Blog

But if you DO need someone to crawl under the hood to fix your site…

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | November 12, 2013
getting under the hood Well here’s a nice, if anonymous testimonial!
HI David, Thanks for info and update. Not everyday we get to support someone who has tech knowledge and insights. It is a warm welcomed change. Sorry I was not able to resolve this for you as it is not a common issue ticket. But I am glad you figured it out! Great job! Regards Source: Support tech from well-known ecommerce plugin vendor
RealBasics.com does website development.  In ordinary computer parlance a “developer” writes programs but I generally go very far out of my way to avoid it — there are just too many great, widely-used and therefore widely tested programs, themes, plugins, and modules out there to make re-inventing the wheel (and unlike wheels, when you write software it must be tested, and debugged, and security-patched, and updated!) And so, again, in order to provide clients with the biggest bounce per ounce for their hard-earned website-development dollars I strenuously avoid writing code. This does not mean, however, that I’m unable to track down code in other developers’ HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, have-your-eyes-glazed-over-yet, or SQL code. Last week I helped a client with a seemingly intractable problem with ecommerce on their WordPress-driven website.  They use a not-to-be-named but very popular plugin.  It’s well reviewed and indeed I like it quite a lot.  But every now and then something… just… doesn’t work for people.  It shows up most often when someone buys a downloadable file — a video, an ebook, or an image, say — and that someone expects (quite reasonably!) that after they pay for it with PayPal that the download would be… well… downloadable! The vendor’s ordinarily quite-competent support staff wasn’t helpful at all.  Unless you consider “the problem you describe seems to be the problem you’re having” as helpful.  (See also: if you have ham you can have ham and eggs if you have eggs.)  The “solutions” offered around the web for this (obscure, remember, and difficult to reproduce) but amounted to superstition and blind luck. Out came the detective hat.  And magnifying glasses.  And, eventually, hip-wader boots! I finally noticed that in one critical dropdown the option “pending” appeared not once but twice.  Digging a little deeper it turned out that neither of the codes underlying those choices was the right one! Digging much further I finally traced the problem to a) a hard-coded assumption by the vendors that they alone would ever use an option called “pending” and b) not one but two previously installed and deleted plugins that did exactly that.  And didn’t clean up after themselves. A fix was possible: just manually later the database.  (Note: virtually all WordPress manuals say never hack the database.  Same with other best practices, plus common decency[1].)  So obviously I made (and confirmed) several backups, meticulously traced the code for dependencies, and made one tiny adjustment to the database. Results?  Ta-da!  Obscure, commerce-stopping bug fixed, problem resolved, customers able to immediately download their purchases, clients satisfied. Once again [1]Unless you’re a trained database professional.  Which, as luck and much experience in a prior life, I happen to be.[2] [2] Virtually all web style guides also advise against using footnotes in blog posts.
FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Time to update when your website tells prospects your “tall oak” business is still a tiny acorn

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | October 22, 2013

 

Tiny acornA lot of people build their websites when their businesses are just getting off the ground.  That’s actually a good thing, right, because early on a search-engine link could have been the only real “proof” that the business  existed.

Your business might even have been in that position.  And chances are pretty good you, or maybe the owner, or even the original owner of the business built the website.

Chances are even better, though, that the business has grown or changed from those first days or weeks.  And if you’re lucky?  You’ve been too busy growing that business to keep your website up to date.

The result?  Your site is continues to tell prospects and clients that your business is smaller and maybe more limited than it really is.

If that sounds familiar — if you want your site to say what you’re doing now but just don’t have time to do it yourself — then you’re an ideal RealBasics.com client!   Give us a call.

RealBasics.com — (206) 390-8082.

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

But if you ever DO need a complete ecommerce package and new theme installed on 12 hours notice…

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | October 12, 2013

Out Of Place (Stock Photo By Adam12) [ID: 701011] - stock.xchngThe other day I was in a routine morning meeting with a client who wanted to add ecommerce and a theme upgrade to their site.  Next month.  And their marketer mentions they’d told the entire mailing list to buy a new product on their website.  Tomorrow.  Not next month!

The client felt, correctly, that they couldn’t afford to burn every customer on their mailing list with false information. They asked if I could add ecommerce to their site by morning.  I said yes, I was familiar with the WordPress plugin they were intending to use for their store.  They said please go ahead.

A couple of hours later the commerce site was working well enough to show that… their old WordPress template was completely incompatible with the ecommerce plugin.  So after a quick consultation the client asked if I could also add the new theme software that we’d also planned to have ready for the roll-out… a month from now!

Well, fortunately I also am familiar with the new theme framework.  And since fixing the otherwise obsolete theme would have been just as time consuming I said yes.  They said please go ahead with that too!

And you know what?  I got it done!  Next morning their customers were able to come to their website and purchase their new product… with a much more powerful, more forward-looking theming system to boot!

Best of all?  This was a “crash” job, right?  A major, non-stop effort to finish what had been a one-month project in 12 hours!  And so in the morning of course there were some bugs, typos, and other minor issues to clean up.  All of which I was able to resolve in less than half an hour!

So!

It’s still going to take the client a month to refine the site, establish policies for further expanding their ecommerce product line, optimizing shipping, taxes, terms of service, and so on — it wasn’t just me who was caught off guard.  And I’ll continue to work with their designers and, yes, their marketer to refine their new website design, also in time for their “proper” rollout a month from now.

