Author: Csilla

Just A Rambling Novice

Soooo… how did it go? For me, not so good. Last post, we went our separate ways to ramble and explore our new WordPress site for a bit. I don’t know about you, but for me it was pretty rough going. I got more than a few scrapes and bruises along the way.

Let’s Recap

Things started out well enough. I had just finished updating the “tagline” at the top left by clicking on “Edit Header” in the Preview window, which then took me to the page where I could make changes to Site Identity:

After that, somehow or other, it took me to the next item on the checklist:

I selected the big red “Edit homepage” button which returned me to what I presume is the editing mode. Looking at the main body, I saw that it says you can edit the page by clicking on the Edit link. I couldn’t see where this “Edit link” was though, so I decided it would be prudent at this point to follow the learn.wordpress.com link. (It’s really difficult to see this link against the dark background; I’ve circled it below.)

Quick-Start Guide

Over on the learn page, the first recommended link is Get Going Now. This takes us over to the Quick-Start Guide page. From here we can either continue reading down the page to follow the Quick-Start Guide, or we can follow the “skip this guide” link if we feel we need a little more “hand-holding”. I decided to start with the Quick-Start Guide, and go through the more in-depth guide later if I still needed to fill in the gaps.

The first step in the Quick-Start Guide is “Get started: register, fill in your profile, and name your new creation.” This basically walks us through signing up with WordPress, which we did last blog post. We did everything in this section except for setting up a profile. I skipped setting up my profile for now. I can always do that later if I think I’ll be staying for a while.

Having A Look Around

The next step in the Quick-Start Guide is “Get comfy: learn your way around WordPress.com.” First it tells us to visit the Reader.

Whoa, what is this?? This is interesting. It looks like a sort of newsfeed within the WordPress platform. I’m sure we’ll be coming back to this when we get more comfortable around here.

Back in the Quick-Start Guide, it tells us to explore the My Sites menu. We’ve seen this page already. This is where it dropped us when we first created our new site, and also where it took us to make changes to the Site Identity. The guide says to us, it says, “Click around and explore — you won’t break anything.” Mmmyeahhh. We’ll be coming back to that “you won’t break anything” part a little later on.

So far my impression is that WordPress is very different from Wix and Squarespace. There is so much more going on here! It seems like in this place you become a part of a community. You can follow other people’s blogs and they can follow yours. There’s a user forum. Completely different atmosphere here. I’m beginning to understand why this platform pigs out on over a third of the pie.

First I Got Lost

The third step in the Quick-Start Guide is “Get configured: customize your theme to make your blog your own.” Remember my last blog post I didn’t know what it meant to “choose a WordPress theme”? Well, here it is! I’m about to choose a WordPress theme! (This is so exciting!)

Hmm… I’m a little lost. It says to go to My Sites > Themes but I can’t find it. I went to the more detailed instructions and it says to “hover over My Sites” but nothing happens when I hover.

Alright, I got it. Don’t hover, just click on My Site then look for Design on the menu in the left-hand panel. Click on it to open up that menu item and you’ll see Themes listed under there. So the path is My Site > Design > Themes. (Update: they have since changed Design to Appearance, so the path currently is My Site > Appearance > Themes.)

So now we’ve found where Themes is hiding. Select it and you’ll see a list of recommended themes come up. You can choose any of these, or if you scroll down the page, you’ll see a “Show all themes” button. Select that to bring up a search function that lets you filter themes according to various criteria.

When you click on a theme, it opens up detailed information about it. You can see a template of what it will look like and read about some of its features. There’s a back-button to go back to the theme selection page, so you can easily look at different themes and see which ones you like.

I really like this theme called Baskerville 2. Here’s its info page:

When you find a theme you like, select the “Activate this design” button. (By the way, some of the themes you have to pay for, but many of them are free. You can filter for free themes in the search function.) A little dialogue box appears thanking you for selecting the theme and encouraging you to customize it (big red “Customize site” button).

Selecting the big red button takes you to the “customizer”. (If you select “Learn about this theme”, it just closes the dialogue box and lets you look at the info page you were just looking at.) There are lots of different things that you can fiddle with to customize the look of your site. I could spend days here but I just made some choices I could live with for now. I’m sure there will be many tweaks as the blog develops.

Then I Got Confused

So far so good, right? Well, here’s where things start to fall apart. What follows is my internal dialogue over the next 20 minutes of (air-quotes) clicking around and exploring and (air-quotes) not breaking anything:

“Holy moly, there are so many things! So many possibilities! It’s exciting and fun! But also: information overload.”

“I’m so confused. I can understand why some people may prefer to just stay with Wix. So much simpler and easier to use.”

“I don’t understand what’s going on. Why is my theme not updating properly?”

