DIY web design, entering the dark side - Part 2

Updated: Mar 7

When Rob and Jenny Gill, owners of Hastings HIVE, needed a website for their premier co-working space in the Hawke's Bay, they created their own. This is Part 2 of a three part series about their DIY design and authoring journey. Have you read Part 1 first?

Where were we? Ah yes ... your editor in the throes of losing his digital virginity. Plunging into the void of free-form (well, almost free) editing. At the push of a button our website was birthed from the comforting womb of the WIX ADI (artificial design intelligence) environment, on to the cold stable floor of the WIX editor like a young foal staggering around, clumsy of limb, filled with youthful wonder (Editor: artistic licence pending).

The "not so scary after a while", WIX editor. showing the homepage

Instead of simple multi-choice options, your editor was faced with a plethora of tool boxes, drop-down menus, strips, columns, headers, layers and, of all things, anchors! Why an anchor, you cry? That’s well beyond the editor’s pay grade to explain, but suffice to say, by pointing and clicking on everything you find, being reasonably aware of what has changed and why, and being quick with the rewind button, you will progress fast. Layers do need a mention because, on a webpage, elements overlap. So thinking in layers is not only important, but it’s like moving from a simple game of draughts to a digital 3D version. So you have to know which layer of the webpage you are working in and what will happen to something, when you change something else in another layer. But don’t let me put you off, you will soon be anchoring with the best of them, like a tarry old deckhand.

Following the path predicted by Vilfredo Pareto more than a century ago, most of the time and effort spent in the website creation was in the last 20%. As Mark Twain wryly observed, “I apologise for such a long letter - I didn't have time to write a short one.” But re-drafting and editing time is well spent and having full control meant the writing and creating melded into one seamless process, which was somehow quite liberating.

The time arrived to publish or be DAMNED. But first a sanity check from friend and professional web designer Simon, who kindly offered to "run the rule" over the site. A nervous week reminiscent of school report time ensued for your editor, hoping for at least a “must try harder” pass mark.

Simon kindly agreed for us to share his verbal report. “I really liked the website and, for a first effort, I thought it was excellent. The use of the colours, the content, imagery and overall layout was fine. But most visitors flick through your images first to find what they need, and if they can’t find it quickly, they’re gone. So there were three main areas for improvement (Editor: Simon’s expression for 'newbie errors'):

  1. Make the home page more visual and less wordy, with easy to read key points. In fact make all the text bigger and easier to read.

  2. Ensure the navigation menu in the header is clear, using distinct drop-down menus with single word options where possible, that mean what they say.

  3. Be consistent in style and layout between the webpages, so the reader quickly learns to navigate and find what they are looking for.

Otherwise, it was a B+ from me (Editor blushes and bows awkwardly).”

Ok, there were a few technical things that needed some wizardry from Simon. And a couple of nice-to-have things that can’t be done in WIX at the moment. But unless you’re a pro, you probably won’t notice. You will be the judge of the results, but as webmaster and blog editor, the time and effort taken to learn the interface and having some basics really helps with maintaining the site.

Next up, we cover your editor's journey into the wild west frontier of SEO (search engine optimisation).

Special thanks to Simon Yock. You can check out his super-cool work at: