Redesigning my website – with Wix
Updated: Nov 4, 2019
I've never been a blogger, but I figured I might as well write about my experiences. Here we go ...
I've created the first version of this website about ten years ago. I wrote all the HTML code myself. It was a simple website, but very personal. There was one major redesign in 2012 but it was still just me typing shitty basic HTML code into a text editor. The Internet has really changed over time and after seeing some of those annoying sponsored videos on YouTube I got kind of curious. I decided to completely revamp the website again. This time with a decent tool.
The first thing I tried was Squarespace – but that didn't suit my needs at all. It's all about fancy templates (I guess all website editors love their templates) and I'm still the kind of person who loves micromanaging and rearranging all the details so that they fit my exact needs. Squarespace was not the tool for me. So I tried out Wix. And while it's still far from perfect, Wix worked well enough for me to stick with it and work around the little bugs and annoyances and get closer to my goal. It's safe to say that the pros outweighed the cons.
The good, the bad and the ugly
First of all: Wix is an amazing website creation tool. It is intuitive and easy to use but provides a huge range of possibilities for noobs and semi-professionals alike (I can't speak for professional web developers because I simply am not one of them). I watched one short tutorial on YouTube and I was ready to go. There are tons of templates, but I was pleased to see that I could very easily create my own stuff from scratch. The prices are reasonable (it's free as long as you accept a small ad banner at the top). The website doesn't crash any more often than my computer (which is a totally different story) and stuff looks pretty good pretty soon.
That isn't to say that there weren't any problems. Working within the limitations of technology can be extremely frustrating and I had my fair share of screaming at the screen moments (although I'm IT literate enough to know that the screen is the least of my problems). Sometimes things moved in really unexpected ways when I dragged an object to another location. Objects seemed to cling together sometimes even when they weren't grouped. Sometimes that one specific setting I was looking for just didn't exist. Sometimes objects changed their sizes or ignored the height and width I had assigned to them. And don't even get me started on the useless widgets or creating usable download links!
All that being said, I got through the process alright. I had to make some adjustments to my initial vision (which isn't always a bad thing) and I spent an annoying number of hours on stuff that should only have taken up a fraction of that time – but I got there anyway: The Desktop version of the website is ready to go public. The Desktop version? Yes, that's one thing that's good to know about Wix: They let you create a full-blown website for big screens and a separate mobile version for your phone. And the latter is a giant pain in the ass!
I left the mobile editor untouched while tweaking the Desktop site over the last couple of weeks. I had a feeling this whole mobile thing would be an unpleasant but unavoidable last step in the process. And of course it was. Now I certainly see the appeal of a separate mobile website and I'm sure that it works reasonably well with the preexisting templates – but as I said, I didn't really use them. I was busy creating my own shit. And that came back to haunt me in the form of completely messed-up layouts. Objects were all over the place. And because they were grouped in funny ways (that I feel like I have very little to do with), rearranging them was terrible. Worse yet: It will stay terrible in the future and I'll have loads of unnecessary work moving things around every time I add a song or document in the future. Not fun. Not fun at all.
So if I can ask one thing of you: Please don't view this website on a phone. And if you do, make sure it's displaying the Desktop version (you can choose that in the browser settings). The mobile site is just no good. It'll probably load a lot fast though because I removed a lot of images to simplify the whole thing. I did my best. Maybe I'll find the time and motivation to optimize it in the future; but that's not my focus right now.
What's on this website anyway?
Well, although I put a lot of work into the relaunch, the content has so far mostly stayed unchanged. You'll basically still find my song demos, some translations and pictures and thousands of poems where they've been before. I also added a Font section and, well, this blog.
I wanna gradually update my content over the next couple of weeks to give you some new artwork and additional resolutions in the wallpaper section (because, as it turns out, screen resolutions have changed over the last decade). And then ... let's see. It is now a lot easier for me to add new menu items and sections. So who knows? I'll just post whatever comes to mind. www.therealgsmith.com is a showcase of my creative side and I don't want to limit myself in any way.
Last but not least
While almost everything you can read, hear or see on this website is my own creative work, the background images are not. I want to give a huge THANK YOU to both Sarah Julia Steyskal and Sieh die Welt mit meinen Augen., who took those amazing pictures of me a while ago and let me use them free of charge. You're the best :*
Edit: What I've also noticed by now: Wix does not provide subdomains to certain areas of your website. My old provider could do that. And the mobile view is even worse than I feared. It keeps messing up font colors without any provocation. Extremely annoying.