Building a website, even if to you "java" means coffee
Starting this blog was one of the scariest things I've ever done. The vulnerability and all the fears tied up with it aside, I knew absolutely nothing about web design. Still, there was no doubt in my mind that I would create it myself.
I learn by doing. No matter how many times I read instructions, rules to a new game, etc., it is only once I do something that I truly understand what it entails and how best to approach it. As you may have noticed, just this past week I have done quite a bit of fiddling around with my blog, changing the template and placing content into more specific categories. While I'd love to say that this went off without a hitch, the truth is that last Thursday I inadvertently deleted my entire site. Luckily Squarespace has wonderful customer service and through the help chat, I was able to easily retrieve everything. *Exhales for the millionth time* Both the good and terrifying moments of this experience taught me so much about Squarespace, building an effective site, and forced me to really think about what I want in a site. Had I handed over the reigns to someone else giving them bits of direction and approving (or not) different iterations, I'm not sure I would have given my site's design and functionality the same level of thought. When it comes to the hours I have spent choosing fonts, a little less thought might actually be a good thing still, building it myself has made me that much more aware of the decisions I'm making.
I don't mean to imply that people who use a web designer don't care about their sites; there are many instances in which outsourcing this work makes a lot of sense. For me, so much of creating my blog was tied to my career change, that I couldn't imagine letting anyone else do it. Web designers also charge a pretty penny and frankly I wasn't willing to spend the money at that point in time, I'm still not, though I can envision a time down the line when I might hire someone to help me.
Creating this blog took me outside of my comfort zone, both emotionally and skill-wise. Squarespace makes it easy, but there is still a lot that I don't know and am continuing to learn. With each post and discovery about what I want to achieve through my blog and site design as well as what the Squarespace platform can do, I come to understand myself and gain skills that just a year ago I didn't have.
If you're considering starting a blog or other website, I highly recommend building it yourself, at least the initial iteration. Will it be perfect? Probably not. My blog certainly isn't, and I'm not sure that this newest template is the last one you will see, but that's life. There will always be more to do and ways to improve. We are ever-evolving creatures and as things in my life change, whether they be work-related, personal, or otherwise, I am fairly positive that I'll want to make some sort of changes, however big or small, to reflect these shifts.
Have you ever build a website? What advice would you give?