“WordPress just crashed my computer.”

No matter what I try, I can’t get my site to look like the demo. It has the Baskerville theme for the header, but not for the body. I tried to update it by choosing a different theme, then re-selecting the Baskerville theme. Then it showed the previous theme I had just discarded in the body. It will sometimes momentarily show the Baskerville theme, but always revert back to the other theme.

I’ve gone back to the more in-depth guide to see where I’ve gone wrong, but it’s not really all that helpful. I’ve followed the instructions; it’s still not working. Now I’m thinking maybe I’m just not understanding what I am looking at.

Clear the Cache

Alright, so let’s go back to the page that gives us all the information about a theme (the one that pops up when you select a theme from the list). There are two tabs here: one says, “Overview”, the other says “Support”.

On the Support tab there’s a big red button that takes us to some sort of forum. There must be something wrong with this theme. This theme just broke my computer! Surely other people besides me have had trouble with this?

Well, a few things come up when I search for “Baskerville 2” but nothing that specifically talks about it being defective. I did find some information suggesting that you may sometimes have to clear your cache in order for the preview to show your updated theme. I’ve tried to clear my cache. Nothing.

(In case you don’t know how to clear your cache, this article gives instructions for a number of different browsers.)

Maybe it’s my laptop that is the problem? I email myself the link to my site and open it up on my tablet. Same problem here! I am super frustrated! I can’t understand why this isn’t working. I’m thinking maybe I inadvertently messed up the html code somehow with all that clicking around and not breaking anything I did earlier?

Static Home Page

I find another little nugget of knowledge on the support forum. Someone mentions that for a particular theme that someone is having trouble with, they have to select the Home page to be static. Here’s what this means. When you are in the customizer (My Sites > Design > Customize) one of the things you can customize is Homepage Settings. In here, you can choose whether your home page is set with its own content, or whether it pulls content from another page. Here’s what it looks like:

In theory, I should be able to choose for the Home page to pull content from my Blog posts page. It seems to me that the Baskerville demo page has a Home page that is doing just that. At least, that’s what it looks like to me. Which is why I chose the option “Your latest posts” when I was customizing it. Maybe this is the problem? I fiddle around with this but… it’s still messed up. I finally decide it’s time to give up on Baskerville 2. As much as I liked it before, I’m starting to hate it. Although, I don’t think the problem is this theme specifically, because I have tried several themes and they are all behaving the same way!

Let’s Figure This Out

Ok. Breathe. There’s got to be a way to make this work. I’ve seen it mentioned in a few places that WordPress is “easy”. It can’t really be this hard! I try again, on my tablet this time. Clear the cache again. I try again to look for a theme, a really simple one. I find this one called Twenty Twenty. Great, it’s a pandemic-year theme. This oughta be good.

This time, when I’m in the Homepage Settings, I choose “A static page”. I don’t know why I can’t choose “Your latest posts” but being as yet a mere Novice, I don’t seem to have a choice. Maybe we can choose “Your latest posts” when we graduate to Rookie status.

I’ve made sure I’ve cleared the cache this time. I hit “Update”. I hold my breath and… it works. I can’t believe it! It really works!

I’m not ready to link to my new WordPress site yet, but here are some screenshots for you to admire for now:

And you know, with all that clicking around and not breaking things I did in trying to get the Baskerville 2 theme to work, I began to get an understanding of how editing the pages works. Not completely. Not fully. But I did get an inkling of an understanding of the anatomy of a WordPress web page. I don’t really know what exactly made it work this time, but after a lot of trial and error, I was finally able to get the selected theme to upload properly.

Troubleshooting

Unfortunately, throughout this entire episode I didn’t take any screenshots of what I was seeing when the Baskerville theme wasn’t working. I tried to re-create the problem by starting fresh with a whole new site so I could show you, but guess what. It works this time. Of course it does. But here’s the difference with the second site: it’s from within the same account as the first one, and this second time creating a new site, it didn’t start with that initial mini-tutorial walk-through. It just had me select a theme to start with and sent me on my way. So I wonder if maybe there’s a bit of a bug with that initial-site walk-through? Maybe I’ll test out the theory by creating a whole new account at some point.

Or it could just be that the combination of not clearing my cache and not making the proper selections in the customizer was too much for my PC to handle. Or possibly these free themes are known to be buggy and that’s why they are free. Perhaps time and experience will reveal all these mysterious workings of WordPress to us Initiates. (Yes. I’ve promoted myself from Novice to Initiate. I deserve it, dammit!)

Bottom Line

There’s definitely a learning curve with WordPress.com. My experience so far with Wix and Squarespace were a cake-walk compared to this. Having said that, I can see that I can potentially have a lot more fun with WordPress. Despite this extremely frustrating beginning, I am undaunted. I will continue to explore this platform in future posts and share with you what I learn along the way.

