Monday, 25 June 2012

New Site is finally launched

Well - here it is, new site is finally up.  I think all the links and redirections are working - (if anyone see's anything that doesn't work do please let me know).
So - now I am going to sit down and celebrate with a nice cuppa tea!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Change!!! Goodbye Mrsite

A few years back I changed over from Yola to MrSite. At the time I found Yola very clunky, and quite difficult to get the layout just right, and with Mrsite it was much much easier.
2 years on and I am now on the move again.
This time for some more fundamental reasons.
The problems I have found so far have included:
the fact that Mrsite is not optimized for mobile devices. When I brought this up, I was palmed off with a very weak answer on the lines of 'it isn't really important'.

Customer Service. MrSite has a feature where you can have an online chat with a Guru. However, the 'gurus' are not native English speakers (going by their names and their command of the English language) and are not gurus but first defence operatives. I have been very happy with some small problems, where I was just not very adept and they were able to help me quickly. Lately though I have just ended up almost screaming at the screen in frustration. I imagine they are overworked and are answering three or four callers at the same time by the delay in response time. It has taken up to 30 minutes to get four answers back on online chat, which is incredibly annoying, and when they continually misunderstand what you mean, and don't have the answers either, it can push you to breaking point. One tip if you are a user, is to get them to repeat back what they understand to be your problem. It is very revealing and the quickest way of cutting out the 'that wasn't my question' comment.

If you want to set up conversions it is very difficult, nigh on impossible for sales tracking.

Google analytics has been the sore point with me. I have a pile of dead end links that have taken 6 weeks of back and forth emails, screen shots, denials and blaming google and being redirected back and still not understanding the fundamental problem - that there are dead links that about 40% of my visitors go to. No-one can find what they are and no-one can get rid of them.

I have lately had four in a row customers contact me saying they thought they had bought something but the order hadn't gone through when I went and checked.

The blog that is available is very clunky and unwieldy, and that has driven further frustration my way.

The sales page isn't secure (not an https page) so I don't feel that fills people with confidence.

The shop feature is ok, but is just a long list rather than the ability to have a gallery.

There is no feature for a site map being available on screen (as far as I can see).

A big issue for me, is that there is the ability for meta tagging and key words, however they are the ones they suggest from a selection they find, not ones you choose, so /approx / 16 inch / link etc are words that get given, where my site is very text heavy with the words pea pod / peapod / peas in a pod but I am not able to use it.

So, anyway, I am on the move again, which is very frustrating, as superficially and visually I am quite happy with the site. But behind the scene it's a bit of a mess. I have signed up to Jimdo and taken the business account which works out at £15 a month - £180 pa (probably double what I was paying with Mr Site.) The customer service is German, I'm happy with that. So far so good, it seems very easy to play with. The templates aren't the biggest selection I have ever seen, but adequate. But what I do like is that all on the same page you can add an item, make a catalogue, change the layout and hide unhide pages in the menu. You can make a selection of pictures into a slide show or gallery, and have a choice of three sizes for your product items. I love the fact that when you view an item you can super magnify to get a really good close up of the item section by section - for what I do that is such a bonus.

So, I have many many nights and weekends of work ahead of me to get everything moved over, but I am happy with that.
Watch this space - will keep this updated if anyone is interested in the merits. If you have any questions about any of the above mentioned sites - do ask.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Light at the end of the tunnel!

Oh my!
To recap - my MrSite site has just about died a natural death through lack of useful customer service support and the ananlytics have gone haywire due to a mass of random links that no one anywhere knows where they come from, so have jumped ship and moved over to Jimdo. However moving a website is not a quick job, one tends to forget just how much work went in in the first place.

