Building/maintianing a website

Building and then maintaining a website can be (and sometimes is) a full time job!

Back in January of 2001, when we first launched an “official” website, it was like 5 pages as we just had the certified payroll add-on {OH, THOSE were the days!}.

Back then, I knew nothing about website design or the“dreaded HTML” that was required to create one.  Ben did our original website, and I’d very carefully open it up with NotePad and edit it, always looking for “something” in there that looked like REAL words and text.  Nine times out of 10, I’d do something to “break” the website and he’d have to fix it.  OOPS!

After about 3 months of that, I decided it was time that I really learned how to do it and do it correctly, but I’m more visual and needed to “see” what I was creating – all those little HTML codes were greek to me.

So armed with Microsoft FrontPage (much to Ben’s dismay), I began my journey into website maintenance, because  I just wanted to be able to insert a paragraph and not break the entire darn page!

FrontPage is actually a good tool to use to learn about HTML, you can create a web page much like you would create a Word document – very cool in that you can “see what you’ve done and how it looks”.  But one day I made the mistake of looking at the section that held all of the HTML code that made that page look the way it did, YIKES, what a mess.  LOL.  If I thought Ben’s HTML was difficult to read, this was just simply a mess, and I decided that while I liked the fact that I could see what I’d done, I didn’t like the fact that there was far more code to sift through….

So, I reached another turning point in my path to become a “webmistress”, I bought some books from on Web Design and HTML and downloaded a free HTML Edit called HTML Kit from armed with my books I became determined that I would learn HTML (hard-coding) and website design.

In January 2001, I launched a brand-new website that I had designed and developed, and we introduced our 2nd product, Construction Application for Payment.

As with all things, what’s good enough today is likely outdated tomorrow; the same holds true for a business website.

Over the years, our website grew and grew, we added more products, support documents, articles relating to QuickBooks, a support forum, etc.  Eventually it became unmaneagable, simply due to it’s size.

In 2007, our support area had grown so large, that it took forever to load the pages and I knew I had to do something, and I found Joomla.

Joomla is an open-source (meaning free) content management program, and man did I have a lot of content to manage.  Our support area contained over 150 articles and pages.  So once again, our website underwent a transition as I moved all of our “support” stuff into one place that was easy to maintain.  This was a big help, but now I was faced with WHAT to do with the REST of our site – the main part of our site held another 150 pages, and a forum…..

Earlier this year, I had yet another “brainstorm”, why not put the ENTIRE site into Joomla and make it easier to maintain?

So the site you see today, which was launched in July of 2008, is completely done in Joomla, and instead of having to physically touch (never mind type in) over 300 html pages just to change the year in the copyright information, I can now go and edit a single “file” and I’m done.  Amazing!

What challenges have you faced with your website?  And just for the record….NO, I do not do website design for hire, my own is enough!  But if you need a website and want to hire someone, my sister-in-law Janis over at Smyth Website Design might be interested.