Fixing a Website Problem

Posted on September 14, 2015 By

This weekend at about four in the morning I decided to check on a promotion that I was doing for another website. (www.paperbutterflyforge.com).  It’s getting towards christmas and the holiday shopping season and I wanted to see how the facebook advertising was going.

Doing that check resulted in about six hours of work when I figured out that my website was partially broken.  Some of the steps are pretty close to what you would do for any problem solving so let me go on a bit. 🙂

Step 1:  Determine the problem.  When people clicked from my facebook ad, the website did not show the product photo/listing.  It showed a blank white screen.  Heavens to betsy!  No one was going to scroll down to see my product pics!

Step 2:    I decided to ‘Test’ the problem.  Yup, it was working fine on the PC, but Mobile was not working.  There was definitely a problem that needed to be fixed.

Step 3:  It was a woo commerce website and they had issued warnings that the third party theme wasn’t compliant with their app any more.  I had ignored those warning because the website seemed to be working fine.

Step 4:  Determine my options.

  • Keep the same theme, damn the consequences.
  • Change the theme.
  • Complain on the theme’s support page.

Step 5: What would be the outcome of those options?

  • Facebook advertising would be non-productive.  Nope.
  • I would have reconfigure the theme.  Not a problem, I’ve gotten good at WordPress.
  • Hours of waiting for an answer.  Wordpress apps die all the time because they are created by small shops who give away their products for free.  Sometimes it’s not worth wading through the problems because they will NEVER solve the problem.

Step 6:  Make a decision.  I chose to change the theme to a default woo theme.  It’s not as pretty, but darn it, at least the mobile issue will be immediately fixed.

Step 7:  I tested it with every device, mobile, tablet and PC.

Resolution:

I still need to add more branding to the website and there are items that I didn’t like about the basic theme.  Woo does have some prettier themes for sale, but in the few short hours that I had to fix it, I didn’t feel I could make a fully researched decision.  It could be that Woo is making third party themes unusable for their app.  This could be to encourage users to purchase their snazzier apps.    They, like any other app dev is faced with the challenge to make free apps monetize.

I’m still working at resolving the issues with changing themes.  A new header and social share buttons, but those items don’t keep the website from functioning/working in it’s core function.  Ie. Webstore that clearly presents products and provides a selling platform.

This might not be a spreadsheet or financial analysis problem that needs to be solved.  But the interplay of hosting, wordpress, woo commerce and themes all work together to present your website.  Approaching any issues with a sensible plan eliminates problems, creates solutions on a faster timeline, and provides a path to success.  In a field where every website is outdated in three years or less, vendors are always going out of business, and where apps collide, you need to come up with an effective strategy to deal with problems.

If you allow problems to grow from fear of change you will end up with something like this: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/  It’s a website that is devoted to board games.  It has thousands of posters/readers each month.  However, the technology that supports the website is about 10 years too old.  They even have whole threads devoted on how to use the antiquated system.  I did a post and I had to do a search, post in two different threads and to this day, I have no idea if anyone has read it.  Heck, I can’t even find my own post.  They may have thousands of readers; but how many thousands have they driven off?

When you create a new technology solution, you also have to create a solution that will follow it.  Does it allow data to be migrated?  What does that data look like?  Are there new data solutions that on the horizon?

An example of a technology solution that is slowly impacting accounting, is cloud accounting.  It’s easier to get smaller companies to migrate because they have less data to move.  However, as the technology improves, it’s clear that that bank downloads can replace data entry people by the truckload.  Would you implement any accounting system that didn’t have a path to accepting automated bank loads?

Editor’s Note:  I will be presenting at WordCamp Seattle about this issue.

Laura Dodson
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Laura Dodson

Laura Dodson, CPA is a Seattle Financial Planning & Analysis consultant.She has attended Western Washington University, Pierce College and Bates Technical College. She has written four accounting instructional books. She has worked for small family businesses, mid-sized businesses and a Fortune 500 company.She founded and operated Blue Stone Accounting LLC for five years.She currently runs Paper Butterfly Forge LLC.
Laura Dodson
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