I build sites exclusively using the Genesis Framework, using my custom rolled theme.
If you're not a guy (or gal) like me who prefers to code their own theme StudioPress, the creators of the Genesis, have a ton of excellent themes you can use.
One of my favorite things about Studiopress theme's is just how darn well designed they are.
I don't just mean the technical side of things (though it's an extremely well-designed framework code-wise).
I'm talking about the visual aesthetics. StudioPress is known for it's designers that have a firm understanding of the principles of web design.
You'd be surprised how many themes and sites out there still look like they were designed in 1999.
Studiopress' themes are modern, clean, and elegant.
1. Perfect Use Of White Space
Proper use of white space is one of the most important elements in web design. The theme above is Parallax Pro and it uses ample white space to help draw attention to the content areas.
The space between elements is just as important as the elements themselves.
White space helps focus your eyes on what's important on the page and creates a sense of grouping between the different sections on the site.
All StudioPress themes make use of ample white space to create beautiful and clean designs.
2. Beautiful Typography
StudioPress themes are known for their beautiful typography. Matching typefaces can be a challenge to any designer.
StudioPress' designers have found a way to make the most of Google Fronts to deliver a beautiful experience to your readers.
Typography on the web is so important and often understated.
Type should be readable, with perfect line-height, and be congruent with the look and feel of the brand.
As a matter of fact Brian Gardner, one of the developers of the Genesis Framework (upon which StudioPress themes are powered) wrote this post on the best Google Font combinations.
You can rest assured that these themes are designed by people who really have a passion for typography.
3. No Annoying Bells And Whistles
Ever land on a website and as you scroll down you see about 7 parallax widget areas, text flies in from all directions, images are spinning, and suddenly you're nauseous.
Many WordPress theme developers throw this fun stuff in their themes because many theme buyers love seeing all these bells and whistles.
The truth is, unless used tastefully, in moderation, and with a specific intent in mind these sort of crazy animations can actually hurt your website's usability, and ultimately your bottom line.
Customers are much less likely to purchase from your business if you've made them nauseous before deciding to reveal your content to them.
4. Great Visual Hiearchy
Visual hierarchy is determined by size, contrast, color, alignment, etc.. Visual hierarchy tells you where to look, and what order.
The example above is the Whitespace Pro theme. We can clearly see the site's main headline as the largest bit of content on the page.
We can clearly see the site's main headline as the largest bit of content on the page (as it should be).
The purpose of this headline is to answer the question? "What the heck is this site about?"
Next we have the subheader text, which emphasis on the message of the header.
Below that we've got a masonry grid with different posts all occupying the same position within the hierarchy.