After learning to code for several weeks, I’ve finally built my own website from scratch (thanks, TextEdit!). Now, not only do I know everything about web design, I also know everything about the tech industry!

Well, maybe not. But it sure feels like I’ve learned a lot:

Simplicity is complicated.

Even with my minimalist design intentions, I found that there were a number of decisions I needed to make about how the site should look and behave. How much instruction did I want to give the user? Did I want something special to happen if the user left the input form blank?

It was the classic tension between things I could do and things I should do—and it gave me newfound respect for companies that make those decisions on an infinitely larger scale.

There is more to making a website than writing the code.

Coding skills are necessary but not sufficient. Turns out you actually have to put that code on the Internet somehow. This website helped. So did the friendly support team at my hosting company, A Small Orange, which I selected because they have an office in downtown Durham.

This is ExitEvent, after all, and I wanted to be as local as possible.

Know your customer.

As I was building the site, I had one key group of users in mind: improv comedy actors, like myself, who would be receptive to zany suggestions and might use them to generate scenes. That clarity helped me see that zany idea creation was the site’s essential feature, while everything else, like dynamically-generated tweet texts and a responsive design, were just nice to have.

. . . Which is helpful because I still haven’t figured out how to insert dynamic text in my tweets or optimize the site for mobile.

. . . Which sucks because on second thought, mobile is essential! Improv actors would be most likely to use this website during practice on their mobile phones! I need to spend eight hours on Stack Overflow message boards and find the answer! My life is a failure until I fix this! Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh-

Calm down.

A few weeks ago I knew almost nothing. Now I know a little bit more. I’ll know a little bit more tomorrow. The solution is to just keep learning.