“Sarah, how long does it take to build a website?”
That’s a great question. I get asked this question all the time, not surprisingly. And the answer, well–the answer is difficult to pin down.
Because it’s not just about the design, or the bones of the site–it’s about the content. And the organization of that content.
Building this site has been a labor of love.
Building this site is and has been a labor of love (and increasingly a business), and it’s taken me a very long time to do—I’ve been blogging for three years and I’ve written nearly 300 posts. The simple reason I’ve kept doing it is because I love writing. I love learning, ideas, and growth—and I learn through writing, philosophical contemplation, and grappling with ideas.
But how can you show how complex, layered, and deep a site is with a pixelated interface? The surface of a flat screen–whether a tablet, mobile device, or computer–only hints at the edges of the body of work; and often, we only notice the things that work poorly.
The length of time it takes to build a website is directly related to the amount of content that’s within the site.
And content creation is often the most difficult component. (I know: I’ve built and designed sites for people and waited months for the copy for the About and services pages to come; and I’ve done the same on projects where creating the paragraph to describe who I am and what I do takes an incredibly long time).
Adding new systems, getting organized, and site changes:
Over the past few month, I’ve been building into this site several new systems–from changing the frequency of posting to adding a newsletter and creating new sign-up forms–and I’ve also gone back and revamped and updated the archives and best of page. The complete record of all of the posts I’ve ever written (including some of the embarrassing early starts) are there.
How’d I get here? Simple. I wrote 250 essays, and I’m still showing up.
Going through all of the old content, watching my journey, looping together not-before-seen threads–let me discover new themes and do a macro-business audit. What do I continuously feel pulled to write about? What pieces were the standout pieces? Which ones surprised me? Are there areas and places I could improve the quality?
Some essays I would edit, massively. Time gave me perspective and new information. Others are poorly written (yup, happens to me all the time: the only way to get to the good stuff is to write it all out).
The benefit? I have 250 essays (well, probably 100 of those I would actually use). I can take these essays and build them into longer pieces; I can learn from them; I can build out longer documents by stringing them together, and I can start to layer complexity into future thought pieces.
So today, my treat: here’s a sampling of the best of the blog. Dig in, if you’d like. Have a cup of coffee and join me. I’ve curated what I think are the best of the blog, below. Enjoy.
- Why I write
- Sources of creativity
- Four writing mantras: how to become a great writer.
- Building a space and a voice on the internet: is it time for you to join in?
- Keep writing.
Life philosophy and the bigger picture:
- Designing your life (the big design problem)
- Do you have a life philosophy?
- How to live.
- Why I say no to meeting people for coffee
- 2013: lessons to take with me
Getting started, motivation:
- Start where you are.
- Everyone starts somewhere.
- Give yourself a chance to get good
- What you’re not doing.
- Prioritize action over fear.
Reminders, or how to keep going:
- It is never too late.
- A swift kick in the ass (work harder)
- Put it out there
- Thoughts on failure
- Notes on process (neither here nor there)
- When the going gets tough…
- Show up.
- The hard work is worth it.
Making things happen–actually getting it done:
- Are you too in love with a dream to make it real?
- Making (restaurant) decisions easier — a quick sketch.
- Finish early
- Finish or punt
- Do it.
Psychology and the inner workings of the mind:
- Do you observe your thoughts, or judge them?
- From love or hurt?
- Are you over thinking?
- Arbitrary barriers
- Thoughts on negativity and fear
- You have permission.
Useful tools, tricks, and tips:
- Getting things done: how I take notes + snapshots of my moleskine + my nerdy highlighter system
- The art of asking: 21 ways to ask for what you want and get it (with sample questions, email templates, and word-for-word scripts).
- Do less work by asking for what you want.
- Less is more, imperfect is perfect, and done is done: 17 tips, tricks & habits I use for writing, creation + business-building (or any creative pursuit).
- NAME IT: The Handy Cheat-Sheet For How to Deal with Feelings.
- The one-page career “cheat sheet.”
Reflection, goal-setting, and tools for review:
- Back to then: what would you tell yourself if you could?
- 2013: Lessons to take with me
- 2012: year in review
- Building something bigger and the monthly review template
- The Proust Questionnaire
- 100 Gratitudes
- How Can I Be Better?
- Ten things for right now.
Modest minimalist, and the art of having less:
- You gotta slow down to speed up
- Why do cars have brakes?
- A little bit is a lot.
- Savor things + go slowly
- We all need white space
Personal narrative and growing into your future self:
- Becoming who you say you are
- You will disappoint people.
- Work in progress
- I is for Integrity.
- Something worth talking about
Reminders of kindness and empathy:
Swimming, running, athleticism, yoga + movement:
- Alone in the water: bridge to bridge
- Words for walking: what kind are you?
- William James on consciousness and movement.
- Do it while you can: swimming from the Golden Gate to Berkeley.
- Losing my rib, rebuilding my body, and becoming a triathlete.
- When I knew I was a runner: thoughts on running and defining moments.
- Yes, you can: swimming across the San Francisco Bay (A 9-mile open water swim).
- John Stilgoe on the magic outdoors: get outside!
- Turn upside down, look again: a philosophy of handstands.
- Swimming taught me this: early morning reflections