I've made a bunch of simple websites over the years , and from my endless failures I've built up some principles I now follow:
- Avoid learning new things where possible. Learning takes time and energy, and will burn me out. If given the choice of two tools, go with the one I know how to use already.
- Do not generalize. Whenever I try to create "a general tool for building X", and then try to use that tool to make X , I burn myself out. Just write a script that suits my exact needs instead (example).
- Be realistic about who needs to grok the code. If I'm building a personal website, only I need to be comfortable hacking on it; so go ahead and use three different languages and twelve other tools in the build process (example).
- Keep the website's goal in mind. If I just want a place to host my thoughts in a blog format, don't get caught up worrying about design too much (I didn't have a blog for a long time because of this). If I'm building a portfolio, make sure my design conveys what I want it to (my portfolio tries to very quickly convey that I've made a lot of things using a lot of different technologies over a long period of time).
- Make a static site. By this I mean make a site that could be hosted on GitHub Pages or a similarily simple service. Sometimes this isn't possible, but building and maintaining something besides a static site is so much more obnoxious, so try really hard to Keep It Static Silly.