Alternate Titles for this post:
Houston we have a problem
What (TF) were we thinking?
Sometimes you have to cut your losses
When Life hands you lemons
Lessons in web development and life
There ain’t no rest for the wicked (or the weary)
Sign, Sign, everywhere a sign
Dear WD: I really love you, but we have to break up
I am NOT a quitter!
Run, Forrest! Run!
I wanna see you be BRAVE!
The meaning of life: Choices
WOW! It’s been a hell of a month (or 7). I’m hoping that my dazzling (and new found) web development skills have impressed you enough to convince you that this IS our new website! But it’s not. This is our old website, which I spent all of yesterday performing a facelift on, because well, I love you! And because my family motto is, “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!” Actually, it’s a learning curve that me and Dr. DP are about to take at full speed because as of last Friday, our “new website” project is dead as a doornail and it’s not being resurrected! Read On…
We’ve been talking about a new website launch for months now. The anticipation has been building and we were so excited to share with you what we’d been working so hard to achieve, but sometimes you have to cut your losses. And because we made promises to you, our followers and readers and a few strangers who just happened by, we feel it’s important that we share with you the story behind our decision. This post is an effort to share information, but more so it’s to encourage others to make brave choices—even when you are so far down a path that it seems impossible to do so no matter what the situation. This post is not intended as a reflection on anyone in particular—we all take a share of the accountability when a project goes south. It’s simply a story of what happens and needs to happen sometimes—when we finally choose to follow our intuition. Whether it’s marriage or a huge website project—things of magnitude—costly things where you’ve invested your entire being and/or fear your reputation (or your pride) will be damaged if you walk away—these things can, and DO go wrong. In our case, as in most web projects, the devil was in the details and Murphy was all too happy to mess things up at every turn! To the point where we could no longer ignore the signs. I will do my best to stay on topic in this post but quite frankly, my brain is a little fried right now so please forgive me my digressions, transgressions, mixed metaphors and rabbit trails.
Above all we hope you will learn from our experience and choose to be BRAVE when next you are faced with a difficult decision!
For those who crave immediacy – Failure to Launch – The Short Story
The “NEW” Cinfully Simple website project is not launching. We pulled the plug. Instead, we will over the next several months be working to “re-model” the current site. In this, we ask for your patience, indulgence, encouragement and tolerance—especially if we accidentally break something along the way and Please Pardon Our Dust. We believe that we CAN make the current site match our vision for Cinfully Simple—It just might take a little time, because our intention is to learn the technical side enough to (mostly) do it ourselves. Look and feel will change along with menus and options and choices, all designed to make a better site for you to enjoy!
For those who live for TMZ – The Whole Sorted Tale
In all my years as a Corporatron and doing large scale project management, I’ve dealt with the demise of many a project. Some small, some huge, some underfunded and under-supported and some just a huge cluster-F. In those cases, I didn’t really have a lot of control when the powers that be said, “We’re sorry but your project has been canned.” I knew it wasn’t my fault, and you get used to it. Personally though, I never thought I’d be in a situation where I had to pull the plug on my own personal project—one that was funded handsomely out of our own pockets—and one that we believed in so deeply. In the last week I’ve been told enough times how “brave” this decision was that I think I am finally starting to believe it. Prior to this, it just felt like quitting and disappointing you. But as in everything, there is a lesson here that Dr. Double Portions (Dr. DP) and I feel compelled to share.
There is only one other time that I recall choosing not to stay the course on something like this—You see, in addition to learning a killer work ethic by example, I was raised by parents who preached that, “You finish what you start,” and those rivers run D-E-E-P! Thankfully, one of the lessons I’ve learned from Dr. DP is that change is good and if something isn’t working for you, you can (and should) change course. It’s still a lesson I resist, similarly to how I resist the thought of running a marathon. That time, it was real estate school: Back when I was starting my last company I wanted to do something to make money until it got off the ground. So I started real estate school. What was I thinking? Not only am I NOT mathletic by any stretch of the imagination, I also dislike many of the realtors I meet. So why on earth would I want to be one? That epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks when I was in meltdown mode over how to decipher settlement statements. But, at least in that case I finished the schooling—and simply opted not to take the real estate exam—I could always go back and take it, but I won’t. As a result, I now have quite a bit of knowledge around the topic of real estate, which comes in handy when you live with a gypsy. We get bored with our surroundings every few years. No harm, no foul.
