Friday, January 20, 2017

Building a New Website, Part 1: Sometimes It's Just Easier to Start Over

Passing Storm 8x16 oil/panel
Available on my new website!

We've all had the feeling.  A house with pipes that drip like a hundred perennial springs; a roof as full of holes as a moth-eaten rug; a foundation so ruinous you could sell chunks of it on the antiquities market.  And all that clutter!  Why fix anything?  You'd be better off burning it to the ground and starting over.

If you've ever built your own website, you may have felt this way after awhile.  I started my website about twenty years ago, back when the Internet was still wearing short pants.  At the time, working as an IT professional, I knew more about IP addressing and coax cable than I did about HTML and web design.  But I was aiming to become a professional artist, so I knew I needed a website.  I was like a guy eager to build his own house but who had zero construction experience.

I learned a great deal over the years, for sure.   I made my errors and applied temporary fixes —which, due to my desire to keep moving, ultimately became permanent ones—and I even rebuilt parts here and there.  Despite all that, I do think the old website, as it stands today, looks good and does the job. (You can see it at www.MichaelChesleyJohnson.com.)

However, a couple of years ago, I began to realize technology had moved on, and the site needed some serious renovation.  Since more and more visitors were viewing it on tablets and smartphones, it needed to be "mobile-friendly."  Since the indexing technology of Google was always changing, it needed to keep up with SEO or Search Engine Optimization.  Since I'd left a lot of hidden clutter behind as I rebuilt sections, it needed much housecleaning.  (As much as I tried to keep clutter tucked behind closet doors, Google kept finding it.)  Finally, since I update the site almost daily, it needed to have an easier way for me to edit pages and to manage images of paintings.

Fixing the old site would have required too many bulldozers, too many plumbers, too many carpenters.  I decided to start all over from scratch.

In my next post, I'll tell you how I started.

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