My advice for anyone trying to get a website up is this:

Quentin Crisp said 'after 3 years no more dust settles' - I follow that rule.
Freezer meals are a godsend as are bars of chocolate and a night cap of red wine (to counteract the caffeine that has been imbibed in enormous quantites. Ask Friends to get back in touch at the end of next month. As long as you don't meet up with friends it makes no odds whether your hair is like a sheeps bottom on a rainy day. Same goes with skanky clothes and nasty unmanicured nails.
Teach other half to learn how to decipher grunts and gain meaning from them.
Caffeine is the nectar of the night gods - more than 5 hours sleep is just a waste.

It is now close to the witching hour yet again (what on earth does that mean?) It means for me that I have less than an hour left before I must hit the sack, but here I am sitting here with a big smile on my face. I have almost all I needed to, loaded up to the site now. The pictures have (mostly) been re-edited, and placed where I think they look best. There are so many lovely features on the Jimdo new site that it has made it very easy to get the pictures linked to the right pages and have the right names on them. I am so conscious of SEO and starting fresh means I can get it done properly this time.
So, the menus are done, the pictures up, the descriptions up and now all I have to do is go back and add all the meta tags and fiddle for a couple of decades.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Rambling rant about uploading

I have no point whatsoever to write here except to rant a little bit about how bloody long it takes to upload stuff. I'm slowly - very slowly - trying to get the new website up - I have a deadline of the 24th June before my subscription to MrSite expires. (Once I've moved I will publish my draft rant about them ;-)

I searched high and low for a decent web hosting server. I do not do html, I can do one or two lines but I do not do website design from scratch. And... oh my word, is there snobbery about that or what. Just about everywhere you go to read up about stuff you get bombarded with 'pay for a professional' or you should do it yourself. I cannot afford to pay a professional who is any good, I have looked at so many custom web design sites, and quite frankly, so many of them look just like that ruddy Chinese site that ripped off mine (and loads of other Etsy sellers pictures last year), they (many of them not all) are so generic. Sure, the likes of Tiffany etc have the thousands on sqidoolies to pay for that, but I am just trying to scrape together a living from this, not charge more than the earth for a piece of jewellery, which I would have to if I was to employ one of the good chaps. I am also a bit of a control freak when it comes to this stuff, so I don't want someone else doing all the design, and I also don;t know till I see it whether I like it.

But back to the snobbery bit for a moment - why is there this impression that if you are going to sell online, you can only be thought of as serious if you built your website from scratch? I mean, I drive a car, but I'm not an engineer. Doesn't mean I can't drive, or shouldn;t drive or even am a bad driver (I challenge anyone to get into the tight spaces I can park my car in), so why oh why do so many people have this impression that a bought package is so inferior?

Anyway, that is my two minute rant over.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Diet or Edit

Years ago, I trained in journalism, I loved the training, however once it came to doing the job, while I love writing, the actual 'job' part didn't thrill me. What I found often, was that I could write, but just could not edit what I wrote. And I still can't. I don't know if this is because it is my writing and therefore my eyes know what should be coming next and insert the correct spelling etc where it doesn't exist or if I am just sloppy. Interestingly I have seen some great experiments which trick your eyes into reading what isn't there, our eyes tend to scan and assume and I believe it takes a special kind of eye to catch the mistakes. (the following shows what I mean)

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

It's a funny thing, and I have quite strong opinions about correct writing, which I will argue about till the cows come home and can always justify my thoughts. I tend to hit a brick wall with grammarians and pedants - we tend to disagree with each other, neither of us accepts the others opinion. My other job is teaching language and for me language is for communication, and so if the recipient understands the message - fab - if they don't, then uh uuuh - that's a fail.
However, I do find it very frustrating when I really try hard to catch all the mistakes, and even then (and sometimes even having had it checked over by someone else) and there is still a blasted mistake.
So, one thing I do do, is print it out, I have found that if it's left for a day, it's easier to see the problem, and if it's a hard copy, it's easier to see the problem. A comfort to me is that some of the best journalists I know of are apparently also crap at editing their work, but it still bugs me. I'd love to know of any other tips, or others opinions.