New Site Preview

Despite wanting to, I am not going to steal Watergirl’s thunder and post the screen shots I have seen, but I am just super excited about how it looks so far. What I like the most is it stays true the site over the past two decades- it isn’t one of those new shit layouts that everyone seems to have done that ruins their site. The best way I can say it is that looking at the pictures, it feels like the same house, but you had the designer upgrade the kitchen and dining room and fix where the floor was starting to lean a little bit and then had the cleaners and decorators over. But it’s still the same house and not some new joint and you aren’t going from a cozy craftsman or farmhouse and moving into a modern condo.

Site Maintenance Stuff

Behinds the scenes, the redesign is in full progress. We have seen a number of different mockups (I AM VERY EXCITED!!), I am authoring a new privacy and commenting policy, and there is just a ton of changes and fixes in the works. One of the things we have done is completely get rid of tags (sorry Adam), and we are currently streamlining the 500 or so categories, 450 appear to have been used under 50 times. I just wanted to let you all know that we are still working on this, and at some point in the future we will have a call for volunteers to try to break the new site as testers.

That is all. I’m sure I have forgotten 40 things I was supposed to say and Watergirl is going to send me a dozen emails but you know what it is beautiful outside and I will just lie to her and tell her I left my phone inside and did not see them.

Very Important Announcement

Lily would like to inform you that after a six month odyssey, a web developer has been chosen, a contract has been designed, and construction begins ASAP. I have no idea when they will be done and you all will see the final product, but I am hoping by 1 May we will have something. But who knows.

Special thanks to the three amigos who ran the search and guided me through it.

Site Rebuild Update

The brain trust who is guiding me through finding a web designer/developer (and I can not thank them enough for dealing with my surly self and doing all this) has provided me with an update that I asked them to write to share with you all:

Hi John,

A quick status update on the website for you and for everyone at Balloon Juice:

We all know that Balloon Juice isn’t the typical website that might have a blog as a small part of the website. The BJ blog is the website, along with some niceties like the lexicon, access to the BJ store, etc. You know, all the stuff that makes it feel like home. As we look for the right fit with potential developers, we are ruling out the ones who have the kind of cookie cutter approach to web development that might work quite well for individuals or companies selling widgets or services, but isn’t at all what we need for Balloon Juice.

We have made it clear that we’re not looking for a redesign or a new look for the current blog; we are looking for a rebuild of the site from the ground up with the same functionality we have, or used to have. With the balloon man banner, of course! Once the site has been rebuilt, all comments from the beginning of time will be imported into the rebuilt site. There will be a big focus on testing before rollout. And site security.

The goal is a reliable site with a reliable commenting system that works consistently and well—on both mobile devices and desktops—and is also speedy, responsive, and aesthetically pleasing, with the features that are important for the commenters. It’s our understanding from John that there will be ads, but not the show-stopping, “the site is so slow that it makes you want to blow your brains out” variety.

At least for this round, the site will focus on speed, functionality and stability, not bells and whistles. Those can be added later, as needed. We will return to nym and email address permanence, and we hope to include the ability to preview comments before posting.

Earlier this week, we had a very productive conversation with a potential developer who clearly understands what Balloon Juice is, supports the goals of the rebuild, and seems to check all the boxes in terms of expertise. We are quite excited about possibilities there!

We are awaiting an estimate from him, and we have calls scheduled with two more developers this week. By the end of next week, we hope to have rough estimates from anyone else who appears to be a good fit on all fronts.

The rebuild won’t be cheap—nearly every developer we spoke with thought the project would take about 80-100 hours. It should be worth it, though.

We wonder if there might be interest in a special thread—maybe a live Q & A related to the new website? (Not intended as a “tell us what features you want for the site” thread, as the plan for the initial rebuild is pretty well set at this point.) Sunday afternoon seems to work well for the author chats, so if there is interest, we could do that from 1:00–3:00 Eastern on Sunday, Jan 27.

WateGirl, Steeplejack and Bella Q

This is not as easy as you think because people are super experienced at building websites for small businesses, but not blogs for a bunch of blowhards like us.

The Site is Borked and Yes I Know It

Over the past 24 hours, the website has been under attack from a number of DDOS attacks from, of all places, India. I have submitted multiple tickets to keep us up and running and the ladies at Hosting Matters have been working round the clock to keep us up and running.

Related, it appears that the wheels are finally starting to really come off the bus regarding the website, and I have been in contact with the trio of commenters who are helping me pick the web designer/developer so we can begin to create the new site. The fundraiser gave us a good sum to pick a quality contractor, so we should be able to move forward with that hopefully in the next week or so.

For those of you who wanted to wait until the New Year to kick in, as always, the paypal link is to the right.

In personal news, it is cloudy as hell here in Miami and I am cranky.