Staying current in the Web world is no easy task. Especially if you are more of a “creative” and less of a “geek”. I don't mean that to be insulting. These days, I think being a geek is actually very cool. They have a big advantage over us non-geeks... in fact, I think they may just rule the world. Anyhow back to what I was saying. Web design is constantly evolving , so evolve is what I did (in my own way). To give you some background, before starting my business, I worked as a Web designer! Here is my Web design journey since I started my business in 2000. That is right, 2000 the millennium, back when Y2K was a big deal (if you have no clue what I’m talking about, don’t worry, you didn’t miss much).
Since web coding is not my strong suit and hiring a coder just wasn’t in the cards, I tried so many ways of creating a website. You name it, I probably tried it. So this redesign has been years in the making. Here is my journey and hopefully by sharing this, I can save you some trial and error or give you a few laughs.
My original website was designed 2001... back when you had to use a lot of JPGs to have a font other than COURIER, which now, seems like a really weird thing to do! I designed a rather unique-looking website that was basically a big JPG photo chopped up into a table with only the middle body section where I had editable text. I knew a little bit about html code so with a lot of help from my genius brother, I learned how to use php, html & java-script to create this fantastic site not to mention how to FTP (even how to ftp on unix!) Yah very geeky. I think it took me an entire summer to get it up and running.
I kept adding to my portfolio year after year thinking “my site is fabulous” until one day I realized, the Internet had drastically changed! My site appeared to be shrinking every year... and so it was, in a sense. As screen sizes increased with more resolution, my site became a tiny dot!
Something had to be done. I spent a long time coming up with ideas, and finally had a design (it’s so hard to design for yourself). I asked my busy brother to code my site then waited... I didn’t push, afterall, I was getting FREE code! So another year went by and I decided to take matters into my own hands. I downloaded a free html/css template and spent hours learning and adjusting the site to fit my needs. It was well worth my time. This was when Web 2.0 was the new standard...maybe 2009? While it was a simple design, it did the job.
So there I was with a proper-sized website, happy as can be but it didn’t take long for the site to look old. I bought another template but it was way too complicated, moved on to Adobe Muse and spent hours creating a site but wasn’t convinced the code was quality. Muse has a lot to offer and has become better each year but I have trust issues with auto-generated code.
WordPress was becoming very popular so I went to a WordPress conference in 2012 which made me realize there was much I needed to learn. And then the kicker, SMART PHONES! That was it, now my site was really out-dated. I have been designing websites for my clients through-out all this (hiring professional coders to code my designs so I’m no dummy, I knew my site was not up to snuff). Perhaps I would have to fork over a large sum of cash for my own site to be a custom, mobile friendly website?
I was busy moving around the country putting my husband through pilot school—spending a lot wasn’t an option. Then my brother (see a trend here?) suggested I look into squarespace. So I did. Wow, this was a new and improved template system... sort of a cross between WordPress, and Facebook. I was impressed. From there, I found out there is a whole new world of Web design opening up. Sites that allow you to freely design your own site and edit right in your browser and still have quality coding in the back-end (these are usually cloud-based). What will they think of next?
Using squarespace I now finally have the website I always wanted. Big, responsive (ie. mobile friendly), colourful, showcasing large portfolio images, custom fonts, content management, blogging platform, social media plugins, ability to add music tracks, beautiful built-in calendar, eCommerce for those who need it, forms and the ability to add custom code. Amazing! I love it. Best part is that I pay a monthly fee and I did NOT have to find a competent coder, which by the way, is no easy task. I recently found a great company (reliablepsd.com) for my custom responsive WordPress sites I design for my clients but before I found them, the design-to-code process was very stressful.
Usually people use large quality photos for sites like these but for a graphic design website, I wanted to showcase our work and keep the messaging simple which is why I chose colour and patterns. Because the template is responsive, you don't have as much control over the large full-width photos so if I uploaded an image with of my work on it (for example) it could end up cropped with viewers only seeing half of it on a mobile. The safe bet was to go with solid colours or patterns and direct users to the goods... the portfolio!
So this has been my honest web journey so far. Due to having this method of creating beautiful responsive sites without hiring a coder, I am now able to offer this to my clients as an affordable, professional option. You may be thinking of doing the same and use a site like squarespace (also check out PageCloud) to create your website. There is a little bit of time you will spend learning how everything works but it's time well spent for an affordable solution. I would strongly suggest having a designer oversee the project to create consistent branding through-out your site (but I’m a little biased)!
Welcome to Web design in 2015. Isn't it an exciting time to be alive?