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The Making of a Website

One trait of a hobby club is the transition of members.  Some stay for years and others attend meetings, get involved then move on for a number of reasons.  Each member contributes in some way – through helping set up chairs, cleaning up the refreshment table, buying, showing, selling plants or simply contributing a raised hand to pass a motion.  In the many years of our club’s history we have had members come through our doors and contribute valuable and modern ideas including getting on Instagram, starting a Facebook page, creating a website, updating that website, etc.  All of these projects are a work in progress and there’s an ebb and flow that comes with the member transitions.

All of the above is a lead in to our club’s need for a new website.  Our previous site having been patched, added to, tweaked, jostled, and jived by a string of helpful members as they transitioned through our club needed serious help.  When our most recent webmaster moved out of town, we were faced with the situation of a not so willing volunteer (the club president) knowing nothing trying to wrangle the existing website or building a newer, better, more streamlined site.  We chose the later, starting to take this course in December 2016  with one of our new members, Lisa, at the helm.  The club president leaned heavily on the confident Lisa who had built several websites previously.  After sketching out the desired new site content, the president embarked on a series of text conversations with our new webmaster.  In January 2017 an ongoing health issue popped up, leaving Lisa unable to work on the website and in March after hearing no response to several text messages the president began to “get a feeling”.  In May 2017 we learned that the vibrant and energetic Lisa had passed away, a victim of cancer.  Lisa was a giving club member, full of ideas and passion.  This transition from membership is the hardest one to face.

Regrouping, the president made a beeline for the public library, frantically checking out “WordPress for Dummies” and a stack of WordPress and website books.  The stack of books loomed on the table and although there was a lot of reading, tabbing, and note taking going on, there wasn’t much website action.

Serendipitously the local community college offered a WordPress website building class during summer quarter.  Unfortunately, the class never filled, even though it was offered again in the fall quarter.  Tentatively, the would be webmaster began to flounder and create a site at wordpress.com.  Progress was slow and fraught with failures. Taking a four hour class at the public library in November 2017 bolstered the flagging webmaster and pages were created. Coincidentally, at the same time the blundering webmaster hit the wall, our club was fortunate to entice a new member, Chelsea, into our fold.  When she heard of the website situation, she shrugged and said, “I can help with that.”

A sharing of ideas over coffee (a Seattle thing), and Chelsea fell to with great enthusiasm.  Having never used WordPress before, she was a quick study, and soon began to build the infrastructure. That was when she learned we should be building the site on WordPress.org.  She made the shift, and work resumed.  We determined that a photo gallery was to be one of the highlights of our site.  While Chelsea created it, the relieved half webmaster figured out watermarks then filled it with photos.  Ooops, that wasn’t the Photo Gallery she filled, it was the Media Library.  Take another run at it and load the actual Photo Gallery.  But, oh, what’s this little thing? It doesn’t belong here.  Delete.  Yes, the whole Photo Gallery was gone.  Chelsea installed it again re-naming it “dontDeleteMeThisisTheMainAlbum”.  Photos were again duly uploaded by the cringing half webmaster.

Meanwhile behind the scenes plug-ins were installed, mistakes repaired (overly confident half webmaster) and the site was soon (Not that soon, really.  It was 16 months from conception to birth) ready for the reviewers.  Five brave souls ventured into the new site and came forth with feedback which shaped our final product.

At last the day arrived when the half webmaster notified the overseas domain host that we were ready to post.  Nothing happened. Nothing happened.  Five days later a quick check in by email revealed we were to put it on the internet ourselves.  Dejectedly, the half webmaster turned to “Uncle Google” so named by Chelsea.  Three hours of reading still didn’t reveal the easy answer, but the letters FTP finally had meaning.  All we had to do was find a File Transfer Program and do it.  While the half webmaster fitfully wrung her hands, the intrepid Chelsea grabbed her keyboard, and began tearing down the old, replacing it with the new.  April 7, 2017 was a banner day for us.  It was a miracle to see our new site up for the world to see.  Eagerly the half webmaster clicked through the site, tenderly gazing at our creation; recalling the long, winding, bumpy road that was our journey to the Internet.  Ah, here’s the Photo Gallery!  Our piece de resistance!  Wait, where is it?  The Photo Gallery did not transfer.  Chelsea’s diagnosis:  we need to build it again.