Saga: A Free WordPress Theme for Writers from Theme Hybrid

When Theme Hybrid launched its Stargazer theme, the idea of a design-specific parent theme that would provide limitations landed in stark contrast to the super generic, all-encompassing themes that permeate the market. You’ve probably seen themes marketed as “the last WordPress theme you’ll ever need.” They kinds of themes purport to have so much flexibility that they can be suitable for any kind of website. Stargazer was launched as the exact opposite.

Justin Tadlock is aiming to restore the original design for the relationship between parent and child themes. His post on Designing in a Box further explains the philosophy behind child themes with limitations where the parent theme houses the majority of the design. The Stargazer experiment inspired a flurry of child themes. It represented a shift in how Theme Hybrid themes are built and its overwhelming success prompted Tadlock to create another.

Saga is the next parent theme in Theme Hybrid’s revolution. It was designed specifically for writers and has been stripped of anything that would distract from the content.

saga

The theme was designed with careful attention to typography, since it focuses on the written word. The homepage and single posts display big, bold featured images. The customizer offers custom color options and a header icon option with 400+ icons to choose from. Navigation is mobile-friendly and hidden until clicked.

Saga seamlessly integrates with several of Tadlock’s free plugins for further customization, including Custom Background Extended, Grid Columns, and Custom Header Extended for per-post headers and backgrounds.

The theme is compatible with Philip Author Moore’s new Subtitles plugin, which offers an elegant and portable way to include subtitles even if you change themes.

Saga also includes beautiful support for post formats with a unique design for each format.

saga-post-formats

Check out a live demo of Saga to see the theme in action.

Build a Saga Child Theme

If you want to build a child theme for Saga, the barrier for entry is intentionally low so that new theme developers can easily get started experimenting. “Like Stargazer, you can literally build a custom child theme for Saga with just a few lines of code,” Tadlock said. Child theme authors who submit their themes to Theme Hybrid and WordPress.org will receive a free, lifetime membership to Theme Hybrid. You’ll also receive a detailed technical review from Tadlock and the WordPress Theme Review Team, which will help you refine your skills as a theme author.

Even if you’re not planning on building a child theme, Saga is beautiful without any modifications. It offers writers a unique design for sharing stories while keeping the focus on the content. If your blog needs a design refresh, you can download Saga for free from Theme Hybrid. It will also be arriving soon on WordPress.org, pending approval.

14 Comments


  1. Thanks for the review, Sarah. Sami Keijonen just released his Vaaka child theme, and Thiago Senna already has a child theme nearly ready to go. One of the things that’s so fun about doing themes this way is that it allows really talented designers like these guys to come up with unique designs without having to do all of the technical work. I’m excited to see everyone’s child themes.

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  2. The theme looks fantastic! I’m a fan of one column theme myself (I developed one column theme too) Saga handles lots of issue brilliantly:

    – The typography feels great
    – It displays photography appropriately.

    And there’s one thing I just realized now: the demo site uses different language to test the appearance of the theme. I think WP theme test unit should do this too.

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    1. I’m actually working on a small developer plugin for language testing. It’s in the early stages right now, but it’s been a huge help to me with testing my themes. It’d be nice to have some test data for many different languages to work with. That’d be a good community project to set up.

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      1. > I’m actually working on a small developer plugin for language testing.

        Does it have a public repository yet? I’d love to watch and contribute if possible.

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      2. Justin – The languages plugin looks awesome. How soon before you launch it out there for other folks to use?

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      3. Honestly, I haven’t given it much thought. It keeps getting pushed back because I’ve been working on other things. It looks like there’s at least a little interest though, so it might be time to put together a 1.0 release.

        I guess the biggest thing I need to do is figure out what all I want to do with the plugin. Part of me wants it to be a developer-centric thing, which is what I’ve been using it for. However, I originally started on it because I wanted to build something simple that would allow me to write blog posts in English and Korean (assuming I ever get proficient enough in the language).

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  3. You got my attention when you promised a free lifetime membership for anyone who develops a child theme, lol .Good work @justin , I think I’ll be working on it pretty soon.

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    1. This is actually a standing offer on Theme Hybrid. Feel free to build a child theme at any time. If you haven’t already done so, comment on the post letting me know you want to build a child theme for Saga, so I can get your email address. I’ll shoot you an email with the details.

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  4. Awesome theme and it follows the exact approach of my latest free theme (http://lifeisgood.daniel-klose.com) which is sitting in the approval for .org for 1 month now :-/
    Tho I went a bit further and stripped even more “noise” from the loop for certain post formats like quotes, single image and asides!
    Hope someone at the theme review team reviews it sooner or later :-/

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    1. Daniel – It seems the Theme Review Team is backed up, they definitely need more volunteers. By the way, I love the background on your theme, so cute :)

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  5. Justin, with such large images, the theme also demands some pretty significant photograph resources. So some questions!

    What is the recommended size for the images?

    Do you have a source for images that you would recommend?

    Does the theme also have handling for how featured images show up when posts are shared? Thumbnails, etc.

    Thanks! And keep up the good work!

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