90+ Themes to 40 Themes to 6. We've either lost our minds or we are making diamonds.
Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless like water… if you put water in the cup it becomes the cup and water can flow or it can crash.Bruce Lee
Very early in my life there was something about Bruce Lee that inspired me… I think I still have a box set of his movies on VHS somewhere. I'm quite sure he inspired me to take martial arts and get a black belt when I was in my late 20s.
Regardless, the words above I've always felt applied perfectly in life and business. To survive and to succeed one needs to embrace change and adapt. Hexater has been doing that for a number of years.
The Early Days
Hexater landed on the scene with a pretty simple vision. Build super-niched, purpose-built, lightweight, beautiful themes … and a LOT of them. Our initial goal was to build 200. We made it just short of half way after a couple years of development.
But it wasn't to stop there. Think 100s or even 1000s of themes. Myself and my team while at Rapid Crush were focused on building systems and a framework to build these themes quickly and to achieve scale. We'd figure out how to maintain them later. 😉
But in 2018 the company decided to focus in another direction and get out of the WordPress business. My team was dissolved and I left soon after. From there I started a small agency called, Unified Web Design, LLC.
Unified Web Design's Acquisition of Hexater
In mid-2019 I got the call from one of the founders and the CEO of Rapid Crush. I was asked if I'd like to acquire it.
Understand, I didn't have the team to continue the work as we were. But some things crossed my mind.
- I had put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into building the marketplace and themes. I was super passionate about our mission and here might be a chance for me to save the project. I still cared about it and believed in the mission.
- I was confident I could maintain what was built and maybe make something out of it in time. Afterall, I built the framework they were built on and knew every line of code like the back of my hand.
- It also served as an excellent portfolio… something I could leverage to get more web design clients. 💡
The only thing I did decide on at that stage was I would trim it down to 40 themes. The best of the best.
And so for the following 2 years (until now), this is the state it's been in. I've helped customers, fixed bugs, sold some more licenses.. and built a new feature here and there.
We didn't go much further because my biggest focus and priority has been my agency. But I had hoped, one day we'd be successful enough to fire Hexater back up.
An Aging Catalog of Themes & The Changing WP Landscape
When I first built the framework for Hexater themes it was a different world.
- The customizer was fairly new.
- There wasn't an ‘Additional CSS' section in the customizer .. I had to invent one (yes, I did it before WP) .. maybe I gave someone an idea. They did use the same naming so I had two CSS boxes showing up in my CSS section .. I digress. 😉
- Blocks weren't even talked about.
- Certainly full-site editing wasn't even on the radar.
But all those things have become a thing. And the customizer continues to evolve and will someday become full-site editing.
Hexater themes were built simply so they have been pretty easy to maintain and are resilient. But the writing is on the wall.
I got our first bug that affects almost all of them. Our friends at WordPress included an upgrade to jQuery that decided to break something. Time consuming, but an easy enough fix. However, it did give me pause. Is this the canary in the coal mine?
Do we want to spend all our time fixing bugs.. or improving products and building new things!?
Also, as time goes on people are going to start to expect a WordPress theme to use a block approach. Our themes will become more foreign.
I heard Matt Mullenweg himself say a few years back that themes will become less important. He talked about not needing so many themes.
From 40 to 6
So today I'm announcing that we have officially ended our mission to build a LOT of niche themes to a model where we focus on a handful and make them SUPER AWESOME. 🙂
I settled on the number 6 because I've always wanted to find a good reason to have the name Hexater. And Hexa- is a greek suffix that means 6. So there you go! It could have been a sign of things to come…
I chose 6 themes that represent different types of sites.
- Product sites
- Content focused sites
All these themes will be 2nd Generation very soon. Besides our existing team, I added a new full-time, full-stack developer to my team and percentage of her time is going to be dedicated to working on our products — Hexater and (see below).
We can add more features. New content layouts. Improve the user-experience. Make them easier.. more flexible.
But here's another piece of the puzzle. We're getting into the plugins business by the end of the year!
Enters The Unified Toolkit
We are going to be releasing a new website and suite of products later this year that focus on plugins. And a new type of theme… 🤫
But the play between this new site and Hexater will be fun!
Imagine this.. we had 90+ themes. Imagine that every feature in those themes could be replicated using plugins and just 6 themes ( well, 7 .. 🤫 )
Imagine even more. Because we have a LOT of great ideas.
Unified Web Design + Unified Toolkit + Hexater
Add in there the customization services we offer at UWD?… and other offerings.
Are you starting to feel my vision??
Web Design & Development services, plugins and themes.
So many great things to come! And I'm not even telling you everything because I'd have to write a book.
So instead of spreading ourselves thin, we are going to focus our energy on fewer themes, on building out new products… and managing a very busy, growing web design agency. 🙌
What's It Mean for Our Current Customers?
We will continue to support the themes we built but are not in our public catalog for the foreseeable future. We won't be adding features, but we will maintain and fix bugs as they are reported or arise.
Our customers that have purchased all our themes in the past can still access them through their Freemius members areas. Nothing has literally changed for you today.
AND you have our 6 themes if you took advantage of the Hexater Club.
And since I mentioned it, the Hexater Club is no more. Our themes are now sold individually.
Here's to Our Future Together
I hope this makes sense. It's a little sad to not see all those themes in our catalog today.. but I think this move gives Hexater as a whole the best shot to survive what's going on today with WordPress (the changes) and will make it easier for us, as a company and team, to be more innovative, to improve and develop new features and release new products into the future!
Thank you for your continued support and business!
(be water my friend)