Lesson 2: “So, you want to create your own website, or start a blog”
In the first episode of this column, I underlined the importance of being super clear about the purpose of your website, or your blog. Is it designed to position you as an expert in your field, for example? Or to display your portfolio to future clients? To create a community around a particular interest of yours? Or to simply create a web presence that states who you are and what you do?
The next stage is the planning stage. It’s much easier to plan out your website with a completely objective mindset if you don’t think about anything technical just yet. So, I’d advise you to put that part of things entirely aside for the moment. Once you dive into the actual building of your site it’s so easy to lose your clarity of vision and be tempted to include all kinds of fancy bits and pieces on your site that actually distract from your real purpose.
Once you identify the aim of your website, you need to then get as clear as possible about your website content and the “look” of the site you’re going to create before you begin.
Visit as many sites as you can in the same field as you, both those that are very well established, and those that are just starting out. What do you like, and what don’t you like? What content do they include that is good? What kind of “look” do they have—clean and modern, for example, or rather more classic and traditional?
And while you’re there, notice how they “talk” to their site visitors— are they formal, or friendly? What colors do you find enticing? When you look at other sites, what colors make you cringe? What colors make you feel warm and fuzzy? What type of visuals are you drawn to? Are your favorite websites full of photos, but very little text? Or vice versa? Overall, what would you do differently from the way you see others are doing things?
You should enjoy the adventure of sifting through websites and finding your true voice and your true look. Since you have already established your purpose, the visual aspect of your website and the way that it “reads” should easily communicate this. And it will, once you have spent the time researching and understanding what type of content and look you want to share.
Taking screenshots is a very useful way of recording what you see as you navigate around the web.
- On a PC, press the PrtScn button, go to Word, and paste the copied content into a document (shortcut Ctrl+V).
- To take a screenshot on a Mac, hold down Shift, Control and Command and press 4, then use your mouse to draw a rectangle around the area you want to copy. Paste the copied content into your Word (or Pages) document (Cmd+V) and note down what it was you wanted to remember about the site, plus the web address as a reference.
When you’ve done your research, make a list of the pages you need, and roughly what content you are going to include on those pages. Your page list might look something like this:
- Home page: picture, intro text: what I do. (Social media buttons: Facebook business page and Twitter.)
- About: some background about me.
- Services: more details about the 3 different services I offer.
- Portfolio: recent photos of projects.
- Blog (photos of projects in progress, new projects, sketches.)
- Contact: form, email address and phone number.
You now have the bones of your future website mapped out.
How you transform your vision into a real, live website will depend on the system you choose to build it with. Today, there are multiple options for the Do-It-Yourself website builder. Next time we’ll look at some of these fantastic systems, so you can choose which one is going to be right for you.