For the first time, I am the master of my domain. And by that I mean: I finally own jerodmorris.com.
From the time I became seriously web-aware, about six years ago, my name-specific domain has always been taken. Only non-.com, hyphenated, or add-my-middle-initial versions have been available.
Call me a narcissist domain snob, but yuck. Maybe you can relate?
Then I found out that jerodmorris.com would be coming open. You better believe I was there at 12:01 a.m. on the expiry date ready to pounce.
Finally, I felt both emboldened and excited to start carving out my own little corner of the web. I just needed to find myself the perfect WordPress theme.
Here is the 411 on that decision …
Framing the decision
One of the great perks of working for Copyblogger is having the entire library of StudioPress child themes for Genesis at my beck and call.
But I wanted a different feel for my personal site.
I liked how Agency Pro actually made my other site seem larger than life while focusing attention on the live broadcast and podcast, which are the site’s main features. But I want the focus of jerodmorris.com to be on my written words.
I want it to be a place where anyone who is interested can get to know me, and what’s important to me, and what I have to say on those subjects.
And I want the flexibility to host a podcast and an email newsletter, but without any clutter that might distract from the intimacy of the relationship I hope to develop with whatever audience I’m fortunate enough to build there.
So, yes, I have some pretty clear and specific demands.
Which is why I chose the 411 Pro Theme.
The 411 on 411 Pro
I tested out a number of different themes before choosing 411 Pro. Let me count down a few of the reasons why I settled on it.
1. The background image
One of my favorite pictures is a photo my dad snapped 14-15 years ago when we were hiking in the Rocky Mountains. I knew I wanted to use it.
So I wanted a theme built to accommodate a high-res background picture in a way that a) did not obscure the image with content and/or widgets, and b) would be mobile responsive.
411 Pro does this effortlessly. It’s as simple as uploading the image on the theme customization page and … well, that’s it.
You can see the stunning results.
2. The welcome message
I actually hadn’t considered this until I saw the theme demo, but then I loved it: welcoming readers to your site when they visit your homepage … but not with an annoying pop-up window.
411 Pro comes equipped with a “Welcome Message” widget that you can easily populate with text and an image to give a quick, virtual “Howdy” to your readers … plus maybe a credential or two so that they are compelled to care about what you have to say.
3. The minimalist “sidebar” widgets
You may have noticed that 411 Pro does not have a traditional sidebar. I like this. It keeps the page uncluttered, thus focusing eyes on the content. Such a setup also allows my favorite part of the background image to stand out proudly.
But fear not; you don’t lose all of the positives that a sidebar can provide.
The included widget for social media buttons is easy to configure and displays your selected social media accounts stylishly in the upper right corner of the page. (It’s also easy to alter the colors of the buttons.)
And the included “Click Here” widget allows you to easily configure a call-to-action button that sits proudly and ready to be clicked down in the lower right hand corner of the site.
It’s the best of both worlds: minimalism to keep readers’ eyes where you want them and subtle reminders of the ways readers can connect with you.
4. Mobile responsiveness
I already mentioned this one, but it bears repeating: the HTML5-powered 411 Pro is mobile responsive.
So even me, an idiot when it comes to HTML and CSS, can have a site that looks spectacular no matter what device it is viewed on. And I can get it this way, literally, right out of the box.
So can you.
But wait, there’s … less?
Keep in mind that I didn’t use some special secret version of 411 Pro reserved only for Copyblogger employees. I used the exact same theme you would download upon purchasing.
You just add your background image, set up your widgets, alter a few colors here and there … and then start creating content.
If you’re anything like me, the best part of a site design (or redesign) is when it’s over. Because that’s when the writing can begin (or resume). I can’t remember a simpler site setup than I had with this one.
Less time for a better look? That’s one of the great benefits of 411 Pro.
Should you even bother?
Now here is the $64,000 question.
Hopefully I’ve made the case that 411 Pro is a smart choice for a personal blog-based website. But what’s in it for you? Is this an endeavor that you should devoting your valuable time to?
I don’t know.
As Shanice Cameron writes in this useful post on why she changed the name of her blog and business, you have to figure out your goals first.
I know mine.
My personal website has no immediate business purpose, insofar as I have no revenue-generating goals for it. I plan to use it as my own personal R&D sandbox for content I create here at Copyblogger, plus it will be a fun diversion.
And if I can pick up some subscribers and develop an audience along the way, that would be quite exciting. You know, the Brian Gardner model.
And those goals, I’m sure, will evolve over time. Your goals will be unique to you.
Maybe you want to set up a personal site to write about topics that would not be appropriate on your business site(s). Or maybe the simplicity of the theme, and the ability to grab attention with a compelling image, would work for your business site.
Maybe you combine the two. Or perhaps you look at 411 Pro and see a completely different vision. Go for it!
The benefit of a theme like 411 Pro is that it is spatially efficient and induces razor-sharp focus on your content. It’s the perfect fit for me. Go take the demo for a spin, you may realize it’s a perfect fit for you too.