On designing my own website

January 18, 2008

design / php / projects

So, at long last, I have taken a couple of tentative steps in designing my own website. Yes, this website. http://jonathanstegall.com. Typically, I don’t blog about projects until they are finished, but I’m thinking I’d like to blog my way through this one. To encourage myself, and document the reasons that I do certain things and do not do certain other things, and so on.

History of jonathanstegall.com

This site has existed since I was in art school and had to create a portfolio for myself. I did so. It was not one of my best sites. It wasn’t a horrible site, but it certainly wasn’t very good. The best part about it was the fact that the entire thing (a Flash site) was controlled through ActionScript: the colors, background images, content, animation, etc. Which was fun.

Anyway. When I moved to Atlanta and got a job, I didn’t see the need for a portfolio. I don’t have a whole lot of free time, and typically I have a lot of things that I would like to be doing and don’t have time to do them. Thus, freelance isn’t a high priority, and I don’t have a whole lot of need for a portfolio. So, I turned http://jonathanstegall.com into a blog.

I enjoy blogging. I have opinions about almost everything, and I like to share those opinions. It helps me think, it helps me grow, and it even gets me a bit of random traffic from Google and Technorati and so on.

Where to go from here

So, this site is currently built in WordPress. I like WordPress. I used it a bit in art school, and have used it a bit since then on other sites. I enjoy building themes, and working with the code. I know php well enough, and enjoy it well enough, to do what I want with it. It’s extremely customizable, and extremely powerful if one knows how to make it powerful. At this point, the site is using the default WordPress theme. I haven’t changed it, mainly to motivate myself to, whenever there was time, get busy and create something for it.

Here is where it gets difficult. Designers are often their own worst clients. I have had some odd clients, but I have to agree: I am the worst. It takes me forever to know what I want, I’m rarely satisfied, and I always think I could do better. This is also part of the delay, and it’s part of the reason I want to blog my way through the process. I want to see if I emerge as a satisfied, or even close to satisfied, client of myself.

First steps

I started in a sketchbook. I like to begin websites with a sketchbook. I sketched out a basic layout and structure, and a small navigational structure. When I design layouts for WordPress, I do not treat them as though they are WordPress layouts. They are websites. They don’t need to look like they are made in WordPress, necessarily.

Then, I moved to Photoshop, and started a grey box layout. So far, so good. But then I started playing around with some colors. And that’s where I started to be a bad client. I’m not yet satisfied. We’ll see where this goes.