Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Builder

I am quite new to web design – still wearing my L plates if you know what I mean.

I found myself having to design a new web store from the ground up – because my original store was built on a server which really couldn’t provide the customisation options required for a business operating mainly in Australia.

I thought my past experience, with building the original web site, plus my Blog and also my Affiliate site would certainly count for something; that I should be able to do it without too much trouble. What I didn’t understand was that I had been working with fairly elaborate template based web builders – basically I just entered the information and the software did all the hard work. But my previous server did not allow me to download my previous pages as a complete package and simply upload it to a new site. No – I had to start from scratch, and I suddenly realized just how much I DIDN’T know about this whole E-Commerce thing.

Oh yes, I tried the pre built templates – but they were either ridiculously expensive, or just way too cheap and nasty. And the instructions were all written in some geek speak that I couldn’t make head nor tail of anyhow.

But I thought I had a fairly brilliant idea – I would download the pages from my previous site and use them as a template for the basic structure. At least it gave me something to work with – something vaguely familiar, which might keep me from feeling totally overwhelmed by the project I had undertaken.

I was going along great guns, churning out reasonable-looking completed pages and feeling fairly proud of my progress. But then, suddenly, the wheels fell off completely.

My pages began to distort. Text and images would appear outside of the page borders. Sections of my page would reject any formatting that I attempted to apply. The more I tried to fix it, the worse it seemed to get.
Eventually I decided to try to edit the HTML code directly – even though I admit my knowledge in this area is very sketchy. But as soon as I started to look at the HTML code, I could see what had happened.

It seems that HTML is a bit like a computer hard disk. You install heaps of different programs and applications and then, later, you uninstall the same – but, unless you know how to edit the registry, you often end up with lots of leftover bits. Eventually all this accumulated rubbish begins to take a toll on the computer. It slows down – develops errors and in many cases the only fix is a complete reinstall of your operating system.

Now when I built my first web store I really had no idea what I was doing. I made so many mistakes and spent hours correcting them and I guess, all the while, I was leaving bits and pieces behind in the code. Then I downloaded the whole mess and uploaded it, bugs and all, into the editor for my new web site – after which I proceeded to make more mistakes and more corrections.

Finally my poor overloaded editing program had a hissy fit and quit on me. All I could do was to delete the whole ugly mess and start all over again.

Well, thankfully I succeeded this time. My new web site is up and running. It’s a bit basic in design, but it works, and that’s the main thing right now. I can always tizz it up as I go.

But there is always a life lesson to learned along the way, isn’t there! For instance – how many times have I tried to do that – to build something new in my life on the foundation of past mistakes?

We like to stick with the familiar, don’t we? That’s why it’s so hard to break old habits – because it’s scary to let go and launch ourselves into the unfamiliar. We prefer to use the same old tools and yet we expect to get different results.

The thing is we will never really get something new when we use the old stuff as a template. We will just get a rehash of what we had before. And if it wasn’t good enough the first time, then why would we even want that?

Sometimes we just have to be brave and throw it all out – all the old wrong attitudes, the emotional scars and baggage that we’ve ‘downloaded’ from our past into our present. If we want to succeed at building something new, then we need to start afresh. Oh yes, we might still make a few mistakes, but at least we won’t be just compounding the old ones.
©Lyn Murphy2010

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