What if there was only Twenty Eleven?

Last week I attended Wordcamp Cape Town – the annual gathering of the WordPress geeks. That’s website stuff for anyone who isn’t familiar with WordPress.

There were some amazing talks, I was blown away by how inspired how I felt at the end of the day.

But there was one question in particular that I couldn’t get out of my mind, and that was a question posed by Woothemes Chief Product Officer Matty Cohen.

What if Twenty Eleven was the only theme?

So a quick tech lesson in WordPress – WordPress is a free framework that web designers use to create beautiful websites on. They either purchase or develop themes, which are kind of like a skin that make each WordPress website look different. Got it?

So what Matty was asking is what if there was only 1 website design to choose from.

What if we didn’t have the luxury of choosing between millions of designs to separate ourselves from everyone else?

I thought this was a great question.

It immediately forces you to think about the actual purpose of your website instead of focusing on the aesthetics as the differentiator.

It circles back to the actual work that you do and how your clients relate to it.

If you were forced to have the same website design as everyone else, you’d be forced to make sure your products and services were providing as much value as possible so that your clients would choose you over your competition.

You’d need to make sure that when your ideal client landed on your website, they’d immediately feel at home and honestly believe that you have the perfect solution to their problem.

You’d need to get inside their mind and look at life through their eyes to understand their frustrations and their dreams and speak directly to them.

You’d need to build your ‘why you do what you do’ story into your brand to create an authentic human connection between you and your customer.

There are small businesses that are so focused on what they do that they forget to take the time to describe the story of why they do it. If what you’re doing matters, really matters, then I hope you’ll take the time to tell a story. A story that can resonate and a story that can become true.

~ Seth Godin

Think about your brand, or your idea for a brand if you don’t have one yet.

Why are you qualified to do what you do?

And I don’t mean education wise – I’m talking experience wise.

What failures have you overcome that gave you the experience to learn from and move forward, and now portray you as an authority in your industry?

Have there been any specific turning points in your life where you were like “hang on – this isn’t right – I bet if I change things up and do it this way I’ll get a better result”?

And is the above reflected clearly enough in your own brand?

Don’t be afraid to show up as YOU in your brand.

Your natural strengths are a part of who you are and they’re what make you unique. It’s important to be aware of this while building your brand.

I try to think of my brand as a reflection of my personality. If someone stumbles upon my website for the very first time, I want them to ‘get’ me and my business immediately, so that when we meet in person or chat on the phone, we’ve already made that connection.

Becoming YOU is your purpose, in life and business.


  • Matty Cohen

    Hey Shannon,

    Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m really glad my presentation got you thinking about this.

    Another aspect of the “What if Twenty Eleven was the only theme, and it was a paid-for theme” question surrounds working for clients. Instead of purchasing just any old WordPress theme, or downloading a free one, the designer/developer would have only a single option… and it would be paid for. To me, that increases the value of the product, as it is scarce (ie: behind a paywall) yet also presents an interesting contrast as, while it is paid-for, it would also be the only option, leaving no room for choice.

    This paradox (as I see it) challenges one’s perceptions of value quite interestingly… how valuable is a paid-for product when there are also no alternatives available (regardless of paid or free)?

    See you at our next WordPress event!


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