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Wider Themes

  1. Often we hear feedback that the themes on WordPress.com are not wide enough.

    For those asking for wider themes, we're curious: what motivates you to wish for a wider theme?

    Is your site only showing photography? If so, what would you think about a photoblog theme like Duotone being wider to show a much larger image? Or would a normal theme that has image-only layouts be a better fix? For example, Twenty Ten has normal layout (two column with sidebar on the right) but when you view a single attached image you get a full-width, one-column layout with no sidebar. Would that type of layout choice work for you, or do you want the entire theme to be full-width where the front page, archives, single post all have the same width?

    If you don't show photos, why does your site layout need to be wider? A text-only layout is actually proven to be more readable, usable, and accessible when it's constrained to a certain number of words per line. So in that sense, a wider layout would be a poor choice for your site visitors.

    There is also the idea of a theme that can have a layout "type" per post or page. So in that case you get a default layout choice plus optional per-post/page layout choices in a module on the Edit Post/Page screen. What do you think of that for your favorite theme?

    Your feedback is awesome—it makes us better. But in order to really meet your needs, we want to know more about what you're asking for.

  2. Well, this doesn't answer your question at all really but I much prefer fixed-width narrower themes. I find them much more attractive and the content far easier to read/absorb. Far too many wide themes just end up looking totally cluttered.

    Moreover, fixed-width narrower themes seem to me to give one much greater control over text layout... something I suspect many folk overlook.

  3. I personally love the wider themes, especially the flexible-width themes. First off, if I'm floating an image around text, I would like the image to be big enough for people to see what it is, without making the text on the side too narrow.

    Secondly, I have my own little hack when it comes to large images, such as wallpaper images. I set the width at 100%, with no height value, and it stretches the image to the available width of the column. That only works well in flexible-width themes, however.

    Also, liquid design just makes more sense. It uses all the real estate on the screen, rather than wasting valuable space on the right and left. I think that fixed-width layouts are easy to use for people who don't think in terms of what something will look like on a variety of browsers, however it would still be nice to have some more options in the flexible-width category.

    What is that one WP.org theme with the million options, that starts with an A? I forget its name. It's a great theme. I've been waiting for it to appear on WP.com for a while.

    Anyway, thanks for all the great work you do.

  4. I haven't started wordpress blogging yet (I'm currently overseas and haven't opened the project), but I am planning on a blog that features photography and text. I will be featuring photography of my town, food, travel, holidays, events, etc., and including a medium length article with each entry. I'm not sure if that is what is meant by 'photoblog'. In any case, sometimes I like to use the 16:9 ratio for HD setting on my camera, which gives a widescreen picture result. Another thing I LOVE to do with my photography is put together two panoramas to create one long panorama. It would be great to be able to feature these kinds of photos without having to shrink them too much.

    I hope this answers your question. Thanks so much!

  5. I don't really know what it is meant by wider themes here. If it is a theme which is better suited for wider screen monitors and laptops, than yes, wordpress.com can possibly use one of those since many people have wider screen devices. If it is for regular size but expanding the whole view (like how Blogger has few of those) than yes, wordpress.com can use one of those as well. I have always thought that auto-adjusted widths are the best, so it doesn't matter any type of monitor or video resolution you're on, the blog would look best accordingly.

  6. charlesgomesbr
    Member

    For me, is the possibility to put music or a message in mp3 on the sidebar with the audio shortcode.

  7. Hi Lance

    Just popped into your blog and saw you use a wider theme too.

    I think it just makes reading chunks of text on a laptop easier, the text seems to be spaced out a bit + you can add bigger images.

    I dislike narrow reading areas with wasted space.

  8. Speaking from experience I know that what I write (in terms of both quality and subject) honestly DOES depend to a significant degree on the look of the particular blog. I blog to seven different WP sites, and the computer I'm working on and the theme of the blog in question do influence my output.

    Wider themes result in more essay-style posts: longer, more thoughtful, more elevated language and themes. Wider themes seem to offer a sort of mental ease; they're like a mansion for your content.

    Narrow themes encourage shorter posts; there's a weird sort of force that seems to make blog posts roughly rectangular in a 2x3 kind of ratio, and you can see how changing themes would change the amount you would tend to write. This is an observational rule that I've seen in myself and in many other blogs, but it's by no means a hard and fast one.

    Also, if you have a nice big monitor you get vast swathes of unused space to the left and right of the actual blog and it's only natural to think "why the hell can't I put something in THERE?" Because why not?

  9. breakthroughtogod
    Member

    I'm not a fan of themes that run thin, as longer articles tend to run forever and need constant scrolling to get to the next paragraph. Side columns which are too wide waste space and too many widgets at the bottom are extremely ugly.

