Choosing the right WordPress theme has more to do with functionality than it does design. Many themes look great, but you can’t use them for every WordPress project. In the case of content-heavy sites that cover trending topics and viral content, etc., your best bet is to use a magazine theme.
WordPress magazine themes are powerful, and they provide unique ways for you to showcase a wide variety of content on your site. They’re essentially sophisticated blog themes; only they’re made to support media sites that use multiple authors to publish several posts per week on many different topics.
One such theme is MH Magazine by MH Themes. MH Themes promises a smooth building process, resulting in a fast, well-structured media site built on this popular theme. It’s even highly-regarded among the WordPress.org community.
Does it live up to the hype, though? In this post, I will explore this by looking at the features the free and premium versions offer before using a Cloudways server configuration to test its performance.
How MH Magazine Theme Differs from Other Themes?
MH Magazine Theme is a powerful theme, but it’s not as bloated as other news and magazine themes tend to be. It allows you to build a fully-fledged media site with all of the same types of content other themes allow you to add, only it results in a lightweight web page that loads much more efficiently.
MH Themes as a whole is also incredibly cost-efficient. The theme’s cost is reasonable on its own. You can even gain access to an entire library of news and magazine themes for different niches at a low, bundled cost.
Lastly, there’s not another magazine theme with this high of a reputation on WordPress.org. It’s a sleek, well-designed theme the community is completely on board with.
MH Magazine WordPress Theme Overview
This is a premier theme of WordPress developer MH Themes. It comes in a free version you can download from WordPress.org, but a more robust premium version is available directly from the developer’s website.
The free version has enjoyed a long-running dominance within the magazine theme market on WordPress.org. This has resulted in over 30,000 active installations and a solid 5-star rating. Overall, both versions have earned MH Themes tens of thousands of customers from over 110 countries, including such names as Forbes, Imgur, and the New York City Police Department.
Free vs. Pro: Comparison
MH Magazine Lite is a practical, well-structured magazine theme but a simple one nonetheless. It has half the number of widget areas as the premium version, along with a handful of widgets. You can only customize colors for headers and your background in the free version, while Ad support, social links, and extended layout and header options are unavailable.
Here’s a quick overview of what the Pro version has to offer:
- Flexible Layout Options – Choose between boxed and wide site layouts, one (left or right), two or no sidebars, and different elements in your customized header. You can also configure layouts for posts, pages, and post meta.
- 26 Widget Areas & 23 Widgets – Customize your header, homepage, sidebars, and footer with multiple widget areas for each and nearly two dozen fully-featured widgets. You can even drag and drop them around the page.
- 15 Demos – MH Themes has configured 15 demos with this theme, and the documentation contains detailed instructions you can use to recreate them.
- Social Links – A social widget and menu allow you to showcase your social accounts in the theme’s top bar and widget areas.
- Custom Typography – Choose from dozens of fonts from Google Fonts and designate a default font size. Also, choose which fonts to use for headings and body text. You can customize a few different color options for headings, text, and links in the customizer’s Colors section.
- Built-In Slider – The theme comes with FlexSlider 2, a responsive slider optimized for touchscreen devices.
- Child-Theme Ready – A child theme is included in the theme’s files, allowing you to customize it to your liking without worrying about updates erasing your changes.
- Secure & SEO-Optimized – This theme comprises clean code built with HTML5, CSS3, and PHP. It’s also fast and follows best SEO practices preferred by search engines.
Finally, this is not the only magazine theme MH Themes offers. The theme house also offers six additional themes for different niches and styles. Each one is available individually, but you can also sign up for the developer’s theme club for full access to all themes for $199/year.
Installation & Setup Process
Both versions of this theme install like any other WordPress theme does: you either download it directly from WordPress or upload the premium version’s ZIP folder. The advertisement, Google Fonts, and slider features come built-in, so there’s nothing else to install on top of the theme.
The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a homepage using MH Magazine’s homepage template. I’ll go in-depth on the widget areas in the next section, but know that MH Magazine relies on blogrolls to complete its design as a magazine theme.
So, you’ll either need to create a few dummy posts that have titles and featured images (content not necessary unless you want to test the blog post page as well) or wait until you have at least half a dozen posts published before you configure your homepage.
Let’s go over the header for now, which has four components: a top bar, header (logo + banner ad), navigation menu, and bottom bar. You can also add a 1080 x 250px image that’ll appear between the top bar and header.
You can organize content elements in this section however you like with a few restrictions: the Navigation and News Ticker elements can only appear on the left side of the top and bottom bars. In contrast, the Social Icons can only appear on the right.
