Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No Love Lost Over Web Work

The past couple of weeks have been all about the Village Works website redesign - and "Lost." I don't really know much else, not even my book right now. I've been watching Lost in the between times because I wanted to watch it when it first came on but it didn't work out. So for all these seasons I've been listening to my co-workers rave about it. I decided to just do it because that is what I do - pile too much on my little plate of little time. So as I work on my website, I might watch an episode or two. I made it through season one and through lots of angst over the site, trying to figure out how to do what was in my head. After about 2 months of on and off attention, frustration, questions to support, and much thinking, the bells went off, the big picture finally came in clearly and I went into website design overdrive.

I took a tiny break to clean my office one Sunday afternoon and do laundry. I also watched more Lost - a lot more Lost. Truly I am lost in Lost. I am one DVD away from finishing season 2 but season 3 was nebulous. One co-worker had loaned me season 1. Another one had 2. But her season 3 is currently being sloooowly devoured by her sister so what would I do after I finished season 2? Netflix, here I come.

Monday was another night of hard website work and now I am a Netflix member to boot. Season 3 DVD 1 is on its way, though I still have to watch that last DVD from 2. The new and final season - 6 - starts mid-January, I am told, and I am pretty determined to be caught up by then. And you know what else will happen by then? Before then? The website will launch. That's the plan.

This website design has been a major exercise in patience and creativity. My laptop seems to be getting tired too and I can feel my hand being forced to go figure out how to speed it up as well as my desktop. It's the holidays (yeah. Admit it. It is.) and I don't want to spend money on computer issues right now. But my kids are on there as much as I am, so that can't be helping. Darn it all, I don't have time to learn how to care for computers but I have to if I want to get this operational some time this decade. I'll start with the computer people I know to guide me (thank God for people I trust who have this kind of knowledge).

In the meanwhile, I am pressing on. trying to work on one thing at a time and always finding something else to do that will improve some tiny little thing. Last night's "little" improvement took me about 5 hours to implement. It was a custom form I created to go along with the puzzles we offer for customization. I couldn't display those in the same way I could the regular puzzles we can sell one at a time. So I had to figure out how to create a similar display that worked differently. It was a simple form. That's all it was. Or it was supposed to be simple. I am still thinking of ways to tweak it.

The upside is by adding that form, I may have figured out how to do something the support people said I couldn't do and that will majorly improve what my customers experience on our site. I would tell you what it is but first I have to get it to work and then I'll announce it in one of our newsletters one day. It'll be one of the many little bells & whistles we'll be looking to add over time. Well, little to the rest of the world but no small feat to implement.

It wouldn't have been the first time I figured out how to do something the support people said I couldn't so as they say, where there is a will, there is a way. And if you can call/IM the support people multiple times over multiple days, you will probably find the person who DOES know how to do what you want to do.

I have to admit. I have worked with 2 web developers, interviewed maybe 2 more after them, I am working with yet another to do just a custom homepage and I knew this wasn't easy work. But I have a whole new appreciation for what they do. The time it takes to do the simplest of things. I am working with a template which is harder to wrangle than you might think. I can't imagine building things from scratch in code! And oh yes, I do use a little code here and there too. Our template is full - FULL - of all kinds of things to discover and when they said it was customizable, I thought it was a sales pitch. But they were right. And having all those options makes the work that much more challenging, though rewarding as you watch your vision come to life.

It is amazing to finally see all of Village Works in one place, at last. It's like going from a studio apartment to a high-tech mansion. And we aren't even fully moved in. So many buttons to push and colors to add. Our plan was to make our online store the only place you need to go for all things Village Works. You can see everything we offer. You can communicate with us. You can sign up for our newsletter. You can get quotes. You can find out how to work with us as wholesellers. You can find out how we can help you do a fundraiser. And hopefully, later, you can find out much more that is specific to you, the individual customer. And all you have to remember - and bookmark - and share with rest of the world - is

I am truly happy we went this particular templated road. I didn't want to. Didn't expect to. But it was a good deal, even with all the work involved. Right now if you go to, you get an under construction page that looks like you got a computer error. It's not my style in the least. So hopefully tomorrow you will see a better looking under construction page. And soon, I'll have a select few testing out what I've done so far as I keep going. The plan is to launch before Thanksgiving and even then it will be just the beginning. You know I'll let you all know when you can see it live and online!

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