Create a website yourself, power to you

Some people do it as a way to earn money, service people or meet altruistic purposes. Some people work on it in teams and some on their own. Some people do it as a hobby and have fun or have other needs met. Some people only consume its content. And there is plenty of it. It? Websites and other digital platforms. Twenty years ago, who would have thought they would have such a profound impact? That anyone can do it, not only view it? Power to you.

So how am I going to do it?

Public domain question mark

If you have decided you want to create a website, an important question comes to mind: how am I going to do it? The journey starts to search for the right way and the answer often emerges when going back and forth between questions such as: what do I want the website to look like? what is the website about? what will be on it? now and in the foreseeable future? what and who is it for? how to best serve it all up, re navigation etc.? how much time, money, effort and other resources do I want to spend on the development and ongoing maintenance of the website and its content? make or buy? public or private? where to host? secure a specific domain? if part of a portfolio of websites, positioning? branding issues, incl. professional or personal? language? traffic and search engine considerations? and so on.

There are actually quite a lot of questions to think about and issues to decide upon. Projects range from simple to complex. Yes, everyone can do it but the questions above are just a selection and answers could be tricky because of interdependencies. Based on the scope of the project, support from digital agencies, in-house departments and professionals may help get your ultimate website from idea to launch and beyond. Yes, I have experience in this “group”, and you can bring me on for help. ;-)

Project: The simple website

In this article I am talking about developing a simple website yourself and some opportunities available to you, based on my experience with this website. In the project range mentioned above, the topic is at the relatively simple end of the spectrum and doable by non-technical people (i.e. non-developers). Disclaimer: it is by no means a complete story, answering all questions, and every project is different. So any lessons or ideas here may not apply to another project. That said, sit back, relax, immerse yourself and note things that work for you.

Getting started

Image representing Tumblr as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Browsing the Internet, you may already have an idea what kind of websites you like and what kind of website you want to create. There are so many sites around, it is worthwhile to find some good examples for inspiration. When you have an idea of what you want and to get you going, have a look at free services such as Tumblr, WordPress, and Blogger in Google’s suite. These services have answered many questions for you so you can hit the ground running. The beauty of these services is that you can play around, free might I add unless you want things out of the basic box, and keep things to yourself (private) for as long as you want.

WordPress logo blue

What is the difference between the services? Some say WordPress users tend to write more and longer-form, while Tumblr is more visual and its users tend to be more about quicker snippets, photos and videos. Try using them and find out which one you enjoy most using and looking at, in the context of your needs. If you want in-depth reviews on the differences between the free services then there are many articles to help you.

Functional fun experimentation

Things to look out for are themes. They are design templates and control your site’s appearance and what you can do with it. Usually you can customise colours and include or move certain elements, such as widgets, on pages. If you are into codes changes, these services allow you to adapt themes, some for a fee, to customise even further. Note that the theme filled with your content makes the website truly unique. So imagine your content and create some. You can make a more static website with pages (Contact, About, etc.) or introduce blog elements where you regularly post things (text, video, images, etc.) and decide on their prominence. Also think about your site title and tagline if you have one. Remember to set your privacy preference as well. Very quickly your site will be shaping up.

English: A Relic of Past Experimentation This ...

Your website service provides a URL for your website on their domain, something like http://mysite.wordpress.com. You can customise this URL if you want. Do you have your own domain name or URL that you want your visitors to view? You can use your own domain while still having your site with the website service. WordPress charges a yearly fee to map your WordPress domain to your own domain. Tumblr says it is “recommended for advanced users”. To keep things simple, you may want to do this part once you have decided on the service you want to use.

The great thing about this playground is that there is plenty of room for experimentation. There is no failure if your intention is learning. Just switch theme if you don’t like it. Move things around when there is some more content and see what that does for your site. Content management is simple with these tools used by millions. If you don’t touch the code, things generally don’t break in case you wonder. And there is help everywhere: forums, tutorials, videos, articles. My experience with WordPress is quick and friendly responses from Support. So if you want it, the creative community is supporting you on your journey.

Easy, doing it

While you are experimenting and working on your site, you are actually doing it. Question answered. From there you may decide it is ready to share, get traffic and connect it with social platforms or that you prefer to do it a different way. For example, outsource elements or the complete project knowing better what you want. Important to attend to the value of learning on the way and finding out what doesn’t work for you, what does, what you don’t know, what you do.

On WordPress, to .org or .com

Something to realise is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress is Open Source blogging software. WordPress.com is a hosting platform that uses the same WordPress software that anyone can download from WordPress.org. With WordPress.com, Automattic takes care of the hosting and managing of the software. With the freestanding WordPress software via WordPress.org, you need to install it on your own server or a third-party hosting provider. You can install themes and plugins, run ads, and edit the database. Read this article for the differences, benefits and cons in detail.