You can upload a logo if you have an image ready to go, but the theme uses your site title and tagline as a text-based logo by default.
Lastly, you can customize colors for many different elements like headers, backgrounds, text & links, along with a few primary colors you can assign across the entire theme.
Key Features of MH Magazine Theme
You have enough widget areas, widgets, and theme options for you to build your homepage in whatever style you like with this theme. Alternatively, MH Themes has provided instructions on configuring each of its demos in the theme’s documentation.
The instructions advise you on which site layout to use and where to put the widgets the demo uses. Recreating these layouts is easy for this reason, but starting from scratch is just as simple.
Once you configure your desired site layout and sidebar options, you’re ready to start filling in your widget areas. There are two header areas where you can insert ad code using the default WordPress Text widget. There are similar widget areas for posts and pages.
The homepage widgets are available in full, ⅓, and ⅔ widths. If you use a 2/3-width widget area, you’ll find the space it leaves filled with the next 1/3-width widget area you use and vice versa.
The footer widget area is divided into four ¼ sections. Finally, there’s a Contact sidebar widget area designed to be used with the Contact page template. This differs from the default sidebar widget area.
You can pinpoint this theme’s widgets by the “MH” label and blue outline assigned to each.
Most widgets in this theme offer a different way for you to display blog posts on the homepage, your sidebar, and footer. There are only a small handful of non-content related widgets:
- Author Bio – Display author’s avatar and bio text.
- Authors – Display a list of your site’s authors as well as the number of posts each one has published.
- Custom Slider – Showcase a slider with custom text and images per slide instead of the Carousel and Slider widgets, which only display blog posts. There are five slides and five slider layouts.
- Facebook Page – Display your Facebook page.
- Recent Comments – Showcase the latest comments your site has received on all posts and pages.
- Social – Link and display social icons for all of your social media accounts. This differs from the social menu you can insert in the top and bottom bars of the header.
- YouTube Video – Display a YouTube video by inserting its video ID, and configure playback controls.
As you can see, only seven of MH Magazine’s 23 widgets are devoid of your site’s content. The other 16 showcase posts and pages in different ways.
It’s not always obvious how a widget will showcase your posts, which is why you must have a few published posts prepared so you can play around with designs.
Nevertheless, most widgets allow you to designate which categories to display. You can also choose which posts to display by excluding specific IDs or only showcasing popular and random posts.
Lastly, configure excerpt length sitewide in the Theme Options section of the customizer.
A simple font change can do a lot to your site’s overall appearance, whether that means changing the headings on your homepage or the text that makes up your blog posts. Fortunately, MH comes with Google Fonts built-in.
You won’t find the hundreds upon hundreds of fonts that make up the Google Fonts library, but you will find the essentials along with multiple character and style selections.
You can designate different fonts for body text and headings. This setting is applied to all headings, so you won’t be able to choose different fonts for your H1, H2, and H3 tags. This aligns with standard web design practices, anyway, which recommend using no more than two fonts across your site. Plus, you can always assign different fonts to different headings with your own code.
The theme has six menu locations you can utilize for different reasons. You should use the Main Navigation for your site’s most important pages while designating the secondary pages to the smaller Additional Navigation menu.
Header Navigation and Footer Navigation are the menus you’ll want to use to insert menus in your header and footer bars.
It’s obvious where the social media menus appear as they’re aptly named “Social Icons in Header” and “MH Social Widget.”
I hosted my test site on Cloudways’ most basic DigitalOcean server configuration, installed at their New York data center, to be more specific. Free yet highly-rated caching, minification, and lazy loading plugins were installed, as was the premium version of this theme. CDN services, however, were not used.
You can Download The Free (Lite) Version Of MH Magazine WordPress theme HERE
You can also buy the Premium (pro) version of MH Magazine WordPress theme HERE
Overall, MH Magazine is versatile enough to build whatever homepage layout you want using nothing but your content. Simultaneously, its use of widgets and widget areas makes it simple enough for anyone to pick up and use.
It’s also fast to work with on the back and frontend alike, and its real-world performance is quite impressive, as you can see from the reports in the previous section. And despite all this, it’s priced generously: for $49, you’ll receive a single site license along with one year of support and updates. A 30-day money-back guarantee also backs your purchase. Along with an extensive knowledge base, MH Themes offers a ticket-based support system for premium customers.
Lastly, you can gain access to all of MH Themes’ themes and unlimited site licenses by signing up for the developer’s theme club for $199/year.
Note: This article was published in collaboration with MH Themes.