The last rant.... until....
Posted February 25, 2002 8:25pm
The last rant... or at least my last rant before I launch the new CoffeeKid site is a few weeks. Watch this space!
First, some history.
This website you're scoping out right now is over two years old now. That's a long time, man! I originally designed this look back in late 1999, and launched it within a month or two of completing the design. I think it's worked out well, and for the most part has been expandable. But there's always been one big problem - it's a huge site. Even without the Review side of things, this site has almost 500 pages - all hand coded by moi. Doing things like major thumbnail to big image pages has always been hard to do - it requires two versions of an image, two html pages, per image, and a lot of "rememberies", as in remembering to make tiny changes to each html page to suit that page, like changing links to next and previous, etc.
I also had no clue whatsoever about how crazy the traffic would be and the demands this website would give to me over the years. 95% of the time I didn't mind it, except at the times where it involved my bank account or I was under innumerable deadlines and couldn't give the readers of this site the attention they deserved.
The current site is a bit too much for me to handle in the daily (or nearly daily) basis I wanted to. So enter the content management software system my company has going. It's extremely powerful. You've heard of Blogger or web logging software, right? You've probably heard of software that lets you build entire websites through a web based interface... maybe not, but maybe yes?
My company's Web Integrated Publishing System, or WIPS, does all of that and way more. It even has an integrated ecommerce engine, full search capabilities, and can even be modified to run a full scale auction website. How cool is that? The blogger style functions alone put Blogger (and GrayMatter, and all other blog-style software) to shame.
But it doesn't run this website. Not yet anyway.
The good news is this. I did three design wannabes for this website, and finally settled on one design. I even wrote a bit about the final design and show some screen shots of it over on my personal site - you can check the article out here.
Initially, I did some redesigns that didn't change the layout of this site much - I kept the nav structure intact as you see it here, kept the titles in place, etc. Some colours changed, some layouts were standardized. But it was, well, boring. Boring to me, after staring at the same design for several years.
So I went back to the drawing board, and came up with a different design - radically different, but not the one I wrote about on my personal site. And well, it sucked. I don't even want to talk about it. Let's move on.
The set and finito design, the one I've built all the html templates for, the one that will be plugged into our WIPS software, is heavily photograph based. But it is balanced with lots of roomy areas for words, which is what this site is supposed to be all about - words and imagery. Maintaining the site will be a breeze.
Of course, functionality will be limited to whatever functionality I can dream up during the build - but that's the slight rub - once I've locked down the templates and what functionality they have (and can have optionally), I'm locked into that. The good news from this is consistency - a WIPS controlled site is very consistent. The motif of the site is constant and familiar. The bad news is, if I want to put up a special one-off type page - one that I haven't thought about yet, well it will be hard.
Anyways, I'm juiced about this new design, and I can't wait to see how it goes. I hope you like it too :)
I do have a bit of other news to share. First of all, the CoffeeGeek site is really coming into its own. I'm like a proud pappa, and to see it take off the way it has and the success (albeit early days yet) is making me a bit woozy. One thing that's REALLY cool is the contests on the site. Contests were something I really wanted to do.
I recently got an email from someone who was thankful for the contests we're running on the CoffeeGeek site, but he also asked why we're doing it - he said "you don't need to give away stuff to get me to visit the site!"
First, that sentiment of his is very nice, and I sure do appreciate it. But we don't just have contests to promote the site. Here's the gospel truth main reason: I was just sick and tired of seemingly every other "speciality" interest online having nice schwag giveaways. For instance, visit a PDA enthusiast site and there are contests all the time, giving away HP PocketPCs, Sony Clies, and the like. Digital photography sites give away cool cameras and accessories. But nowhere online was anyone giving away coffee and espresso stuff.
So I was jealous. I wanted to win stuff! If no one else was going to do it, well, I thought we'd try at CoffeeGeek. And we did.
The irony is, I can't enter any of the contests we have at the website! It'd be illegal for me, as the site's main editor, to enter. But no sweat. I really do get a great amount of joy and satisfaction out of being able to be a part of giving away a very cool machine or grinder, espresso cups, and other accessories. I win this way. And of course, other people win as well.
This is why I'm so thankful of the support given to us by people such as Joe Monaghan at ESI ( www.esi-online.com ) Terry Z. at Espresso Parts ( www.espressoparts.com ) Kyra Kennedy and Kyle Anderson at Baratza ( www.baratza.com ), Chris Nachtrieb at Chris' Coffee Service ( www.chriscoffee.com ) and many others. These people are giving up things that cost them out of pocket to do three things - keep CoffeeGeek going so you can enjoy it, provide some really cool products to some lucky people at no cost to the winner, and of course, to promote their businesses. I hope you give these folks your business - they're all stars in my book.
And that's it this time around. Catch you next time with a brand new interface and look around here!