For me the hardest part of any project, be it programming or web design, is actually getting started. It is always difficult looking at a blank screen and just expecting myself to go. Where do I start? Will it work? Am I doing the right thing? These are the kind of questions that initially hold me back. Sometimes it might take days before anything actually gets done. I can have all my sketches and my plans and my diagrams, but still all I see is the blank screen.
Sometimes I think the screen will produce some sort artistry that I may be able to call my work, but that never seems to happen. In my head I have the greatest ideas of what I want to do with the project, but that is the only place where they seem to stay. You read on one blog where someone is implementing a CSS designed site and the next day another. Then someone else is building a new web service that is going to be gobbled up by Yahoo or Google.
I used to be a perfectionist when it came to my sites or anything else I did. Then I discovered that I just wasn’t getting anything done. That was followed by my not caring phase where I just threw stuff online. Now I have found a median where I put care into what I do, but don’t nag myself with every little detail.
Design is the most important stage in the life cycle process.
A lesson my professors taught me in school and I took their word for it. I used to design to the point where I would think I was done, only to start all over because I wasn’t totally content. The design of this site evolves because I see flaws in the past designs and try to work beyond them. Over the years I have gone through so many different iterations that I know what works and what doesn’t so getting started on new sites becomes easier and easier.
The secret is to just go. If you can’t think of a cool design don’t worry about it. Come up with the content for the site. Start with my plain design and just write and eventually you will see the tweaks you can do to make everything prettier. IA wise you will begin to see where the layout needs to change. It doesn’t matter how you start necessarily, but it’s the fact that you just got started. It’s okay if the beginning isn’t what you had in mind. At least you have something to work with and you have momentum going. Building your momentum is the key. Also remember this:
You can’t write perfect software.
So just get started.
I am not even sure Mr. Oxton worked it out like this, but let’s use his site as an example of just getting started. You wish to create a personal site with some flair, but have no idea where to get started. Even though you don’t want to do another two column layout (which work perfectly) you decide to do so just so you can get started. You write some content and end up with this:
Nothing exciting, but over time you begin to envision where you can take this because you have something up in front of you besides a blank canvas. The end result becomes:
You could say that this goes against the whole “making a first impression” idea because you are just putting up words on the screen. Getting started doesn’t necessarily mean getting launched. Just wanted to clear that up.