How (not) to create your own website

Four years ago I embarked on a project to set up a website for my mum. This is a tale of how and why I failed.

My mum is an artist and wanted to show and sale her paintings online. I volunteered myself for the project and started by doing some research and buying a book on “How to set up your digital presence as an artist”.

I read the book from cover to cover and learnt that it is vital to have your own website as an artist even if you are already selling or advertising your works via various online art galleries (you’re welcome – the book was £20). I also read that your personal website should have a shop with a ‘buy it now’ button and an online payment option. It was very important as you want to make all those evening “after a glass of  wine” purchases as easy as possible.

I took all the lessons on board and proceeded to build a website from scratch. I bought a nice gallery theme from WordPress, paid a friend to host the page and bought a domain. I then went on adding paintings (and it took ages as had to create thumbnails and change the size and resolution of all pieces), descriptions and the “About the artist” page… The website was ready and all that was missing was the ‘buy it now’ button. I had no idea how to add it. I got stuck. I made a plan to commission someone to set up an online store. I put the plan on a post it note. The post it note got lost.

Roll forward a few years

Last year I attended the Jisc Digital Leadership course and decided to set up my own blog. WordPress was easy to use and it only took a few minutes before I could start writing my first blog post. I wondered whether I could set up a website for my mum in a similar way.

However, she didn’t need a blog – she needed an online gallery. And this is where I had the idea to implement some agile product management principles. I needed to aim for a minimum viable product. I didn’t need to set up a page with a store, it dint’t need to be translated into a few languages and it didn’t need to show all the paintings that my mum had ever painted. I could start with something simple and then improve it if needed.

The project was a lot of fun and it was really satisfying to show progress to my mum. I have to admit I also used the agile phrase of “you ain’t going to need it” a lot when her requirements were getting out of scope.

My mum was surprised at the speed with which the website was created and she quickly mastered editing the webpage. We launched the page on Facebook and I have to say my mum beat me on the numbers of ”likes” her new page received. She also managed to sell a painting straight away – without even the magic ‘buy it now’ button!

So if you are thinking of setting up your own page – wait no more. WordPress is just a click away and you can start with something really simple. And if it really doesn’t work out – where there is always the delete button!

PS. And here is the online gallery that I put together – maybe it’s not the most brilliant website ever but it does the job!






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s