As with so many other things, I’d never even heard the term “Web developer” when I started this journey. Because I didn’t know they existed, I was using a Web designer to maintain my site. Big mistake! Don’t get me wrong, my designer is very talented, and my site looks great, but it doesn’t function effectively.
Looking back over the years with all this new knowledge I’m acquiring daily, I honestly think my poor Web presence has hurt my career. Which is why I’m taking this journey, and twisting my brain in ways it doesn’t want to go to learn this stuff. So, here goes…
What is a Web Developer?
I’ve learned that building an effective Website is like building a house. Think of the Web developer as your architect and general contractor. They help you pick the floor plan, hire the crews, and oversee the construction. The Web designer is the interior decorator. So many of us – me included – approach the Website process from the aesthetics and content angle. How do we want the site to look and what do we plan to put on it? Well, we want to look great, of course, and we want to have a bio page and a bookshelf page. That way readers can fall in love with our charm and whit, learn about our books, then go click on a link to buy one if they want.
“Oh, ye of little knowledge,” my current self says to my old self, shaking my head sadly.
I have learned this starry-eyed approach is like picking out the wallpaper and the furniture before you’ve even drawn up the blueprints, much less poured the foundation.
Building from the Ground Up
Your Website is only one element in your Web presence. A good Web developer will help you define your goals and form your strategy long before you start talking about how your site will look. If you’re building your site in WordPress – another thing I knew nothing about! – the developer helps you pick which plug-ins to use and how to arrange them on the page. That’s your floor plan. The developer uses the plug-ins to build the site. THEN you decorate!
Do I Even Need a Web Designer?
Maybe. Maybe not. I’m hoping to find a developer who is talented enough to do this step as well. Or I can customize one of the thousands of FREE WordPress themes available on the Internet. I can also buy one of the beautiful themes at StudioPress and customize that.
I happen to be very comfortable working in Adobe PhotoShop Elements, since I was a professional graphic designer before I sold my first novel, so I’m hoping I can go this route. The problem is, ad layout comes naturally to me, but Web design does not.
If all that fails, yes, I’ll hire a designer to work with whichever developer hire. Decisions, decisions…. My head is spinning!
Please, all you WordPress users, share your thoughts, experiences, and advice. If you use WordPress, by all means, post a link to your site. I wanna see!
Other Post on this Topic:
I wrote this blog post months ago, and boy have I come a long way since this! I now have a wonderful newsletter service — Mad Mimi — which I love. (Don’t forget to subscribe.) It’s very affordable, starting with FREE, and does everything I need. I’ve also mastered Facebook and Twitter, so click on the links to check out my pages there. Most importantly, I have a spiffy new Website at JulieOrtolon.com.
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