Does the Big Brand System blog look different today? This past weekend, I made a change to the Prose theme (affiliate link) from Studio Press, the creators of Genesis themes.
There are lots of reasons to love Prose — it’s a theme that’s designed for people just like me, who want to be able to control the look of their sites, and who aren’t comfortable getting under the hood and tinkering with code.
Studio Press specializes in plug-and-play themes that look great right out of the box. The Prose theme was created for people who like to think outside the box and create a site that’s 100% unique to them. Does that sound like you? Read on.
How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways
Prose features design controls for all the little details I love to get my hands on. It makes customizing the look of your site simple and fast. It’s not perfect — no theme is — but since this is only version 1.0, I have high hopes for the future.
Here are the reasons I love Prose:
1. Unique headers are a piece of cake
One super-fast way to customize your site is by adding a graphic along the top rather than a simple line of type. Prose makes it easy by providing a place to upload the image in just one click.
2. Custom backgrounds are a snap
Want to add a color to your background? I recommend it. Adding a background is a one-step process with Prose. If you want to get daring and add an image or a texture, that’s simple, too. Prose lets you choose how the image repeats, and shows you a sample of the final product before you commit to it.
3. Design controls made for control freaks
Prose comes equipped with a full page of design controls. There’s something here for everyone — want to add an inner border plus hover color and drop down menus for your navigation? Check. Want to control the size and color of your entire hierarchy of headline styles? Got it. Need to add a widget to your header area? No problem.
Take a look at a section of the design controls in Prose. This is only the top 20% of the page!
4. Sidebars made easy-peasy
Sidebars are easy to snap together with Prose, too. Genesis supplies you with lots of cool widgets you can simply drag and drop to fill your sidebar with helpful information. Don’t fill it up too much, though. Follow Derek Halpern’s great advice here about keeping your sidebar simple for maximum conversions.
5. Plugins that pump up the power
Genesis has some ultra-cool plugins that allow you to modify your footer text, change how your blog displays author and comment information, and use “hooks” to extend the functionality of the theme.
News flash: Studio Press is working on a soon-to-be-released plugin that will allow you to use the free Google Font API on your Prose site, too. Font heaven.
Thou Art Not Perfect, However
I guess by now you can tell I’m a fan. The Prose theme isn’t perfect, and I’m composing an email with my Prose wish list to send to Brian Gardner of Studio Press. (Brian, you’ve been warned!)
Here’s what I’d love to see in the next version of Prose:
- The ability to specify site width. Right now, Prose comes in one size. This ended up being less of an issue than I anticipated, but I know many people will want to be able to make their sites wider or narrower than the standard size. I understand this is complex, and not easy. But I still want it, and I know others do, too.
- Controls to make the sidebar font different from the content font. Thanks to the CSS wizardry of the amazing Wendy Cholbi, I was able to get this effect on my site. Why is this important to me? Running your “business information” — like what you might feature on your sidebar — in a different font helps to differentiate it visually from your main content.
- A one-click way to move your navigation bar below your header. This is one of the first changes people want to make, and it’s not hard to do if you add custom.css code. But it would be nice to make the change with one click.
- A one-step way to upload your favicon image. The favicon image on my site is that blue “BIG” box you see up in your browser window. In order to get your favicon loaded up in Prose, you have to access your site through FTP software. This was the only time I had to open FTP software to set up my new theme. Why not eliminate that step, and make it easy to upload your favicon from within WordPress?
Great Out of the Gate
The version of Prose I’m using now is a powerful product that puts design controls into the hands of everyone — no matter what your level of coding ability. I can’t wait to see where the product goes from here.
What do you think? I’d love to get your feedback in the comments.