Theseus, A WordPress Theme for Conquering a Maze of Content

A preview of Theseus, A WordPress Theme for Your Maze of Content

Theseus is the legendary Greek hero famous, amongst other feats, for defeating the Minotaur at the center of the Cretan Labyrinth and finding his way out again, thanks to a ball of string. This theme hopes to do the same, leading your readers through a maze of content, taking them carefully through what they need to see without getting lost.

The WordPress theme, Theseus, does this in two ways; by prominently featuring the latest post in a “feature” category of your choice (conveniently set on the theme options page) and moving all non-essential stuff (you know, widgets) to the page footer.

View the live demo | Download Theseus

Features of Theseus

Optimized for Search Engines

The spread of good ideas in the world is important to me. I want my WordPress themes to help in that cause. To that end, I’ve gone ahead and made sure that Theseus is optimized for search engine findability to the best of my meager ability. Of course, if you just want to blog about why Fords are way tougher than GMs, well, that’s cool too. Theseus will still help your ideas get found.

Optimized for Human Beings

There’s a bit of a push and pull between bloggers and blog readers isn’t there? When I visit a blog I want to read valuable content that will help me, or at least make me forget I should be working on a time sensitive project. As a blogger I just want to post a picture of a LOLcat now and then. What should be done?

Enter Feature Posts. Your latest post from your bestest most value-rich category is now highlighted on the top of your home page. Now when new readers visit your blog you can make a good impression, your best work is right up there at the top, and still keep posting links to icanhascheezburger whenever you feel like it, without scaring off readers.

Actually, I like this “feature” feature so much I may end up using it myself.

Setting the feature post is easy. Just click on the Current Theme Options link under the Presentation tab in the WordPress admin area and enter your “Feature” category ID. No worries about editing PHP files! A listing of all your categories (with their ID numbers) can be found by clicking on Categories under the Manage tab in the WordPress admin area.

Options panel for the Theseus WordPress theme

To top it off, I’ve incorporated my idea about using WordPress conditional tags to increase RSS subscription, targeting readers clicking through to your older posts. Take a look at page 2 of the main index to see what I mean.

A Paged view from the Theseus WordPress theme

Even More Features

  • Special classes for “important” and CAPS
  • Post-author comment highlighting
  • 3 columns of widgets in the footer
  • One content-column=one focus point=no distractions
  • Valid XHTML and Valid CSS (except for one teeny little hack for IE6)

Technical Matters

The eagle-eyed among you will notice something different about the finished Theseus theme: no rounded corners! No, I’m not afraid Elliot Jay Stocks will destroy my theme (but if he even deigned to kick it with a soggy boot I’d be honored). It’s merely a matter of my own incompetence at implementing not one, not two, but every single corner rounding script on the internet. That’s right, I broke them all (I had some help from IE though). Is there some kind of award for that?

On top of that, I couldn’t figure out how to make get_the_category() output just the link for the featured category (I’m using a variable called $ts_feature_post). Otherwise, the featured post would have a heading of “Feature Entry in Category Name” with a link to the feature category. If I ever figure it out expect an update.

Anyway, this theme makes use of two very clever open-source projects:

Theseus itself is free and licensed under the GPL. I like it that way. Plus, the images folder contains all the .PSD files for the theme, just in case you want to make any changes.

Entering the Maze with Theseus

I hope you enjoy using Theseus. Technically, it’s my first official, full-fledged, complete package theme for release. I had a lot of fun working on it—except when the rounded corners weren’t working. I hope you have fun working with it. Next up, I actually design a WordPress theme with multi-column content. I know, it’s crazy.

View the live demo | Download Theseus

Author: Ian Stewart

Design Director on Design at Automattic.

81 thoughts on “Theseus, A WordPress Theme for Conquering a Maze of Content”

  1. Hey there!

    Thank you for this awesome theme, but it doesn’t seem to be working for me.

    This is what it says after installing and testing it.

    Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_VARIABLE in /home/javitsin/public_html/blog/wp-content/themes/theseus/index.php on line 1

  2. Wow, Javits, that was fast—I just uploaded it! Not really sure why you’re getting that error. What version of WordPress are you using?

  3. I’m using 2.3.2 And I just put the theme back to Theseus. If you could take a look at it or possibly login to it and check it, that would be awesome!

  4. Just so everyone knows: I’m checking on this (I think it’s because I had Mac line endings in the file).

    PHP errors… rounded corners… did I say this theme was fun to work on? 😉

  5. haha Ian, gotta love making wordpress themes!
    Keep it up though. I’m going to check this bad boy out on my localhost to see what it’s all about lol

  6. Looks it was indeed the line endings. The download files have been corrected. Download away!

  7. Thank you so much for all the updates and this great theme. I like your sandbox theme winner too. I was kinda held up and wasnt able to reply althought I got all your emails. I really appreciate all your timely responses.


  8. Whoa, Ian! Why didn’t you tell me about this?! I didn’t know you were designing themes? I didn’t even know about ThemeShaper. Theseus is sweet! Very nice. And some great posts here, too. I’ve subscribed.

  9. Hi Ian,

    I’ve been exploring your lovely theme, but having some trouble editing it. (I suspect it’s because I’ve stumbled into quite rarefied air here — I have no idea what sandbox is, for instance! 🙂 )

    Anyway, two quick queries:

    1) I’ve made my central column thinner by changing the ‘span’ but how do I edit the comment form? Do I have to edit a file not in themes?

    2) Why are all the themes and graphics files accompanied by a version labelled ‘.1’ that appears to be empty?

    Thanks in advance for any points from you or anyone else.

  10. Sorry, another one, this looks more like a bug perhaps… I can’t get images to align properly? Whatever I do they just show up on the left.

    Is this because I messed about with the column width or something, do you reckon?

    Thanks again.

  11. Images need a class of alignleft, alignright, or center to be aligned. Like so

    <img src=”#” alt=”” class=”alignleft”/>

    In hindsight, it would have been useful if I pointed this out. 😦

    There’s a good write-up on the method here and—oh, crap!—I’ve got to modify my stylesheets to be WordPress 2.5 compliant for this. Good timing, Owen.

    Line 1 of comments.php controls the width of the comments section.

    I have no idea why the theme files are accompanied by a version labeled .1. That’s really weird! I blame it on the Mac OS. Shame on you Mac OS! Shame!

    Seriously though, does anyone know a method or utility for properly archiving files on a Mac?

  12. Thanks Ian, images fixed now. I’ll post you a link to my site with all your carefully chosen colours messed up for you to tear your hair out over when I’m done… 😉

  13. Hi Ian!
    Great theme! Congratulations!
    Tell me, please, it requires any special wordpress version?
    I’m using 2.1.3 wordpress and when I activate your theme it goes completely green…

  14. Great theme, love it. I need some help though. I would like to display images on the main page when I filter posts by category or a tag. I achieved this on the main page by using lead_image in custom fields, but in filtered list it does not work. Any help would be much appreciated! (Please check for the problem)

  15. I’m afraid I can’t help when it comes to customization, agrajag. Keep plugging away at it though. It may be some minor syntax thing that’s preventing it from working.

  16. is there a way to limit the number of posts on the homepage? I would love to limit it to my 5 most recent posts…

    any direction would be appreciated.

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  18. I just switched to this theme. It is beautiful. Job well done. I have a question for Owen though. How did you make the content area small. I can’t seem to locate the code for that. I am sort of new to this stuff.
    Anyway great theme.

  19. I will like to make the content area about 2/3rd of what it is right now. That is with more white space on both sides.

  20. Ah, sorry. Take a look at the blueprint folder in the theme library. Specifically, grid.css. That’ll give you an idea on where to start editing things.

  21. I just downloaded this template and intend to have it on my site tonight. How would I change the footer to stay on the bottom of the screen and allow the top main sections to scroll?

    Thank you,


  22. How do I use an image as the blog title and description instead of the default. Basically I’d like to instert an image at the top of the blog.

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