Shape5 Just Released The BlogBox Joomla Blogging Template
Most people don't realize that Joomla, besides for being a powerful CMS, is also an equally powerful blogging platform. The December 2015 Shape5 template, "Blogbox" is a perfect Joomla blogging template!
At first glance, the homepage above the fold looks much like a personal blog, which this template appears to be, it can be used for all different types of blogs, ranging from Momblogs to corporate blogs. It has a very clean feel, and has the essentials one might expect to find on such a site.
While the header doesn't leave much room for logo, it works very well for sites with short titles. Some CSS modifications might be necessary if you have a longer sitename or want to include a logo as well, thus extending the width of the logo div.
The main menu is clean and has a horizontal layout, perfect for a megamenu dropdown style menu. There appears to be enough room for approximately 10 top level menu items depending on character length, but with a little CSS tweaking here again, you could probably fit a couple more.
The box that has the woman's picture and is titled "Jasmine Rose" is just a custom module postion with a background image. Depending on the type of blog, you could definately change this up for something more fitting.
I personally don't like large masthead sliders as they take up too much real estate on the homepage, but I do see them often. Blogbox has one that's not too big (postion: module box 2), and you can definately see most of the three boxes below the slider, so it's not too bad by my standards, however, I'd still make this a bit shorter via CSS. The quick and dirty way to do this is to add the following to a custom.css file:
There's three center module boxes right under the slider which might be good for showcasing specific categories, pages or posts. I like that, but just like any other module, these can be turned off if not needed.
Scrolling down the page, I find the blog posts to be clean and simple. I like how the title and post meta is centered above the posts, however I think it's a bit too far away from the header image. I brought mine down to right above the header image with the following CSS added to the custom.css file:
The default header is on the left, and removing the margin-bottom is on the right
The rest of the front page was left pretty much alone as there was not much more modification I desired from it.
Alternate Homepage Layouts
Blogbox offers six layout options by default, and if you're using the quickstart, which installs everything in the same manner as the demo, you will find that the Article layout is the default layout. After working with the template a bit more, I decded that I personally like the S5 Masonry Homepage layout better.
Again, with the opinion that homepage real estate is premium space, I consider having multiple posts as a better opportunity to catch a reader's eye and keep them on the site longer. I changed my homepage to default to this layout.
You can also choose between a light or dark background and a sidebar on either the right or left of the main content area.
Blogbox Module Positions
Like most Shape5 templates, BlogBox offers over 100 module positions and is extremely flexible. While I don't nearly use all the positions, they're there if needed. I find that the more modules you scatter across any given page, the more it becomes confusing for a first time visitor.
There are also 9 module variations availabe ranging from a dark black header to no styling whatsoever. Nice when you need eyepopping modules!
Blogbox Interior Pages
The blog post and single article pages (there's no difference in Joomla. A blog post page is an article, and the way that it's displayed in the category or homepage is what defines the blog layout) follow the same right or left sidebar designation as the homepage, but like all Joomla CMS sites, you can define different modules within the sidebar on a category or page level as well as universally across the site, and you even have the option to change which side the sidebar is located on a page level by adding the parameter ?s5_column_side=left or ?s5_column_side=right at the end of the URL if you need to do it manually. You will have to create unique modules for each sidebar, however.
Blogbox - Overall Thoughts
Shape5 always has very nice Joomla Templates. I've used many of them over the years for both personal sites, such as The Everyday Carry (using Shape5's Business Pro Template) and clients we service, at Detroit Web Developers (Shape5's Traction Template. When you need a great looking Joomla template and you're either tight on time or budget, Shape5 templates are some of the best to turn to.