Monday, January 28, 2008

Creating a New Website Woes & Woes & then Seeing the Light

Not really on the subject of Art. But I have been forced into having to create a website from scratch with barely any html knowledge (other than the basics). I've had the same online template based service for over 8 years & Eyescream Jewelry was created utelizing the service. I have sort of been trapped by them all this time because I've had no time to learn to create a site from scratch, had a nearly 1000 catalog items & multiple pages & just way too much to attempt to transfer.

Along with the fact that the service I was using is obsolete & my catalog could not be transfered.
Back in 2004 the company first was sold to another company & since then there haven't been any updates or changes to the service & nothing to feel like it was a smart decision to stay. In fact they took down our community boards because of all the complaining that took place. But never told us they were doing so.

So finally a few days ago (after I have spent every year doing research in my spare time & even starting up sites with other companies) but still not finding what I needed & not having the time to do it right. The company I am currently going through finally did it. They are going out of service as of March 31st. All of our sites will be closed. I have 2 months to create a site from scratch & have been so frustrated. (I've literally, even before finding this out) had been spending the last month searching for html / website editing software, programs, downloads, or purchases, companies who build online, & even private web designers. To no avail.

I am sure everyone who has been put into this predicament, knows my frustration & pain... probably worst than taxes, especially knowing that I am stuck & MUST do this within 2 months or fear losing my search engine rankings (which will no doubt happen anyway regardless). And or lose link exchanges, & possibly lose clients & or business.

I have downloaded so many html or wysiwyg softwares for trials it is ridiculous. I literally have about 20 of these or more on my hard drive. It's funny how they say their product is Easy & no HTML knowledge is needed to create a site... just drag & drop. Almost ALL are Template based driven. Templates are a Huge pain. As most you cannot create a site from scratch (ie: chosing your own background color, font colors etc). You mostly HAVE TO chose from one of their already created standard templates, & then are given very limited changes to colors per each template design.

Why could I not find an editor where I could choose my own background color. It seems so simple to me I could burst. In fact, when I think of creating a website, the VERY FIRST thing I look to do, is chose my background color, font colors & load a Company logo or banner at top or corner & then choose where I want my Navigation links to be placed (either across the top or down a side). I cannot tell you how silly it has been attempting to use the so called Easy editors & then searching for the area where any of these choices reside. Just make it simple. Make an icon or something & put it in the first spot.

Most of these editors also don't have much info for what each of their icons are for. I like to know what each is for, given hints at least. Why do I need this, or what this is for. What happens when you click or do this. phew!!!

I've been so wound up this last weekend, my husband was about to write off his Saturday night when we finally got to the local cafe, only to find they were closed by a few minutes (I had been waiting a coupla hours to go, but he was busy on a project)... and he realized I wasn't going to get the specialty Green tea drink I had been waiting for, & felt I desperately needed in order to calm down from my hours & hours of online torture. The last thing I said to him Sat. night... I just want to find something, ANYTHING that will make me feel I have a beacon of hope.

Sunday morning. I received a horrible call from my mother, my Grandmother had Conjuctive heart failure. She is still alive but not in a very good state. I couldn't go back to sleep & after only a coupla hours rest, I awoke & wrote a letter to myself about the state of negativity within family & how people harbor ill will toward one another & basically can't we all just get along. I called my grandmother, who has been suffering from Dementia as well. Not a coherent phone call. I told her I loved her very much. Hung up & had a good cry.

I spent the next few hours doing what I had been doing for many weeks, days, hours & downloaded more html editors. One by one I opened each up. (now I have a bad learning curve & fairly short desire to attempt to learn & or read 'Help' issues unless easily set up & easy to understand... but better at hands on with someone teaching me). I opened each & if I found that I struggled for more than 5 minutes in the beginning of each editor. I would close it & move on.

Something should draw my attention in it's ease of use to keep me occupied & creating & learning easily. I finally found it. After so many attempts I opening an editor called 'Site Spinner V2' by Virtual Mechanics. I could bypass the Template selector to customize my own site. After hours of creating a base layout for the site (which seemingly could have been this simple with any of these editors, though it was not)... I was still working with the program, multi tasking in my photoshop to create navigation image buttons & tweeking some other image elements for the new site, while ACTUALLY learning their program.

They have it set up pretty straight forward, Tutorials through each process, pop ups that come up now & then with tips on items chosen. Even the editor layout was slightly different than others & slightly more visually friendly. Overall I am learning so much. Now to figure out the cost on the editor. I was in luck, only $49. Though still a lot, & I haven't gotten through everything yet, there will be some snags I am sure. (though $49 for peace of mind = priceless). I researched 'Reviews' & their forums & it seems they have pretty descent customer service. The reviews for the most part were pretty incredible. Though a coupla cons came up. One being not a True editor as far as most complaining you cannot open up html pages created outside of the program or pull in your own templates created elsewhere. But I am in luck, this doesn't pertain to me. Some even complained it wasn't simple, couldn't understand the icons & weren't willing to read through. I swear, this is one of the easiest editors I've used. You have to know a little something for it to flow, but if you don't you can open the tutorials, read through (not too long) & learn so much. Others were not set up this way (having tutorials set up for each function).

So long story short, I felt I was at my whits end. My site may not be as functional in 2 months as it is now. It will remain a work in progress come April. But it will start to have it's own look. And a new facelift. I had already purchased a web host last week as well. Though I still have the daunting task of choosing a shopping cart & hand entering each item one by one. I think my catalog will be pretty small in comparison to what I already have. I am hoping for the best.
This post is so long, I'm sure no one will read it. But I really need to let out all this negativity surround html editors. I am so happy to have found one I love.

I must get back to tweeking my site. I'm actually having a little fun doing this & learning some new things.

wish me luck. Many good wishes for my grandmothers health. I love her dearly. She is the reason I got into crafts & jewelry making at all. She has been my biggest inspiration next to my grandfather.

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