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Problems, Problems, Problems

July 17th, 2017 by Edward

Every website project that I have ever worked on has problems. Some years back I used to think that this was because of me. Now I have decided that it is just the ‘nature of the beast’ that brings with it little snares set deceptively along the path that leads to website perfection.

Where do these problems come from? Here are a few examples of problems I have had to deal with recently, most of which are nobodies fault particularly, they are just ‘how it is.’

Its stopped working… 

After a couple of years of gentle persuasion this client decided that at last, it was time to make her site responsive, and to update to the latest versions of joomla/wordpress. No biggie – until the image gallery stopped working. To be fair, this wasn’t a surprise – old versions of plugins often fail when software is updated. This time though, the new version was SO FLIPPING different that it meant some fiddling around to get it to look the close to the earlier versions. ‘Can we fix it’ – what do you think?

Can we just…

This is one my favourite sayings, along with ‘I want to make a small change’ or ‘It’s just a little thing’. In my experience clients (but especially designers!!!!) often do not appreciate what makes a small change. This client wanted a responsive image rotator – wait for it – that swapped out images and used different ones on mobiles screens – not different ‘squashes and squeezes’ of the one image, but real, genuine different images. After some more fiddling around we came up with a jQuery solution that ‘sniffs’ for the screen size, and then re-writes the code as appropriate to drop in the new images. I was pleased with how well this worked! If only all ‘can we justs….’ were really as ‘just’ as this one turned out to be.

I already have hosting…

Ugh. Shiver, shiver. This can be a biggie…  This client wanted me to build a pretty complex site on my dev space and then move it onto their buddies server. (ok – should have built it on his buddies server… there was some reason we didn’t, but I can’t remember…) And all seemed well when the site went live… then I began to notice that one of the pages we had made a fix for had stopped working as well as it had been, and just for fun, only on mobile screens. Here was an issue I could do nothing about – a feed from another site (in php) was not being rendered the same way on the ‘buddy’ server as it was on my development server. It took some time and careful inspection of the code to see this. Thankfully there was a solution…

 

So there you have it – three problems int he last couple of weeks.

If you’re a web designer – developer why not tell me that you have no problems like these at all! Go on – make my day.

 

 

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Kusuma Trust header

September 8th, 2016 by Edward

Recent clients, the Kusuma Trust have some really beautiful photography that draws the viewer in and helps to tell their story. From the outset it was decided to place different pictures across the top to act as the Kusuma Trust header, upon which various menu items would go. They were keen however, not to have a background strip for the menu text to sit on – which clearly creates potential usability issues regarding textual contrast.

The brief suggested that the image was to be :

  • full width
  • fixed depth
  • look good on all screen widths
  • possibly have some headline text fixed to its bottom on a semi-transparent background
  • and… easily maintained by the user

read more Read more…

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Website Problem Solving – VST

April 21st, 2016 by Edward

About 50% of my time is spent in what you might call ‘website problem solving.’ When I started making websites, well over 15 years ago I thought I’d be spending my time …. creating websites. But everyday, for every project new or old there are problems to solve.

So here’s the first of what might (who knows) become a regular post – ‘Website Problem Solving’  – the VST booking form stops working.

‘Our booking form has died’ – time for Website Problem Solving

Having built their website about 2 years now I have continued supporting this client who provides training course which the SELL via their website. One day this email arrived:

” Someone phoned me to say made a booking and got funny message.   The booking came through but she did not get a confirmation email.   I did a test booking and also got funny page and no email confirmation.”

Since VST main role is training, this is a serious error. Panic Stations! Claxons blaring. Time for a dose of ‘Website Problem Solving.’

error  message - website problem solving needed

I want to point out at this point that the plugin used for booking is first rate and in no way is this to be seen as a knock on them.

A few minutes investigation revealed that the user was being taken to this url. It didn’t look right to me – just felt wrong. I suppose somehow you get a knack for these things.

...email=&option=com_registrationpro&...processor=payoffline&user_id=...details=VST%20will%20invoice%20you%20to%20the%20address%20on%20your%20booking%20form.%20Please%20pay%20promptly%20and%20before%20the%20course%20date.

So, I posted on the forum of the plugin – this is where paid support comes into its own, and is one reason why I recommend buying it to my clients.  This time the reply came back very soon – ‘we have found a bug and here’s a patch.’  Couple of days later a new version is released.

Result – booking forms back on line.

I didn’t solve the problem, but I was able to look into it enough to work out that it wasn’t anything the good people at VST were doing, or a hosting issue.

I got these emails from VST

Phew yes it works now! Thank you. Please invoice us for your time.
Maddy ???

Excellent  news. 
Thanks
Linda 
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