I’ve finally made a website for a client!
Okay, the client Jazz Beams are good mates of mine, the budget was £0, and I pretty much just went ahead and made what I thought they needed without much consultation.
Not very representative of a real-world freelance web design job, then.
But it’s a start, and I’ve learned a few things in the process. Firstly, I needed to come up with a logo, so I spent a long time improving my Affinity Designer skills, and honing my eye for graphic design in general. I did some research into the signature visual aesthetic of the relevant music genres, took inspiration, came up with a few ideas, and made plenty of iterations on each one. We agreed on a playful, almost naive logo and typeface, and we aim to utilise some of the other logo ideas I had in different ways. That’ll be phase two of this project – get branded merch manufactured and add e-commerce functionality to the site to sell it online. Incorporating Woo-Commerce will be another key learning experience for me.
I also learned a bit more about hosting. I had to create and configure an ‘add-on’ subdomain on my live server – the one that this blog is hosted on – and get the domain name server pointing there. I hate the process of migrating a WordPress site from one place to another, that whole icky database thing. I discovered that installing jazzbeams.com on the danaddison.co.uk server added a little further pain, something unexplained went awry, and I had to resort to using my host’s live chat support service. Big up Siteground, by the way. Admittedly I have no frame of reference here, but so far they seem to be a really good hosting provider.
And in terms of the actual website build process, my big learning take-away was Chrome DevTools. It was about time I played with DevTools, and I definitely began to find my way around while working on this. I used Atmosphere Pro, a Genesis child theme from StudioPress, as a base for the site. I haven’t done any really juicy customisation; I still don’t have enough back-end chops to fully understand and alter features and functionality, especially using the Genesis framework. So besides choosing and configuring plugins for events, contact forms, social media buttons etc, I mostly just tinkered about with the stylesheet. Frankly, I’m still far from happy with how the website looks right now. I intend to make loads of design improvements, and we desperately need some decent photographs of the guys DJing to use on the site. But it looks at least half-way consistent with the boys’ brand identity, and it works ok. That’s a hell of a lot better than nothing.
Which brings me to my final key lesson: just ship it! This seems to be something of a mantra in that whole software entrepreneur startup realm, from what I gather. I take this to mean that you sometimes need to fight your perfectionist nature and simply release your product into the world. Us creators are often perfectionists, which can take us a long way towards excellence but can also ultimately shackle and inhibit us. Only by getting your creation out into the world can it really be said to exist at all, otherwise its just kind of a solipsistic exercise, and you’re all talk. And only by being out there can it attract genuine feedback, feedback that explains how it does, how it behaves, what its strengths and weaknesses are. Feedback essential for identifying where to direct your efforts to make the most effective improvements. Feedback to identify its actual identity, even.
A simpler way to interpret the ‘just ship it’ ethos could be this: you’ve gotta be in it to win it. The fruit is out on a limb. I’ve now made a website for someone, that technically makes me a web designer. I’d rather be a shit web designer who is improving, than a guy who likes the idea of being a web designer whilst doing something else, something less. And now I can conveniently listen to brilliantly curated mixes of spiritual jazz on my computer, so www.jazzbeams.com does at least have one happy visitor!