See you next time!

Feature image credit: Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

Introducing WordPress

What is WordPress?

I don’t know. But according to WordPress.com, it “Powers 37% Of The Internet”. That’s like one-third of a pie chart plus an extra slice for dessert! I suppose we should take a seat at the table too and learn something about this platform. Let’s dig in!

WordPress Course on LinkedIn Learning

As you will know by now, I like to make use of the access to LinkedIn Learning I get for free as a member of the Toronto Public Library. They have not just one course about WordPress but an entire “learning path” of 13 courses! However, in reading over the learning path description I got a little intimidated. It says, “Go beyond simply choosing WordPress themes, and learn how to actually manipulate WordPress to build content and designs that match your unique needs.” If I’m gonna be honest, I really just want to start with simply choosing WordPress themes. (Whatever those are.)

So I did a quick Google search and the second thing that pops up, right after the WordPress site itself, is “WPBeginner – Beginner’s Guide to WordPress“. Interesting… It says that it is “a free WordPress resource site for Beginners”. Beginners! That’s us! And you know I’m a sucker for “free”. Let’s check it out together, shall we?

The WPBeginner Resource Site

Oooo, very nice. Lots of things to look at. Where to start? Right across the top it says “Beginner’s Guide for WordPress / Start your WordPress Blog in minutes” but then I am given some options that I don’t quite understand.

If you are feeling a little lost at this point, not to worry. While you were standing there looking around in awe and wonder, taking in the scenery, I scouted ahead (because that’s what I’m here for) and I think I know what path we should take.

Dot Com? Dot Org?

I don’t know if you know this, but I do know that there are two WordPresses: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. But I still get confused about the difference between the two. When I scouted ahead, I saw that the “free WordPress.com platform is a good choice for hobby bloggers and those starting a blog for their family.” (Source: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Better?)

Basically, with WordPress.com, we can start a site that is completely free, just like with Wix, whereas with WordPress.org we’d have to shell out a bit of money for a domain and hosting (I have a vague idea about what these two things are; we’ll study them in more detail down the road). Both budget and blogging prowess are a bit thin at the moment for making a monetary investment, so I think we should opt for creating a free site with WordPress.com and see what all the hype is about.

This WPBeginner site looks like a really great resource and I’m sure we will refer to it again in the future. But for now, let’s head on over to WordPress.com.

The WordPress.com Site

Well, here we are!

What you are looking at on your screen may not look exactly like this. They may have switched out the look of their home page by the time you are reading this, and they also seem to have different looks depending on how you get there. But as long as the URL starts with “wordpress.com” you are in the right place.

Regardless of how you get there and what the landing page looks like for you, there should be “Log In” and “Get Started” buttons somewhere, probably in the top right-hand corner. Obviously we can’t log in without getting started first, so let’s hit that Get Started button! (This is so exciting!)

Here’s what I see:

Again, what you see on your screen probably doesn’t look like this. But you should see something that tells you to enter an email address and choose a username and password.

Uh-oh, it wants to get me a domain:

I thought we would be under the WordPress.com domain? Just like how with Wix, my free site is my_username.wixsite.com, I thought it would be something like my_username.wordpress.com. Well, I’ll try entering “Learning to Blog” and see what happens.

So they show me two options right at the top, labelled “Our Recommendation” and “Best Alternative”. These are “free” for now, but they will renew at a cost. So not exactly free then, is it?

But if I scroll down a bit, it gives me a long list of options that would cost me money eventually, but the very first option is the one that sits under the WordPress domain, and that one is free. So that’s the one I will select.

Gee, they really try hard to extract money from your wallet. Once again I was alarmed to see that I had to choose a paid plan:

But if you look closely, you’ll see tucked away under “Pick a plan that’s right for you”, in tiny writing : “Choose a plan or start with a free site”. It looks like it’s just underlined, but that’s actually a hyperlink, folks. That’s where we’re going.

And voilà!

Well that was relatively painless.

There’s a big red button right in the center that says, “Get started” and above that it says that it will guide us through setting up and launching our site. Why don’t we go our separate ways for now and meet back here when we’re done?

Sorry, just checking back in with you for a second. I’ve just finished naming my site and giving it a tagline, and now I’m in editor mode for the home page. Have you gotten this far yet? I haven’t made any changes yet–here’s what WordPress has given me to start out with:

Alright, carry on… Meet you back here.

