Relaunching the Animation Complex Website

Personal / Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

If you actually know that this site exists, it’s even more likely that you know about my animation-specific site, Animation Complex. Last year, I decided to redo it because my husband hated my old site because it was due for an upgrade. It has taken a while. I definitely got distracted by Blue Sky closing, but even before that it was taking a while because I opted for a new framework to build the site with that had a steeper learning curve than I anticipated.

Animation Complex is a self-hosted WordPress site. I pay for hosting and the domain name. I always just used what came with WordPress, as there are lots of fantastic *free* templates and ways to build a site up. But I was looking for more, and I was looking for simpler. I decided to go with the toolset Elementor, a WordPress website builder with free and premium versions. I loved its building block approach, similar to WordPress’s new native blogging tools, Guttenberg. I ended up investing in the premium version of Elementor. It’s $50 a year, which still keeps the annual cost of my baby business under $250. And honestly, the difference between finding workarounds with the free blocks vs just having things instantly is worth it. I’m not a developer after all–this is a means to an end. This is meant to be easy so I can focus on the content of my site and YouTube channel. I’m not in a position where I’m looking to pay someone to work on it yet, but I only know some simple html/css from college and can parse code ok. I know enough to know how to Google what I can’t figure out, and if that doesn’t cut it, I’m married to a software engineer. So. He usually figures out the tough ones very fast.

Now that I’ve sunk a crapload of hours into this, I can actually navigate it quite well. Not exactly a revelation that the longer time you spend with something the better you’ll understand it, but that’s where we are, dear reader.

And even then, when I thought I’d… ok not peaked… but when I thought I had figured Elementor Pro out, my husband went and discovered that so much of what I’d done initially to get my site looking presentable were actually terrible strategies. When I was first starting, I didn’t know what I didn’t know; I didn’t know what everything meant, so I did the best with that knowledge. And while I had indeed gotten a functioning website up and running that didn’t break, it wasn’t optimized for mobile and table, and in general it wasn’t optimized. I also must have had to Google padding vs margins like 50 times in the last two weeks alone.

One of the nice things about Elementor is its use of templates, global pages and global widgets you can use across the site. You update it in one place and it reflects across the site. I’m sitting here like, “It’s like referencing in animation!” like that’s going to help anyone lol. Also, I recognize that I sound like I’m trying to convince you to go make a site with this thing, and… no. I wanted to document this moment of growth for the site (and by extension me).

At one point during my frustration, I even signed up for a Square Space trial and while my partner sat and sorted through my existing site, I was trying my best to replicate it on Square Space. I’d used Square Space in the past, actually. After graduating from blogspot/blogger/tumblr and badly coded html (that a friend let me host for free on his private server), I knew I wanted to go the legit route. I’d started with WordPress–but the kind that WordPress itself hosted, and had my domain name redirect to it. When I knew I wanted to again grow, I opted for Square Space, having seen and heard a lot of praise for its simple drag and drop features. I used it for a while, but hit a point where I wanted a more robust site for whatever grand plans I had and at the time decided Square Space wasn’t cutting it. So I decided to do the whole shebang, that is, getting hosting for my site, installing WordPress, CPanel, all that nightmare fuel. And once I did that, I was good, I’ve been good. Up until my partner said my site was… it wasn’t ugly, he didn’t actually say that. I can’t remember what he said, but it was along the lines of my site being too underdeveloped. It didn’t represent all the things I wanted to do, there was no room for growth. It was limited in its minimal design. It looked nice, but it was a glorified landing page.

The current site as it exists still feels a bit that way, but maybe my unrealistically high standards will never let me see it as more than something with room to grow, but for right now I have decided that it is mostly Good Enough. Still some tweaks and things that are needed. I guess the next big steps for that site would be to hire an actual person and get something a bit more custom, but I have no idea what that would look like just yet, nor do I have reason to justify that sort of investment just yet. It still needs lots of small tweaks here and there, and the mobile/tablet versions could use a little more optimizing. But for right now it is capable of displaying my work without freaking out, so we’ll take it! I really like how it turned out, so go humor me and take a look. There’s also some new posts on there, as well as new pages (like an expanded Resources section) so be sure to check them out too.

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