Over the past couple of months, I’ve touted the new Exhale theme as some of my best work. I’ve said that it was a culmination of everything I’ve learned about designing and developing WordPress themes over the last decade-plus.
Exhale is, in many ways, a lot of the things that I think make running a Web site on WordPress enjoyable. When I was building this theme I wanted to create something that was truly focused on content. I wanted the theme to be a tool for users to build the site that they wanted.
And, I wanted to do this in a performance-optimized manner.
I believe so strongly in this theme being one of the best WordPress themes on the market that I’m using it here on Theme Hybrid. If I’m going to make such a fine wine, I’m sure going to taste it for myself.
Far too often I see WordPress themes that are bundled with 100s and even 1,000s kilobytes of scripts and styles. The vast majority of that is for some fancy slider or other flashy feature that your Web site visitors do not care about. They just want to see your content.
I made a promise to myself to not go over 50 kb of scripts and styles on the front end (before Gzipping). And, that’s a promise I managed to keep in version 1.0 (with room to spare). Most of that is dedicated to Gutenberg block styles, which can be disabled if you’re sticking with the classic editor for now.
What all this means is that Exhale will never be the bottleneck when it comes to speed on your Web site. It’s optimized to be lean.
Let’s talk features
I’m usually bad at marketing my theme features. A big part of that is because what some folks consider a “feature” I just consider standard. So, I’m going to do my best to lay out some of the major pieces here.
Exhale was primarily designed for the WordPress 5.0+ block editor (also called Gutenberg). I’ve spent more hours than I care to count fine-tuning each block to look right in both the editor and on the front end.
The theme provides a wide variety of editor colors, font sizes, and image sizes for adjusting things to suit your needs.
You can also use the classic editor if you prefer. There’s even a setting to use a smaller, classic stylesheet on the front end. You do whatever works for you.
Note: You’ll want to use version 5.3.0+ of the Gutenberg plugin until WordPress 5.2 is released for proper editor styling. There are some major changes between versions, and developing for both didn’t make sense with WordPress 5.2 so near.
I tried to find a good balance of providing design options out of the box with not going overboard in this initial release. Under the “Theme Options” panel in the customizer, you’ll find four sections in 1.0:
The Colors section provides several options for skinning your Web site’s design. If you don’t like the default color scheme, go wild and do something that fits your style and personality.
The Fonts section allows you to pick and choose the fonts used for various types of text on your site. In version 1.0, this is limited to system fonts. Adding in Google Fonts integration is at the very top of my feature list for the next feature update.
The Media section lets you choose the featured image size that you prefer as well as select image filters, such as grayscale, brightness, sepia, etc.
The Footer section gives you some options for handling the output of your site’s footer text.
The theme comes with two page templates out of the box:
- Landing: This is a page template ideal for creating landing pages for products. The site header and footer are not shown so that the entire page can be content-focused.
- No Post Header/Footer: This template is for removing the post or page header (title) and footer area. This provides you a full canvas for designing the entire content area of your page.
The theme has two nav menu locations by default:
- Primary: This menu is located in the header area. There are no drop-downs or fancy things here. The idea is to get you to focus on the things that actually drive visitors on your site. It also utilizes a horizontal scrolling menu on mobile rather than hiding it behind a button (much more user-friendly).
- Social: In the footer, the social menu will replace links to your social networking profiles with an appropriate icon. Over 30 sites are currently supported, which covers the vast majority of the major networks.
I’m sure there’s some awesome things I’m missing. I know I threw in a couple of Easter Eggs for everyone that should be fun if you find them.
I’ve already laid out a number of items for the next feature release of the theme, which include such things as Google Fonts integration and site layout options. Mostly, I’m waiting to hear from real users with real feedback.
Skins / Child themes
I will absolutely be building custom child themes for Exhale that showcase a lot of design variations. I already have a dark-colored theme that will be released in the next week or two.
All child themes will be available at no extra charge to premium members. You make one purchase and get access to everything. I like to keep it simple.
Purchase the Exhale theme
I’m excited about this theme. I believe you will be too once you start using it.
Exhale is available as part of the Premium Membership option, which provides you with access to all commercial themes and plugins from this site along with support forum and Slack chat access. And, it’s only $59.95/year.
Looking for a demo? Actually, I’m running Exhale here on this very site right now. But, I’m hard at work putting together a full demo that will showcase everything the theme can do.
Want to read more about the theme? Visit the Exhale theme page →