Mercia is a free WordPress magazine theme developed by the German theme developers, ThemeZee. The company’s portfolio is the epitome of clean and functional design and Mercia is one of their more minimal offerings to date.

While Mercia is a “lite” or free version of a premium theme, it is fully functional and entirely usable straight out of the WordPress directory. The theme is geared towards bloggers and magazine editors in the lifestyle, travel, or fashion sectors, but its simple design means it would work well for almost any subject matter.

Features

A quick look at the feature set for the Mercia theme reveals an all round minimal approach, reflected in both the front end “Swiss” style grid design, and the intuitive and simple admin panel.

All theme customizations can be made via the WordPress admin panel, allowing users to add a site logo, a custom background, insert a choice of 3 magazine widgets on the front page and configure menus – including a social icon menu set.

Other features include a fully responsive layout, full browser compatibility and SEO optimization thanks to clean coding standards.

Installation & Usage

As the above video shows, the theme installs in a matter of seconds. While there are some free recommended plugins to install (produced by ThemeZee), the theme will work straight out of the box without them. That’s one of the biggest appeals with Mercia. It’s very straight forward. No clutter, just clear and logical options.

There is a separate option tab for the theme which provides links to the theme’s documentation and demo, as well as a button to begin installing the recommended plugins. All well thought through.

There is no need to import demo content with the theme. It works with all the core WordPress functions, from the customization panel, to widgets, menus and featured post images. This really helps inspire confidence and means more time can be devoted to creating content.

Design

As mentioned above, the theme works on a simple grid layout making it very intuitive for first time site visitors. The font work is crisp and airy, and makes for a high quality reading experience.

I really like the layout options for displaying front-page posts in both grid and single stream configurations. The modular (widgetized) design makes it easy to add sections to the front page on the fly. So Mercia would be capable of powering a fairly sizeable web publication.

At the same time, the theme can be paired down to a minimum and would work fine for a personal blog. All in all, a big thumbs up for Mercia.