In doing research for this article it became clear pretty quickly why most people assume that Drupal is not a design friendly technology. In actual case that's not true, as any good Drupal developer will tell you it's quite possible to turn any HTML / CSS template into a Drupal theme. That of course doesn't mean that there are 1000's of great themes to choose from. In fact for some reason most Drupal themes look pretty poor. Which is a such a shame considering how great (we think) Drupal is. There are some themes that are pretty handy however, below is a run down of what I view the top 10 free Drupal themes are. Hopefully this is one of those top 10 lists that becomes out-dated quickly, in the mean time here's my top 10 themes.
Root candy is the most important theme I’ve ever come across. It is an administration theme, which makes it a dubious contender for the top spot. It’s the only place you can really use a free theme when developing for a client which is a big plus.
It’s normally pretty hard to find pretty, functional themes in Drupal. Root candy does the job perfectly. When delivering an administration panel to a client enabling the root candy theme sets the site apart from it's Garland competitors. So it might not be to everybody's taste but it's really the only free Drupal theme I'd consider using in a production site.
The Magazeen theme is a great, modern theme with a stylish colour scheme. It’s everything that’s great about a Drupal theme. It looks amazing and it’s clearly focussed on Drupal article publishing. It feels similar to a lot of other Drupal themes but it has elements that put it above the rest. It just kind of works for all things Drupal related.
Marinelli is a 3 column Drupal theme. It’s used fairly widely but it’s well made and doesn’t break easily. I personally like the design but there are some elements I’d tweak myself to give it a little extra edge. In terms of working with a relatively simple theme that has a big impact Marinelli is great. Enabling the Marinelli theme is a quick and nice way to make your Drupal site look ready to go.
Ok, so that screenshot isn’t the best. But I really like this theme. It could be because I’m going through a bit of a minimalist stage at the moment (probably from spending too much time with the guys from www.inetdigital.co.uk ). It’s by no means perfect, I’d tidy up certain elements but I think it’s really cool that there’s a good minimalist Drupal theme out there. As a result it’s also got very good performance.
It’s not quite finished yet, but I’ve used it and really like it. It’s just something a little bit funky for the Drupal community. Give it a go; I’m sure the creators would like as much feedback as possible.
The theme was initially created by Artiseer and then tweaked by a Drupal theming company. It’s pretty basic and because it’s an Artiseer theme originally I imagine it’s got a fair few div tags over the place. I haven’t used it myself but I think it’s a good example of a basic Drupal theme that can help spruce things up a little.
Summertime is a beautiful theme with lots of small fancy things which will make your Drupal website look unique. It’s actually one of the nicest looking themes available; it’s caked in web 2.0 features and doesn’t feel like Drupal theme which is actually a pretty good thing.
I really like this theme a lot, with a little work this could easily be the best Drupal theme out there. The only reason it’s not higher up on the list is simply due to a lack of styling for certain core(ish) Drupal elements. For instance look at the demo site and tell me why the poll isn’t fully styled? Simple touches like that will turn this theme into something great. In fact being slightly incomplete as it is gives you the perfect opportunity to customise it to your requirements. Every cloud eh?
An example of when a site looks better in Screenshot, although I think that’s mainly due to a lack of effort on the logo of the demo site. Apart from that I really like this, background textures are majorly “in” so it’s about time Drupal got on board and this theme from Nicolas Borda does just that. It’s a very nice theme indeed.
Another quirky theme, it’s not really a corporate look but there are some nice design elements and it’s a pretty flexible theme. It reminds me a bit of the theme for the Drupal conference website (can’t remember URL). Go give it a go. I hope you enjoyed the article; any questions drop me an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org