I’ve just gone through the third website design of my other blog, the travel and photography site Uncommon Traveling.
That name also represents a third name change. It’s gone from Janice Schultze Writing and Photography, The CaliColorado Traveler, and now the current one.
Fun times…no, not really.
I would say that while I’m trying to find the right mix of catchy branding and good looks, the latter has been extremely frustrating, because I’m still trying to understand the principles of good web design structure.
Now after settling on a name and appearance that won’t give me the jitters, I’ve learned a few tough lessons that I want to pass along to you, so you won’t have experience the pain (or most of it) that I had to. Of course, this has more to do with a travel blog, not a travel marketing blog. But I think the general ideas still apply.
Have some working knowledge of coding
I’ve tried and tried again, and then I tried some more. But I just can’t get deep into the alphabet soup of coding and all the stuff that goes with it. You know what I’m talking about: HTML, CSS, XML, ABCDEF (last one’s a joke, BTW). I know some of it by default, but since I’ve gone back to WordPress for the travel blog, it’s still an exercise in patience. Having said that, I still think you should be comfortable working with the HTML pages when needed, so you can make basic changes when needed.
Back it up and get it back
While your blog may not have a lot of visual content, especially if it emphasizes marketing information, my travel/photography blog certainly did. I never paid much attention to the backup files on my blog content. I simply took it for granted that it was automatically doing that on its own. It was, but I didn’t retrieve the files when I made the migration. I just assumed that the tech guys who did the job would do that. So now, I have to manually restore all of my photos to the blog. Lesson learned – make sure you get your precious blog info where it needs to go.
Crack a book or two
Just because you’re a user of websites doesn’t automatically make you an expert, as I so harshly found out. I had to swallow some pride and say “I’m not sure how all this stuff should go together on the site.” If you don’t want to be completely ignorant (like I’ve been) when it comes to good website design and user experience (UX), then read up on the subject. Two I’ve found very useful and not too geeky are “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug, and “HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites” by Jon Duckett.
When all else fails…get help!
To save money, people try to go the DIY route and do the web mastering all by themselves. While there are some sites that make it super-easy to be your own designer, coder and content creator, most of these sites don’t always look that great. So look into outsourcing options to allow you to leave these complex tasks to others who do this already, and focus on creating awesome content.
What kind of problems have you experienced with your website
design, usability or maintenance? Let me know in the comments.