Rick Toyne started with Site Setup Kit’s Dynamik Style 4, and transformed it into a showcase for Richard Toyne Architect / Environmental Design Studio.
What do you use your website for?
Most of my work comes from referrals, but I also want people searching for local architects to be able to find me and get a sense of the type of work I do. For the last 20 years I have managed without a website (appeasing my Luddistic tendencies), but now it seems that if you don’t exist online you don’t exist.
Tell us about your starting point when you first bought Site Setup Kit. Did you already have a website? Were you starting from scratch?
The scenario you painted in your video matched my experience precisely. I started a different website a few years ago to post some of my humorous writing. I didn’t have a clue as to what to do, so I hired a local web designer to set up the site. He did a pretty good job, charged me $1200, gave me a two-page written tutorial on how to post, add images, etc., and then disappeared. Of course, I still had to do all the work of filling the site with content.
It didn’t take long to figure out how to post on WordPress—that part was fun. But when it came time to do updates, change the menu, find a backup plugin, and make other design changes, I was lost. I had no idea how to use the theme settings and was sure that anything I changed would delete all the customization, if not zapping the site completely. The WordPress Codex was little help, since it seems to be written for people who know a lot more than I do.
And so when I decided to put together a site for my architectural practice I figured I had no choice but to hire another developer. But then I found Site Setup Kit. Not only did it help me set up this site, now I know how to fix up my first one.
What was the most challenging part of putting your website together, and how did you overcome it?
Setting up the site was surprisingly easy—I kept the Site Setup Kit opened in a separate tab and simply went step-by-step through the process. The hardest part was figuring out what all of the different Dynamik Design settings do. All of those lines of apparent nonsense seemed a bit overwhelming at first. But between the “Cheat Sheet”, the Site Setup Support Forum, and a little experimentation (which I no longer fear) I’ve been able to tweak everything to my satisfaction. The site is still evolving, and every new step is a learning process, but it’s nice to have control over my site. And if I get stuck, there’s always the Forum.
Aside from that, quite honestly the hardest part is getting the content right—deciding what to include and what not to include; how much to say and the best way to say it; and then arranging it in a visually pleasing way. That, by far, has taken the bulk of my time. Fortunately it’s a lot of fun.
What advice do you have for someone who’s looking ahead at all the work involved in putting together a website for their business?
- Don’t look ahead to ALL the work. Just take it one step at a time. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it all comes together.
- If you get stuck, ask. The answer is out there somewhere.
- Experiment. If something doesn’t work, try something else.
- Get feedback from others as you develop your design and content. It’s amazing how much others see that you don’t.
Anything else you’d like to add?
- If not for Site Setup Kit, I probably still wouldn’t have a website. Now that I know what a web designer costs, I can honestly say that the Forum alone is well worth the price of admission, even if you already know the basics.
- Aside from the technical aspects, what I probably learned most from my first website is that creating compelling content for the web is a whole different animal than other mediums. What works on paper doesn’t work on electrons. Digital media is highly biased toward speedy consumption and images. Thus, for middle-aged people who grew up without it, there is a learning curve for creating appropriate content as much as there is for the technical aspects. And since the internet is evolving faster than most of us can keep up, they appear to be endless curves. In this regard, I’ve found online resources like Big Brand System, Copyblogger, HarrisonAmy, etc. can make the climb a lot faster and the curve appear a lot less steep.