Background: I don't have a graphics or art or design background. I am a hard core techie and I can use/work with any tool from vi or notepad through Expression Web. I'm also hard headed and literal minded and I don't get the nuances of design.
In the past I have developed bland, junky, meandering, boring sites that don't pop. I finally came to that realization after paying for a professional critique of my current site and grokking exactly what the overall impression of my site is.
So I must redo my small business site because the design just plain blows, and I am struggling with the entire ball of wax.
I would like to receive some input on the following general problem: I have extreme difficulty reconciling "everything" about a site design. That is what I mean by a holistic approach.
Clip art, images, art in general: I look at pretty WP templates on sites like Themeforest and the big problem I keep running into is WHAT THE HELL DO I USE FOR ART AND IMAGES? The review I just got kept coming back to the lack of visual accenting as a key problem. Everything I do in my line of work is text based, and while I have screen shots, I don't have anything funny, cute, interesting or sexy of my own to work into the site.
Content: Modern web templates and the modern way of presenting commercial web sites seem to emphasize terse, short text items in place of long paragraphs or blocks of text. Everything's choppy, chopped up into bite sized morsels. IE: tons of site designs will have a "gallery" of three or four or six small images and accompanying captions alongside the images, and you click on the category that you want. How do you plan the content for today's style of web site?
Platform: I have been using Drupal - and the Drupal techie propellerhead culture of just killing yourself to get a bunch of modules that hardly work to wire correctly into your site to support decent modern features is burning me out. IE, a stupid small requirement like social media "like" buttons will easily burn up several evenings of tinkering with stupid Drupal security features and quirks of the add on module. I HOPE that Wordpress is better in this respect, because that's where I am leaning. Thoughts?
I do not mean to start a flame war about Drupal - I really like it - but it alone has killed my productivity by creating myriad tech distractions and adding labor, so I can't clear my head and just make my freaking web site look good.
Lastly - I don't have $2K-$5K to hire someone to do a proper job of this. But I am willing to learn in order to DIY.
I'm crying uncle in this post because past approaches of just hacking a web site together have yielded poor results that colleagues don't seem to respect. I need clarity. I need to know how to approach the project. High concept first? Or does the template you buy drive everything? That actually seems to be how it is, really. Maybe I'm wrong.
I don't know how to get started and not wind up with another piece of poo web site.
I think what I really need is a decent tutorial that focuses on the THOUGHT PROCESS of web design, and not the lame, stupid nuts and bolts of web design.
Any direction appreciated.