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Protean Theme for WordPress Available Now

Protean is a new Wordpress theme from Maqe that allows bloggers to customise their website design for individual blog posts. Best of all, it's free to download and use.

Download FREE (GitHub)

It’s been months since I blogged about the beta version of Protean. A lot of time has been spent since honing the functionality and tweaking the look and feel. But today we’re finally ready to unleash upon the world Protean V1. Concept and design by yours truly and built in collaboration with the fine folks at Maqe. A very special shoutout to Nice (“nBlue” on GitHub) for code written and improvements made. We think Protean is a world’s first, and so we want to share it far and wide. We hope you like it.

Protean in the Wild

Theme Features

We’ve built Protean with the explicit aim of making customisation as easy as possible. Knowledge of HTML or CSS is not a prerequisite. We have, in fact, fitted the theme with a number of custom controls that enables bloggers to quickly and easily manipulate the following:

Custom UI for styling individual blog posts
Custom page design
You can easily change the background and colour scheme of your blog posts using the Page Style interface (see below). (You’ll find the same interface under Appearance as well; from here you can control the global site design).

Custom UI for styling of blog post banners
WYSIWYG banner creation
Each blog post is accompanied by a custom banner (think of it as the advertisement or poster for your post). In addition to a background image or colour, the banner can also feature a title and an excerpt from your post.

Custom UI for managing Google Web Fonts
Google Web Fonts integration
We’ve made it ridiculously easy to use web fonts by integrating Protean with Google Web Fonts. Google’s font library is 100% free and it’s growing rapidly, giving bloggers ample material with which to trick out posts and banners.

Theme Inspiration

The rise of HTML5 and CSS3, as well as the release of WordPress 3. These “new” developments got the cogs spinning, so to speak. We’ve been able to incorporate a number of bleeding-edge features in Protean while still catering to most popular browsers (even IE6).

An immense amount of inspiration was also drawn from designers such as Jason Santa Maria and Dustin Curtis who got us thinking about blog-post customization in the first place. (Check out “The Death of the Boring Blog Post” on Smashing Magazine for more information).

Last but not least, we’d also like to credit the readability-on-the-web renaissance for the contribution it made to our thinking around design and, well, readability. To learn more, be sure to check out Mandy Brown’s excellent “In Defense of Readers” on A List Apart.

Frequently Asked Questions

What about licensing?
Protean is licensed under the GNU General Public License v3.0, meaning that you are free to modify and distribute the theme in whatever way you like. We do, however, kindly ask that you credit Maqe somewhere on your site.

What about browser compatibility?
Protean works well in most popular browsers. We’ve tested Internet Explorer, Safari, FireFox, and Chrome on PC and Mac – all with good results. (We’ve used CSSPie and HTML5Shiv to get IE to recognise our use of new web technologies, but IE6 is, not surprisingly, still a bit wonky).

What are the technical requirements?
Minimum requirements are WordPress 3 (or above) along with PHP5 (or above).

What size background image do I need for new banners?
Banner images need to be 870px wide. Height is variable and so you can experiment with that. In our testing, we found 870×300 to be a good size (see but it’s really up to you.

What’s with the name? Sounds like some sort of meat product.
In Greek mythology Proteus is a sea god with the ability to shapeshift. From his name comes the adjective “protean” which means “versatile”, “mutable”, or “capable of assuming many forms” all of which are good characterisations of our theme’s abilities (check out the Proteus entry on Wikipedia for a complete picture). So no, it’s not a meat product.


We’d love to hear from you. Seriously. If you have thoughts, opinions, or suggestions about Protean, please feel free to share in the comments below. If you’d like, you can also reach us on Twitter (@anho. Should you run into any problems and want to report bugs etc., please leave a comment.