My Own Worst Design Enemy

Posted by on August 12, 2010 at 8:43 pm.

A Corner of
My Future Site

I am currently in the process of redesigning my own website, which showcases a portfolio of my web design work along with my photography. It is long overdue and certainly could benefit from more copy and a more coherent design and flow. Looking at the site from a potential client or employer’s perspective one would wonder who this designer is. What does this designer have to offer? On the surface, it doesn’t look like much.

The design aspect of my site is definitely farther along than the copy which is unfortunate because it is really better to design with content than without. Designing without the copy can lead to a whole host of issues including continually redesigning and, were it for a client, extra charges. While I may not be charging myself, I don’t want to waste my own time either.

Writing copy for the web is a little different, as many articles will tell you. The copy needs to be succinct but as detailed as possible because it needs to be found by search engines and users otherwise it’s just a pretty element of cyberspace. The thing that gets in the way is the search engine optimization (SEO) aspect of the writing. While there are key phrases and words you want to find you in a search, you also don’t want to sound like you’re writing just for the search, which is part of what was holding me back writing copy for my site. I could blame it on writer’s block but I can eke out a few blog posts and a lot of poetry in a given time span so clearly it isn’t writer’s block. Part of it of course, is determining who I am as a designer and then making that work with ‘key phrases’ and part of it is my perfection confinement: it has to be right the first time.

An article I read the other day at Website Magazine really helped. And the thing that got me was that as a writer, the advice was so obvious. “Start by writing 2 or 3 bulleted points that you want to make….” Wow. Brilliant, eh? That’s the basis for essay writing in high school: the outline. (Incidentally, I don’t think I ever wrote an outline that was worth anything. I went right into the writing part – I guess its coming back to haunt me now!) Using this paramount piece of advice for the ‘elevator pitch’ at the beginning of my resume, which was also eluding me, I broke through these barriers and I feel that I’m ready to move on to tackle the copy on my website.

Another good point at the Web Designer Depot was to “Think about the story you want to tell at each point in the design process.” This is something that was definitely missing from my approach. Looking at how I was proceeding in my own site design, I was seeing each page as its own entity, separate from any other page but this shouldn’t be the case. A website, in this instance mine, should have a solid idea as a whole and each page should support that. I am my worst client. I was doing all the things that frustrate me in dealing with clients. Not provide copy, not having a clear vision of flow, not thinking about the audience. No wonder I have been stumbling all over the place.

I now have a much more clear vision of what I want the site to do and I see my little cyber niche becoming a much more enjoyable place to land.

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