Episode One: Decide to Redo the Website. Breathe. Research. Incubate. Sketch.
(*This is an ongoing little mini diary of the process of redesigning my website that can also be followed in the discussions area of my Web Snax: Super Simple Recipes For Easy Website Design online course. I figured if I made this process public it would be more motivation for myself to get my site updated and up and running fairly quickly while simultaneously helping students who are in the same situation now or in the future.)
Before: Goodbye old friend. You are not an ugly site, just a pain in the behind.
Two nights ago I decided to delete some old unused themes and old, inactive plugins in my WordPress website. Having old themes and plugins lying around are security holes that can make it easy for hackers to come in and do damage to one’s site. (*I have a yearly subscription to Sucuri who come to the rescue if that ever happens or malware is ever detected on my site.)
So I did a bulk delete and WHAM… was hit with the dreaded “white screen of death.” (Google it. It’s very very common and almost a right of passage for WordPress users to come across at some point.)
I desperately tried to get my site back up and running which I eventually did. While I was at it, I installed a fresh new updated WordPress as well as the latest version of my theme, Deep Focus from Elegant Themes. Whenever I update my theme (I’ve been using it since about 2011), I have to then go back in and using CSS, make sure my color scheme is how I want it, spacing, etc.
After updating, as is the usual case with this particular theme, I noticed that some of my links were changed, my contact form was broken, and my Nextgen Gallery missing. Colors and spacing were off as well.
I had a choice. Like every year when I update my theme and all the fixins’, do I spend days just getting my site back to the way it was using clunky tools and code from a few years ago? Or is it time to just redo my site all together, rethink its look and function? Can it grow with the person I’m becoming (an artist, educator, and author extending my outreach and services via my website?) Or do I keep my website for the person I am and have been, a university professor and an artist with an online portfolio that is minimally interactive?
After much thought and soul-searching, I’ve decided that since it’s partially busted anyway, it’s time to redo my entire site, grow and push myself to use THE latest tools, and try a new theme.
This past year I started using the M-word: Marketing. I’m an artist and we are really snobby in general about such things. But I’ve started making eCourses this past year and my first eBook is ready to be published shortly. I also started offering freelance design services. So I’ve wanted to build landing pages for various products, an opt-in form for subscribers to my mailing list, and in general let my website be my storefront and do much of the heavy lifting for me thanks to special offers I will offer, appropriate keywords, and easy ways for my visitors to interact.
I have much of that going on already at my current site, but my goal is to have a site where I can work smarter, not harder and be able to update, create, and change things more easily with powerful tools that are up to date and loaded with goodies.
Step 1: Decide to redo my website. Check!
Step 2: Research. Check! I’m going to try the Elegant Theme Divi, partly because since I already subscribe (for Deep Focus) I get it free anyway. I’ve also heard how great and powerful it is… like the Wizard of Oz.
Step 3: Find other sites that use this theme that I like. Check! What I’m interested in is other sites that also use this theme as a portfolio. I want to still have an artist’s site, just with more whistles and bells and have it be easier to update.
Step 4: Learn about Divi’s features. Check! I started watching some Youtube tutorials and especially like this one.
Step 5: Step AWAY from the computer and get thee to a notebook! -Working on it.
I need to step back and rethink my pages, categories, and make a new site inventory. Once I have the inventory of what content needs to be on my site, I can then sort out how I will organize the content via pages, posts, and menus. Finally, after those two things are done I can think about layout.
Like my University students, it was tempting to skip this part. However, I know that if I do this well, it will save me days, weeks, and months of work and frustration later.
Anyway, congratulations if you’ve read this far. Will my updates on my redesign process be helpful for you? Please like or comment if it is. -And wish me luck and minimal headaches please! 🙂
Thanks! Onward and upwards.