    Wider themes lend themselves more to writers than short information bloggers, which is why I prefer the "Rubrik" theme. The side bar is not overly aggressive and the real estate for writing is maximized. The problem is that it is boring to look at because of no options to put in a nice colorful picture at the top, or some more overall dark, rich theme colours.

    The Rubrik (or Journalist) theme could easily be customized and I think that would probably be easy to do and please a lot of people. As you stated Lance, you have many people asking for such a theme.

    Anyways, I'm not complaining, just asking. I think you people have a great product and will in time offer more to accommodate diverse needs. Cheers.

  10. Thanks for taking up this issue, i was talking and commenting on almost every theme update for a wider theme.

    If you don't show photos, why does your site layout need to be wider?

    In my blog i post articles most of which are very long, and also contains sourcecodes. A narrow theme wraps the source code lines , and it is extremely hard to read the code. And because the posts are very long, with a narrow theme they run long like a river. Also some posts have top header image, which will not fit into a narrow theme.
    I like the Journalist v1.9 theme for a long time, i like the Twenty Ten theme , and using it now, also the Enterprise theme is good for me, and the width is okay.

    Can you implement one thing ? that is the customizable top menu bar ? The themes with a top menu bar are not customizable, and only show the pages, or categories (or both).

  11. Lance the answer is easy! More room for your text and writing, more ability to include photos and pictures WITHIN the text with text wrapping either side and not have the photo or picture have to be so small it looks like a postage stamp! Look at the width of your own WordPress.com blog!
    It enables a blogger to be much more flexible in the content that they include. I personally do not like to write blogs with oodles and oodles of nothing but text, I like to break that up with pictures, photos to illustrate the content of the post, and wider themes allow you to do this.
    I personally prefer at LEAST 720 pixels width for the blog post area. Then you can add a fairly decent sized picture or photo AND have text wrapping to the left or right that looks ridiculously narrow.

  12. This topic can be closed because all the valid points have been made. I'll assume wider themes are coming now. Lol

  13. Just to clarify: this isn't about fixed versus fluid layout. It's about why a wider layout is so compelling for you. For sake of this discussion let's assume all the wider themes will use a fixed width.

  14. The only downside to wider fixed widths is the way they display on narrow monitors, so we now have the question of what's a normal-sized monitor. We're well past the age of the Mac Plus.

  15. 1024px wide is not about the minimum that people have (20%) with 76% having over that. 800px width monitors are now at 1%.

    http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_display.asp

    None of the web designers I know are even thinking about anything less than 1024px wide monitors (although some of the netbooks out there are 800px wide). Netbooks though seem to have run out of steam and sales on them have dropped like a rock since now for just a couple hundred more, people can get an entry level laptop with far more capability.

  16. In the first sentence, that should be ..."NOW about the minimum...

  17. I think there's room for a number of different widths. For some blogs, the narrow theme works well; for others, wider just seems to work better. For myself, I prefer a moderate width. As you've said, the lines are easier to read. That said, I, too, like to use pictures and would like the word wrap to be wide enough that it doesn't look, well, dumb. I don't need text on both sides of the photo, but I'd like to be able to use a medium-sized photo and still have enough space left to the side of it that the text will be of approximately equal width to the photo.

    Other items on the wish-list for this dream theme would be customizable background and banner, text and font options, and a "share" button to allow readers to easily share my posts on their own social forums--Facebook, Twitter, Stumble, etc.

    Thanks for asking!

  18. I'm all for using the power available in HTML, CSS and the browser. The power's nowhere near what it could be by now, progress has halted for about a decade. But it's what we've got.

    It's unfortunate: even what we have isn't used enough.

    For me that means:

    • Text size that adapts if the browser driver asks for a change
    • Designs that adapt to big images, like stitched panoramas (that I really like)
    • Text controlled by smart CSS, that adapts given 1 above to have an ideal number of words across the page (10 to 15 words I think are the research suggestions)
    • Truth be told I also think that active pages with jQuery type functionality and web services in the back end are a good idea, but I know that's not what WP is about
    • In short fluid design, that moves elegantly to accommodate images, user requested font size changes, smaller on screen browser windows...

    I know this sort of thing has been feasible for years. Seems that a lot of web visual designers have been influenced by design for paper, for magazines. The web is so much more than print (in many ways), we should use that power.

  19. I didn't see the comment about fixed with but wider until after I made that post, though I still have that same message, I would have expressed it differently.

  20. Thanks for asking this question. I prefer a wider writing area because I often write longer posts. I also appreciate being able to place a decent size photo and having the text wrap. I don't like the narrow blogs at all. One of the first things I did with the CSS upgrade for Bueno is to increase the width of the writing area.

    I think some nice upgrades to Journalist would be excellent. I prefer serif fonts though, which will make or break the deal for me on any theme.

  21. Thank you very much for providing us with forum to discuss this issue Lance!

    At this stage of the comments, much of what I would like say has already been mentioned by others, although I still don't think it can be stressed enough just how important wide themes are to actual writers, like breakthroughtogod said. I regularly write 3000+ word posts for instance (I think my record was over 7000!), and I'd hate to try and read those on a thin theme.

    (I think wider themes tend to have larger fonts too, but don't hold me to that!)

    One important point I think I <i>can</i> add to this thread though, is the need for more wide themes to be available for bloggers that are ALREADY using wide themes. Sure, it was my choice to use <i>The Journalist v1.3</i> almost as soon as it came out, but now that all my hundreds of videos and images are 680 pixels across accordingly then that means that if I want to change, then what...70% or 80% of the other themes available are simply too narrow for them.

    With only 20% of the themes available though, I simply haven't been able to find something else that I like so far ( I would be quite happy with </i>The Journalist 1.9</i> though, if only there were an option to remove those ugly link borders around images).

    In short, what I'm saying is that if a blogger decides to use a wide theme like I did, then effectively he or she is stuck using that theme FOREVER because there's so few other options available. This seems, well, a little unfair!

    Finally, I'd echo those commenters who'd like something like the Journalist, but with color options and header images and so forth. Actually, I rather like v1.3, but it can seem a bit bland sometimes, hence my wanting to switch to v1.9 (but for that one problem I mentioned). What I'd REALLY like though, is a wider version of <i>Bueno</i>! :)

    p.s. I think all us "writer bloggers" would tend to want at least 2 column layouts: that way, as readers scroll down, we can encourage them to read other things on our blogs via our sidebar.

  22. Hi again Lance. Like I said back at Paperpunch, it is the “Magazine” style that I am aiming for: lots of visual content on the sidebar, and highly visual main content too. I also prefer the look of images in one at a time, rather than in as a ‘gallery’. I think this is because when I click on a ‘gallery’ I don’t know how long my experience there will last, whereas when images are entered in one at a time I can instantly see the length of the whole post. Understand? Perhaps we “Magazine types” want Custom Headers, Image rich sidebars, AND nice wider photos (preferably without the funny borders…) and... like @jtur001 above, I am now *stuck* with my theme because many themes do not adapt to my bigger images - they extend over the sidebars of other themes :(

  23. I'd love a blog that filled up my 1920pixel wide monitor, not that it's a practical idea but it would look great! But then again, what about when I'm on my netbook?

    I recently changed my blogs over to a wider theme, 930pixels wide I think.

    I think the only necessary reason for themes to be wider is because monitors are generally wider pixelwise.

  24. When I moved 13 blogs to WP.com, I was looking for a clean theme without a header. I like white space. I prefer to provide the color. I want my content at the top, not links and not static images.

    My original plan was to have 13 different looks for each blog -- but I couldn't find 13 themes that matched my design want for clarity and cleanliness -- and so all of the blogs are using Journalist 1.9 and I like the symmetry using a single design across all the blogs provides. It's as if you're reading the same blog in separate domain niches.

    I agree with a previous commenter that the default borders around the images in Journalist 1.9 are ugly and I had to purchase the CSS Upgrade for all the blogs just to remove the image borders.

    I like wide themes because of this:

    http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/

    Our content appears "higher up" in a basic monitor view without our readers having to scroll to read text.

    We tend to write a long articles and use big images and wide themes give the eye more calming white space. Here's an example of a recent post with tons of text, a few images, and some video inserts:

    http://urbansemiotic.com/2010/05/26/wattstax-and-understanding-the-1965-watts-riot/

    That sort of article fits that wider theme. A narrower view creates an even longer scrolling experience.

    Here's a shorter example with the same idea -- the uncluttered, bright white of the wider theme allows the white space to create the illusion of providing the natural hot sunlight on the main image for the article:

    http://carceralnation.com/2010/05/25/of-magnets-and-moral-mayhem/

    I appreciate this opportunity to share ideas directly with the WP decision makers.

    Thank you!

