Thursday, 3 September 2020

Website woes......

You know that thing, where you're doing really well, focused on the task at hand, making progress slowly but surely, while things generally seem to be ticking along nicely?

Well up until Monday afternoon, that was me.  However, at precisely 4.07 pm, I heard a loud, anguished groan from the office, followed shortly thereafter by a forwarded email pinging into my inbox.

Apparently, the company who hosts our website is planning a major upgrade to their servers including moving to a newer version of PHP.

Now, I hold my hands up to not having a clue what PHP is, but the net effect will be to render our website instantly obsolete.  It's already very elderly and creaking at the seams, having developed a rash of irritating and apparently insoluble back end glitches which only a complete rebuild and overhaul would fix.  We've been putting that off and attempting to keep it limping along, having extended our hosting package for a further 18 months, but this news has sealed its fate.

It doesn't help that the upgrades are due to take effect between 28 Sept and 2 October, so only a few week's time.  There followed much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a chorus of "Oh buggrit.... what are we going to do.....?" 

An emergency meeting was called (Small Dog agreed to attend, but only on suffrance) and we brainstormed potential solutions.

None of the options looked particularly attractive.

  • Rebuild the site from scratch using the same shopping cart software, which was a nightmare
  • Pay someone an eye-watering sum to do it for us
  • Cancel the hosting package and relocate elsewhere, using a simple website builder, such as Weebly or Wix.
  • Stay with our hosting service and use their in-house website builder
All of the options except the last one involved financial cost, which given the parlous trading conditions this year we are keen to avoid.  So we checked that we could create a new website, using our current hosting provider and simply switch over from the old one when we were ready.

So far, so encouraging.  Yes, we could do that.  No, there was no additional cost.  Apparently it was easy to do.

To say we were sceptical is a massive understatement.  All DIY website builder programs have pros and cons, and despite their claims to be easy to use, experience tells us that's true only up to a point.  However, with the clock ticking we decided to give it a go.  At the very least, our hosting package does provide excellent technical support which is available at all hours, 24/7 to address any of the problems which will inevitably arise.

Yesterday was spent deciding on a layout, and trying out the various elements, getting the look we wanted.  Today I'll be attempting to get to grips with how to list an item, with the first major issue looming on the horizon.... setting up shipping charges.  There seems to be only two choices... one flat rate charge per order, which doesn't accommodate shipping to different postal zones internationally, or a charge per item, which also doesn't taken into account varied international shipping rates.  We think we might have a workaround, but it's far from elegant.

I'm also juggling working on The Book, which is coming along nicely after years of languishing and gathering dust.  I have completed about 75% and finally feel as though I'm on the home straight, which probably means that I'm going to hit some insurmountable software issue and have to start again.

That's me.... always looking on the bright side. 😂


Bleue said...

All in the name of "progress"..which means turning our boring, everyday kind of techy stuff into chaos. I shudder every time we purchase a new kind of electronic device. The packaging always assures that it is "ready out of the box". Five hours later I'm calling the help desk to ask them how to turn the blame thing on.

I wish you luck in your new website adventure. All the changes are bad enough, then wanting you to pay for it is worse. Progress is painful, but I'm sure you can conquer and win.

Stay well!

Sandra Morris said...

It's like playing a game of Whack-A-Mole. No sooner do we solve one problem, than another pops up. Still hanging in there but my initial enthusiasm is ebbing fast.
Thanks for the good luck wishes... I'm going to need them!