Don’t Waste your Time … It won’t work!”

    July 4, 2002

How Many times have you heard that? If everyone listened to that statement where would humanity be now? I am a great believer in the premise that and most things are achievable and can be done well fora lot less expense than a lot of people would have you believe. Several major events have occurred in my life of late that highlight for me that fact that we are all here for a very short time. In my current state of “I’m only here for a short time” I have been more prone to thinking “why am I wasting my time doing things that I’d rather not be doing when I could be ticking off my ‘love to be able to do that’ list.”Think of the vibrant lives we could all live if we all eagerly used our lives to the full pushing boundaries. I’m trying to do this with my life now.

I love teaching, I have been lecturing for the past 13 years, I worked within several design practices prior to that, .. yes I also love all aspects of design as well. The Internet is the ideal vehicle to exploit both of those obsessions. One of the things on my ‘love to do that’ list was to design my own viable commercial web site using no initial capital at all, with content that explored and covered both teaching and design! So what’s so hard about that you ask? Well for me it was a journey of discovery, the first major obstacle that I wasn’t prepared for and ultimately had to surmount was the chorus of critics who virtually in unison cried, “Don’t Waste your time … It won’t work!” Well the critics hadn’t counted on the fact that that sort of criticism only makes me more determined, So once I had decided that succeed or fail I was going to do this, I realised that the major obstacle became no obstacle at all but an obtuse encouragement.

So on to the web site construction. Once I started I surprised myself by how easily the content came together, the layout and design of the site was a little harder. I have designed several web sites over the past years ranging from very small to medium size, however this was different. This was about things I was passionate about. I wanted the site to have a quality ‘look’, and the content to be current and topical as well as reflect the nature of the page design tutorials contained within it. I am reasonably pleased with what I’ve accomplished so far, and I am now beginning to come to grips with my next major hurdle. The term ‘Self Promotion’! I have always had trouble with any form of Self Promotion, but have learned that in order to publish anything on the Internet, … and have it found or be read by anyone at all, … one has to engage in a great deal of Self Promotion. I have learned that this has to pervade every aspect of the design from conception to completion and beyond.

As the web site (which now numbers in excess of 60 pages), grew, I started analysing qualities that were required for a site like this to succeed, I have tried to list these here;

FOCUS. …. The site must have a focus or niche, the design of the site must have a focus, and the designer should be focussed. Tie this in toa personal flavour not only does it sell better if a visitor feels they know you but it helps your ‘branding’ become known.

RESEARCH. …. This is ongoing, and for a growing site to remain topical and up to date the amount of research grows. Again the results of your research should be peppered with personal insights (self promotion again).

WORK ETHIC. …. The amount of work required seems to grow exponentially with the size of the site. DO NOT expect to create a couple of pages and the world to come and visit the next day.

KNOW YOUR SUBJECT. …. Even though you will have to complete a lot of research anyway, you will need to start with a subject that you know and love so that your experience and excitement show through.

FREE. …. Don’t expect people to pay for services and content on your site unless you know that they are unique. Visitors will be turned off big time … especially when they know that they can always find it elsewhere for free.

PROMOTION. …. I have found that by far the largest task in developing a web site is the task of promoting it, this often translates into shameless self promotion, get used to it.

LEARN TO TURN OFF. … People who declare, – “Don’t Waste your time … It won’t work!” because they just haven’t discovered yet that succeed or fail you will never be wasting your time, neither learning, discovery or enjoyment are ever wasted time. Maybe when those critics encounter a life changing or life threatening event they will discover this also.

Owen Lamb – Lecturer, Computer Aided Design and Architectural
Technologies. Special interests; Internet and Web Site Design.
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