So you’ve decided to build a website? Well, let me be the first to congratulate you on a terrible mistake.
Building a website and maintaining it is a motherfucking pain in the arse and chews up all your spare time and drives you crazy with stupid fucking bugs that are dumb and piss you off.
Also, you pretty much need one in this modern day and age. So… congratulations!
I will now attempt to impart some slightly less sarcastic and slightly more helpful advice on the topic of websites.
Actually first I’m getting a drink because I definitely need booze for this. Also a sexy soundtrack. Probably something with dirty guitar, because dirty guitars are pretty slutty and we are talking about websites after all. Websites are total sluts.
I think Band of Skulls is a good choice. Play Bruises if you feel like listening along.
Alright, I’ve got whisky and dirty, slutty guitars. The world’s slightly better.
Ok, the first thing you need to understand about websites is the same first thing you need to understand about writing or producing or editing or DSing a cycling team or being a road captain or any fucking thing where you make decisions. You have to be willing to:
Kill your darlings.
Your favourite idea? Gotta be willing to kill it. The part of the whole thing you like the most? Kill it. Your firstborn child? Kill it. That hot barista who eyefucks you so good in the mornings AND gives you extra coffee for free? Kill it.
I mean, only if it’s not working. If it’s working totally keep it. But the point is that it’s all just one big fucking experiment anyway so what works now probably won’t work in 2 years and you’ll need to change shit, so don’t get too attached to anything anyway. Treat every component like a character in Game of Thrones. You’re never sure which one it’ll be, but you know for a fact that one of these fuckers is going to die any second now…
Basically you need to be George and not JK.
But it’s not all bad news! Just because you and your website isn’t a happily-ever-after love story doesn’t mean there isn’t anything in it for you!
So the most important thing for you to work out is what the purpose of the website is.
Ideally you can distill this down into one clear goal for yourself.The answer can be all sorts of things, but it’s important to get this idea as specific and precise as you can because it will determine the type of website you need and what you need it to be able to do.
Some people want profile/professional bio type websites which explain who they are and what they do, often with a personal blog attached so they have somewhere easy to update.
That’s broadly the kind of website you showed me as an example today, although I’d argue that’s a perfect example of a messy and confused website. I couldn’t tell if I was meant to get news and updates, offer her work or look up election results on that site. Which is sort of ok because there was no clear call-to-action pointing me to a button to click or a latest update or anything anyway. It was just a mess of visual noise.
I’d heartily recommend you try to avoid the visual noise approach.
At a guess (and it really is a guess) based on some of our recent conversations I think you might want to explore something that partly profiles you but also gives you a chance to develop and build an audience for your writing. I’m (still) guessing that you are hoping to work towards creating a bit of a following for the kinds of stories (interviews and profiles?) that you want to tell yourself, without having to rely on commissioning editors who are as likely to steal your idea and let someone else write it for free as they are to actually offer you money for your work. But sometimes I’m cynical so that could be a really shitty guess.
So anyway, IF that is the kind of site you’d like to build then here’s my suggestion on the best way to do it.
Make it mostly a blog.
If the goal is to build a profile as a writer then put your writing front and centre. Choose a WordPress theme that is primarily about blogging. You can still publish photos and stuff in a blog, but make the writing the first thing people see when they hit the site.
WordPress has some really nice, classy and evocative themes…
Obviously in addition to the blog you’ll want/need to build out a bio page. I’d suggest two actually. The most important page is your current bio. Sort of a digital CV/About page. Keep it to no more than one typed page of info, but include a bit of history as well.
The second bio page would be a more formal history of your sporting career (if you wanted, but I’d recommend including highlights, some nice photos and stuff – people like that sort of shit and it probably helps the SEO too).
And, at least to start with, I’d keep it restricted to that. The beautiful thing is that you can always add more shit to a website later, but there’s no need to load it up now. I would definitely recommend avoiding putting in huge photo galleries. It’s unnecessary and time consuming and not really relevant to your purpose (unless your purpose is to put all your photos online, in which case may I suggest you get a flickr account instead? It’s much easier).
So yeah, I hope that all makes sense and is at least a little bit helpful (or entertaining). The main point is to keep the purpose simple and as much as possible make everything on the site serve that purpose. Also, that helps reduce the amount of details you need to stress about and stuff like that.
Most importantly, remember that you always have options. So don’t get stressed out. There’s always a viable alternative.