Sorry to bother you again. I just wanted to show you something. I wasn’t really sure where to go from here so I clicked on Preview to see what it actually would look like so far. I noticed that what I had for my “tagline” is actually what I want to put as text on the Home page. So I wanted to change it. And I saw that in Preview mode, there’s an Edit Header option. Circled in red with a big red arrow pointing to it here:

When I click on that, it takes me here:

I’ve circled in red where you go to change your site’s title and tagline. And then I saw all the other things I can do here, like change the site’s colours and backgrounds. I think I could spend a lot of time here exploring backgrounds and pretty colours…

So I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. And hungry. I think we should take a break here and enjoy our little slice of pie. Let’s ramble a bit on our own and come back to compare notes in the next post.

Squarespace For Beginners

Let’s revisit Squarespace! I’ve already wrestled with it once before; if you’re interested in reading about that Gong Show, I wrote a post about it.

Login to LinkedIn Learning

Today, I will report on the most up-to-date Squarespace course for beginners available on LinkedIn Learning. Your best bet for finding it is to use the search bar at the top of the page and type in “Squarespace”, then filter the search results for “Courses”. There will only be a handful of results. The one you want is titled Squarespace Essential Training: The Basics by Jen Kramer. Or, you can simply follow this link.

From your LinkedIn Learning dashboard, use the search function to find Squarespace Essential Training: The Basics by Jen Kramer.

Version 7.1 Released In 2020

This course was released in March 2023 and teaches everything you need to know to get started on Squarespace version 7.1. This version was rolled out in 2020 and is still the most current version of Squarespace as of this writing in 2024.

A Hands-on Course For Beginners

Before we get started, let’s make sure you are in the right place. If you are brand new to Squarespace then just jump right into this course. The course is designed for beginners like you! Squarespace is a no-code website builder, which means you do not need to know a lick of HTML, CSS or any other acronyms to create a visually stunning website.

Version 7.0 Prior to 2020

If you dabbled in Squarespace prior to 2020 then be aware that things will look quite a bit different now. You would most likely have been using version 7.0, which was launched in 2014. See my previous blog post, Spaced Out With Squarespace, to read my ramblings about being lost and confused about Squarespace versions (completely optional reading!).

In spite of the differences, I think you will find that most of the basics have remained the same and you will get up to speed in no time.

What If I Already Have A Squarespace Website?

If you already have a Squarespace website that was created using version 7.0 (i.e. before 2020), then you might want to carefully read through this guide on Squarespace’s blog about updating your site from version 7.0 to 7.1. They have an update tool to help you with this process.

Course Summary

I love LinkedIn Learning courses! They have top-notch instructors and well-constructed courses. This course is hands-on, so you will need to sign up with Squarespace and follow along as the instructor walks you step-by-step through building a website for an imaginary photography business.

Create a Squarespace Account

If you are not yet signed up with Squarespace, don’t worry; after a brief introduction and overview of the project, the instructor will walk you through the sign-up process.

Note: Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial, so I highly recommend NOT signing up until you are ready to set some solid, uninterrupted time aside to work through the course. The course is only about two and a half hours long but you might not want to plow through the whole thing in one sitting. It covers a lot of information so you might prefer to complete it over the course of several days.

Download Text and Images

Another thing that’s great about LinkedIn Learning courses is that they often provide “Exercise Files” that you can download as a supplement to the course. In this case, you are provided with the text and images you will need to create your imaginary photography business website. So you don’t need to worry about creating your own content; it’s all provided for you. You can just focus on learning how to use the platform.

Build a Website Step By Step

By the end of the course, you will know how to:

  • choose fonts and colours
  • set up your site’s header and footer
  • add pages
  • work with page sections
  • add text and images
  • design both desktop and mobile views
  • add links, buttons and videos
  • add a contact form
  • choose the right payment plan for your needs and publish your website
  • share your website in trial mode before publishing

Next Steps

So now that’s two website builders under our belts: first Wix, and now Squarespace. A third builder I’d like to learn how to use is WordPress. I’ll start exploring that in a future post. Stay tuned!

Feature image credit: Dhruv on Unsplash

Playing Hide-and-SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) helps your tiny droplet of a site get found in the ocean of the World Wide Web. It involves associating your site address with keywords that enable your site to be located whenever anyone types those keywords into a search engine.

And that’s about the extent of my knowledge about SEO.

SEO Settings on Wix

Let me go back into my Learning To Blog website and show you what “SEO” looks like in Wix.

Once you navigate over to the Blog posts lists, hover the cursor near the three dots to the right of the post to make the Edit button magically appear.

Selecting the Edit button opens up the post. There is a vertical menu on the left. Here’s where you’ll find the SEO menu button.

There are four tabs on the SEO menu:

  • Assistant
  • Basics
  • Advanced
  • Social Share

Assistant Tab

Let’s just have a quick look at the Assistant tab.

It’s a lot like a to-do list. I suspect that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is behind this. It analyzes what you have done on your site so far and comes up with a list of tasks for you to tackle next. You can learn more about the Assistant tab and what the items on the to-do list mean on Wix’s support page on this topic.

