site buttons

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Website Info

Life being what it is... My "Tips and Tricks Tuesday" post didn't get started until almost midnight on Tuesday. Thus, it's actually going to be posted on Wednesday, which is usually my "Work-A-Day Wednesday" post. Then I figured, what the heck... since it's my website I'm working on anyway, it all worked out in the end! Have I lost you yet? Well, stay with me. I'm excited to share some neato info with you :) If you want to skip my drama charm, you can just scroll down to see where the info on customizing the free website is!
Working on my website has been one of "those" exercises for me. Once again, it involved a little fear, a little letting go, and (thank God) a little leap of faith in something new.
You see... when I opened my website, almost 4 years ago, my main focus was the world of Primitives. And one important factor in that online world is to create a warm atmosphere. Each primitive seller wants to reflect the same feeling for their customers that they would in a brick and mortar shop. Heck... if we could add an app that allowed for a scented candle aroma, we'd all have it!  Since I also design web graphics, I worked and re-worked my little site a few times until I finally had just the right look. But then...
Well... a few things happened. Because of ebay's change in policy, I virtually stopped selling my templates, which were the largest part of my business. Then I discovered I was expecting a baby. My age and illness made for a difficult 9 months, so I took that time off. Most of you know the tale of the last year, so I won't bore you to tears, but I've been more than a little busy caring full time for my baby, and my grand-baby who is 2 months his junior. Why, "yes" my gray hairs have been filling in a little faster. Thanks for asking. Nothing a little Loreal "Warm Maple Brown" can't take care of ;)
During this crazy wonderful time, my focus has shifted. While I still love primitives and intend to continue making the time-worn items I love... I have really fallen in love with sketching and painting again. And I am continuing to fall more and more in love with digital photography, and the layered art of it all.
Ok... time to shorten this 'long story'. I love graphics. I am a graphics NUT, in fact. But... I find that when one is selling art, a solid background makes more sense for a presentation. I don't want my art to compete for attention among the checks, stripes, and florals, you know? I went "white" with my blog a while back. I may mix things up by doing black now and again, but I really like the white for now. I wanted my website to reflect my new focus as well.
So, easy/peasy, right? Well, for most well-adjusted folks maybe. But not Linda Pinda. Nope. You see... 4 years ago, when I opened my website, I chose a free host. At the time, it was Freewebs dot com. One can operate the free site which contains ads. Or... for the low fee of  $19.95/year, you can register a domain name, and POOF, no more ads! (I think for an even lower fee, the ads can be removed, but who doesn't want their own domain name, right?). I really loved the site, but the template choices... though many... didn't quite fit the specialized/unique look I wanted. Because my focus is much more on graphics then on the technical knowledge of HTML and CSS, it took me forever... but I did it! I took a basic template choice and chopped the heck out of it, until it "fit" me.
Along came a change. Freewebs dot com became Webs dot com. Don't you know... these folks had some new fangled ideas. ugh... When I went in to modify my site, the editing was all changed. AND... the ability to work on the CSS in the way that I had is no longer available. Mind you... there is an entire CSS template, but one has to have a much better grip on the tech side of things then I do to use it. I had the option to choose a new template. But it was clear that there would be no going back. I would lose everything I had personalized. So... there my site sat for a LLLLOOOONNNNGGGG time. I was afraid to lose the unique look I had. A look I wanted to change. (I told you.... to a well-adjusted person, this would have been a much simpler task).
Well... this past week, the "obvious" finally hit me like a ton of bricks. What sense does it make to hold onto something for fear that I'll lose it, if it's not even what I want anymore??? I guess it was just letting go that was hard. It had been quite an accomplishment for me, and remembering those long nights just made it too difficult to "delete" so quickly. But alas... moving forward is ALWAYS better than looking back. I did it. With one click, my CSS was gone, and I was faced with the possibilities of disappointment and confusion.

But, guess what? It took me only a few moments to realize that the changes made were wonderful! In just a few clicks, and a little trial and error, I found the perfect template for my banner and the layout I wanted! Now, the site's CSS is much more like what blogger uses in it's design page. You just click on the section you want to change and can preview it all there. You can upload ANY background, and use any banner. Depending on the template, you may have to play around a lot to get the banner to fit just right. But the one I chose has a huge header, so I can't image not being able to customize this a million different ways.

Below is the template I chose. It's called "Colourise". It's available in a few color combos. I chose black. Then I went into CSS, and added my banner, changed the background colors, fonts and font colors, and added a sidebar.

And now... It looks like this:


I still have a lot to add to it, obviously. But let me tell ya'... sure has made it easy to add everything you could want. From the sidebar customization, to the store/selling pages, the form element pages, the links page (AMAZING!!!), photo gallery pages, and even an Etsy Store page!!! Wowza... I am so sorry I didn't dig in sooner. It's so easy to use. One other thing offered on the site is "membership". Thus, it can be used as a group/social network/workshop type site. The membership info will show up on the sidebar, but all you have to do is "uncheck" the box for the homepage, and other pages, and it will "disappear" :) But I'm glad to know it's available if I should ever decide to give any tutorials, etc.
I've always been happy with the site, and customer service and support has been wonderful. I've paid the $20.00/month for a primitive site through one of the DIY prim site builders, and I found it to be so much more difficult to navigate. For the same price FOR A YEAR, is really keeping me a happy camper. Someone once warned me that a downside to free web hosts is the possibility of them closing down. I suppose that's true. But in the four years I've been with this host, I've seen two of those $20.00/month sites close and have had friends scramble to find a new host and set up a new site. I guess there are no guarantees. But if you do a little research, I think you'll see that is growing a respected reputation and is offering an amazing product for the money.
There are other ways to stretch your dollar, and still have a nice site. When I discovered a couple of years ago that some of the group merchant sites were actually created using blogger, I did a lot of online digging, and found great resources to figure out how to make a static homepage, and create buttons to link to the other pages, etc. Here's a link to a sample site I created using blogger. Of course, it does not have a unique domain name attached to it because it's just a sample. But it shows that you can indeed have a lovely little site without breaking the bank. Sample Blogger . There's a lot more you can add to it, but this shows the basics of the static page, and how to use the "labels" to create the link pages for buttons. Once all your buttons are created, you just remove the "labels" element and the buttons do the work instead of the text.
***I am in no way affiliated with and have not been paid for this post, or even asked to write it. I am just a very satisfied customer sharing what I hope someone else may find to be valuable information :)

PS... Aww... come on... did you really think you would escape without one picture of my kids? LOL!
Thought you'd get a kick out of a kid who actually reads the birthday cards :)


Pretty Things said...

I just TOTALLY overhauled my web site, too, and it was a long, scary process because I also rebranded myself, too, so I get what you're saying!

vivian said...

Linda, you won my giveaway.. its all boxed up waiting to go.. just need your address!


Related Posts with Thumbnails