I've been in the lab

Screenshot of an upcoming WordPress theme.

It’s been two years since I’ve built a new WordPress theme. That’s assuming we’re not counting starter themes.

I was uninspired.

It wasn’t until I launched the redesign of this blog that I found my muse once again. I had the beginning of an idea. I had a starting point for building something actually useful.

What inspired me the most is that I’d finally figured out the secret to building great themes. I’d known this secret all along, but I didn’t truly understand it.

What makes me happy as a blogger, a Web site owner, is when I can simply share what I have to say on a subject. I don’t want the design getting in the way. The design should be about wrangling the content on the front end in a fashion that visitors can dive directly in and find what they’re looking for.

Spreading myself too thin

Theme Hybrid, my theme and plugin site, was the most successful when I was able to concentrate on a handful of projects that I was truly passionate about. Over the years, I’ve created dozens of themes and plugins. But, outside of those first couple of years, I’ve spread my talents too thin and have been constantly bouncing from project to project.

Not anymore.

I’m hyper-focused on building the best damn theme in the WordPress ecosystem. Giving it continual improvements. And making life easier for what I hope is many 1,000s of users to come.

Suffice it to say, the OJT is back in town.


I’ve named this new theme Exhale because it felt like a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders as I was building it. I could finally breathe again. I want others to come along this journey with me and have that same feeling.

A two-year break from building themes for end users has given me some perspective. The things that actually matter are:

  • Content: Your content is front and center. No fancy gizmos to distract your visitors.
  • Speed: This theme is much faster than the vast majority of themes you’ll find available.

Everything else is about getting out of the way so that the user can say what they have to say. Whether this is via Gutenberg or the Classic editor doesn’t matter (both are supported).

Note: I’m working on getting things together like a demo, promotional material, and such.

Early-bird discount and beta

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be launching the official beta release of Exhale on Monday, March 18.

I feel so confident in this new theme that I’m giving out an early-bird discount. If you purchase the “Premium Membership” at Theme Hybrid in the next couple of weeks, you can get $10 off using the EXHALEBETA discount code at checkout.

You’ll be able to test-drive the beta version next Monday and have a year’s worth of support and updates already taken care of.

*[OJT]: Original Justin Tadlock