I believe the Assistant tab is a recent feature. I don’t remember seeing it when I first created my Wix blog. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are still some bugs to work out. As such, I’m not going to worry about it too much right now. Instead, let’s have a look at the Basics tab.

Basics Tab

So there it is. A bunch of information that doesn’t mean much to us yet.

Fortunately, when you write your post, Wix automatically pre-populates some of the SEO information for you. So for the time being, there’s nothing you need to do here. But if you’re really keen and want to learn more about the Basics settings, have a look at Wix’s support page about this tab.

SEO Noobs

So is that it? We don’t need to do anything? Well, I know that there are entire courses dedicated to the topic of SEO so there must be more to it than this. As far as what concerns us noobs, though, this is probably all the SEO we need to know or do for now. We won’t even look at the Advanced and Social share tabs at this point. I’m sure we’ll come across this topic again as we continue our blogging journey.

Feature image credit: Photo by Ivan Babydov from Pexels.

Spaced Out With Squarespace

Hello again! Thanks for joining me on our next field trip. This time we’re heading over to another website builder called Squarespace. Similarly to Wix, you don’t need to have any knowledge of HTML or anything like that in order to build a website with Squarespace. Is it as easy to use as Wix, though? Let’s find out.

Learn Squarespace on LinkedIn Learning

As with Wix, I tinkered around with Squarespace a couple of years ago and looked for a video tutorial to guide me. I found one on LinkedIn Learning by the same instructor as the Wix tutorial. (Remember that if you live in Toronto, you can access LinkedIn Learning for free with your public library card. Also, some organizations offer their employees free access to LinkedIn Learning, so check with your employer to see if they do!)

The LinkedIn Learning course is called Squarespace Essential Training: The Basics and, as of this writing, the most recent update to the course was in March 2023.

Keeping Up With The Versions

Remember back when they invented papyrus and it took another 4000 years or so to come up with the printing press? Yeah, it’s not like that anymore. Things change a lot more quickly in the digital age. When I was working my way through the course back in March 2021, I began to notice that things looked different. What I mean is, what I was seeing on my Squarespace interface did not always match what the instructor was showing me in the video tutorial. The further I got in the course, the less things seemed to match, until I was just barely muddling my way along.

Squarespace Versions 7.0 vs 7.1

I eventually made use of the Help section to try and figure out why I was so lost in space. Turned out that I was using version 7.1 of Squarespace, whereas the instructor seemed to be using version 7.0. (For a detailed explanation of the different versions, head over to this Squarespace blog post.)

In spite of this enlightening bit of information, I for some reason continued to struggle through to the end of the course before it finally occurred to me to check if there was a newer version of the tutorial and… yep, there was. It was released just a few months prior, in October 2020. The older course was created in May 2018; the newer one in October 2020. That’s almost two-and-a-half years older! The course that is there now was just updated a few months ago, but by the time you read this, it too may already be a relic of an earlier, simpler time.

What’s really hilarious is that the outdated course I had just finished slogging through was almost 5 hours long, whereas the newer course was a mere 2 hours. I spent about 9 hours on the project altogether!

Expect Change

The take-away here is: don’t be surprised when things look different. In fact, be a little suspicious when things still look the same. If you find that things on your screen don’t match up with the tutorial, don’t panic! Chances are, things will look a lot more different than they actually are. Just do your best to muddle your way around. The more you muddle, the better you get at this learning tech stuff!

Just to be clear, the May 2018 course, which is the course I originally worked through, was for Squarespace version 7.0. The October 2020 course was for Squarespace version 7.1. This is why they looked so completely different from each other! (Note that the October 2020 course was last updated in April 2022.) The current course, released in March 2023, is also for Squarespace 7.1. You will only find this latest course listed in LinkedIn Learning, the first two have since been archived. But they still exist in cyberspace, just follow these hyperlinks if you want to check them out:

I am currently working through the March 2023 course. I’ll report on the new course in a future post. For now, let me share what I learned about Squarespace the first time around.

Shocker #1: Squarespace doesn’t have a free option

Gah! How are us broke people supposed to check this thing out if it’s not free??

Thankfully, they do offer a 14-day free trial. I would suggest that you don’t start your 14-day free trial until you are ready and able to dedicate some solid blocks of time on this.

If I can use Wix for free, why would I pay to use Squarespace?

Well, first off, the free option for Wix is very limited in its capabilities. It’s pretty much like an unlimited free trial. In order to have a fully functional website, you’d need to upgrade to a paid plan. Beyond that, Squarespace apparently has a lot of features that make it “better” than Wix. The LinkedIn Learning tutorial goes over some of these. For instance, Squarespace automatically makes the necessary changes to your website so that it can be viewed on any device, whether that be a desktop computer monitor, a tablet, or an iPhone. Wix does too, but doesn’t do it as well, says our instructor, and requires extra tweaking, which means you have to spend more time building your site. Time is money, people!

