Hello my wonderful readers! I want to thank all of you for the support with the new website. I appreciate all the page visits and feedback. It feels good to read all the positive messages about this project since it took me almost two years to put it all together. I am ecstatic to know you love it.
I know what some of you are thinking:
“Two years? Girl, you could have had a web designer help you with that.”
True, hiring a web designer could’ve made my life a lot easier. The thing is I wanted to do it all myself and have the creative control. I had a vision for the new website and being one hundred percent immersed in the project was the only way for me to bring it to life. It was a huge learning curve and of course mistakes were made. It was all worth it. I am sharing with you the entire process of how the new site came to be.
Squarespace is a great platform to have a website and offers simple tools to create web pages. Although my previous site was doing well on Squarespace, the design options were limited. The site did not feel like it fit who I was as a person. I was already paying a hefty annual fee for hosting the site on Squarespace plus the domain name. Paying more for design options was not going to roll with me.
I learned to use WordPress years ago when I was a journalism student. My blog originally started there before I made a full website on Squarespace. I checked out WordPress and noticed the major changes. After more research and price comparisons, WordPress seemed like the perfect option for me. Wix was recommended to me as well, but the creative possibilities of WordPress intrigued me a lot more.
The next step was learning to use WordPress all over again. Thanks to affordable classes on Udemy, I managed to learn the platform in a few hours. Setting up the hosting site and the new domain name was a breeze and I discovered cheaper options thanks to the class. If you are curious, I use StableHost and Namecheap. I cannot emphasize this enough: KEEP YOUR HOSTING SITE AND REGISTAR SEPARATE!
Content Selection and Optimization
Now came a bigger question: what content will make the cut? I didn’t want to publish every single post I had done into the blog page. Despite my posts not being consistent, I did write a lot. So how did I choose which posts to keep? I asked myself:
“Which posts resonated the most with my audience?”
“What content can teach someone something new?”
“What pieces show that just being human is enough?”
All the posts that are on the blog pages made the cut if it answered all three of those questions for me. After the content selection, the next step was optimization. Big tip: want your website to gain traffic? Learn SEO! SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is huge for content creation. Using hashtags in social media is a form of SEO. For the blog, I had to categorize them and add tags. All the SEO details were added at the end of the Word docs in the drafting stage so it could be referenced when ingesting the metadata to the blog template.
Wordpress allows you to add more back-end components such ass slugs, keywords, and metadata description, but the most important thing you should do is add keywords to the main body of every post. Free workshops from General Assembly deep dive into SEO and content marketing. I highly recommend it.
The blog posts were not the only pieces of content that required optimization. My portfolio paged needed love too, so I used the same questions for choosing the right projects. More content will be added over time, I promise.
The next issue to tackle was designing the website. WordPress has so many themes to choose from and it can feel overwhelming. I tested various themes and to be honest it was exhausting. Nothing fit my vision perfectly. Google had become my best friend throughout this process and after asking a few questions, I discovered Elementor. It is a great web design platform for people like me who needed a “for dummies” guide. There is a huge learning curve with it. Their YouTube channel simplifies everything you need to do. Elementor applies a simple drag-and-drop concept using widgets. The design elements within each widget allows you to customize your site to your preference. I signed up for the pro version and went wild.
I love art! It’s obvious (have you seen my artwork page or Instagram account?). Like most visual artists, I went through MANY design concepts for the site. The most important thing for me was to keep it simple and user-friendly. For the color pallet I know I wanted to use black and white. Both are easy colors on the eyes, especially with fonts. Purple was automatically added because it’s my favorite color and I wanted some pop in the page designs.
For the typography I wanted something that resembled my own penmanship. My handwriting is sloppy, and I own it. The point it to make it legible for others to read the font. I found “Rock Salt” via Google and added it as my primary font. I love the way it looked for headers. The body text is a combination of Lato and Roboto fonts. Research shows they go well together, and I must agree.
Once the main framework was created for the web pages, I got to work placing everything where it belongs. Elementor allowed me to create templates for the blog, so it was mostly copy and paste. Images had to be resized and improved for the banners. I used Affinity Photo for that (I also recommend Affinity Designer and Publisher if the Adobe subscription is killing your pockets). I kept tweaking original concepts along the way and that’s what made the process fun for me.
Trial and Error
Every web page and post I created had to be tested many times. Testing a site is essential to make sure things are running smoothly. I had a good team helping me out. My husband, brother-in-law, and one of my best friends looked at the site on their computers and phones. I asked for as much feedback as possible and they did not disappoint. The great thing about Elementor is that is allows you to fix the parameters of the display on a tablet and mobile phone while working on the desktop version for your site. There is a lot of tweaking involved.
I also had some connections on Linkedin who I consider web wizards contribute their input as well. It was frustrating at times and my biggest annoyance was thinking a problem would become a “quick edit” just to discover that was not the case.
So, what was learned throughout this entire project?
- Web design is hard. I knew this already, but with all the work that went into using Elementor to create the website, I do not want to know what the process is when coding is involved. I am still learning to use Python and that is considered “basic”.
- Learning more about content marketing elements such as SEO, analytics, and copywriting will help increase traffic to your site. I wish I had known more about this with my previous website.
- Yeah, I took two years to get the website done. Life gets in the way. Taking courses to acquire the skills needed to complete this project also consumed time. Going at my own pace was better than rushing through it. Quality over quantity.
The most important lesson: I pushed my creative boundaries on this project. It transformed a bunch since the original concept, and I am proud of it! I hope you all will continue to enjoy the content I plan to publish on here.
Photos and Videos: Rosa Elena Burgos
Last Updated: March 2, 2022