While it’s not explicitly designed for long-form-style content, WordPress is actually a great platform for long-form.
In this post, I’m going to discuss some of the themes that are suitable for long-form, the Aesop Story Engine plugin for long-form storytelling, and some simple CSS tweaks to help tune a theme for long-form.
A Headstart: Premium Themes
Some people think that premium WordPress themes are kind of like cheating, but I’ve found that premium themes can offer a valuable shortcut by providing a great basis for the website functionality you want to build. Just realize that the theme will often not do all the work you might need for your specific site.
Here are some of my favourite long-form suitable themes from Creative Market and Theme Forest :
- Min (A child theme for Ghost, a stripped-down version of WordPress)
- John Doe’s Blog
- Jupiter Responsive Magazine Theme
- SPROCKET (Very similar to Medium.)
- PANO (Also similar to Medium.)
- The Barber Shop (Suited towards a long-form photo blog.)
Let me know in the comments if you’ve found any other useful long-form themes in the comments.
A Useful Plugin: Aesop Story Engine
Aesop Story Engine is a plugin that adds options into the post editor. So, when you’re writing a post, you can add elements like a photo that takes up the entire screen, or a parallax effect. It doesn’t do everything for you, and you will probably have to tweak the CSS characteristics to get stuff to display how you want it to, but it could be a good head start.
Advanced Custom Fields
I was told about the Advanced Custom Fields plugin at WordCamp Toronto. It’s a very versatile plugin that allows you to add blocks of content to a page or post such as a gallery, an interactive map, or custom-formatted text using a WYSIWYG editor. With a little coding knowledge and work, you can even create new field types to give you the functionality you want for your long-form story.
Touching the Code
The above image shows code snippets from the New York Times and VICE to show how some very simple CSS code can make text more readable. (If you don’t know CSS, this is very simple CSS.)
These particular examples show how the font size is a relatively large 15 to 16 pixels, there is plenty of space between each line of text, and between paragraphs.
It’s also interesting to note that the New York Times code shows some extensive margins, which offers whitespace at the edges of the text, drawing the reader’s eyes to the text.
This sort of CSS code can be easily added to most WordPress websites with just a rudimentary knowledge of CSS. You can easily add custom CSS using the Simple Custom CSS plugin or the CSS editor tool included in the Jetpack plugin.
Know any other tricks for creating long-form content in WordPress? Please let me know in the comments! (I’ll update this post with your suggestions.)