An earlier post presents what we believed were the top 10 free Drupal themes at the time.
This post is an update of the previous post with two important changes to the evaluation criteria. First, the previous list includes themes for both Drupal version 7 and 8; the new top 10 list consists of free themes for Drupal 8 only. While Drupal 7 is still the most used Drupal version today, Drupal 8 is by far the most popular, and when it is finally time to upgrade, the vast number of Drupal 7 sites will need to replace their existing theme with one that supports Drupal 8.
The second reason for updating the list is that Bootstrap has emerged as the industry-leading front-end framework for developing responsive mobile-first websites. In fact, recent web analytics indicates that 16.3% of all websites are built with the Bootstrap framework. Bootstrap for Drupal is a base theme which implements the Bootstrap framework on the Drupal technology platform. The Bootstrap for the Drupal base theme has gained wide adoption and support in the Drupal community, including Tag1 Consulting, its maintainer.
Numerous Drupal modules have been implemented to enhance site building using the Bootstrap base theme. For instance, Views Bootstrap and Bootstrap Layouts are 2 modules that support site builders with theme component creation and layout respectively.
Vardot‘s own Drupal 8 distribution, Varbase, also supports the Bootstrap base theme. In addition, Vardot has contributed 2 modules to support the creation of View modes, Layouts, and Paragraphs using Bootstrap: Varbase Bootstrap Paragraphs and View Modes Inventory - Bootstrap Ready.
In summary, to be considered for the new top 10 theme list, a theme must be: Free; Supported on Drupal 8; Bootstrap-based; General purpose - instead of industry-specific; and Responsive.
1. Creative Responsive
Creative Responsive occupies the top spot on the top 10 list with respect to the number of deployments on Drupal 8 websites as of November 2017. This theme supports the display of web contents in 3 columns: the main column, a left, and a right sidebar. Also, you can configure up to 16 block regions to organize information on a webpage. Last but not least, built-in support is provided to integrate with popular social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.
If you are looking for a reputable general-purpose theme with a modern look, Creative Response is a very strong candidate.
2. Business Responsive
Business Responsive and the aforementioned Creative Responsive are 2 themes created by the same parent company, Zymphonies.
Despite being the slightly older and scaled-down version of Creative Responsive, Business Responsive makes up for the lack of finesse by just working reliably. As an added insurance, you can purchase premium support for the theme from Zymphonies. If you want a no-frills corporate theme that just works out-of-the-box, you should definitely consider Business Responsive.
3. NewsPlus Lite
NewsPlus Lite is the free version of the NewsPlus Premium theme. The premium version is essentially a Drupal distribution which includes the free NewsPlus Lite theme.
Despite its name, this theme is at par feature-wise with the other top free themes. For some features, NewsPlus Lite is even better, e.g., it supports the 3-column layout. What sets NewsPlus Lite apart is the up-to-date online documentation database which is maintained by MoreThanThemes, its parent company, and a reputable Drupal theme vendor.
If you are building a news magazine website, and don’t have a lot of prior experience doing so, NewsPlus Lite is well worth your consideration.
4. Bootstrap Mint
Bootstrap Mint boasts the most flexible layout among the top 10 themes. It can lay out web content in up to 4 columns and 25 regions. Given that only higher screen resolutions can support the display of 4 columns, this theme is best viewed using a desktop or laptop. If the majority of your web audience visit your website via a desktop or laptop, you should definitely consider using this theme for its layout capability.
5. Showcase Lite
Showcase Lite is the free version of ShowcasePlus Premium, both created by MoreThanThemes which also owns the aforementioned NewsPlus themes. The Showcase Lite theme is designed with the creative enterprises in mind. Specifically, this theme supports the use of video galleries and sliders, critical features for a design studio business. If you are building an image-intensive website and require corporate technical support, Showcase Lite is not to be ignored.
6. Ice Magic
Ice Magic distinguishes itself among the top 10 themes by being the most color configurable. Most free themes only offer a very limited color scheme (e.g., 3 colors) that you can apply to a fixed set of theme elements. Ice Magic, on the other hand, includes a color module which allows you to specify colors from a color spectrum. Ice Magic should be on your radar if you are meticulous about color options on your website.
Robotic is a highly customizable theme for even the technically challenged. You can customize the carousel, social media icons, and the interface colors. If you require the ability to fine-tune the look-and-feel of your website all without coding, you should look into Robotic.
8. Magazine Lite
Magazine Lite is the free version of the Premium Magazine+ theme distribution. It is a theme custom designed for news and magazine websites. If your goal is to build a stylish news and magazine website with a clean uncluttered look, Magazine Lite should be on your short list of themes.
9. The One
The One is unique among the top 10 themes in that it supports the seamless single-page website design. Not everyone is a fan of the single-page design, but if you are, look no further than The One.
Despite its name, the SOLID theme is one of the more visually appealing themes in the top 10 list. It’s simple but elegant and functional which makes it a multi-purpose theme suitable for general deployment.
Summary & Conclusion
Are you operating a Drupal 7 website, and planning an upgrade to 8 in the near future? Part of the upgrade will involve picking a theme that supports Drupal 8. If your requirements are well satisfied by a free theme, you should definitely consider selecting a Bootstrap-based theme from our top 10 list. Note that Varbase, Vardot’s custom Drupal 8 distribution, supports all themes on the top 10 list. If you have requirements that are beyond the capability of free themes or you need customization, please contact Vardot's professional services to inquire about the Varbase distribution.