Monday, 12 March 2012

Website redevelopment

The Ellis & Mays website was originally built by my sister in whole HTML, a language I know only the basics of from the MySpace days (popular before Facebook – you used to be able to edit the layout of your page using HTML). She has a degree in website design, build, management and development and suchlike, and she is employed full-time by HMV to manage their website. Her role is becoming increasingly busy and she can no longer dedicate enough time to making updates and adding photographs to my site so she told me that she thinks it would be best if the website was redesigned using a template I can adjust myself, not HTML. I was perfectly happy with this as it means that I can make updates instantly.

I was going to use a website I’d seen advertised on TV where you pay £5 per month for a template from which you build your own website, but when I went on their website it turned out that it was closer to £10 per month for a decent package. Shortly after I looked on the website for Rockys Fun House to see whether they have WiFi and I noticed a small icon at the bottom of the page for a free website with Weebly. I was curious so I had a brief look and a few hours (and a lot of copying and pasting) later I have a whole new website for free! When I clicked on the “publish” icon an error message came up saying I need to adjust the “DNS” settings with the domain host. Now just imagine the sound of a scratching record, screeching tyres or SUTIN and you have my state of mind… huh? DNS? HELP! I emailed my sister and things got very technical from there and my level of understanding wandered into a rather thick fog. She was able to help me publish my website by creating a different web address and getting my existing one to point to it. I was very excited to have my new website go live – with pictures on it! Hooray! But my joy was short lived. 

My emails stopped working! During the process of changing the website, for some reason I no longer required the services of my existing host so my sister notified him and doing away with that meant no emails! Our business practically runs on emails so it was tragic! We were told by the old host that we needed to revert all changed in order to restore email functionality so I had to wave goodbye to my lovely website. With pictures! The host offered to build a new website for me using Wordpress. He will build the layout in HTML and I would be able to add content in plain English. I would have control over the speed in which content is added to the website. It sounded like the ideal solution, that way we get to retain our emails. So we had a meeting whereby I said I wanted a nice, crisp, fresh, modern looking website with lots of pictures to showcase our fantastic work. I waited just two days before receiving some layouts from the host. I didn’t really like them. It was really hard to explain over email what I disliked and what I wanted, and I had visions of it taking ages. Two further layouts later I was still unhappy and splitting hairs so badly my sister intervened. 

My sister did some research and found out that if I completely transfer both the domain and the host, I can keep my email addresses and have complete control. Brilliant! I found a pre-written Wordpress template to purchase online and a new host and my sister held my hand through the switch. The old host was really understanding that I needed more control and was there on the phone to help the transition, which was instant. The only drawback with buying the Wordpress template was that I had a lot of editing to do, I was up until 2am until the site was in a state I was comfortable to leave overnight (a lot of “under construction” titles!) 

I continued to work on it over the course of the next few days and now it’s almost in a state with which I truly love. It could do with a bit more tweaking, but I like to see this website as an on-going process, it is after all our online portfolio, so it will never be complete until we stop working! Please take a visit using this link   

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