I’ve been designing websites for over 10 years now. I started with good old HTML using the site builder program Dreamweaver, and it worked like a charm. I had to teach myself how to do this by reading books on the subject, but eventually taught myself that program, as well as Flash, which was great for adding interactive animations and other entertainment based sites.
In the first decade of the 21st Century, this served my purposes well. Web design was evolving, but primarily with the aesthetics of a site, rather than its architecture. PHP existed mainly for sites that gathered data such as e-commerce sites. An actor’s website didn’t really need this complex of an architecture.
My original designs were quite rudimentary as was much of the web back in the late 1990s. The closest thing you had to page layout was using tables to align your text with images. But to code this by hand really required a lot of programming skill. Dreamweaver was a godsend. As a wysiwyg program, you could lay everything out as your design, and the program would translate everything to HTML.
My next designs utilized my developing skill in graphic design. I would take a photo from one of my headshot sessions, bring it into Photoshop, and then turn it into the template for my site. This was how I designed williamjosephhill.com, fourscorpio.com, and my wife Pamela’s website (http://pamelahill.net). I could use graphics to create awesome rollover effects and photo galleries. From the mid 2000s till this year, this was how I did it.
Lately, the trend has been with simplified design. Now that a huge percentage of the population accesses the Internet with mobile devices, websites need to display properly and load quickly, plus be scale-able.
Enter WordPress. I noticed in recent years that a growing number of designers were using it to design sites — not just blogging. For the life of me, though, I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate it in my site. It seemed like a daunting task to try and master this new program.
So over the holiday break, I made it my goal to teach myself this new method, much like I taught myself Dreamweaver a decade ago. Armed with the book Using WordPress by Tris Hussey, I managed to crack the code, so to speak. Tris’ book is very easy to understand and comes with a DVD with video tutorials that show you step by step how to install WordPress on your webhost (if your host doesn’t provide WordPress), and use the program.
The hard part is figuring out how to install it. Fortunately, my web host 1and1.com offers WordPress. It’s just a matter of “turning it on” from the hosting control panel. Once it’s activated, you can then build your site using the user friendly interface (the same as I am using to write this blog post). Now, I can update my site from anywhere instead of my computer that has Dreamweaver.
The next step in the coming weeks will be to revamp fourscorpio.com and pamelahill.net, bringing those up to date as well. If you like learning new skills and have a knack for teaching yourself, I strongly recommend getting a book or two on WordPress and redesign your own site. It’s fun!