  25. I'm really new to wp.com and am planning to move to .org at some point, and one of the reasons is that i DO want to decide about the width of my blog and its sidebars.
    I like 2 sidebars, because I do want to have a 'normal' or index/link sidebar plus a sidebar to display flickr photos - all the way down.
    I know many people find 3 coloumn blogs or too many widgets distract from the content in the posts, but that's just something I like for myself, and I think others do. I like for my readers to be able to see everything at the first glance. (I have a similar, private blog for my family on blogspot and everything fits like I want it.)
    On wp themes, when I set the flickr widget on 'small', some themes cut away the black border (i wish it was not even there!) or cut the 'landscape size' photos on the side. I haven't tried them all, but the new Structure theme handles it differently (shrinks the horizontal photos to adjust them all, very neat!) and I think it's a good idea. Still, wider themes would allow for wider sidebars, and I think that is a reason for many people.
    I am still setting up, and it's the fun part, maybe I haven't figured it all out yet.
    But I see there are lots of themes coming in anyway, keep it up ! :)

  26. justlikeamagic
    Member

    I'm a software developer and technical writer. I can't demonstrate code blocks or technical illustrations in normal layout themes, so I always use full-width themes. In addition, may aspects and many widgets should be added. Therefore, themes with two widget columns are really helpful.

  27. I didn't see too many people who are primarily photographers commenting so I'll add my 2 cents.

    I like to showcase my photos and the story behind them (aka lots of text) so a wide theme is greatly desired. I don't want my readers to click on each picture to go to the attachment page. I don't want my readers to have to keep clicking next for every single post (hence Duotone doesn't work for me, and it's not even that wide). Can we please have at least ONE wide single column theme? Is it too much to ask for since we already have so many out there that are multi-columns? Thanks.

  28. sanityisknocking
    Member

    I post the occasional picture on my blog and also wish that they could be a bit bigger without compromising readability for my readers.

    I think the above points have made a good case for wider-themed layouts but I'll add that the thin layouts, almost seem to waste perfectly good screen space.

    I'm not a big picture poster and I would like more wide layouts. I have a widescreen computer and the narrow columns make it difficult to read without endless scrolling.

    Thanks for considering to create more wide formats!

  29. I'm all for choices when it comes to themes. Just saying ... I'm wondering is the folks posting to this thread have considered the following.

    Devblog provided a link in another thread and it got me thinking.

    Many readers are viewing our blogs on mobiles, ipads, notebooks and on laptops with small screens. I'm focused on my reader's prefernces and realities as opposed to my own.

    It's a common misconception that most people use broadband when connecting to the Internet and page loading time is not a problem. That's simply not the case> In America one-third of the country (or 93 million Americans) don't have high-speed internet access at home, according to a consumer survey released Feb. 23, 2010 by the Federal Communications Commission. I recently read that 10% of UK households still use dial-up service. Now that's not to mention the significant traffic flow I get to my blog from other countries where dial-up service is common as well.

    I have set my blog here > Appearance > Extras so it displays a mobile theme for mobile users. I never ever post large images larger than 600 pixels in width and I don't have a sidebar cluttered with widgets and gadgets.

    I know the average desk top computer user in North America has a 17 inch monitor like me as opposed to a wall sized projection screen. My the screen resolution size is average at 1024 x 768.

    In another thread devblog suggests an overall layout width of 1000px including the sidebar for any theme will cover most screen resolutions without creating a horizontal scroll bar. To me nothing is more annoying than scroll bars. They send me the message that the blogger in question thinks their precious work ought to be on a movie screen so when I experience that it's kiss of death. I click out never to return again.

    - Most Used Screen Resolution
    Check your screen resolution and find out which is the ACTUAL resolution most users use today! http://mostusedscreenresolution.com/

  30. By coincidence the largest images I've ever posted have been approx. under 450 pixels in width. This is partially dictated by MistyLook theme which is a slimmer width. But it is a blessing in disguise, when it comes to mobile handheld device viewing.

    Already the visual image impact is enough. It's not a photoblog but I always try to have at least 1-3 photos embedded to complement the article's content. There are alot of static photos in our young blogs, compared to other blogs.

    As for the scrolling down to see more than 1 article (instead of just the latest):

    It allows the reader unfamiliar (or can't remember) with either of our 2 blogs, by a browsing without endless clicking back and forth, to see and gauge the general "flavour" / subject concentration of each blog.

    For many years I have worked with very deep websites and other electronic content products where I had to assess for both product usability (to purchase content licensing access) and content relevance: it is time-consuming and at times, disorienting to click through a range of different article references or even article summaries in order to get a good, but time-efficient broad brush-stroke assessment of what a blog tends to specialize, writing style, etc.

    Some bloggers have not assisted their audience with a succinct explanation of what their blog is about, nor are there categories/tags to help. Lists of most recent titles aren't always clear indicator.

    Just my preference.
    Certainly when a WordPress theme offers ability to show list of latest posts with title and first few lines, plus a photo, that avoids some problems. (ie. Inuit) Not all themes are like this. MistyLook is not like that unless one uses an Archived list page as a default 'home' page which I prefer not to.

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