I am very happy to introduce a new member of the Cohhe theme family: Longfrom.
The team at Cohhe spent a long time creating this free WordPress theme specifically for those who want to use WordPress to tell beautiful longform stories.
As far as we are aware, this is the only free storytelling theme designed to be fully compatible with the Aesop Story Engine plugin. It includes beautiful styles for all Aesop story components right out of the box; no code snippets or extra configuration required.
The Goal of Longform: To Open the Storytelling Floodgates
When deciding which type of free theme to create next the Cohhe team looked at the WordPress community to find niches that were being underserved. One that seemed to stand out from the rest was storytelling.
Storytelling with WordPress has been a growing niche for a few years now. Growing in interest, but not really blowing up as many, myself included, had thought it might by now.
Well, no one can say for sure, but certainly the lack of affordable tools has to be a significant factor.
Currently, the Aesop Story Engine plugin is probably the best tool for telling longform stories with WordPress. And it’s free! Woohoo!
It’s designed to add storytelling components to posts or pages, such as: chapters, timelines, parallax sections, documents, maps, and much more.
Once it is installed, all you have to do is click on the Add Component button above the editor, this will open modal window where you can choose from a number of modules to insert into your post.
Pretty awesome, right?
The only problem is that even though there is a code snippet provided on their plugin repository page intended to make Aesop compatible with any WordPress theme, the results are not that great.
Sure, most of the components will show up, but almost never without a hitch (let alone supporting styles) and usually not in full-width mode the way most of them are intended to display. And if you’re using another builder plugin? Forget it.
Basically, as things stand right now, the Aesop Story Engine plugin only works well with the official Aesop premium themes; which range from $99 to $120. Not exactly an affordable purchase for someone looking to experiment and play within this new niche.
That’s where Longform by Cohhe comes in.
This theme brings the value of a premium Aesop theme to the masses in an attempt to open the floodgates of storytelling for all WordPress users. Now, anyone who wants to can grab the Aesop plugin, pair it with Longform, and tell beautiful stories–for free!
Hopefully this will increase interest in storytelling as a WordPress niche and not only grow Aesop but also encourage more people to make themes that help WordPress users tell their stories.
Plugins That Bring Functionality to Longform
Like any good WordPress theme, the key functionality that makes Longform special is not packaged within the theme. Instead, it is contained within the following free plugins. This way, if you ever want to switch themes (to another Aesop compatible theme) you can do so without any trouble.
You will want to download and install these plugins to unlock the full potential of the free Longform theme.
A Guided Tour of Longform: Now the Easiest and Most Affordable Way to Tell Beautiful Stories with WordPress
In the sections below I will highlight some of the various pages, functions, and features of the new Longform theme that make it an absolute standout among free WordPress themes. Starting with its beautiful homepage.
The Home Page
Other Aesop themes do not come with a traditional blog archive page. Instead, they have a story page similar to the one below. Having both gives you the freedom to carry on with your blog and simply add a story section–instead of transforming the entire look and feel of your blog into something it may not be.
The Story Page
The story page is a great page template for displaying posts you choose to mark out as stories. Sort of like a digital library or portfolio.
Posts with Various Aesop Story Elements (Styled)
As I mentioned above, the Aesop plugin has a number of story components which require supporting styles to display correctly in a theme. Here is how Longform displays the components below.
All posts will have a subtle light grey progress bar that moves across the screen as you scroll through the story. However on a timeline post, you will also see a timeline at the bottom that moves along as you scroll past milestones.
Each chapter gets a full-width background image that allows you to set the style and mood of the next chapter. If you click on the chapters button in the menu bar you will see them displayed as you see them in the image below. You can click any one and jump straight to that chapter if you choose.
Aesop maps display beautifully; full-width, just like they are supposed to.
Thanks to great typographic choices, quotes look wonderful in Longform.
The Aesop audio component plays flawlessly in Longform.
The Aesop video component also works flawlessly in Longform.
And finally, galleries are a thing to behold in Longform posts or pages.
Aesop has always been a great product with a lot of potential. Likewise, the official Aesop themes are nice, but probably too pricey for many. Longform empowers anyone with a WordPress install to get the most out of it as a storytelling platform using nothing but free and open software. As a result, we hope this theme helps to unleash the storytelling potential in the WordPress community.
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Nathan is a professional writer and digital publisher. He's been using and writing about WordPress since 2010 and enjoys supplying useful WordPress news, reviews, tips, tricks, and tutorials. You can connect with him at his personal website or on facebook and twitter.