Is this a post on how to build the most awesome website ever that will magically double your business? No, it is not and if you are interested in that please PM me and I will point you to who you need to talk to. Is this a post about how to save yourself some heartache and maybe come out with your sanity semi-intact? Yes, if there is such a thing.
#1 Have a Plan.
That seems like an obvious one right? Well, it is important one. I hate detailed planning, the first time I built mine I didn’t really have a plan and I didn’t know what I wanted my website to do for me. It took forever to both build and have the website make sense, which then led to forced reincarnations #2 and #3. I was all over the place on my pages.
#2 Have the Right Tools Before You Start.
This most recent redo on my website took 3 months because I ripped apart my website on the backend before I was ready and then right when the finish line was in sight both my photo editor and my video editor crapped out and I had to scramble for replacements….after spending a decent amount of time laying on the floor staring at the ceiling going why?!?!?!?!?!?!
At the barest minimum you will need a website platform. If you can’t code some go-to ones are: wix, weebly or possibly wordpress but there are others. If you are a coding whiz then bless you. Understand that each platform has its own advantages and disadvantages. Play with them and see which one will work best for you.
In addition you will need a working photo editor (even if it is just to resize or crop photos to fit correctly into your template) and possibly a video editor but you may be able to do without. I lucked out that mine died on blackfriday so I was able to get Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements at a great deal. You may not need something so heavy duty…or you may have a Mac.
The last think you need is to be making progress with a good work flow and then have to stop to figure out how to do something on a program or spend hours trying to find one that works. Making sure you have all your tools ready to go and having a basic understanding of how they work before you start will save you a lot of frustration during the website building process.
#3 Set a Deadline(s)
I am the worst with self-imposed deadlines, I always end up struggling to reaching them no matter how hard I try. I started playing around with my website in September. In October, I set an ideal deadline of the end of Thanksgiving weekend. Then as I got closer and had another project to work on (wait until #4) I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I started pushing my deadline back and back with a hard deadline of 12/4.
Be realistic in your deadlines, everything will take longer than you think it will so I tend to pad my deadlines a little with extra time. Do you have a lot going on? Are you a manic who can’t rest until it is done? Include that in your deadline planning.
Sometimes I break the deadlines into chunks, ie: I want these pages done by this date or I want all of the copy done by that date. It can make you feel more accomplished and in control.
#4 Work How You Work Best
Some people need to go page by page and making sure it is entirely done before moving to the next one. Other people need to work by topic: lose layout, copy, photos etc. I am someone who needs to work on two projects at a time. When I couldn’t handle working on my website a moment longer, I would go sew so I was still making some sort of progress. This can cause extra stress sometimes when your deadlines for both are near each other and neither project is moving (as what caused quite a few mini meltdowns this time). Other people need to sit for four days and not move and just get it done.
No one will know how you work most effectively more than you will. Accept how you work and build your timeline around that.
#5 Stay Calm
Every time I have worked on my website it has been absolute torture. Nothing works right and everything takes 20 times longer than it should. I get so upset, crazed and have quite a few meltdowns. I just want it done and it won’t get done. Try taking some deep breaths and walking away from it for a little while (which is why I have two projects at a time). Have a few great support people who will understand your need to rant, rave and possibly cry. Sometimes you have to accept that not every little detail will be perfect. I have two bugs on my current site that drive me insane but there is nothing I can do about them right now.
It is okay to walk away and go do something fun and come back to it with fresh prospective. You will get more accomplished then trying to force it but to be honest…sometimes you just need that good cry to release the self-imposed pressure.
#6 Editing and Peer Review
As you are working on your site you may get so absorbed into the details you forget to keep looking at the big picture. Do the colors match? Does the layout flow? Does each page convey in the information it needs to. Is it too simple or too detailed? Take time to step out and away from your project and come back to it with an editing eye.
Also I always try to get a few other people whose opinion’s I trust to look at my website before I officially launch it to the masses. You can become to blind to things and a fresh set of eyes might notice something else. They can help test the functionality and find random bugs. Honest feedback is key to setting your best foot forward on your website.
#7 Keep it up to date
Once you finish your website and it is out in the world, make sure to keep it up to date. Does that mean you have to redo the whole thing every six months? No, but if you have upcoming event’s listed make sure they are recently passed or actually upcoming. When I see events listed as upcoming that are 6 months to a year old it makes your site seem less professional to me. Following up with small constant tweaks to pages will prolong the life your website before having to redo it again.
I hope you have found these 7 tips helpful and I wish you an easy stress free website build. If you have questions please reach out to me HERE and make sure to share your belly dancing website war stories in the comments below, I would love to hear them!
Tips, Tricks and Life of a Long Island Entertainer