When my revamped website was unveiled in February 2016 it looked terrific when it was first unveiled. But those who have visited it more than once will realise that, though it continued to look terrific, it was changing little.
The reason was simple: I could not master the technology; I became demotivated – and the site stagnated.
Which is why, eight months later, I decided to change my supplier (for the record to a company called 1and1) and revamped the website again. It may look a little less sophisticated (one gentle critic called it a little retro), but I know (because I put it there) that there is more and varied content. I also think it feels livelier, and closer to how I perceive myself.
It has been a painful few months, however, and I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learnt.
1. Be clear what you want the website to do. This will be the lodestar by which you will steer it, and without it your website could drift. When I started to realise that I was not achieving the goals I had set, I was forced me to accept the inevitable: it wasn’t likely to get any better and I needed a Plan B. Painful but right.
2. Balance appearance and complexity. A sophisticated and elegantl site loses its value if you can’t operate it easily. Check before you start if you are going to be able to easily update information, add and subtract photographs, tweak headlines. And answer any responses.
3. Clarify support. Will you have to rely on email, and will it be acknowledged and answered promptly? Will you have a named person to support you and what will be the arrangements for when they are not on duty? Will you be able to contact support directly, or will you be routed through some kind of call service? These issues are particularly important in the early stages of the learning curve. When simple hurdles become impassable obstacles, the motivation quickly disappears.
4. Invest time in learning. Make lists of what you need to learn – and then try to match these with the resources available. Use those that fit your learning style: videos, notes, personal coaching? Best of all, find a friend who can help. Review your progress systematically. This will help you get – and keep – in control.
5. Enjoy. Once you start to have fun – as I have been having again – the task should stop becoming a chore. You will start to transmit ithis enthusiasm to your visitors - which will give you a better chance of achieving what you set out to do.