Flow Theme for WordPress

25 Feb 09

Liquid layouts are decidedly out-of-fashion. Fixed-width, centered layouts have become the dominant design pattern for the Web, and for good reason too. Fixed-width layouts allow designers to define strict proportions between columns, and keep line-lengths under control.

But, setting a fixed width isn’t the only way to maintain a reasonable measure. There’s a very reasonable alternative that is rarely explored — variable type size. Cameron Adams toyed with the idea as an experiment, but I’ve found few examples of this technique used on an actual production site. To that end, I’ve developed a proof-of-concept WordPress theme called Flow.

Flow scales the type size of the main content area in proportion to the browser width to preserve a consistent measure of around sixty-six characters, as prescribed by Mr. Bringhurst & Mr. Rutter. The sidebar column, present on the home page, is set at a fixed 12px font size so it always remains secondary (scaling it would result in nearly un-readable type at small sizes).

Test drive Flow at the example blog and let me know what you think of this experiment. I hope you don’t mind scrolling.


Open flow.zip and upload the extracted folder to wp-content/themes/. Then activate the theme in your Admin panel.


Facebook Connect Ready
Flow was designed to work with Facebook Connect. Just upload the WP-FacebookConnect plugin to your plugins directory, activate it, and follow the instructions on the plugin’s settings page.

Widget Ready
As much as I hate them, this theme supports WordPress widgets. This was by far the #1 most-requested feature for my previous theme. Go nuts with calendars, blogrolls, and feed importers.

Built-in Widon’t new in v0.2
Shaun Inman’s fantastic WordPress plugin, Widon’t is built-in for article titles. This prevents multi-line titles from leaving a single word by itself on the final line.

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