It was probably closer to 175-200 hours, but I know it was at least 150. Over the last two months I took every little bit of extra time I had and I put it into redesigning my web presence. I put in an extra month of work in the last two months: late nights, weekends, not getting laid, cold, alone. Just me and my machine.
“YOU SPENT 150 HOURS ON YOUR WEBSITE!!!” Duh! If you were creating a “physical” business you would spend tons of time on goals, design, deliverables, staff, and how many bags of fortune cookies to purchase. Just go into a major grocery store. They have it laid out so that you have to walk through aisles of things you don’t want, to get to the items you came to purchase. That’s how a package of Oreos gets into your shopping cart, even though you’re on a diet. Or in my case, two packages.
Similar to a grocery store, I put in the work designing the flow of my website so that I can psychologically extract everything I need from you! Bwwwahahahahaha!
What Did I Want?
This is the third iteration of my stand-up comedy site. The last redesign was 3 years ago. That’s an eternity in internet years and 28 in dog. My site needed a do-over, or since I’m trying to push into the pro-market in 2018, my storefront needed a pro-over. Does this mean you have to spend as much time on your site? No, but do put some thought into it if you don’t want to hurt our eyes.
I had to determine what the purpose of this thing was. What did I want to achieve with this blob of HTML/CSS/PHP/SQL code? This process happened inside my subconscious mind for half a year while my conscious mind collected bits of information on the Who What Where When Why Hows. I came up with 3 things I wanted. (Go to my homepage and see if you can figure out the 3 strategies I was trying to achieve, and compare it to what I wrote below.)
- Most people who visit my site don’t know who I am or what I do. That should be the first thing the site should tell them. Also, it needs to make visitors aware of the shows I’m doing.
- Collect as many e-mail addresses as possible. I think there’s value in social media, and it’s good for daily use, but it’s an inconsistent connection. My followers don’t see everything I post, and Facebook’s or Instagram’s algorithm decides if my followers should see my post. E-mail, however, is consistent and if I send one e-mail per month I can have a one to one connection with every person on my list. It’s like calling someone on the phone versus posting an ad at a coffeeshop. Virtual engagement is much higher with e-mails, and newsletter peeps are more likely to come to shows! You should sign up for my newsletter too. If you’ve made it this far down, chances are you already got a pop-up to ask for your e-mail. If not, sign up here to tap into my thoughts.
- Content content content. When someone reads my articles, or watches a video, show them more posts. Have it be visible and relevant. You probably saw the related posts inserted within this article (e.g. More: Article Title). Also, before beginning this list I asked you to check out my homepage and tell me the 3 strategies I was going to mention. Well, that was another click, sucker! Unless if you didn’t click that link. In that case, I’m not gonna tell you how hurt I am.
I believe these 3 things will drive people to come to my shows. Even the content I post is just a little tease, a trail of Oreos, leading you to my show. That’s the most important thing! I want a one to one connection with you! No 140 charter trolling on Twitter! I can’t stress that enough! I am a stand up comedian! Come watch me perform standing up! Please?
How Did I Do It?
This wasn’t the first website I built. I’ve been programming since I was 11. I’m sure I have a “website” resting in a Geocities graveyard. Yet, with the tools available today, most people can build a great looking site on their own. Though it may not be as customized as mine. Note, I haven’t done a lot of programming over the last couple of years, so I had to relearn some things.
My previous website was already using WordPress, but many of the sites being built now are using visual page builders like Squarespace or WiX. I had some decisions to make, because switching would also take work. So I sat down and wrote everything out, while visualizing all the main pages of the site. I wire framed it, and based a lot of the content on the website I already had.
I incorporated many of the design examples I collected over several months prior to the start: design trends, widget ideas, color schemes, etc. I knew that eventually I’d be working on a website, so I started collecting ideas. It’s like a girl planning for a wedding someday. When the time comes, you have most of the elements you need. So, get a Pinterest boys (girls, you probably already have a Pinterest) or Evernote if you’re planning on creating your own anything in the near future.
I took all of my ideas and I assessed whether WordPress or Squarespace (or another CMS) would be the best option. I ended up finding a great pagebuilder plugin called Divi for WordPress. It gave me the visual functionality of Squarespace, but the customizability of WordPress. Which is exactly what my neuroticism needed. I started the trial and off I went.
I downloaded all the components and code I needed and started building pages one by one based on the wireframes I created. I also set a date for Beta Testing and one for Launch (#goals). The latter was easier to set because I wanted the site launched prior to me headlining Comedians on the Loose at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC on Oct 20, 2017. I set launch date to Oct 18, 2017.
It took a lot of work, researching, learning how to use the tools and checking if the tools would do what I needed them to, and if not, would I be okay with working with the limitations. I can customize “anything” with WordPress, but there is no such thing as perfect. At some point I had to make decisions and move on, even though I could’ve done it “better”. I had to settle with good and gets my job done. Some of the plugins I used were contact forms with Ninja Forms, mobile menus with Superfly Menu, e-mail collection with Bloom, and social sharing with Monarch. Bloom/Monarch come free with Divi. I also added WPRocket to improve the site download speeds, and a few other components that aren’t that important to mention. Oh yeah, and I also added love. Obvi.
Launched On Oct 20, 2017
I launched, 2 days after I originally planned (Oct 18, 2017), but right in time for me headlining at Gotham. I didn’t get to test as much as I would like, but from what I can see, the plugins are all functioning well. The great thing about WordPress and it’s plugins is that someone else has already tested the functionality. I faced coding issues, but they were relatively minimal, compared to the last redesign. I also created some custom features when there wasn’t a plugin for it. I still have some other fixes to make, and also increase the overall speed of the page loads, but for the most part, I was able to finish this behemoth of a project. I just did a gut rehab of a house people! Virtual champagne for everybody!
But, What About Me, Sadiq?
If you don’t know how to make websites or code, head over to something like Squarespace. It’s one of the easiest ways to build your own website and you’ll do it visually. The components will look semi-generic and you won’t be able to customize extensively, but it’s still a great place for beginners. My advice is to just sign up and start. You can learn about it along the way and it’ll spur ideas of what you want to build. You can always stop and come back to it later.
If you use WordPress and are planning a redesign, I highly recommend Divi. Though just make sure to consider the site load times, because it is an extra builder on top of WordPress.
If you’re very experienced…why are you still reading this? Because of the cute way I structure sentences? Definitely.
Now stop bothering me. Go create. Do something with your life.