I used to always remember my father, who’s a painter and decorator, would infuriate my mother by leaving our own house in disrepair and the last job my Dad would work on. I now find myself drawing the same parallels with my experience in all things web and technology. Quick to offer my help and advice to others but not working on my own projects and some much needed web housekeeping.
I started out dabbling with HTML programming in an internet lunch club building my college first ever web site, yes internet and web sites were so new then back in 1997. When I was on my student placement year gaining work experience at Hewlett Packard, I programmed web pages for other project managers working on SAP ERP implementations. I had no clue what that meant but it sounded grandeur to me at the time. I programmed in HTML, Jscript creating Active Service Pages and some sql statements to extrapolate requests to a database. I struggled with the latter. Also using Microsofts’s very own FrontPage (the equivalent of the Squarespace, WordPress, Wix of today), a first in a bit of drag and drop web page creation, it was still overcomplicated.
Through my almost 18 years those foundations I learnt have been valuable, but it’s hard to keep on top of the latest coding standards and tools when your day job changes your focus, mine has been leadership and management roles in technology.
I offered to setup a friend’s website for them, to help them grow their own business and bring in leads. I knew there’s not much use me wasting time coding from scratch, so I cheated, yes I know! But it’s so simple these days with all the tools available to create your own website. I found a website I wanted to base my friend’s on and worked out it was built in Squarespace. I’d use that years ago when I created the Nukanti Foundations website in a hackathon in 24 hours. I recall setting up the basics of the site actually only took us one hour, but I was surrounded by very knowledgeable consultants who would charge out £1500 daily rates to create a similar eCommerce site for clients. So getting to work, I found the right design template, Squarespace has limited templates but oozes design prowess. Adding content and using the tool was fairly straight forward and I remembered how to create the markers on the page to create it. Literally within about an hour, I had an outline for my friend’s website. I emailed him some suggestions on content and asked a few questions so I could populate it more. I also needed examples of my friends work and some testimonials.
I also threw in a bit of homegrown branding and marketing for my friend. Suggesting a catchy, memorable name for his business and site, identifying the web address (domain/ URL) was available to purchase. Spending two years in management at a Creative Agency was paying off.
I knew Squarespace would be slightly pricier option but the design element and ease to use was a no brainer for me personally. Responsive, meaning mobile ready websites, are a must nowadays and Wix do not have this built in. The comparison I tell clients is you pay ‘0’ for advertising now, spending a mere £15 a month should pay for itself in the first month, else I need to eat my hat proverbally! Wix tool is FREE so attracts a lot of interest and is a leader in web site creation tools, however the design and marketing element I had with Squarespace won, you can read more about the differences here and try it for yourself.
Since my friend was not able to see a preview remotely, I dived in and signed up. Squarespace offers a 14 day free trial without having to enter credit card information, but once you do go ahead you can also cancel within the first 14 days too. Making it live allowed me to show my friend want it looked like and the kind of content we could tweak. A few conversations, emails and photos exchanged later and some editing on the pages and the site was complete.
I mentioned that the next stage would be to start sharing. My friend said to me ‘But it comes up automatically on google results?’… ‘Not exactly I replied’. I had not thought about the search criteria or SEO yet I was so focused on getting it ready and live. No one is going to find this site without that.
Since it was now 2017, and not 1997, I‘d hoped Squarespace would offer some automated solution to this. No, and I am really out of the times here. So I went about learning about search optimization ‘SEO’, adding the tags, creating good titles of pages and using the google console tools to list or index your site. When I was done my brain cells were aching a little but I had done it!
My friend was delighted with the website, turning it around in less than 12 hours and with branding, a logo and content. I just realised I now had a lot to do on my own websites and get on with some much overdue web housekeeping of my own.
Have you checked and refreshed your website recently?
This blog post was written on blogging platform wordpress.com