Another feature that Squarespace has that Wix allegedly doesn’t is the ability to export your site to WordPress. Naturally, you have questions. What is WordPress? And why would I want to export my site to it? WordPress is yet another website builder, and it is on our travel itinerary, so hang tight, we will get to it soon! If your business or organization or project outgrows your initial small website, you will likely need to move to another platform that can handle a larger, more complex site. So that’s where the exporting from Squarespace to WordPress would come in. There isn’t an easy way to move your site from Wix to WordPress; you’d pretty much have to rebuild the site all over again (ouch!)

I know what you’re thinking. Why not just start with WordPress and avoid the potential hassle? Well, according to our instructor, “What makes WordPress so popular (all the functionality) is also what makes it confusing (all the functionality).” In other words, it might be more website builder than you need. Both Wix and Squarespace could be just fine for a small business or organization, or as a hobby site.

Shocker #2: Planning your website

Uh-oh, we need a plan??

Yes. According to our instructor, we need a plan. In the March 2018 course, she spent a significant amount of time explaining how to plan out your website and why it’s important to do so before you begin building it. This planning out stage is not specific to Squarespace, this is something we are encouraged to do regardless of which website-building tool we choose. She also went over some basic information about working with photos and how to decide whether our website should be single-page or multi-page, among other things. This is why that 2018 course was 5 hours long vs. 2. I think she has now created a separate course to go over this information; I’ll have to look into it to confirm and get back to you on that.

Adding Photos In Squarespace

Here’s an important thing I learned while working through the Squarespace course: photos don’t just appear out of nowhere. You may recall back in Wix Land, back when we were mere Noobs, we discovered that it was easy to find professional-looking free stock photos right within the Wix interface. (If you missed it, here’s the post in question.) Well, it doesn’t look like Squarespace has this handy feature. So, I did a little research and found this website called Pexels. It looks like photographers upload photos for you to use for free, although there is an option to donate to them if you wish. You can also copy a link back to their profile page to include on your site in order to give them credit and exposure. Please be sure to give credit where credit is due!

Squarespace or Wix?

So which is better? Squarespace or Wix? In my very limited experience, here’s my opinion.

Ease of Use

In terms of actually building a site, as someone who was just learning how to do this, I think I preferred Squarespace to Wix. I think. But I’m not really sure. Fourteen days just wasn’t enough time to get a good feel for it. I think I preferred it for its seemingly more customizable design capabilities though, not for ease of use. Remember that Wix had two interfaces: Wix ADI and Wix Editor. The Wix Editor had more customizable design capabilities as well, but it also had a steeper learning curve than Wix ADI. I guess if we’re talking strictly about ease of use, Wix ADI wins hands-down.

Pricing

Let’s talk money. Currently, the cheapest plan Squarespace offers is $192/year. This is for the “Personal” plan. The next tier is called “Business” and costs $276/year. I’m assuming this is in US dollars, so for Canadians we’re looking at around $250/year for the Personal plan and $365/year for Business. For Wix, the cheapest plan is free, followed by a very basic plan for $90/year, then a personal plan for $180/year. The next tier is for entrepreneurs and freelancers at $240/year. These prices are all in Canadian dollars. I guess if you’re reading this, it means you’re just at the learning stages of website building, in which case Wix is probably a more budget-friendly option to start with.

My First Squarespace Site

Now, since Squarespace doesn’t have a free version, and I wasn’t about to pay to make a fake site I will never use, I had to get creative with how to share my project with you. Because I can’t actually publish it, I instead took a series of screenshots, hacked them into photos, and put them into a free Wix site to make it kinda-sorta look like what it would look like if you were actually looking at it as a real website. (Note that it’s a bit fuzzy-looking because detail was lost in going from screenshots to jpegs. If it were an actual Squarespace site, it would look much crisper.)

I added hyperlinks so you could “pretend” to click on links and move through it like you would a real web site. (Tip: hover over the menu bar at the top right and just click anywhere, it will move you to the next page. Just keep doing that until you come back to the Home page.) You’ll have to use your imagination a bit.

I’m not sure exactly how it will turn out on your end. It should look “okay” in either desktop or mobile (not sure about tablet), but if things look really wonky or broken, it means my hack didn’t work out. C’est la vie.

Ta-dah!

Ok then, off you go! Have fun! Don’t forget to write!

A space portal.

Enter imaginary Squarespace website

through this portal.

Image credit: Christopher Burns on Unsplash

The Wonderful Wizard of Wix

“Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road,
follow, follow, follow, follow…”

Great! Now that I have that song stuck in your head, let’s begin.

