I'm not a graphic designer. So why create a website for myself?
Do you want to guess the first two questions I got asked when discussing whether or not to create a website and digital resume for myself?
"Creating a personal website sounds cool, but is it necessary for you? You don't have a portfolio and you don't have an audio or video reel - isn't it going to be a waste of time if all you can add is your basic resume and contact info?"
I debated those points quite a bit before making a decision and springing into action:
1) I decided to put the portfolio issue to rest. Simple as that.
Not with an intense collection of edited photos, logos, website designs, brochures, and all the other cool things you can design. But I buckled down, found a couple of helpful YouTube tutorials and taught myself the basics of Photoshop - which is something I've always wanted to learn. (Thank you, Adobe, for the 7-day free trial!)
I had already created a collection of graphics on the incredible website, Canva, that I shared on LinkedIn in the past year. But this was taking it up a notch and it definitely pleased the creative side of my head.
I messed around with some of the basic tools in Photoshop, applied some random sports ideas that popped into my head along the way, and hey, now I know the basics of Photoshop and have a small portfolio!
Done. One barrier out of the way.
2) I realized that creating a website for myself would be bigger than just creating a website.
Let me explain.
Along the way in my ongoing search for the next exciting step in my career, I've found that a one-page black and white resume does not tell the full story of Zack Raab - professional background and experience combined with personality, life experience, and worldwide baseball travels.
Given that I'm attempting to find my way into an industry - baseball or sports marketing - that is completely new and understandably not easy to break into, I wanted to somehow supplement my resume. I decided this was another rock that needed overturning and a new tool that could potentially be very helpful and evolve.
Also, I love a new challenge. There have been many times over the past few years where I've been asked by friends or coworkers to share my opinion on a website's design, layout, and content. But I've never built one alone, let alone from scratch. And boy, creating a website was definitely a fun challenge with lots of lessons reinforced along the way!
Lesson #1 - Having a vision and then creating something from a blank canvas is pretty rewarding - even if it's small.
I decided to start with a blank Wix template instead of a pre-designed template. That would have been quicker but less of a challenge! I had a general idea of what I wanted to include - like the Library tab, which was something I've never seen anywhere else but I wanted to share. After a few days of work (on and off) and a lot of adjustments and tweaks, I think the final product is pretty cool.
Lesson #2 - Feedback from peers and experienced professionals with different perspectives is extremely valuable and that's the best way to learn and improve.
Just like any project, the first iteration is probably not going to be the final one. Or the second one. The third one probably won't be either.
No matter how much of an eye for detail you have (and that's a quality I pride myself in), something that you think looks perfect is probably not at first. For that, I'm thankful for several friends I asked to look over my site - an experienced graphic designer, a writer, an up-and-coming web designer, among others.
They helped me find some areas that needed tweaking which ultimately made the site look and feel much smoother.
Lesson #3 - Creating a website is not a "one-size fits all" operation.
I'm a digital guy and I've always had a ton of respect for people who design and constantly update websites because it's not an easy task. There are so many moving parts - formatting, design, text, images, - you name it. Just when you think your website looks beautiful on your computer, check it out on your phone and the words and boxes and images will be all out of order and off-centered!
I love organizing things, though, so that was fixed pretty quickly and my site looked normal on both a computer and a phone!
Or so I thought...
Lesson #4 - Be ready to troubleshoot and fix a problem at a moment's notice without panicking.
Before publishing my site, I checked it on a laptop and desktop computer - looked good. My phone and tablet - everything was lined up correctly.
The importance of QAing - I learned it in my last two companies!
Shortly after I shared my site on social media last week, I had two people message me right away saying the formatting was off on their phone and computer. I kicked into action, pinpointed the widespread problem, and fixed the issue across every page of my site within the hour.
So was it a worthwhile endeavor?
Only time will tell whether it helps me land my next position or has no impact whatsoever.
What I can confidently say, though, is that it was another personal challenge conquered (two, if you count the Photoshop challenge that preceded the building of a website). That in itself was valuable.
I gained an extra layer of respect for web designers and it reinforced the value of feedback and making adjustments as necessary. I also have a centralized location now where I can share the books I read, the designs I make, and finally get back to sharing some more long-form thoughts in this blog.
And hey, there's now a website called zackraab.com and that's pretty sweet!
(Thanks so much for reading! This was my first long-form blog post in many years, so I hope you liked it. Hopefully, there will be more to come with improvement along the way, of course. If you haven't already, please feel free to browse my site and share it with anyone you might know that works in or around baseball or sports. If they're looking for someone who can add significant value to their business or marketing operations, I'd love to chat! Thanks in advance and be in touch. 😃)