And I really, really, don’t recommend hiring me or anyone else to add a full ecommerce package and template over night.

But!

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that if it happened to you your web developer could make it work for you?

I’m not sure I’m really comfortable bragging about this.  And to be honest I’m a little shy about leaving this post up.  But you know what?  Even though it’s not the sort of thing I want to do every day, or for that matter ever again, I’m pretty darn proud that I was able to meet my client’s needs.  They’re happy.  And I’m happy too.  So I hope you’ll forgive my little end zone demonstration.

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Recommended Resource: Social Media Consultant Stacy Erikson

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | October 8, 2013

Organized Social Media

Get liked on Facebook

At Realbasics.com we believe your website should be the authoritative source for information about your business.  We also believe in using social media to spread that information and generate leads.

For that reason we advise clients to not just include social media links in their websites but to actively update their social media pages as well.

And so we like to refer our clients to Stacy Erickson at Organized Social Media.  She’s organized, smart, sociable (naturally!) and committed to helping clients stay up to date, focused, and relevant on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and so their clients can find them!

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Whatever Happened That Hugely Popular Company That Dropped Its Website In Favor of MySpace Five Years Ago?

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | September 17, 2013

“Why should I have my own website when there’s [insert social-media sitename here]?”

It’s a popular question that, over the years, has always had the same answer: because then someone else owns it!

Here’s the latest version of the story, this time from a podcast (#235) by Rooster Teeth, the very-successful online production company beginning at the 21 minute 53 second mark.  Fair warning, if you follow the link you may find the language in the podcast quite profane.  Here’s my rough transcript for the section, which begins at roughly the 21:53 minute mark and runs roughly to 24:11.

Well Matt, you’re the CEO for Rooster Teeth, been with the company since the very beginning, you know the value of having your own space on the internet, for the company.
I mean that’s like, the number one thing that we tell people
Yeah.

In all honesty and seriousness … that having your own home is very important online.

You can’t maintain with all the ups and downs and crazy machinations of the wonky internet world we’re in now unless you’ve got your own space
carved out. So I think going out and making your own website? Yes! Do it!

People don’t want to do it now cause they can go to Facebook, they can go make a YouTube channel or whatever.
Promote yourstuff on Reddit or on Twitter.
Yeah.
But you don’t own that!
Someone else owns that!

Well if we’d startd doing that kind of thing back when we first started Rooster Teeth those sites would have been Slashdot — we’d have tried to get
linked on slashdot every day…

Right, and FARK. And MySpace… we’d have had a site on MySpace.
Or Tripod.
Yeah.
Geocities? (laughs)

You know, a big inspiration for Rooster Teeth when we started out we looked at other people who were very successful at the time.
There was a group of guys [Broken Lizard, the producers of an underground hit called Supertroopers.]
So they sold a million copies of their DVD and home video, it made them a huge hit.
Everybody in college had that DVD.
We looked at them and the way that they were marketing themselves and watched what they were doing.

We did that with a lot of people [list] just trying to see what people were doing online.

While we were looking at that, Broken Lizard took their site and turned it off, and just sent everyone to their MySpace page!

Crazy!!!

Seemed like a smart idea probably for them at the time, but then MySpace evaporates essentially four of five years later or turns into a total music
site.
What is MySPace?
Music?
Yeah.
Is it?

And Napster’s for… just for naps. (laughs)

But hey, we really do believe in this — making your own website.

The transcript is mine

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Did you know you can update your site from your smartphone?

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | August 30, 2013

I am experimenting with the official WordPress iPhone app

You just sign in with your name, password, and URL to most of your site through a relatively intuitive iPhone interface.

The compose window even gives you little buttons for adding simple formatting like italics and bold, links and quotes, lists and more!

You can even add photos from your phone and post them to your site! I’m going to try it now.

20130830-111305.jpg

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Why this Website Will Always Be “Under Construction”

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | June 17, 2013

This website is a great example of the adage “the cobblers children are the last to wear shoes.” Or perhaps the future example that the inventor’s robots are the last to get painted.

The internet is constantly changing, and I’m constantly experimenting with new methods, approaches, technologies. Sometimes experiments go awry. But here’s the deal: I experiment on my website because I always want your website to work perfectly.

— David Innes, founder RealBasics.com

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Why Do Even Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter Fans Need Their Own Websites?

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | January 2, 2012

Technology author and online information-systems guru Jon Udell says rule #1 for your professional or business information is…

1. Be the authoritative source for your own data

[T]hat means regarding your own website, blog, or online calendar as the authoritative source. More broadly, it means publishing facts about yourself, or your organization, to a place on the web that you control, and that is bound in some way to your identity. Why?

To a large and growing extent, your public identity is what the web knows about your ideas, activities, and relationships. When that knowledge isn’t private, your interests are best served by publishing it to online spaces that you control and use for the purpose.

Source: Strategies for Internet Systems

The great thing about modern website technology (WordPress, Drupal, MovableType, Joomla, and others) is that they all make cross-posting information from your website to different social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Google Reader, and so on) anywhere from easy to completely automatic.

If you already have a website but it doesn’t connect easily to your other social media I can fix it for you.  If you’re already on social media but don’t have a website I’d love to build one for you that keeps you connected while still making you the authoritative source for information about you and your business.

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail