sharing a post once in awhile, with the support of a modern and elegant blogging theme style. Code syntax highlighter makes this a nice choice for developers too.