Screen shot Mirjam websiteIf going with WordPress, which of the two you decide upon depends on your requirements, technical ability, available budget and so on. A consideration that swayed me to WordPress.com for this website at the moment was that a lot is taken care of. I do not have to think about any technical things such as servers, back-ups, upgrading software, hosting, finding the right plug-ins. Quite a lot of things are actually in the “basic box”, nicely integrated, which you don’t have to think or worry about. And services are often upgraded with improved features. In turn, there are restrictions such as not being able to run your own ads and further customisation that plugins and code access allow.

Interesting to note is Automattic’s business model with paid upgrades, services, premium features, and occasionally showing ads on your website (Tumblr doesn’t do this). For example, pay a small yearly fee for using your own domain, customizing the design of the theme e.g. fonts, or using premium themes.

Feel like tapping into your creativity and make a website? If you already have, what are your experiences? Any thoughts on things raised in this article? Do you have any favourite websites that are your “perfect” example?

Related posts on this website
• Website live – all safe and sound?
• Welcome on board

Website live – all safe and sound?

For some time I have worked on this website in the background. Couple of days ago I changed the privacy settings from private to public.

Defense Meteorological Satellite Program

Would the planet stop turning? Could this enormous feat be seen from space? Would the sun and moon set and rise as per expected pattern? Would birds and all other species on this planet and beyond be affected? Would it actually influence space and time? What would happen to me, being out there in digital space? It is now confirmed, all is safe and sound.

Stepping back in time, what did working on this website involve? Mainly choosing and configuring WordPress on appearance, settings and content. This included choosing a theme, setting templates, styles, adding widgets, moving them around, naming things, writing, adding content, adjusting settings related to reading, writing, discussion, sharing, and so on. Overall, see what works and what is possible.

It is quite a process and journey; addictive, time-consuming, rewarding, a learning experience. Some posts are in the making related to this, including choosing WordPress and legal matters.

This website is a work in progress and I am very curious where it will go. Next step is to really share and connect it with the world. It is a joy and privilege to do so. Here it is. Bon voyage!

Order food from experienced local cooks

Another great business, which combines delivery of takeaway food prepared by local cooks and online community.

Housebites in the UK offers restaurant quality food, cooked by chefs in a local area, delivered to your door. You can browse the daily menus by a local chef and read their biographies and customer feedback. For dinner parties Housebites recommends that you order at least a day in advance if catering for large numbers. Breakfast, brunch, lunch and pre-cooked food are in the pipeline according to their website.

It is a nice concept to connect the community with great local cooks and their food, while increasing their exposure, business, and flexibility in work arrangements.

Related posts on this website
Restaurant quality takeaway

Restaurant quality takeaway

Good food, cooked fresh, delivered fast

Deliverance has 5 gleaming state-of-the-art kitchens, 48 specialized chefs, a dedicated fleet of 120 bikers who know and deliver to 78 square miles of London on time according to their website. What Deliverance serves? Delicious dishes from around the world using great ingredients, transparent on where they source it from.

What a fantastic business. I have always thought a concept like this must work in today’s world. People are pressed for time, juggling many activities in one day. Yet, they want quality food for the right price without time-consuming chores such as grocery shopping, doing the dishes and so on. As if a friend cooks a couple more servings and brings it over when you get home after a busy day.

Any more such businesses around the world? In Sydney, Australia, would be great.

DIY: Chocolate

Not only in the fashion industry you can design yourself, also in the food or confectionary industry; customize your own chocolate!

There is one thing evident when the economy is not going well; people have to eat and love comfort food, such as chocolate. Combine that with a trend showing continuous growing online retail sales numbers as well as a trend of custom-tailoring or personalizing products and the idea for a business was born: Chocomize. Create your own chocolate bars, combining ingredients, from a selection of over 100, like nuts, fruits, spices and candy with dark, milk or white chocolate. After you have designed the bar the way you like it, they will make and ship it (with ice packs if needed).

Customize your chocolate bar

Others playing in this area: German custom chocolate company Chocri.com, which was founded before Chocomize, and two smaller startups Chocbite.com and Choccreate.com.

Some great articles to read on Chocomize in the Wall Street Journal by the Small Business, Big Innovation Blog (short company profile and innovation background), New York Times by Amy Wallace (what happens when entrepreneurs suddenly get so much media exposure that it results in exponential growth), Forbes by Ed Zitron (interview with topics covered: production, staffing, profitability, plans for growth) and CNN by Jacque Wilson (again more background, benefit of writing a business plan and check out the 10 weirdest orders on the left sidebar)

More entrepreneurial customization initiatives to be reported on…

Related posts on this website
• DIY: Fashion

DIY: Fashion

In this case not totally do it yourself and make your own fashion but you can easily design your own fashion and get it delivered to you.

Say hello to the rise of entrepreneurs who have the platforms allowing customization, the design templates, the features and the materials. Then you play around and get the unique fashion item you are after. The gallery shows a range of finished products to give you an idea. If you have any special needs, you can connect and have them addressed. After finishing the design and place the order, the entrepreneur takes care of production and delivery. It is that easy. You may as well share your creation via social media.

Creating new fashion pieces together; another form of co-creation. And a move away from all the same.

Some websites:

And there are many more. Big brands also play in this area, such as Nike with NIKEiD custom shoes, clothing and gear.

ReCommerce the new emerging trend?

Make the most of your past and future possessions and unlock the complete value of your purchases, whether big or small.

This may even affect your next purchase decision, whether it is a home or clothes. How much will you get back if you resell it or trade it in? You may as well factor that value into the cost of ownership.

Although not something new, this concept is increasingly enabled by online platforms and mobile market places, resulting in a fast growing amount of initiatives from established firms and entrepreneurs alike. And we want it, don’t we? It taps into our needs, being consumers, to always have something new, gain status, get things cheap and easy, and be green and ethically responsible.

So opportunities are all around; established businesses (can) use this for their marketing, branding and sales, while entrepreneurs (can) set up or expand their service.

Examples

Gadget recycler helps non-profits raise funds, by asking supporters to donate their old electronics.

Callaway Trade In! Trade Up! program

French site sells pre-owned luxury designer goods, which requires sellers to send items to their moderators, who appraise and authenticate them.

Opportunities

  • Trading in to trade up programs from brands in various industries, such as electronics, clothing, sports goods, cars, and charity partnerships.
  • Targeted market places, some with the site moderator acting as go-between to appraise and authenticate the goods or even help to give an estimated price for used goods based on market data. Also reselling and buying of services occurs, such as past Groupon-type of deals.
» Check out various examples and more information from trendwatching.com on this development.

SuperHeavy

SuperHeavy is  a collaboration between musicians/songwriters from different genres: rocker Mick Jagger, soul singer Joss Stone, reggae star Damian Marley (yes, son of), Indian composer A.R. Rahman and Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics.

The result of writing and recording together in different places around the world is exactly that; a fusion of different music from around the world.

Website & video

The SuperHeavy website contains a lot of news, information, video, images and of course a store.

» Check out the video of their debut song Miracle worker below. Note the use of the SuperHeavy logo (drawing of a tiger) on both the website and in the video. Establishing  a brand and recognition?

Create & share your own portrait SuperHeavy style

Shepard Fairey created a unique portrait of the band members using an orange, black and white color palette. Fans can create their own image in a similar style to the Fairey portraits using the Facebook app. The images are then added on the wall of SuperHeavy fans and happy sharing; fans can obviously share their pic and message on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Great website and story on Nalden

Oflline I came across a great website online: Nalden.

Els Quaegebeur, from Dutch newspaper Het Parool, interviews founder Ronald Hans. While having launched his book From blogger to brand, he has some digital initiatives on the go (WeTransfer and Kuvva). Ronald’s blog success comes from his website Nalden with 600,000 visitors per month. And big brands such as Nike and NBC buy space for advertising. Not in the form of a boring banner but something called Wallpaper advertising.

The website

The website looks like a desktop where the wallpaper or background takes the form of advertising via beautiful photos with impact. You can see the brand subtle in the right hand corner. These image ads rotate so the user sees something new in the background every now and then. With the variable background the site gets a totally different look. Users can download the wallpaper as well. Very nice.

What I also like is the desktop concept with little windows in the shape of a widget; a little window per content item. Momkai creative digital agency came up with this concept of “a Rich Media Application that handles like an online Operating System and includes audio and video channels, photo blogging and news items”. Finding and browsing the rich content is easy when scrolling through a timeline at the bottom, the little windows, the album, the rich menu. And there’s a shop too.

Overall, it’s a different but great experience.

The story behind it

Regarding the content side of things, Nalden shares and writes about music he thinks others should hear, parties, lifestyle, design, anything he is enthusiastic about really. Thereby he excites other people to take a look somewhere and aims to provide a place for creative people. He enjoys connecting things and people, like creative people with brands to see whether they can do business together and make new things.

In response to comments that he only writes about commercially attractive things, he states that his world is a dictatorship while having natural environmental influences. He decides what is placed on his blog and the criteria; he has to find it beautiful or cool or like it. He finds great things for you but nowadays a lot comes to him where he filters as Nalden has become a quality mark in its own right. (Source: Het Parool)