When I had my final interview with Praxis, they asked me which roles I’d be interested in developing skills for. I told them I was willing to try anything except for maybe a job in Tech.
About a month later, I saw an opportunity on the Praxis board for a gut health and posture clinic in need of a new website. I was torn. The granola in me was aching to work with a clinic so in line with my own personal interests. But fear of failure was holding me back too. I’d never built a website for a company or client before. I was terrified of WordPress. It seemed like this daunting, complicated, impossible to learn program for coders.
I’m writing this post today because my initial fears were completely wrong. Not only did I learn invaluable skills by taking on an opportunity that was initially above my skillset, but it has opened so many doors to me already. But the biggest takeaway from jumping on this gig has been how much I’ve learned about myself. I realized I really enjoy and have an eye for design. UX and UI design are two areas that have my interest right now. I’m learning Adobe Illustrator because I think it would be super cool (and valuable) if I could create my own graphics that match my vision rather than look for them online. Coding no longer seems like something impossible to learn. I’m a conscious, intelligent, and capable woman. Turns out a little dedication and practice is all it takes to get from point A to point B. Now I want to share with you what I’ve learned from my first big website build.
1) WordPress is changing every day. More and more page builders are being developed that replace the need to “hand code” your entire site. This is great for all us web design newbs. Quality and attractiveness no longer must be sacrificed due to a lack of knowledge of code languages. WordPress themselves are currently beta testing their own page builder, Guttenberg. For this project, I used the page builder Elementor. I purchased the premium version because I plan to use Elementor to build a lot more websites with a lot of advanced features. But for any basic website, just the standard Elementor plugin will be more than sufficient.
2) Even with the right tools, not everyone can make a beautiful website. There are so many options with these page builders. And the options are growing. This can be overwhelming for your Average Joe with Big Ideas. Sometimes people with good intentions and a little too much excitement end up with websites that look like this.
3) People will judge you. When you look at a website, you automatically judge the company you’re seeking services from. We all do it. If the website looks outdated, messy, boring or unprofessional, we subconsciously agree that the company must be too. The reverse is also true; A clean and interesting design makes us trust a company more and ultimately, want to do business with them.
4) Make your website stress-free. The experience that someone has using your website is equally important. You don’t want people to get frustrated while navigating your website because they can’t find what they’re looking for. Nine times out of ten they’ll just go find what they were looking for somewhere else.
5) Don’t treat website design like a job. If you’re bored while making a website, people are probably going to get bored looking at it too. Get inspired. This is a canvas where you can turn something ordinary into an exciting artistic interpretation.
6) Typography matters. Fonts convey moods and themes but also can make it easier or harder for someone to read what you’re presenting. Font combinations matter. There is a great database of Google font combinations which is completely free. This is one of my favorite aspects of web design.
7) Color palettes and hex codes are your friends. Don’t try to figure out which colors go well together on your own just yet. Be adventurous in another way, like by going with a palette of color combinations that you normally wouldn’t try. Again, there are a ton of great resources for color palettes online. This is my favorite.
8) Writing skills are invaluable. Copywriting is often a natural part web design. A crappy slogan and awkwardly worded content will take the focus off a beautiful design. Studying popular and successful company websites is a good place to start. But ultimately, the art of saying a lot by saying very little is priceless.
9) Asking for help is more than OK. We’re young and quick. Google can solve almost anything with a little determination. And if it doesn’t, there’s someone on a forum waiting to help you. Or your friend’s brother who’s a programmer for some company downtown where they sit on beanbags.
10) You don’t have to love everything. There’s always the chance that you put a lot of effort into something like learning coding or web design only to realize you don’t really like it anymore. That’s also OK. You didn’t waste your time or walk away with nothing. You tried something you weren’t sure if you could do and you did it. A lot of people can’t say that. They never put in the work from Point A to Point B to see what they’re really capable of, but even more importantly, what they enjoy. We’re all still learning and exploring. Give something new a chance today.