The website that nearly was

Coming soon?

Yesterday I was going to blog about an exciting, fresh new website I’ve been working on. I was going to share with you something of my process of taking a website from an initial idea, through the various stages of design to launch. The site was going to be launched yesterday morning.

But then something happened.

The background

During the last few months I’ve been working quietly and diligently on two Web projects for a couple of friends. I offered to work on them for free, in my own time, which — along with travelling back and forth between Fife and the Scottish Borders helping Mum out in preparing for her house move — has been the main reason that I’ve not been blogging quite as much as I’d like to.

Meanwhile my blog drafts have been piling up behind the scenes; here’s an insight into what is to come in the following weeks/months:

  • Post # 1251
  • Misheard
  • O2 Xda Orbit desktop cradle
  • Customizing SMS tone on Windows Mobile 5 (Phone edition)
  • One year on …
  • Get away
  • O2 Xda Orbit
  • Misery
  • Credit card rip-off!
  • Buying a domain name
  • Job satisfaction
  • Blog content warning
  • Windows Start menu organization
  • Structured Content

Ready …

This week I was ready to go live with one of the projects, having more than put in the hours trying to fix bugs (mostly IE5.5 and IE6) this week.

On my snag list were a few IE fixes, a couple of print-related CSS files to write and a last-minute check to make sure that the Google AJAX Feed API was working properly. I finished the fixes around midnight on Tuesday.

The client has only static webspace, so I decided to use the Google AJAX Feed API to ‘pull in’ a newsfeed from a WordPress.com blog into their news page. It was a cheap and simple solution to add a bit of RSS loveliness and to enable the client to add content quickly and easily, without having to learn HTML.

Steady …

So having been working closely with this client (a charity) and probably having racked up more than 40 hours working on the architecture, wireframes, design, coding and debugging, I was ready to go live.

I sent what I thought would be a quick, courteous email to the charity committee chairman to say that I was ready to go live, and unless there were any obvious reasons not to, I would go live yesterday morning at 08:00.

I was quite excited, to be honest. I was looking forward to it going live; proud of what I’d put together: the most Web 2.0 web design I’ve ever done, contemporary, fresh, fun and accessible, with a tip-of-the-hat to a couple of retro elements. How wonderfully postmodern. And the use of the Google AJAX Feed API, I felt, was quite an elegant solution.

And then the phone rang … and a couple of emails popped into my inbox. All saying the same thing:

Stop!

It would appear that the committee were not happy. My understanding was that I should be working closely with the charity’s store manager; theirs was that I should be working closely with the charity’s committee.

Yeah … because website design by committee is always so much easier (irony!).

I’m disappointed, partly because I’m usually so good and making absolutely sure at the start of a project that I’m dealing with the right parties, that I’m not caught up in the the politics of the organization and from the word ‘go’ I know with whom I’m supposed to be liaising.

I thought I’d done that. I was obviously very wrong, I’ve now clearly stepped on some toes for which I’m very sorry, and so I spent most of yesterday evening composing an email to the committee chair explaining where I think things went wrong and how we might move forward with this. But, at the end of the day, I can only really go on what I’m told.

Coming soon?

The upshot of it all is that my new, shiny, rounded-corners and Web-2.0-gradients website may not be going live any time soon. Which, while understandable, is disappointing.

Not least because I could have been spending those 40+ hours doing something more profitable. Like writing a free website for client #2. Or reading another Douglas Coupland novel. Or playing Battlefield 2. Or reading up on the ethics of IVF. Or building a Linux box. Or … you get the picture.

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