I Need to Create a Website. Where Do I Start?

Quick. Grab a pen and paper. Step away from the computer.

Really. That's how I often advise people to start creating a website. Writing by hand is better than typing on the laptop for several reasons, chiefly that you're less likely to engage in distractions like email or Facebook. And writing by hand creates a deeper understanding of the material. So if you really want to understand and refine your thinking, write it before you type it.

Ready? Grab a pen and paper and start sketching: 

Who Is your website For?

Who your audience is meant to be. This can be a deceptively simple concept. But try to think beyond just your first assumption. Who are you talking to?

What Is your website For?

Why you're creating this website. Think about the change you'd like your website to bring about. Maybe you'd like to raise funds to allow you to make a difference. Maybe you'd like to sell your art. Maybe you'd like to write your thoughts and share them with anyone who will listen. It's ok to come up with a whole bunch of ways to articulate what your website is for. But try to narrow it down to one clear, concise statement. Even better, try wording the final statement in a way you'd be ok publishing on your website.

What Do you Want to Say?

Considering who you're talking to and why, try thinking through the elements of what you want to say. Then organize that into buckets that make sense. (This is your website architecture.)

If you're seeking to sell your art, perhaps you want to show each piece of art and tell a bit of the backstory on each piece, tell a bit of your own backstory, share upcoming gallery events, or even blog about art. I can see that website structure in my head. It's best to figure this out without the distraction of a website platform or template, so that you fit the website to your needs rather than the other way around. 

How Do you Want to Say It?

Write your copy. Yes, you can hop back onto the keyboard for this part if it suits your process better. I've done both. Sometimes I prefer to start writing by hand, continuing to sketch out ideas about copy and structure, and then refining it online. And sometimes I create an outline using what I did in the previous step, then flesh it out with copy. Do what works for you.

And, that's it! You've started.

You don't have a website yet, but you've started the process. Whether you're planning to hire someone to create your site for you, or do it yourself, you've got the foundation you need to be sure that your website fits you, your project, and your purpose.