Behind the Scenes of Creating a Website
This past fall, I did a complete overhaul of my website, Valley Family Fun.
This has been quite the journey at the process. Let me tell you.
Seriously, let me tell you!
Valley Family Fun began during the winter of 2011. I was constantly getting calls and emails from friends and family members asking what they could do over the holidays with their kids.
I listed off a host of suggestions.
How do you know?
I just know! I like to know what’s going on in the area. Maybe that’s the event planner and organizer in me!
Finally, my sister-in-law said to me, “Why don’t you put it on a website?”
So, over Christmas break my sister Sharon, who builds websites as a hobby, sat down and created the first version of Valley Family Fun using html code in DreamWeaver.
I then launched the site on my own Facebook page, adding my friends, who then in turn added theirs.
Valley Family Fun has grown exponentially since then. It now has over 6,000 followers in our local area.
This all happened beyond my wildest dreams.
Since the launch of Valley Family Fun in 2012, the website has gone through several face lifts.
A few years ago, we moved the site into a CMS (Content management system) in Concrete 5 with a template to make it easier to update and add information.
Then, in 2014, I started the blog section of the Valley Family Fun. The current system wasn’t built for a blog-style website, so it became clunky and cumbersome.
None of the blog ad agencies would recognize the ad size, the coding never matched, and the process was messy and difficult.
Every time I opened the site, I cringed. It was junky, and clunky and cluttered. I knew I could do so much more, but I just didn’t know how!
That’s when in the fall of 2015 one of my friend Raina, who owns her own business, Windrose Web Design volunteered to design a whole new website for me!
One that would be in WordPress and be able to handle the blog, but also one that would be clean, crisp and frankly more professional!
This was way beyond my ability and I knew that I would never be able to do it on my own.
In just a week, Windrose Web Design had created the brand new website that you see today, along with a fresh logo! I cried the first time I saw it. It was better than I could have ever imagined.
Learning WordPress is getting easier, too. I am a dinosaur when it comes to learning technology. I don’t even have a cell phone, and I don’t know how to text!
All the information was able to be uploaded from the old site, except for the blog.
I had to manually copy each of the 250 blog posts and all the pictures. This nearly killed me.
I often thought I would rather throw myself in front of a train or off a cliff than copy one more blog post. But, after 4 days of working from early morning to past midnight, it was done, and I haven’t lost any information!
This was especially difficult with the super slow speed of my server. When another friend suggested that I move servers, it literally performed 75% better!
Besides Raina at Windrose Web Design, I also had the help of some other amazing friends.
I belong to a group called Refresh Annapolis Valley. Refresh is a community of designers, developers, and innovators working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of New Media endeavors in the Annapolis Valley while promoting design, technology, usability, and standards.
Basically, it’s a group of tech-oriented people who get together once a month to hear a guest speaker on a different tech topic.
If it’s not too techy, I go. Sometimes I’m the guest speaker talking to tech people as someone who uses the techie products.
It’s an awesome group and the people work as a team to support each other’s projects.
I know this first hand.
Through Refresh, I met Mike who has been a saviour to me.
When I asked him how to find HTML code so that people could search my Google calendar, he said he’d write it for me!
He wrote it, installed it, and fixed it on the new site.
I pay him in cookies.
I’ve paid quite a few people in Refresh with cookies. When I have a question of how to set something up, they never hesitate to help me.
Like Sandy. He works for WordPress and volunteered to sit down with me to answer my long list of questions of … how do I do this in WordPress? How do I change that?
He never batted an eye or hesitated to help me.
Through Valley Family Fun I have met so many great families. I’ve connected with people across the Valley, formed relationships and shared so much family fun.
But, I just wanted to share what happens behind the scenes. I am a one-person show.
I do words. I don’t do tech.
So, to have a team to support me, and to know I can succeed because I have them, means the world to me!
So, thank you to everyone who has helped me on my journey.
Raina, Mike, Sandy, James, Scott, Darcy, Steve, Sharon, David and so many more of my behind the scenes network.
I couldn’t have done it without you.
My Advice when starting a website
Recently, a friend posted on Facebook that she was thinking of starting a blog, and did I have any advice. Here are my take aways from my experience.
Build your site in WordPress (or Blogger). Use a CMS that is meant for blogging – even if you don’t think you are going to have a blog component. It will make it much easier to change your mind in the future.
Surround yourself with a network. You are not going to know everything about everything. The sooner you admit that, the better off you’ll be. Join groups (virtual or in the flesh) and start by helping each other. What you find easy, might be someone else’s worst nightmare! Share, support and we are all stronger.
With a great support network and the proper supplies, you can do it!