I was on WP Watercooler earlier this week. And we talked about what WordPress themes best help businesses reach their goals. It was a lively talk, of course.
This is a topic that’s near and dear to me and it’s been covered by my buddy, Mr. Lema. Now, I can’t tell any one specific business owner what theme will best match their goals. I can’t. But what I can do is share a story that I think illustrates this point well enough.
I want to tell you about a meeting I had with a client of mine a couple of weeks back… So, there I was, standing at the front door of an office that was a pretty messy canvas, if you will. They were moving into this new space. Getting things ready. They had a custom made logo mounted to a wall. Around the corner were these beautiful mahogany desks that were being hand-finished; there was a tree that had been brought in from some far off place; there other decorations that were being ordered from etsy and on top of that, white-colored appliances were “out” for not being in style with the new digs… Whew. There was a lot in motion that day.
Great, so why does any of this matter and how does it relate to the story?
Well, I’m getting to that! But I still have more story to tell! You see, this client puts on a hell of an event. They don’t do weddings; they don’t do company retreats (well, if you’re big enough then maybe they would). These guys do events for companies of global scale. Think Microsoft; think Pepsi; think BIG! These guys do amazing work. The attention to detail they bring into their own office is what they bring to their events, just multiply that effort by one hundred.
One of their people mocks up and creates 3d illustrations of the event area, using Google Sketchup. They use to-scale environments, artifacts, furniture; you name it. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they feed in data so that their clients know what the weather and light would be like at different times of the day. It’s a complete solution they offer and they do it proudly. And they should. It’s truly amazing work.
These guys have a story to tell. They want people to know that a.) They do great fucking work and want them to be blown away. b.) They want people to know the story of who they are and how they came to be and c.) They want people to know their process and how they put all the awesome together to assemble Voltron every time out.
Ok, great. But what does this have to do with WordPress Themes?
It was obvious, within minutes, that these guys were serious about their brand and their message. That was above and beyond making a “cool site.” It had to effectively communicate those things they take pride in; those things that set them apart. Ok. No problem.
Yet, it is a problem. My client’s team has taken a lot of time reviewing many sites; coming up with things they liked and didn’t like. And through all that research they didn’t find something that would fit the bill. And this was the story I came in on.
Having observed what they were doing with their office and listening to their story, it was clear to me that the best theme for them was the theme that told their story; showcased their work and really displayed how they’re different and why. It was also clear that nothing off the shelf would do the trick. These guys were importing plants, finishing their own desks, by hand and their passionate attention to detail screamed what I already knew. The right theme for these guys, in this case, was something built from the ground up, with their story and brand in mind. And that’s what I told them. There was a moment of collective pause, but they all got it. It “just made sense.”
Not everyone fits that bill, of course. There’s a number of beautiful themes out there. My colleague and friend, Devin Walker, is a theme-wizard. Really. And he makes things that can be customized and used for most purposes. The right theme should communicate your passion; your story and why you do what you do. It sounds hokey. Believe me, I know. And there are a great many businesses that run a theme based off of some other turn-key solution and they run with it. Nothing wrong with that. If that theme helps you communicate your business’s most critical points, by all means, do work and get that thing running. But, there’s a certain something to seeing something built, just for you; something that no one else has… I love doing that; I love building things that “just work” and service a particular need.
So, what should I do, then?
Understand what your business is about. It’s not just about selling this product or that; it’s not about doing this one thing better than the next guy, well, it sorta is… But you know what I mean. Know why you’re in business; know why people like working with you; know what makes your product better and be in touch with why you do what you do. I know it sounds cliche, but people really connect with quality and also the reason behind what you do and why. The detail of thought hat goes into this is absolutely crucial and you should work with someone who knows what they’re doing, so they can help you flesh out your direction.
So, ask yourself: What is the story I want to tell about my business?