I’ve written and spoken quite a bit about horizontal scrolling WordPress themes on this blog, mostly in relation to the work of one of my favourite theme developers, Greg Ponchak. You can see my take on his work in this video here in case you missed. And while I’m on the matter, I can announce that I’ll be reviewing one of his latest themes soon and showing you how you might use it to create a simple art project. Exciting stuff on the horizon!
Anyway, back to this post. It seems to me that the horizontal scrolling theme category has never really been taken seriously simply because our experience of the web is still dominated by a top-down layout of content. Consequently, horizontal themes tend to be seen as ultra-niche, a novelty that often inspires wonder, but doesn’t really convert into large sales figures. Well I think that’s about to change.
Why? Portable devices are changing the way we access and experience web content. Tablets for example, support landscape and portrait views and their touchscreen capabilities make horizontal navigation just as easy as vertical. In addition, people use tablets for a different experience of the web. They want to be immersed in the content. They don’t want to do complex data retrieval manipulations that your keyboard and mouse allow you to do. So video, photos and audio are really coming of age with tablet culture. For these reasons, I see a serious future for horizontal scrolling WordPress themes.
So I decided to bring together a collection of the ten best horizontal scrolling WordPress themes for 2012 in the hope that it might sway a few more heads in the direction of this neglected form factor and get people thinking outside the box in terms of web and content design. So without further ado, here’s my list. It’s not in any order of preference by the way, just a free form list. Enjoy!
The Horizon Portfolio theme is geared towards photographers and artists, and helps bring out the best of your work thanks to a full frame sideways scrolling layout.The theme also has several interesting custom templates such as "services" and "testimonial" page layouts. You can also run a blog with this theme and choose from classic and masonry styles.
The theme developer has tried to keep operations as simple as possible thanks to a "1-click demo install" to help you learn how to use the theme, in addition to documentation and support. All in all, this is a very simple yet sophisticated theme that does a great job of organizing and showcasing image-based work.
Author: Colormelon / Type: Photography Portfolio / Price: $59
This is one of my all time favourite themes called “The Curator”. The designer has taken the basic horizontal scrolling template model and transformed it into a sort of museum timeline theme that allows you to group content in chronological order. Its professional feel and beautiful colour palette make it a joy to look at. Among its many features, it includes: full color control of text, background and accent colors; semi-responsive layout; WordPress custom background support; control of the timeline by year, decade, century or millennium; a parallax background effect; widgets and custom logo support. Go check it out!
Author: Chris Molitor / Type: Museum and Gallery / Price: $59
GoodLight is another horizontal sliding photography oriented WordPress theme. This is one of the most complete and feature-packed themes in this category that I have seen for a long time.
The developer has gone to town with potential content layouts, including vertical and horizontal portfolio options, and different grid arrangements. You can set up your images as a single left to right stream or have them arranged in blocks.
Author: Colormelon / Type: Photography Portfolio / Price: $59
This is a free theme by the short-lived, much praised theme makers known as WPShower. This is an ultra minimal theme best suited for a simple photography or art work portfolio for example. As the theme’s title indicates, the design premise behind the theme was to create a gallery-like experience in a WordPress theme. I really like this theme, not least for the fact that it’s free, but I think if I was going to create a new project site and I didn’t have a ton of data, this would be at the top of my sideways scrolling theme list.
Author: WPShower / Type: Portfolio / Price: Free
Scroll is a minimal horizontal scrolling portfolio and blog theme that comes in light and dark versions and is fully responsive. It allows you to set up portfolios and it is fully widgetized with sidebar and footer widget areas. This would be a solid option for a simple image or video based portfolio. I particularly like the dark version with the slight grunge element in the background.
Author: Theme Spectrum / Type: Portfolio and Blog / Price: $49
COLr is another ultra minimal horizontal sliding WordPress theme that can function as a blog or a portfolio. It was developed by of my favourite independent WordPress theme designers, Greg Ponchak and it’s just a joy to behold! I love the balance between text and images and the subtle lines that bring the whole theme together. Another winner right there!
Author: Greg Ponchak / Type: Blog & Portfolio / Price: $40 /
As soon as you start exploring the Core WordPress theme, it becomes clear that a lot of work has gone into making the user navigation experience slick and intuitive. This theme really works well on touch screen devices where can flow through the content with minimal movement. Kin not only makes your photos stand out but it’s feature set that includes a range of layouts, a contact form a blog section and a gallery page makes it a viable option for a more content heavy site. It has been one of ThemeForest’s best selling themes.
Author: ThemeGoods / Type: Portfolio and Blog / Price: $49
Stuff, as its title indicates, is a theme feared towards a horizontal tumblelog. It support text, photo, video and audio and it comes with 12 different colour schemes to choose from. One of the main features of this theme is the unlimited Facebook-like content loading function, which provides your visitor with a clear stream of content.
Author: WebberWebber / Type: Tumblelog or Blog / Price: $44
Curated is a sideways scrolling magazine WordPress theme designed to showcase news items and manage large amount of content. The theme comes with unlimited color variations for backgrounds, a range of background patterns, and page by page background image customization giving you full control over your site’s page design. I really like the blog template for this theme with a clean and straightforward layout and navigation.
Author: MahaThemes / Type: Magazine and Blog / Price: $39
The Modern Magazine theme is, as its title suggests, a theme targeted at web publishing, particularly suited to online magazines, journals, newspapers or blogs. This horizontal scrolling magazine theme does a great job of presenting mixed media content in an easy to use, well balanced design. One of the best things about this theme is its gallery template which organizes your site’s photos in a neat masonry style block layout set against a dark background. This feature would work particularly well for a photography magazine or a photo-intensive publication. All in all, this is a refreshing take on the WordPress magazine theme category.
Author: Timpler / Type: Magazine / Price: $132