The Agony and the Ecstasy: Building Websites

The Agony and the Ecstasy: Building Websites

Deciding to create a website from the blank page up is to utter a terrible consent, not to oneself, but to the Cat in the Hat – Yes, that one. In a whisker, the tall dark stranger in the taller striped hat winks his unsuspecting playmates into a Seussian world – From whom else would you learn vocabulary such as, dashboard, widget, plugin, fusion slider, meta tags and move to trash? – a land where every push has its pull and every pull pays its price. A little click here or a forgotten field there, and poof! – a page, a video, a paragraph vanishes. It’s a strange world built on binary math and we all know what that means. After tiptoeing through multiple steps, after checking and re-checking the ingredients, the souffle´ flops! One little surreptitious slice of HTML and the page warps, disappears, or freezes.

The following is a true story:

Web master navigates to front landing page – no video. He checks video source and views page – no video. The Dashboard aficionado reconfigures media from video to web format; reloads video to media library; pastes it to the page; sets its parameters; checks slider to slide link; updates page; holds breath and – Ah! A Video! But there’s an ugly grey strip sporting some code number. Into what depths, from off the Dash-board, must I dive to eliminate the dratted swath of grey?

I suck in a breath. Dashboard>Appearance>Theme Options – Nope! It’s getting late. Dashboard>Fusion Slider>Add or Edit sliders>Clouds Slider>Full Screen Slider>Check>Update>View page…? Back up for air! I’m going to bed.

Indifferent to my web and woe, publishers and agents, indie authors and book bloggers – Suessian names if ever I heard any –rise to a synchronous choral refrain, chanting Platform, PLATform, PLAT-FORM! BUILD YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM!! And a burn that dust speck to you too! And when the sly cat reaches into his tall hat of tricks, he pulls out what the initiate must first master: a BLOG, with a DOMAIN NAME clutching at its heel. These are terms a person should encounter in Dungeons and Dragons, not in building an author platform. Multi-player game or not, the endeavour spells S-T-E-E-P LEARNING CURVE.

Yours truly is one of those hapless kids, who, duped by the wily cat, snatches a quick look at a task and says, Hey! I can do that! The problem with us adventurous types is that sometimes, well, we can’t. I remember watching an instructor roll a kayak and pop back up as effortlessly as if his head were an approved flotation device. “That can’t be too difficult,” I said; “I’m athletic,” I said; “Let’s give it a whirl –” I said. After being submerged beyond the instructor’s estimated time limit, which he had lengthened from years of casual experience, long after my sinuses had flooded with stinging, over-chlorinated pool water – yes, I was there for a class – don’t ask – my instructor hauled me up, smiled a Cheshire grin and purred: “You’ll get the hang of it – eventually.”

You’ve been warned. If a silk-tongued black cat with a tipsy striped hat croons to you, with a twinkle in his eye, Don’t worry. We’ll be back before supper, just say, no. It is a long and bumpy road to a custom-made website. Even the custom templates, if you get that far, need a map and guide to navigate the Suessian jungle.

Let this not be a discouragement, but a warning. If the flame of creating your own website inexorably draws – oh, moth – start simple. This is not a paid commercial, but choose WordPress. Install a popular simple theme that meets your needs, not your appetite, bon ami (a theme is a template in which designs for the basic structure and appearance of your website are pre-set). And if you’re up for it, if you have the spunk; It is a heck of a lot of fun.

I’ll leave you with some wise advice:

“Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how.”

From Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

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