I set out this summer with the goal of learning how to build a website. Like most people, I’ve always relied on web developers to do this for me, but that gets expensive and frustrating when I had to wait for their schedule to open up. Not to mention, they resent little changes. My first instinct was to find an online class, but I’m really more of a hands-on learner. So I took a whack at creating a site for my dragon boating blog.
I’ve been posting updates or blogs to websites for years for myself and various clients. That involves going in and changing specific blocks of text using a platform like WordPress. I couldn’t, say, change the color of a page, or modify the size of a column or add photos.
As WordPress has evolved, it turned out that building a site from scratch wasn’t that hard. And the dragon boat blog site was simple. No e-commerce function, only one form for subscriptions and no widgets. I had it up in less than a day. And it’s damn attractive, if I say so myself.
Feeling empowered, I dug into my KMA & Company site. I wasn’t going to change any code, just look at it. There have been a few parts of the design that I didn’t love, but my developer hates to be pestered with these small nits, so I tend to live with them.
It turned out it is obvious in WordPress how to make those little changes. So I went for it. The feature images on the blog index page are still a bit too large, but all in all a big improvement to my eyes.
After crowing about my success on FaceBook, my dragon boat team asked if I could help update their team site. It had been built by a web-savvy team member who had since moved to the East Coast. That proved more of a challenge because she was much more sophisticated than I am and had used some fancy widgets. It didn’t help that no one of the team could find the administrator’s credentials. But over the course of a few months we sorted that out and now the site is no longer stuck in 2015.
My point is that it’s good to have some basic technical skills related to your profession. And if the technologies that support your profession evolve, then you should evolve with them. Back in my early career, I learned how to cut and paste copy (the real way, using hot wax) and cut a separation using Rubylith. I worked on an early version of PageMaker with two designers in a garage in Concord; I’ve done video edits on a dedicated console as well as online; and I’ve typed copy directly into a teleprompter. All skills that came in handy over the years when a designer took ill or a late night crisis emerged.
Not that I’m going to make a career out of creating websites, but knowing I can, frees me of the perceived tyranny of the web developers and web masters. As they said on Seinfeld, I am the master of my own domain.