Designing design


At the moment, I seem to be in website-making overdrive. As well as this blog, I also have the website for my scythe teaching business and my journalism/writing website and I have plans for at least one more. I work in WordPress and use templates to create the kind of site I want. Except that what I’ve created aren’t quite the sites that I want. They’re nearly there. I’m seven out of ten pleased with what I’ve got, but I feel like it could be so much better. Time for a mini design – of web/blog design…


I asked myself what I liked about other websites and quite often the answer came back – the photos. I love websites with really gorgeous bright photos, usually on a white background. And I like someone to express their personality in their website – through both words and pictures, because then I know immediately whether it’s something I’m going to like or not. Good graphic design is really important to me too. Crap graphic design makes me feel like the person behind the website isn’t really serious about what they’re trying to do.


So then, armed with the information about what I love about other websites, I analysed my own. Do I have good pictures? Well, since I bought a digital SLR, they’re getting better, but they’re not quite there yet. And can I manipulate them in Photoshop? Well kinda.

So next, writing. Here’s something I’m good at… I looked at my homepages in particular. Do they express my personality? Yes, they certainly do that, but possibly to the point where they make me look odd. There might be a little too much personality. A little too much about me, and not enough about the people I am creating the homepage for.

And what about graphic design? I think I could be much better at graphic design if I knew how to tinker around with WordPress. I’m currently using templates which are great, but they mean that I can’t move the elements around on the page. I’m finding myself increasingly frustrated with this so now is the time to skill up, I think

So, in short, here’s what I need to improve:

  • Photography
  • Photoshop Skills
  • My home page copy
  • Graphic design


Well, I need to learn some stuff, don’t I? And actually, I am. I am taking a ten week ‘Getting to know your DSLR’ course at the local adult learning centre. I recently did a two day ‘Introduction to Photoshop’ course at another local educator. Next year, I’ll take a four day web-design course at the same place. I could have done it this year, but I am well aware of my tendency to overload myself and not be able to give anything the attention it deserves, so I decided to put it off until the new year.

I’m giving serious consideration to doing a couple of e-courses too. I’d like to do this CSS course from Pugly Pixel as knowledge of CSS is (I think) what I need to wrest control of my websites from WordPress. I am also thinking about getting this e-book about writing a ‘loveable’ homepage. E-courses have been a bit of a revelation, actually. They’re usually pretty cheap (the CSS course is $25, around £15) and if you know where to look, there are e-courses for whatever niche you’re interested in. What I really like about them is that you can do them at your own pace (but usually within a certain time frame). I don’t mind self-directed learning, and if the course is well designed enough, I don’t mind the lack of a teacher either.

But e-courses are for the future, lest my head explode with it all. Right now I am going to focus on my regular photography classes and my occasional Photoshop classes. Hopefully things will be looking a whole lot better around here pretty soon.


2 thoughts on “Designing design

  1. Hi Beth,

    I can highly recommend for learning web design. I took a few days out and rattled through about 60 badges (web design is my living) and I was impressed with the quality of the videos, the little tests at the end and the experience overall. I find Photoshop can be a bit overkill with features so sometimes just use to apply a basic colour correction or crop (it’s free!)

    All the best, Karl

  2. betheatslocal says:

    Hi Karl,

    Thanks, that looks really good. I’ll have a proper look later. Yes, I agree with you about Photoshop. After my first two day intro course I realised that pretty much all I wanted/needed to do was colour correction and cropping. I have Photoshop already, so I’ll continue to use it, but it was actually very refreshing to work out that I already knew pretty much everything I needed to know. Now, it’s just the photography that I need to work on…

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