When I lived in Iran in 2008/2009 I had a blog called “Nutella im Orient” meaning Nutella in the Orient. Look at it, it’s still live and ugly. A friend who went on a world trip had recommended to me the blog provider. It definitely served its purpose but the design editor didn’t offer a big variety.
In 2015 I wanted to try blogging and got help from a friend. He advised me to buy a theme for WordPress and not to spend too much time on the website’s appearance. But I couldn’t help myself and literally spent three days on logo design, in the end discarding all seven versions and resorting to hiring a designer on fiverr. Which didn’t help. I didn’t like the design either. So I went back and just picked one of my own old ones and ignored the problem. The wisest thing I could do.
The famous 80/20 rule
Yes, design is important (especially if you are producing a book on design) but it is the part of setting up a website that people, including myself, waste most time on. Because most of us are not frontend developers or designers but we have seen all these beautiful examples done by pros and we want something similar but without the resources.
So the best idea is to focus on what you are good at and the core of your business. Have you heard about the 80/20 rule? It states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So 20% of our work accounts for 80% of the result. I am a big fan of this principle because it’s not only true but makes life and decision making way easier. So with this website I put the 80/20 rule into action for the first time.
The name came into my mind a little while ago. Read more about it here.
I registered the URL through a provider I already had. Do a quick Google search for your country. It’s also possible to switch your hosting provider if you are not happy. If you want to set up an online shop, you can also go directly for Shopify or Wix. I set my website up as a WordPress blog because I worked with it before and my developer friends can help me adjusting stuff better.
I considered what core features my WordPress template should have (multi-purpose working with the free WooCommerce plugin). I had narrowed my search by multi-purpose templates which worked with WooCommerce and cost under $60. Then I checked the first three pages of the best rated themes on Themeforest. It is not recommended to just go for the most popular as you might end up with the same one everyone else is using. I liked Uplift the most which is what you see now.
I drew two different versions of the logo and decided on one. I was only semi-happy but you can spend hours just on a logo. Still I did a quick revision and went with another one. The best tool for this is Designapp.io. Huge variety of fonts, including Google fonts.
Colors & Fonts
A general rule for a good design: Keep it simple! This translates into max. 2-3 colors and two different fonts (one for body text and one for headings). I have to admit that I neglected the color part so far, will come later. A good tool for the fonts is Google Fonts. You can try different versions reallife and Google recommends combinations which work well or are popular.
Then came the part of finding the right images. I knew that to achieve a good result I would have to sacrifice a lot of time if I wanted to use my own photos. Before actually doing it I never imagined that so much time is spent before one beautiful pic makes it onto your website. Editing, cropping, file optimizing, you have to do all this. The easiest way is to use stock images and no, they are not that ugly anymore. The best overview is still Makerbook. There are millions of wonderful pictures out there waiting to be cropped, resized and uploaded.
You will be surprised how fast you can set up a decent looking website within one or two weeks. Yet you still come across stories of success where you ask yourself: Really??? With this crappy design, they made it so far? Yes, you can.