Sunday, December 2, 2007

Building a better website, part ZCXII

I think I have done around 121,894 posts about building my website... Ok, maybe not, but it seems like it.

Friday night I crashed it. Bad. Like off-line for hours bad.

But, I learned (or was reminded about) a few things.

  • Always back up files before making changes. I did, and it saved me DAYS of rebuilding content.
  • Always know what you are going to do before taking it on. I didn't, and it took the site down for 6 frustrating hours.
  • Did I mention backing things up?
  • It might be helpful to have a "dummy site" that tests can be run on. That way, instead of crashing a live site, a private site can be crashed and no one will know.
  • Don't build your sitein front of the world (wide web).

On the last one, I know that I won't practice it. I have been working on this site for a couple of months. My target date is still a month away. But, there are several guests in the site almost any time I log in to do work. I mention on the front page that work is ongoing. I have also changed things on the site based on user input. I have several "evangelists" that spread the word about the site, and feel a sense of ownership because they know that I am using their feedback.

I have a dummy site, but nothing ever seems to go wrong there... I only have issues on the live site.

This isn't the first time I've blown my site up while "upgrading" something. It's funny, because when it happens I will get calls from friends and strangers telling me I am off-line. The last time was really funny. I was doing the upgrade at 10:00pm, and the site had been down about 15 minutes, and I got a phone call from California. It was followed by my HVAC guy. If one is going to blown up their primary marketing tool, it is at least nice to know that people notice.

So, Lane, what did you do?

I just upgraded from Joomla 1.5RC2 to Joomla 1.5RC3, and added a new theme. The new theme is going to get a lot of custom touches. Starting in January, it should become a magazine format. The theme designer has set this up to allow a LOT of customization. We'll find out how good the support is while I learn how to take advantage of it.

Since both the site, and the underlying architecture are still in Beta, expect that there will be more issues, and there will be more outages. Also expect to see design changes frequently as I learn my way around both. I know that many would counsel me to hire a webmaster to do all of this... and it would be much easier to farm it out... but, with the format that I am trying to build, it would be cost prohibitive to pay for monthly changes. I also like being able to alter the site immediately.

I am currently on Round 4 with the design of my new logo. Of course, the new logo will show up on the site as soon as it is finalized. The new theme will allow the logo to be placed on the site, and allow me to utilize a flash logo if I desire... and I desire.


I had this on my A/R blog, and now that I am moving it over here, I need to add... I wasn't done blowing it up. When I changed from RC2 to RC3, I ran into a php problem. The version on my host was too old... even though it was within the system requirements. So, I called the host and I am moving to a better server and will have a newer php version. In the mean time, I am off-line. All of the articles had disappeared, but they were still there. Hopefully the bug will go away in a short while.

Original Pink Pig in the backgroundWhat's with the pictures?

They have no business here, other than I promised Marlene I would post one of them after mentioning it in the comments of her blog. I couldn't very well write a whole post about my wife selecting and editing that picture for our Christmas Card, so I just thought I'd toss it in here as a bonus, along with the classic Pink Pig.

For those of you not familiar with the Pink Pig, it is an Atlanta tradition. Originally on the roof of the downtown Rich's store, it started making its Christmas runs in 1953. When Federated bought Rich's, and closed the downtown Atlanta store, the Pink Pig was modernized and moved to the Lenox Mall store. Federated then dropped the Rich's brand, and rebranded the stores as Macy's, but kept the Pink Pig tradition. My wife rode the original as a child, and now my son has been on it each year... even before he was actually born.

Don't worry, I'm sure there will be more about my new site as I relate trials, tribulations and victories while I build it out.

Buy a house from my wife's and my son's favorite "Pink Pig."

No comments: