Mark Thomas Miller

Project review of Essentialist

The site you are currently using is running on a version of Essentialist, my series of WordPress themes that are “stripped down to the essentials”. Essentialist focuses on creating a great reading experience on every device (try viewing this website on a mobile device!).

The Problem

Platforms like Medium and Svbtle had a much more enjoyable reading experience than most other websites. After experiencing a lot of frustration trying to find the “perfect” theme for my website, I decided to make one.

The Solution

I created a mobile-friendly and clean set of themes that prioritize content above all else. There are serif and sans-serif versions, and I gave attention to the writing experience: on the administrative side of WordPress, your posts and pages will appear with exactly the same styling as they do on the front end, which allows you to better format and organize your posts.

Essentialist Sans is set in Helvetica. Special attention was spent on making the content beautiful on mobile and adjusting the content’s spacing to make the page easily readable via several Gestalt principles.

Essentialist Serif, on the other hand, is set in Georgia. It has slightly different spacing, borders, and horizontal rows, although the general layout is similar. Like its Sans counterpart, special attention was spent on making the site mobile-ready.

Skills Utilized


I handled the initial design (which went through several iterations that you can see below), as well as the development and landing page for Essentialist.


An early prototype. I tested everything I could think of – even if it meant moving the navigation menu to the bottom.

An early prototype of the mobile layout of Essentialist.

This example experimented with a huge featured image and several transparent filters laid on top of the CSS.

Essentialist On My Site

My site,, uses Essentialist Serif, although I pay for premium fonts like Freight through Typekit. Since Essentialist is running on the site you’re looking at right now, you’re welcome to explore some more of it: I’ve written short posts, long onesposts about code, posts with quotes, and posts with videos if you’d like to see how the theme handles them.

Essentialist Serif set in Freight instead of the default Georgia. The theme uses has ample white space at consistent sizes.

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