Friday, May 25, 2012

Tips for Preparing to Build a Website

Yes, I've hinted at this for the last 6 months.  

I'm transitioning over to a new blog format that will have my website and some other design related offerings soon. Really, I promise....soon.    

I know many bloggers out there who have done this and talk about it as such a major change and well, I'm right there with you.  What a cathartic experience this has been for me.  My tendency to obsess the details really took over because, you know, everything has to be perfect!

I'd like to offer some tips on how to possibly get through that process a little more easily.  These are things I learned the hard way.  


When you decide to move forward.......set aside the time and deal with it!

I can't tell you how long I've needed to revamp my website.  I just kept putting it on the back burner, not wanting to spend the money and not wanting to spend the time to go deep and figure out what I wanted.  I just put it off so long that it became a giant beast to deal with, looming at me, growling, waving it's arms, and scaring me to death!  I've had clients ask me why I didn't post the pictures of their projects on my website.
 :(  Yeah, it was a beast I ignored way too long.  I sort of did things backwards, tip #4 came along before I was ready.  It would've been helpful to have done some of my homework before I found THE GUY.


Develop and examine your long and short term goals for your business.

Okay, if you have a business, you should have a business plan and have determined where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years, and so on.  It's so important to evaluate your goals.  The goals I made 5 years ago have changed somewhat and I'm constantly reevaluating and correcting my course to get me to my ultimate goals.  Let's face it.  The economy and the new reality that is the way people are spending their hard earned dollars affects all businesses, especially a service business often considered a luxury. One thing is for sure........ you have to know where you want to go before you can build the vehicle to get you there.


Take time to visit all kinds of sites to see what you like.  

Yes, something we talk a lot about here on the blogs.....INSPIRATION!  I visited some of the sites of major designers across the country whom I admire and made notes about their sites' aesthetics, navigation, content, etc.  I was particularly interested in how their portfolios were set up.  This took lots of time, but really helped hone what I thought I wanted.  Yeah....."thought" is the key word here.  Enter Tip #4.


Find yourself a creative, website designer/marketing geek, 
"Virtual Biographer".

This was one of my biggest challenges.  I've come to  realize that it's not just about any one thing.... the aesthetics of the site (artist), the navigation (web designer), the ability to get your message out there and have it reach people (ad man), or what it says (creative writer).  Knitting all those disciplines together to achieve a cohesive statement is a challenge. This site will be your biggest sign out there in cyberspace about WHO you are, WHAT you do, and HOW you can help your clients.  It's bigger than any giant billboard on I-45.  How it looks, what it says, how easy it is to use, how friendly it is, all that comes into play to brand YOU.  So, finding the ONE single person that can handle doing ALL of those things, ALL of those creative endeavors that are not that closely related, is a SUPREME challenge.  Of course, at an ad agency, you have a team.  A team of specialized talents.  For a simple, small business like mine, now.....that's a little too much.  I needed to find the one guy who could do it all.........and lucky for me........

he cold called me.

And I was in a frustrated, talkative mood that day.


Trust him.

...or her.  Mine just happens to be a guy.  Geeeeee, this was hard.  This was my hardest lesson to learn.  How can I trust this kid (okay, he's young to me), to be able to thoroughly understand what I do so that he can help get me where I want to be.  He's got to build this vehicle for my work, my message, ME, and I just wondered if it could really happen.  Because this is so important to me.

This is my shot.

Coming from a PR background and seeming comfortable with all things geeky/techy, he seemed like someone I might take a chance on.  He had a different angle, a more thorough approach, a creative passion about him that only someone else that shared that kind of passion can recognize (and left brainers tend to think is foolish).  That's really what I wanted, someone who would love this project as much as I would and show it the attention and care it needed.  

After 6 months of working on this together and having a real roller coaster ride, we've almost landed it.  It will be a work in progress for awhile, but I'm really proud of the work we've both done.  We've had many debates over everything from color and content to navigation and offerings. He's encouraged me to think differently about my business and reexamine my goals by just pushing....pushing....pushing.... me outside my comfort zone.  It's been a complete and thorough shake up. doesn't look ANYthing like I thought it would. 

AND...... I love it.

(Update:  Visit my new site and blog HERE!)


Splendid Sass said...

Can't wait to see what you have done. I will bookmark this for future reference, as I will be doing the same thing soon.
Happy Memorial Day, Carla.

Taylor Greenwalt said...

I can not wait to see the new site. I do need to do the same. Great advise!

Jessie said...

Good tips and advise, Carla. Looking forward to see the new website!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!


Glamour Drops said...

That's funny, I have just been thinking this week that this is exactly what I need to do. Some things sort of just evolve in business, don't they?

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited for you! I can hardly wait to the end result of all of your hard work.

carolyn bradford said...

Loved this! These are the same things I think about all of the time and yet it's hard to turn it all over to someone else when you are the only one that knows what you want! I've had some great experiences with designers for websites…but the blogging world is a whole different field in my mind. I can't wait to see how wonderful all of this turns out for you! Thanks so much for your encouragement in the past!
Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Naz said...

Sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zone. It's a surprise and pleasure to find out that we actually like what's there. Can't wait to see the new transformation.

Barbara@HausDesign said...

I learned so much here Carla, as I am working on my business plan now and longer term I'd like a site of my glad you found a good resource - looking forward to seeing it!

Bryan Douglas said...

I particularly like tip number four. Developing websites today takes different slices from a lot of disciplines and merges them into one. Simply developing a good website doesn’t work today unfortunately. You need to conduct an effective online campaign. And to do that, you need to create good-looking designs and write quality content. And when you’re done doing that, you need to integrate them in such a way that is friendly to search engines.

Lowell Nguyen said...

One tip that I can add is to determine the purpose of the website. Today, most websites are built to promote business, but there are still some that use them simply to share information and insights. Business websites are obviously harder to create because you have to consider attracting audience.

Staci Burruel said...

Are there any updates regarding your website, Carla? I’m impressed that you were able to map out a plan, as this may ensure that your website is created smoothly. For me, websites serve as online portfolios, so you should definitely give it a lot of thought. Thanks for sharing these tips!

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