Up Your Wix Game

So far we’ve seen that it’s really quite easy to quickly build a professional-looking website using the Wix ADI feature. Wix ADI is easy to use by even the most noobiest of noobs.

But I have news for you. We are no longer noobs. Yes, you heard that right. We have officially graduated from Blog Noobdom. We are ready to explore the Wix editor.

Learn Wix Editor on Udemy

As with Wix ADI, I searched around for free resources to guide me. I personally like to follow along with video tutorials, so I checked out a few different ones and finally settled on this one offered on Udemy.

Although you do have to pay for many of the courses on Udemy, this one is free! If by the time you are reading this the Udemy course is no longer offered, or if you don’t like it, you can easily find many other resources to choose from. My search for “beginner Wix editor” returned 1.2 million results, so there is no shortage of information out there.

The Udemy course is under an hour long and walks you step-by-step through the process of using the Wix editor to create a simple business website.

What’s really nice about using a video tutorial like this as a guide is that it shows you just the basics you need to know when you’re just starting out. The Wix editor interface is a bit intimidating for anyone who hasn’t worked with any sort of graphic design program before. All the menus and buttons and rulers and gridlines (oh my!) can be overwhelming.

The Udemy tutor shows you which tools you will be using most often as a beginner, and which ones you can ignore for now (which, thankfully, is most of them), while still giving a quick explanation of why you may want or need to use them down the road.

The tutor also spends a fair bit of time explaining some of the nuts and bolts of running a website, such as choosing a payment plan and the ins-and-outs of purchasing a domain. I will re-visit these topics in more detail in future posts. For now, let’s stick to a $0 budget.

Wix ADI vs. Wix Editor

Because I wanted to compare the experience of using Wix ADI vs. the Wix editor, I decided to try and re-create my Wix ADI sample site in the editor. And let me tell you, it was kind of hard to do. Mainly because I had to try and figure out what fonts and colours were used in the ADI design, and I had to mostly guess and try to eyeball it. (I mean, probably there’s an easy way to do it? But being just a recent alumnus of Noob University, it’s still beyond my capabilities.) Here is the result: https://csistok.wixsite.com/wixeditorsamplesite

For comparison, here is the website I created using Wix ADI: https://csistok.wixsite.com/wixadisamplesite

As you can see, they more-or-less look the same. But remember when I mentioned in my Tourist in the Land of Wix blog post that Wix ADI has its limitations? Well, one of those limitations is not being able to design things exactly the way you want. Case in point: in Wix ADI, the Submit button on the Email Us section (on the How To Find Us page) is sitting on top of the message field. Super annoying!

The reason this is so is because that entire Email Us section is one set “thing” and I can’t make changes to any separate part of the whole “thing” in ADI. But in the editor, each part of that “thing” is a separate object, so I can position that Submit button exactly where I want it to be. Which is below the message field, not on top of it.

No Clear Winner

Now, before you go and throw Wix ADI in the garbage, let me say one thing: the Wix editor wasn’t less frustrating. In fact, it was kind of more frustrating, just not in the same way. Sure, I was able to put that Submit button exactly where I wanted it to be, but I had to fight with it first… and it put up a pretty good fight!

If you are someone who has experience with graphic design programs you might not have any difficulty. But if you’re the type of person who could never grab the corners of those text boxes and images in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint, could never get them to align or “snap to grid”, if it drove you batty trying to resize and crop and make all the formatting match, then you might be better off with Wix ADI. Even though I have a LOT of experience with Microsoft Word and Powerpoint, working in the Wix editor was beginning to try my patience.

Bottom Line

Maybe it just comes down to a learning curve, but if you’re someone who is more interested in writing content for your blog than wrestling with it, you might prefer the ease and simplicity of Wix ADI.

So there you have it, we’ve come to the end of the yellow Wix road. (I’m sorry… that pun practically wrote itself.) But our journey has just begun! Stay with me to explore more website builders in upcoming posts.

Feature image credit: Photo by Akshay Nanavati on Unsplash

Tourist in the Land of Wix

Did you try making a free website with Wix yet? How did it go?

After I created my first Wix website, I wandered aimlessly around my Wix ADI interface for a while, pushing random buttons to see what would happen. Eventually I decided to look for a knowledgeable tour guide to show me around. If you’re feeling as lost and directionless as I was, and not really sure of what to do next, read on!

Learn Wix ADI on LinkedIn Learning

If you are familiar with LinkedIn, the social media platform for business relationships, you may know that they offer a library of high-quality online video courses for workplace skills development. One of the courses available is a beginner-level course called Learning Wix. It walks you through the process of using Wix ADI to build a website for an imaginary custom cake business.

