5 things I wish I knew when designing my website

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As stated in my last post, I just finished designing my website. I am a print designer, so making the transition to the web was a bit more challenging than expected for me. Code can, at times, be a challenge. But I did my research and used a variety of sites to help me accomplish my design goals. A few of the sites I used were:

And countless blog posts exhibiting examples of wonderful sites categorized into specific areas: minimalist, illustrative, grunge, watercolors, etc. The list is endless. I researched and researched and researched trying to understand everything I could so that I could build a perfect site. And these sites and all of the tutorials I read were incredibly helpful. I learned a lot by reading through these sites. So thanks to those writers and all the others who offered inspiration in my site-building quest.

However, at the end of this process, there are a few things I wish those tutorials I had read said. Here is a brief list.

Just do it
It took me a year and a half to design my site. Well, that isn”t exactly true. It took me about 2.5 months to actually design it, and the rest of the time was spent researching and perusing other sites to see what other people were doing. I was so busy looking at other people”s site, that I wasn”t working on my own. And to be honest, that much research intimidated me. There are some really amazing sites out there and it made it difficult to start working on my own. But after I had a couple friends point out that I should be done with my site already, I decided to forget what everyone else was doing, and do something that was natural for me and fit not only the goal of my site, but my personality as well.

Once I got started I thought it would be a quick process. But since my site is a portfolio site, preparing the images took a decent amount of time. I didn”t realize just how long it took to prepare the mass amount of pieces I had. Additionally, I had to learn to patient when the code I drafted didn”t work immediately. Sometimes it was as simple as I had forgotten a colon, other times it was a deeper issue and it required additional inquiry and research to figure out. There were times frustration took over and I made simple errors. As soon as I employed patience, it was a much smoother process.

Caffeine Required
I”m a bit of a caffeine junkie to begin with, but building this site required more caffeine than normal. And really, I expect this will be true for me as I attempt to increase my freelance projects. I already have a “9-5″ job, so I was working on my site post-work, post-workout, post-dinner (sometimes…if I got around to eating), and on the weekends. I stocked up on the coffee, Bing”s and monsters. This not only kept me going and motivated, but provided a nice break to stand up and refill my mug. Speaking of breaks…

I”m other passion is yoga. I found it essential to make sure that I took breaks from the computer. I would schedule reminders to make sure I got up and stretched. Sitting in a chair, staring at a computer for as long as we do is not healthy. It”s important to take a step back and take care of our bodies. I also found that when I took a break and stretched, I felt better when I returned to work. Any kind of exercise would apply to this, I just happen to be a yoga freak. As you can tell by the design of my website.

Celebrate the Small Successes
I do this with my print design and found it helpful in web as well. This works in tangent with the patience. I wanted my website done. But it takes time to put the whole thing together. I made sure to celebrate when I finished each page, got my shadowbox to work, etc.

The technical side of things is essential for web design. And that”s what the tutorials I read were focused on. These tips above aren”t technical, but definitely helped with my sanity and my physical well-being, which is equally important.

What tips would you add? How do you keep your sanity? I would love to hear from you.

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