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Morse: WordPress Theme for Small Newspapers

WordPress can be a mess to use, especially when using it for a newspaper with tons of categories, tags, and authors galore. Often you'll be forced to rely on plugins or big, bloated themes to implement the functionality that you want.

Small papers managing their digital presence deserve better.

For The Phillipian, I developed a template from scratch to salvage our website from the plugin-laden, unsustainable mess that it had become. This template was designed to support the many dozens of stories and multimedia content that we published each week across five print and two digital sections, with a staff of approaching a hundred writers, photographers, illustrators, designers, videographers, and broadcast reporters, along with the 15,000 articles that were published in the last decade and a half. It was designed with minimalism and sustainability at its core, meant to support powerful features while being as stripped-down and maintainable as possible.

Morse borrows heavily on the designs and decisions made for The Phillipian's template. It aims to support all the critical features of a modern-day newspaper website, while being lightweight, easy to maintain, easy to use, and hard to mess up.

Note: this theme is under development and not ready for use. The following is a list of planned features which may not yet be implemented.

Support for the following features, without any plugins or extra interfaces:

  • Completely responsive at any window width
  • Categories/sections and tags
  • Author profile/archive pages
  • Multimedia, including YouTube embeds and image galleries
  • Easily adjustable through the Wordpress Customize interface:
    • Tag-based breaking news
    • Various lede story layouts
    • Choose what categories to feature on homepage
    • Custom advertisements
    • Custom accent color, fonts, logos, etc. used throughout site

Support for the following features, with a few plugins used by The Phillipian:

  • Multiple authors with Co-Authors Plus, integrated seamlessly with author pages
  • Media credit with Media Credit, also integrating seamlessly with author pages


Instructions to come