A website can be a very useful way to show off or even sell your jewellery, but building you own site using one of the many services available is something that makes many jewellery-makers nervous. Here Bronagh Miskelly, one of our two website tutors, offers some tips to help you get started with your own website.
Talking to people who come along for our Build Your Own Website class, I find that they feel rather overwhelmed about creating their own websites. This is often because they feel creating a website involves working with “technology” or “IT” and the student isn’t “techie”.
This is the wrong way to look at things. The website software/service that you use is a tool to get your message out – you are in charge and the technology is not the first nor the most important thing for you to think about.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
When you decide to have your own website – or update it – you need to think about what you want to use it for and how you want it to look.
A good place to start is by going to website you find well designed, easy to navigate or you like in some other way. Take note of what you think works about those sites and what you don’t like.
Then make a list of what you want your website to say and then divide these into topics or groups such as about your jewellery, about you, how to order or buy jewellery, gallery of collections. You might want to draw a diagram or put things on different pages for the different topics.
These topics or groups are a basic outline for what will go on the different “pages” of your website. So you are building up a picture of how your site will work. As you get closer to building your actual site, it is a good idea to refine these notes and write out exactly what you want on each part of your site.
At this stage you should also think about how you want your website to look. What colours would you like to use, what fonts, how big should the pictures be, how much information should there be on a “page”? Again have a look at the sites you admire and think about why.
All this is about planning your site in much the same way you would plan a flier, for example. You have already done lots of work on your website without going anywhere near any web building technology.
Narrow down your choices
The second thing that can overwhelm people using online web building services is the large number of templates available. I’ve seen people scrolling through galleries of template examples getting glassy-eyed or rejecting them because of the pictures or colours used in the examples.
This second problem is rather like going house hunting and rejecting properties because of the current owners’ taste in furniture, rather than looking at the shape of the rooms and the available space. Similarly we should be looking at the structure of the template examples – is the title where you want, what are the font and colour choices, where can you put pictures, etc.
So first use the plans you’ve made to narrow down the number of templates you can see. The website builder will let you narrow it down. On weebly.com, which we use in the website classes, you can divide the templates by styles such as modern, minimalist, classic etc and by looking each group you can work out what type suits you best. You can also search by what colours you can use on the template and view templates with different colour themes.
Now you have a manageable number templates to choose from plus until you actually publish your site you can change the theme if you are not happy, so there is no reason not to move forward and start to build your site.
Now, and only now, does the technology come into play and you already know what you want it to do. So like any thing else on your computer from writing in word you need to learn what each tool does. So simply play about to get a feel for it and check for tutorials – there will be videos to watch and step-by-step guides.
And then when you have a feel for the tools you can start building your site, following the plans, notes and diagrams you made in the preparation stage.
Good luck in creating your web site.