You need a premium membership with LinkedIn to access the course, but if you live in Toronto, you can access all of the LinkedIn courses via the Toronto Public Library website for free! All you need is a library card and an Internet connection. Just do a search for “LinkedIn Learning” at the TPL website and it will bring up the portal.

The LinkedIn Learning video course is just over an hour and a half long. You will be guided through the steps of building a simple business website using Wix ADI, starting from signing up with Wix to publishing a free site under the Wix domain. It’s a good first course for finding your way around the Wix ADI interface. Here is a link to my finished project, a website for an imaginary floral design business: https://csistok.wixsite.com/wixadisamplesite

As you can see, there is a banner across the top advertising Wix, which is the trade-off for having a free site. If this were a real business, I would want to upgrade to a paid plan to get rid of that banner. This would set you back around $15-20/month. But let’s just stick with free website-building for now!

Other Resources for Learning Wix ADI

If you don’t live in Toronto and your local library doesn’t offer access to LinkedIn Learning, this YouTube tutorial by ProfileTree is a good alternative. It’s about an hour long and walks you through the process of building a business website for a coffee shop using Wix ADI.

Of course, you could also just walk yourself through the learning process by making use of the Wix Help Center. From your main page on the Wix dashboard, find Help on the menu bar at the top left. When you select it, you should see a hyperlinked text: Visit Help Center. From there, you will find all the articles they have about using Wix ADI.

Overall, I found the Wix ADI interface very easy to use. But after getting some hands-on experience using it, I began to see how it has its limitations and why one might prefer to use the Wix Editor instead. So, now that we are pros at using Wix ADI, are we ready to move onward and upward?

Next stop: Wix Editor!

Image credit: Waldemar on Unsplash

Make a Website In 20 Minutes Or Less

I have a confession to make: this ain’t my first rodeo.

I created my very first website about 2 years ago. (Well, that’s not entirely true; I created my very, very first website about 20 years ago using a website builder called FrontPage. It was part of Microsoft Office Suite. But FrontPage is long gone, and so is that website, so they are both irrelevant to today’s post.)

So back to my second very first website, I created that one using Wix, and both Wix and that website still exist. I’ll link to both of them below, but first I want to tell you what Wix is and why I think you should try it out if you’re at all interested in creating your own website.

What is Wix?

Wix is a company that offers a platform for building and hosting websites. (Woo, wait a minute, what is “hosting” you may ask.) Ok, never mind the lingo-jargon, you don’t need to know about hosting just yet. Let’s just keep things real simple for now. Wix is a website you can use to create your very own website, very easily, for free!

Why Should I Create a Website With Wix?

Because it’s free! And it’s easy!

Ok, so I don’t recommend you create a free Wix site for your business or for anything you want to put a lot of time and effort into and that you want around for a long time. But I do think that if you know nothing or very little about creating a website and have no idea where to even begin, then Wix is the perfect place to begin! Just keep in mind that this will likely be just a learning exercise for you and not your permanent home on the web.

So now that you know the What and the Why, let’s talk about the How. It’s super easy. Just three steps.

How to Make a Wix Website In 3 Easy Steps

Here are the steps for creating your own website using Wix:

  1. Go to wix.com.
  2. Select the first Get Started button you see.
  3. Follow the instructions.

You’ll have to sign up with email first to create an account, then you’ll be walked through the steps of creating a website. At one point, you’ll be asked to choose between Wix ADI and the Wix Editor; I recommend going with Wix ADI as it’s the easiest route for beginners, and you can switch from ADI to the Editor later if you want. Don’t worry about what ADI means vs Editor, just go with it. (But if you’re curious, it’s an AI-based tool that makes some selections based on your answers to questions, whereas with the Editor you have to make some of those selections yourself.)

It took me about 20 minutes to create this website:

https://csistok.wixsite.com/learningtoblog

Pretty cool, right?

Now off you go! Get out there and make your own website!

Help! I Don’t Understand

Ok, no worries! If you need more detailed step-by-step instructions, there is no shortage of tutorials on the web. A quick Google search will give you several to choose from, like this video tutorial on YouTube. It’s 18 minutes and 44 seconds long, proving my point that you can create a website in under 20 minutes!

If you would rather follow written instructions instead of watching a video, then have a look at this blog page for a step-by-step lesson.

Go Forth and Conquer

And when you come back, drop a link to your very first website in the comments below.

Good luck and have fun!

Image credit : Centre for Ageing Better on Unsplash

Welcome to Csilla Istok Central

Welcome to my very own website: Csilla Istok Central. If you are reading this, it’s because I shared the link with you. Thanks for clicking on it.

Not much to see here right now but hopefully I’ll have some interesting, amusing or helpful things for you to look at soon.