Yes. It’s about time. This website has had the same layout since 2011 (or maybe earlier). Yet it has evolved drastically since then, especially in the past year; and even though I still think the theme and color palette are gorgeous, I’ve been daydreaming about what I could do differently – and, after researching my customization options, I realized how limited this theme, and a free WordPress account in general, really is.
The last straw in all this was this recent article by Juliet Marillier at Writer Unboxed. It’s a wonderful piece about author websites evolving over time and the challenges of keeping pace with technology, social media, etc. About one-third of the way through, Ms. Marillier wrote this about her website’s current format:
Lovely as it is, this website, too, has outlived its usefulness.
That line made me sit up straight. It perfectly captures how I feel about my own website – and I can’t ignore that feeling any longer.
So, changes are coming soon. Here’s a quick run-down of what I’d like to do:
- Buy a WordPress-hosted domain name
- Change the layout and color scheme using a new theme / template
- Create a custom header / banner (which I’ll need help with)
- Move the Main Menu from the sidebar to the top of the page, or underneath the header (not an option with Dusk To Dawn *shakes her fist*)
- Make my social media links more noticeable (also not an option with Dusk To Dawn :P)
I’ve started researching my options… and to be honest, it’s overwhelming. Firstly, I’m a visual thinker only to a certain extent. I know how I’d like the updated website to appear, what colors it would use, etc. But unless I see something that matches what I see in my head, I hit a brick wall when it comes to imagining how to go from “template” to “my website,” if you know what I mean. And the more I read, the more questions I have about the process.
Second, I’m terrible with HTML, CSS, and the like. It’s like reading an alphabet from an alien’s language – or even worse, reading the instructions for doing my income taxes. I don’t understand it. How much do I need to know if I buy my own domain name and personalize a new theme? Can I get help for a reasonable fee, or will I truly be on my own?
Before I go any further in this process, I’d really appreciate some advice from website owners who read this article. I’m especially interested to hear from people who are using WordPress as their host or have transitioned from a free WordPress blog to a paid account and domain name. You can reply directly in the Comments section below. Or, if you’d rather keep your response private, you can email me via the Contact page.
Here are my questions. You don’t need to answer all of the them. They just happen to be what I’ve been wondering as I’ve been researching:
- What has your experience been so far as a website owner? What would you consider the pros and cons of having your own website as opposed to using a free WordPress account?
- How did you decide on your website’s design or appearance? Did you create it on your own, or did you have help? If you had help, who did you use? Was their pricing reasonable? Would you recommend them?
- How easy or difficult is it to customize things such as font, color scheme, etc.? Also, did you purchase a theme or package and personalized things from there, or did a designer or other individual help?
- If your website has a custom logo or header, how was it created? Did you or someone else make it?
- What’s one thing you didn’t know about owning a website that you’d like other new website owners (like myself) to know upfront?
Finally, for all readers / visitors, an honest question: When you look at this website, is there anything you think could be changed, improved, removed, or added? Even though I have my own ideas of what to change, I might still be overlooking something. So, any feedback you have will be welcome.
Thanks in advance for your help! 🙂