November 7, 2019

What makes designing your own website so tough?

With the launch of my new portfolio website, I was reminded of what it feels like to design a website for your own business and thought I'd share some thoughts I found on how to make designing for yourself go smoother.

It’s even tougher if you’re a website designer.

You would think as someone who designs websites for a living I would find it a breeze to design one for myself. After all I’ve got all the experience, the tools and processes I would need to do it, so what would be so difficult about it? Well, it’s exactly that. Working with clients is all about managing expectations, so when you become your own client to design a website for yourself, you have much higher expectations of what you should be capable of and it starts to get difficult to stop being your own worst critic.

Remember the reason you started.

I’ve never really had to rely too much on a portfolio website to get me clients. Ever since I started out my website design career I got all of my work through referral, so my own site had always taken a bit of a back seat and been quite basic. But with any business you strive to improve and look for ways to do better. Part of my idea of improving was to help create more value for my clients, so in order to do that, I needed to demonstrate the results and goals I had achieved in the past to cement more trust in my abilities. Another area I wanted to improve on would be to build more of a personal brand to help create trust and authority in my field.

Positive restraints create positive results.

Going into your own project, it’s easy to want to push the boundaries and really see what you’re capable of creating. However, that complete freedom of design opportunity often creates a negative effect, and paralyses you with decision fatigue by putting you into an inspiration gathering limbo. The two most useful things that helped me finish the website was first of all that I made sure to stick to the same process I use with my clients rather than skipping ahead at certain parts to make sure I was defining all the goals and expectations of the project.

“Discipline equals freedom” - Jocko Willink, Author and Navy Seal Commander.

By saying no to a lot of options and sticking to what will actually be most effective for your website, you’re able to make decisions more easily. It’s difficult to finish a game if there aren't any rules defining what’s a win or a loss. Then, in order to get passed being your own worst critic in absence of a client, I used the approach to just take action then iterate along the way, you free yourself up to make some moves faster and get out of a decision fatigue.

It's worth it in the end.

I think the fact that you're on this website is a bit of a giveaway that I did eventually finished my own website. It took months of finding the balance of working on it as well as on actual client projects, but after putting the time in and finishing up I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out and already started getting me some new leads. It's not quite perfect, I already have some new ideas on how to improve it, but sometime's done is better than perfect.

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