But this time, with the website, it was different…
Have you ever stood at the altar sweating bullets? Knowing that you shouldn’t be doing what you’re about to do. But for some reason, whether it’s thousands of dollars invested, invitations sent, a hundred guests staring at your expensive train, you just can’t stop yourself from going through the motions of saying, “I do”? Even when there’s a nagging ache in your gut telling you this is not going to be the fairy tale ending you’d hoped for. Yet, you keep on smiling and saying your vows trying to ignore you’re screaming insides…
That’s where we were at just over a week ago with the new Cinfully Simple website. (Forgive the tech speak) A template that had been giving us fits for months creating a sh**-ton more work than it should have, a resolve to make it work come hell or high water (“The Road to Abilene” comes to mind), ALL of our earmarked development dollars invested—not to mention time, energy, blood, sweat and tears. And the nail in the coffin? T-minus 5 days until launch: A media library that wouldn’t let us upload pictures ie: content and no fix in sight. Run with your shoes tied together much?
Have you ever taken your car to the dealership and told them the what, where, when, and how of the issue and yet they couldn’t duplicate the problem so they send you back out on the road? Then two days later you have to call the tow truck? That’s what it felt like when after several days of troubleshooting on our own (and not understanding code) that our soon to be new web hosting company told us that they’d looked at everything on their side, then completely absolved themselves from further responsibility. Forget the fact that 2 out of 3 of us were having the issue on two different computers and two different wifis and having tried 3 different browsers—This was not a fluke. But we were on our own, and SOL! Welcome to 21st century tech support where lack of accountability reigns and persistence is a dinosaur. Yes, I’m showing my age.
So, we were left with a beautiful new website framework that we can’t load content into—That’s a BIG problem when your business IS content. SO, I did what any self respecting blogger would do in a time of crisis and after a month or more of working 20-hour days—I drank a half a bottle of wine (thank you Jane and Kate) and finally took a shower. It was in said shower with the water of clarity running down my face (along with my tears) that I blurted out in my best Steve Urkel voice, “We can’t launch the new website. Not Now. Not Ever!”
Dr. DP who was in earshot came in with wide eyes and looking pasty-white like she was going to puke. I sympathize because I too felt equal amounts of relief and the need to dry heave. Now I know what you’re thinking: There had to be more we could do. Someone had to have the answer to this dilemma, etcetera and so on. I thought so too. But in reality, it wasn’t just about this latest problem with this website project—though I admit it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was that this project had plagued us from day one. Everything we did seemed to create yet another problem to solve, to the point where we had more problems than successes. It should never have been this hard. Especially when the whole point of the new website was to make it easier (on me and on you – hence our name, Cinfully SIMPLE?!). The signs were everywhere and yet we kept choosing to ignore them because we were too far in the weeds. Sound familiar? We were too financially invested, too committed to our readers and sponsors whom we’d already bragged to, and too stubborn to give up. But there are two very hard lessons I’m learning as I get older:
1) Quitting is sometimes braver than sticking it out, and
2) I’m too old for this Sh**!
So last Friday morning at 11 AM, T-Minus 3 days to launch, we called our web developer and gave her the news. We were pulling the plug. Not postponing. Done. Kaput, Finito and all that. And when your web developer tells you she thinks you’ve made the right decision, then you KNOW you’re not entirely insane!
A week later, we’re still in the throws of working through the five stages of grief and adding a sixth—trying not to vomit—when we think about all we’ve given up. On the bright side, we’re no longer working 20-hour days (well, except for yesterday) and I’m no longer dreaming about adding alt tags and scaling images and searching the internet for fixes to issues during my scant few hours of sleep at night.
