This week turned interesting in new and unexpected ways. I've now added "house calls" to my professional offerings. Web ones.
Early one morning this week, friend-who-is-also-a-client discovered that a couple of her websites had been hacked into, the code altered, and when her clients and future clients visited her sites, malicious software was being downloaded into their computers. Actually Google blocked access pretty quickly and hopefully this didn't happen to too many people before she discovered it. They also apparently sent a slew of notices to others who guard the gates to her site. Her online career was effectively put on hold.
Friend and I have passively discussed, over the years, the possibility of her having her sites hosted on Squarespace. (She already had an established arrangement with a different host when I came onto the scene and at the time, saw no good reason to change the way things were managed.) When I say we "discussed" I mean I dropped the occasional hint and she gently deflected it. It's easy to see the logic in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" reasoning.
Only now? It's broke. In a mean, bad way.
When the "customer service" dudes over at the company who host her sites responded with, in essence, a "You're on your own, we couldn't possibly find the time to help you with that," reply, she decided that now was the time to make the transition to Squarespace. Not only do these folks take security seriously, they also have stellar customer service with remarkable turnaround times, and they've established a thriving community in which users can discuss concerns, questions, wishes and bright ideas. The confidence that real people with names and faces are behind the company you're entrusting with your websites? This goes a long, long way.
Although I had been planning to leave town the next day, we quickly made alternate arrangements that had me, instead, moving into her upstairs and rebuilding her websites, from the ground up, in Squarespace. I gotta' tell ya: there's something very cool about being the temporary in-house web chick. It comes with benefits like meals being prepared for you and little intermittent chat breaks that start with, "How's it going honey? You're working so hard! Do you need anything?" I could get used to this.
What's appealing to me about the project is that she has several sites, all related but distinctively different. Not only am I designing the new ones to look nearly identical to what she had before, but they're being designed within a single Squarespace account.
Some of the considerations that went into this decision:
- Some of the addresses of her internal pages will have to change. (To more efficient URLs.) Since the master domain will be mapped to her new Squarespace site, once Google lets people back in, visitors will be able to easily find her site, and clean, clear, visible navigation will make it easy to find the pages that need to be re-indexed by search engines and directories. Plus Squarespace seems to help sites to be indexed fairly quickly.
- She'd grown tired of her blog's long address and had been contemplating changing it, anyway. (She already used Squarespace for her blog.) We're streamlining things, making it much easier for visitors, going forward, to remember her blog's address.
- Although several Squarespace packages allow users to design different templates within a single account, it can be tricky to identify which content shows up where. But? I've recently learned to manage this kind of challenge. Therefore her master website's information only shows up there, the content for her book's website only shows up there, and the pages within her blog will only show up there. With convenient links between each, and additional fun features like search capabilities and a contact form added in for good measure.
- While she's used Squarespace successfully for her blog for a while now, she never learned a few of the tips and tricks that would make her experience really fun. My girl tends to think of technology as a necessary evil. And so we've talked, for a very long time, about getting together for some tutorials on how certain things work in the Squarespace platform. But never made the time before. Turns out if you move your web chick into your house for the duration, it's really, really easy to plan one-on-one training sessions. Brilliant.
We're getting there. Of course I have other clients who need my attention, and so "business as usual" has continued. But as is often the case when catastrophe ensues, I was at a spot in my schedule in which I could reasonably pour extra hours into this project. It so happened that two other clients have gone off to work on content. A couple of other folks have been pulled away in preparation for travel and out-of-town guests for the long weekend. And the needs of others have been minimal and easy-to-manage from here. Handy.
Once the designs are in place, I'll show you everything. And for now? I'm all cozy in an upstairs sun room, feet up on an ottoman, birds singing in the lush, green trees outside huge windows. Friend has gone off to do a volunteer project she signed up for, her hubby is downstairs doing Saturday morning chores, and I'm considering a dip in this magnificent skylight-view, claw foot tub before my long distance GoToMeeting / Skype call with a different client. And later? I'll return to putting the pieces of friend's online professional life back together. I gotta' tell ya - although I really do hate that such a fiasco happened to my friend, it's working out most nicely for me. Is it wrong to have this much fun with your work?