The Trap of the Given
Planning in advance is necessary. But the idea of planning everything to avoid problems is crippling. Even more the temptation to rely on what is prefabricated, given and free.
Preparing oneself for openness and pain seems to me the best approach. One has to consider very carefully if going with a “cheap” or “free” offer to create one’s own website is a good idea. Crippling limitations of pre-fabricated websites and templates show up early and quicker than one would expect.
I never regretted having opted at the start for WordPress. WordPress forces one to learn the ropes but WordPress never forces one into crippling limitations or prevents creating solution one is dreaming of. (WordPress is not the only option, but it stands for the ones which avoid boxing you into narrow concepts.)There is one thing I have learnt when getting to much blood, sweat and tears: One has to open one’s website to the public in order to find out if or how much it works. There is no way to debug the whole thing before you open it. I noticed it needs a moment of utter courage to open the door for this animal to run out in order to see how well it is prepared for the outside world. The website has to be “finished” enough to stand on its own feet and report back information of failings and botch-ups and breakdowns. It is thanks to the real experience of using the website that one understands what works, what makes sense, what is confusing, what is annoying, what puts people off and what is not really working.
It is also at this point where one can fully appreciate a flexible system which offers the option of real modification and change.
Of course, perhaps the most important decision to make at the beginning of creating “one’s own website” is if one wants to do the work oneself or hand it over to a professional. Both options have their pros and cons, but one has to be clear that when opting for the professional solution one enters financial costs and one is seriously dependent on someone else’s help and availability. If one wants to do the work oneself, the initial learning curve and the initial effort is considerable and inevitably frustrating and not seldom painful. However, at the end, there is nothing more rewarding than the capacity to understand and manage the workings of one’s “own” website.