The creation, demise and reincarnation of a website ....
The original ’tickspics' website was over four years in the making before finally going live in 2017, and was then only operational for just over a year before it was effectively killed off by an unwanted system update. It was an upsetting experience, but like the proverbial ‘phoenix rising from the ashes’ the website has survived; reincarnated in a new form and on a new platform. Admittedly, this post is more of a personal reminder of the sequence of events, but I thought that writing a bit about the website history would be a good way of starting this new section.
Clikpic (2013 - 2018) - 'tickspics' v1
Whilst the origins of wanting my own website date back many years, it wasn’t until early 2013 that I actually started doing anything about creating one. I knew absolutely nothing about website design, but I’d seen the Clikpic system advertised and thought I’d give it a go. It was a template-based system that was specifically aimed at photographers and artists. Something simple. Somewhere I could post a few photos and write about the places my wife and I were visiting. It would also provide me with a good retirement project, so I signed up and started what turned out to be a very long process.
In fairness it would have been a lot easier if I’d settled for one of the standard templates, but they were rather basic and the more time I spent developing the site the more I learnt about the system and the elements that could be changed.
My original intention of having something simple soon became a distant memory.
I was still working back then so, not surprisingly, my spare time was limited and progress was slow. And, to make matters worse, I kept adding pages rather than settling with what I had, so by the time I retired in October 2014 it had become more of a ‘labour of love’ rather than a website project. We were now travelling quite a bit and after every trip I was writing about where we’d been and linking the write-up to a photo album. I’d just have time to complete one trip and we were off again. I was happy doing that, but it wasn’t getting some of the other parts of the site tidied up so it could go live. It continued that way through 2015 and most of 2016 before I accepted that it would always be work in progress. I listed out some things that needed attention and was determined that even if I didn’t have time to get them all done it would go live before the end of the year. It didn’t. In fact it was another five months later, on Thursday 22nd June 2017 to be precise.
There was no significance with the date and no reasoning other than the fact that enough was enough. I was going through some updates that I’d made the previous evening, and thought blow it, just click the switch and make it an operationally live site. So that’s what I did.
At that time there were close on 200 pages. There were over 20 travel section write-ups linked to 27 location-based photo albums, and over 50 additional albums for species under various grouped sets. I then had travel journals, a large section on taxonomy and a weblog. The Clikpic admin system confirmed that there were just over 4,000 images on the site. A little over a year later and the image count was close to 5,000, which is the normal limit with the Clikpic pro account. It can be extended at extra cost, but I think that it’s sensible having a limit to stop the website becoming overloaded. Too many photos can also affect the time it takes pages to load.
The site was now five years old even though it had only been live for not much more than a year. If I’m honest, it looked five years old and, although I was pleased with what I’d achieved, I felt that its future in the current form was limited and that I should have a proper development plan before simply signing up to an increased image quota.
Whilst my heart kept reminding me that I’d invested hundreds and hundreds of hours in its creation, my head told me that I’d let it get out of hand. It’s hard to criticise your own work if you don’t look at it objectively, so I decided to review the site as though I was visiting it for the first time, but also giving consideration to the problems and what could done to cut back the design.
Clearly it had grown too big and was becoming unmanageable. It was difficult to navigate despite having a detailed SiteMap index and, as a result, was not particularly user-friendly. Given that situation, how was I going to keep it updated without adding to the problem? And, I couldn’t escape the fact that it was looking dated, which wasn't surprising given that Clikpic was one of the first self-build template-based systems available.
I didn’t know what to do. Starting again seemed like the best option, but could I face going through the process all over again?
But coincidently, and virtually out of the blue, the decision was effectively taken out of my hands as I had a notification from Clikpic confirming that the system had to be updated to make it so-called 'mobile friendly' in order to comply with Google's latest SEO requirements. Although I have no personal interest whether the few people who look at my site can see it properly on a mobile (a subject I shall come back to in my next entry) I understood why Clikpic were having to make the necessary background changes. I also knew that some of those changes could affect the layout of certain pages and that a little bit of tidying up would probably be required.
Unfortunately the advance warning I’d been given was a total understatement. When I previewed the site after the changes were implemented it was an unadulterated mess. The problem was that I’d deviated so much from the standard template layouts and had used my own coding to achieve the format I wanted, that the site failed to adapt to the new system. The layout and functionality was totally destroyed. Clikpic offered to sort out the mess, but after six weeks they effectively admitted defeat.
The old site is still viewable at the time of writing, but it cannot be updated in any way as even adding a note about the situation would require it to be republished. That action would automatically activate the changes, which would destroy the format and layout. So, at present, it remains frozen in time - as it was in September 2018 - and will remain that way all the while I continue to pay the annual hosting cost; after which it will be lost for ever.
'tickspics' wasn't going to be killed off that easily,
so like the 'phoenix rising from the ashes' ....
it's come back to life on a new platform that will hopefully make it stronger
WiX (2019 - ) - 'tickspics' v2
We’d just come back from the Great Bear Rainforest and I really wanted to update the site with yet another album and accompanying write-up. It was frustrating, annoying and very upsetting to know that it couldn’t be done. I very nearly walked away from the whole idea of having a website. Too much time and energy had been lost. But, I’m not a defeatist, so taking a business approach of turning a negative situation into a positive one I decided that I would construct a new site. I wasn’t sure about the format and certainly didn’t know what system I’d be using other than it wouldn’t be Clikpic.
After a bit of Google searching, I formed a list of five possible candidates - WiX, Squarespace, Weebly, GoDaddy and Wordpress. There were other options, but I didn’t want too many choices. I investigate each one and felt that WiX, or possibly Squarespace, would best suit my requirements. I decided to go with WiX and, so far, I haven’t been disappointed.
The concept of the new website is much the same as the original, but with a more modern and simplified interface. The most notable change is that instead of including hundreds of photos in location-based albums or within countless species-grouped sets, I’ve opted for a far simpler approach where I’m featuring significantly less photos. This cut-back format works as I’m now starting to use my Flickr photostream and associated albums as my primary on-line repository for my images, which should help keep ’tickspics’ clean, uncluttered and current.
The original ‘tickspics.com’ domain has been successfully transferred to the new site and some of the original content has been saved and copied across. Starting afresh hasn’t been a bad thing, as I know that this version will be stronger and more future-proof as it's being powered by a much larger and more forward-thinking company, but it doesn’t escape the fact that five years' work was lost!
A few facts about WiX .....
WiX.com is a cloud-based development platform managed by an Israeli company, which was founded in 2006. By 2009 the system had one million users. The WiX customisable drag-and-drop template based HTML5 editor was launched in 2012. Two years later, in 2014, it boasted 50 million users. Today, in 2019, it has an incredible 150 million users worldwide in 190 countries. The company has offices in Israel, USA, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Ukraine and Lithuania.