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On WordPress Themes and What Got Us Here

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had a number of people ask me if we’re still doing themes. At first this irritated me because our team works hard on a number of theme projects EVERY day.

(This was one of the reasons we started iThemes.tv – to communicate what we’re doing every week in a better, easier and personal way.)

But as you might know … in the last six months we’ve rolled out two more brands and with them new products in markets we didn’t have.

PluginBuddy rolled out in March to offer premium WordPress plugins like our hit plugin BackupBuddy and more.

WebDesign.com launched last December. It’s our WordPress web design training division and with it, we’ve hired Benjamin Bradley aka The Prof to lead it.

It’s important to note why we rolled these two brands out ….. so here’s some thoughts:

  1. We had the people in place to do so — We hired Dustin Bolton right out of college and ultimately started PluginBuddy after we saw a need and he had the talent to roll out some rockin’ plugins. We hired Benjamin Bradley after we heard him teach on a part-time basis … and our community is loving him! We have the people in place to offer these products while not taking our focus off themes and support.
  2. We want to offer our community more solutions to their problems — We’re wanting to be the all-in-one complete solution for our customers. This might sound like marketing speak, but it’s how we plan and dream … we listen to our customers, and what problems and needs they have. Like our colleagues in the WP development community, we’re most proud of what we do … and what we offer. We’ve heard a number of times that our community — who support us with their hard-earned money — wants OUR theme, plugin or training solution. That’s amazing confirmation about what we’re doing.
  3. There was a BIG need — after WordCamp Boston I realized there needed to be a premium plugin market just like there was and continues to be a need for a premium theme market. And there has been an overwhelming need for professional web design training in WordPress since I started with it over 4 years ago. See No. 1 and No. 2…. and when presented with the need … it was obvious we should enter those markets.
  4. It’s also about diversity and having a long-term sustainable businesses — I preach this stuff often because I believe in it. I’ve always wanted to have multiple revenue streams coming in so that if one stream takes a hit financially … we have others to take up the slack. Our team is building a long-term business together … and more importantly a life together doing what we are passionate about.

A word about focus …

There’s been rumors or maybe even talk that we’ve lost our focus. That’s laughable at best. If you re-read the above points, and still come to the conclusion that we’ve lacked focus … then you have not seen the one common element in all we are doing: WORDPRESS.

Our cause and our passion is …. WordPress.

Until we have big compelling reasons to think otherwise, we’re firmly invested in pioneering, innovating, extending and using WordPress.

We’ve got the support of our own community … the support and respect of the bigger WP community (including the founder), and love contributing back to a project that has only gotten BETTER!

WordPress rocks.

We want to rock with it.

We’re trying to provide all the things it doesn’t by default …. and that means:

As I’ve said … we see big huge glaring needs in all of this third-party, add-on type market. And we have the resources, and yes, focus, to offer them.

When we fall behind, our community will let us know. And we’ll adjust and get better for them.

So … what about the future of themes at iThemes?

On Monday, I got together with our development team — the four guys ultimately responsible for building and releasing themes (and plugins).

I posed the questions: What do we want to do in the next 6 months? What do we want to accomplish in that time?

Here’s the answer: Some radically cool WordPress theme innovations.

Let’s just restate that again for those wondering … for the next couple of months we’re turning our near-full attention to building some rockin’ themes.

Yeah … and it has to do with our star, standout, blockbuster theme … iThemes Builder.

It has to do with leveraging the power of iThemes Builder and WordPress 3.0 … it has to do with filling needs in the market and in our community … and offering more and more innovative work.

What we believe is an outstanding theme product …. is only getting better. For you!

So in this post … let it be known … that what got us here …. WORDPRESS THEMES … (yes, we started this whole gig with themes when iThemes launched in Jan. 2008) …. is what KEEPS us here. We know that. That’s why we’re putting some special TLC on themes.

We’ll have more to share in the coming weeks … but after our day of dreaming and planning we’re excited, re-energized, re-focused about the next couple of months for us personally (yeah, we freakin’ love what we do) and for our community.

And while these four guys (@chrisjean, @dustinbolton, @adbrad, @mattdanner) focus on themes …. you can bet that we’re still going to be offering the same stellar support (@vanweerd & @srikat) … and even more awesome, professional WordPress web design training (@benjaminbradley).



  1. Cory – BOOM is right. Your reasons and your long terms fit right along with what we have on our own whiteboard. And the key is as you say, it is the community that matters.

    Keep up the great work at iThemes, PluginBuddy and WebDesign.com You guys are doing great stuff and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  2. I think you are taking your company to a whole new level. It’s not uncommon for a company to branch out into different divisions or teams. When you’ve got the talent and resources, it seems inevitable.

    Think about that..what a blessing to be able to do what you do for people; creating jobs, providing opportunities, etc…

    I for one, agree with your concept about premium plugins. When I find a plugin that does what my client needs, I’m apprehensive when it’s a free plugin with no updates, information and little support.

    And lastly, I think the questions are okay. It’s a sign that you’re being innovative and expanding. You’re a leader, be prepared for more – just don’t get too irritated! :)

    ~ RAS?

  3. You people have and continue to be GREAT. Don’t ever let naysayers drag you down. Yet, be careful to differentiate a naysayer from one who is whole heart-ed-ly behind you, but sometimes simply cannot get a question answered.

    Case in Point: Over the last several months in one format or other I’ve asked at least five different times if you are going to develop an all encompassing and quite specific Video Theme such as has some of your competitors. Unfortunately, I’ve NEVER in any format received the kindness of a single answer.

    The reason I keep asking is not that I am/intend to in any way demean your business stance, et al; quite the contrary. Nor would I like to go to one of your competitors. My continued requests is simply that I’ve grown to appreciate all you’ve done as a company including the ‘heart’ you maintain, your continued support as well as continued development. Thus, my earnest hope you will entertain a consideration to develop such a specific Theme.

    It would, however, be nice to finally receive an indication of your intentions regarding the development of what is principally a Video Theme.

    Thank you and good fortune to you and yours…


    • Vernon, thanks for this comment …. I’m sorry you haven’t received a response.

      We have been intending to do a video theme for some time. In fact, just yesterday we put some theme ideas on the board to discuss and formulate an agenda for them.

      This comes from our own need as well for a solid video theme to use at WebDesign.com in our member’s area ….

      We do desperately need to find a way to collect theme ideas and requests … and then get the community to vote on them so we know what demand is.

      These are all things we discuss internally on a consistent basis …. sometimes it’s just finding the right way and time to implement. (Same for themes.)

      Thanks again for taking the time and caring about our business!



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