Seeing the Writing on the Wall
There’s a book I used to use to train on change management called, “Who Moved My Cheese?” In this parable, two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two small humans (Hem and Haw) navigate their way through a maze trying to find cheese. In one spot of the maze they find a huge stash of cheese and the humans stop searching and settle in to gorge themselves. In time, they eat all the cheese (because cheese doesn’t grow on trees) and the have to get up and start moving through the maze searching for “new cheese,” once again. The humans resist. Not only do they hate change but they’ve also become very comfortable in their surroundings. They are convinced that new cheese will come to them so they won’t have to seek it out. Sniff and Scurry however not only see the cheese dwindling, they see “the handwriting on the wall” to know that the need for new cheese is imminent. I’m not going to spoil the ending for you (it’s a great little story), but I am going to share just a few tenets from the book because ALL of it applies to our situation and I’m guessing, it could apply to yours, too. Just replace “cheese” with whatever you’re dealing with.
- Having Cheese (A fabulous new website) makes you happy.
- The more important your Cheese (A fabulous new website) is to you, the more you want to hold on to it.
- Ask yourself “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?”
- Smell the Cheese (new website project) often so you know when it is getting old.
- When you move beyond your fear, you feel free. (This was SO true for us!)
- The quicker you let go of old cheese (the new website project), the sooner you find New Cheese (a better way to get what we want).
- Old beliefs do not lead you to New Cheese (a fabulous new website). (In our case the old beliefs were that continuing to stick it out would make it work. NOT!)
The Bottom Line and Our Handwriting on the Wall
- Cinfully Simple does not have a new website. We will live. So will you.
- My ego is not as big as I thought. I’m ok with being human and using our experience as an example to learn from.
- We still have a great site that we will make greater.
- Dealing with all the problems on the new site has given us a technical education on how to work with the old site—Learning is good!
- We will continue to offer all the things we do now on the site and then some.
- By freeing up our time and no longer struggling with the old site, we can now focus on new content again; which I’m sorry to say we’ve barely kept up with for a month or more.
- We need a vacation. Italy, here we come!
HEY?! What about that Giveaway?
We may not be having a grand re-opening giveaway now, but I promise we WILL have a GIVEAWAY! I’m a girl of my word. I’m hoping Italy will serve as inspiration for a new giveaway idea. Stay tuned!
Pardon Our Dust
Have you heard of the Lifestyle Lift? It’s a facelift that’s not really a facelift. It performs like a facelift but is way less invasive. That’s kind of what we’re about to attempt with the Cinfully Simple site. And as you can see, we’ve already begun! So to you, our readers, brand sponsors and affiliates; please be patient with us as we strive to create the site we envision. Please come back often to see what we’ve changed! Some changes will be small and some will be larger, but all will be an effort to make Cinfully Simple great.
How can you help? I’m SO glad you asked:
- Keep following us and keep coming back here (to the website) to see what’s new–you only get see about 5% of what we do on social media.
- Sign up for our mailing list so you get updates on new posts
- Share our content on your own social media pages to help us get the word out
We extend our sincere thanks to the experts who have dedicated time and effort to both sites (old and new) and who have put up with us–We know that we have high standards—You can apparently take the blogger out of the corporation but you can’t take the corporation out of the blogger. We may still need you to save us if we break something in our endeavor to enhance the current site (relatively speaking) on our own.
Yesterday, (a week after failure to launch) I learned that the technical issue we were having has now been identified as a “real” issue, worth solving by the technical God’s of the universe. I of course knew the problem was real all along–But if a blogger stands alone in the middle of a forest with no tech support around to hear her cries for help, do they still insist she’s wrong? Sadly, too little to late for us. But at least I have validation that I am not now, or ever was cray-cray. And by the way, I was right AND I can prove it because last week, I handed Dr. DP a sealed envelope with the issue written in invisible ink on a tiny paper inside, and I told her it was not to be opened until a time after the issue had been discovered by others. For my fellow bloggers: I’ve been told the most recent WordPress update caused the problem. Needless to say I have yet to update this site to the latest version.