Once you’ve start thinking about setting up a website, your timetable can easily go to pot. There are so many things to consider and possible problems around every corner. It’s easy to spend a lot of time on one small detail and then find you’re no nearer to publishing the finished website. The best advice I can give to an inexperienced but keen amateur website developer, is … “hands off”.


Imagine your friend has asked you to deliver their Christmas cards for them. It’s not too difficult a job but there are quite a lot of cards and it’s very cold outside so you don’t want to hang around. You have never visited the houses and flats on your friend’s address list. You need to visit homes with all sorts of different entrances. Some peoples’ doors are directly off the street, one is in a tenement block, one has a gravel drive leading up to it, a couple are converted from older buildings – a school and a church. One lucky guy lives in a converted lean-to between a pub and a wholefood restaurant. You get round the course pretty quickly. All you have to do is approach the door and look for the letterbox.

Door, John de Boer/FreeImages.com

In other words, you keep to the convention. You don’t start wondering if the recipients would prefer to have their post left on the doorstep, or inside their wheelie bin, or to pick it up from your house, or to meet you in the pub later. All of the people in all of these residences have agreed that there will be a letterbox in the door, to make it simple for anyone who wants to deliver letters. The language of letterboxes has been agreed and adhered to for generations.

I’m telling you this because I have worked with a great many people who are naturally curious and can’t resist asking questions, and investigating options. This is a delightful characteristic of imaginative people, but it sometimes takes ages to complete a digital task. It just takes too long and they get dispirited at their lack of skill.

You’ve got to the stage where you must have a website. You’ve probably put it off for a long time. The ability to create digitally is not beyond your power. All you need to do is metaphorically “put pen to paper”. It’s not going to be War and Peace but at least you’ll get your story out there. I believe, in this situation, the best thing you can do is to make a pact with yourself to follow a system, some instructions, or a list that you have made yourself, to avoid enveloping yourself in a mire of indecision and ultimate inaction.

Here’s a list of potentially dangerous trains of thought when trying to get a website built. I hope that knowing they could come up, might help you to steer clear of the “I wonder if they’d like their post left at Ouagadougou poste restante?” question.

  • Vermilion headings are what I need.
  • I’d like my blog posts to be in a particular order.
  • I wish my website looked exactly the same on a phone as on the screen.
  • If only my site navigation was to the right not the left.
  • I think I’ll scan all my photos from 1992.
  • Maybe I’ll go to a film festival, make some review videos, and upload them to my site.
  • I think I’ll host my site on my computer. It’s unlikely I’ll spill coffee on it.
  • I want to put my site footer at the top of the page.

There are professionals out there (not naming any names!) who can address web issues quickly and efficiently. Although you’re not one of them, you can still make a satisfactory website all by yourself if you accept that your knowledge has limitations.

If any web thoughts take you longer than five minutes to investigate, forget it. Take your hands off. Breathe deeply and go back to the instructions.

Letterbox by Mark Bury

Letterbox, Mark Bury/FreeImages.com