This sucks, as the title suggests. I was out with Kim today visiting her awesome brother Greg at Ohio Northern University and in the midst of our good time I couldn’t find my cell phone. Which I remembered was in the car. So we finished our Taco Bell and went back to his dorm and played some XBOX 360 which was some good times. So we went back to the car and I had a voicemail on my phone. It was one of my clients, Crystal City. They were pretty pissed at me. Ugh. Not again.
So to make a long story short, I really wanted to do their site and I did. But then we ran into a bunch of errors time after time and we did our best to fix them. Most were out of my own control and we had several people across the country who had to work on this to get these errors fixed. And to my client’s dissapointment, they didn’t have a fully funcitoning site up in time and claimed to have lost “TONS” of money.
So basically, since I really wanted to work with them, I gave them a really good discounted rate (like probably 25% of what we would have charged anyone else). This was before I started working at Go Media and was still doing websites myself. So it was a decent price at the time. And the site was gonna be simple enough. Just a kick ass design, some basic informational pages and a Store. The Store wasn’t supposed to be as difficult and FUCKING annoying as it has turned out. It should have been a quick design and skinning of a “great” storefront package and we’d be done. Heh, yeah right! I’ve never had so many problems on a site before.
I convinced Amy (from Crystal City) to purchase this e-commerce software called Storefront. It cost her $1200 (more than what I was charging her to build the entire site). And I also convinced her to host on LK Media, the host that I use. So everything was going great until we started installing the Storefront software. See, Storefront requires a Windows server, not Linux (which I’ve been used to). And my good friend George at LK was going to help me if I ran into snags because he actually reccomended Storefront to me. So I was pretty sure this would be a piece of cake.
Our first problem was that we couldn’t install it. Because we need to change permissions on certain folders. Which on a Linux server is easy, you just CHMOD it. And on a Windows server, you need Top-Level access which we designers did not have. We had to interrupt George’s busy day every time we had to change a folder’s permissions. So after lots of trouble, we finally got it installed.
But then they couldn’t accept Paypal payments. There were a bunch of hoops we had to jump through just to enable it and none of that was in my own control. Every time we had errors with Storefront, I had to sit for long periods of time in a LiveChat with a Storefront tech guy and they told me it was a hosting issue. So then I forwarded the info to George, which he kindly took care of each time. And never charged us and was a totally cool guy every time. I felt bad for having to bother him every time something went wrong.
In the meantime, our friends at Crystal City were starting to become irate and upset with us. But we were getting things moving as quick as we could. And we thought it was all working. But nope! Credit Cards weren’t working either! Ugh! So again, more chats with StoreFront and more forwarding errors to George. Which informed me that Amy would have to purchase a certificate with Verisign or something like that for some extra money. Yeah, just when your client is upset with you – you gotta tell them they have to pay more money. That’s exactly what they want to hear from you! Frown face right there.
So anyway, Credit Cards and Paypal finally worked. So now the site is rockin! But it’s currently being hosted on crystalcityclothing.net instead of .com – we did that for testing purposes, but now was the time we had to change it over. So I did that and it worked perfectly. Hah, yeah right. The site worked, but Storefront was still linking everything to .net. Yay! So our friends at Crystal City were more aggrivated than ever, because this prevented their customers from buying anything or accessing the store even. So they had a right to be pissed. But it really sucks when you try to do your best and things get fucked up because of technical errors and web related shit that’s out of my own control. I wish I could do everything because I don’t like it when people are upset with me.
So anyway, the following day at Go Media, Chris got it all working. I don’t know how he did it, but he did. So I was able to breath a sigh of relief. And I am sure Amy could too. I marked off the project as “complete” on our project manager. That was about 3 or 4 days ago.
And today, we ran into that other problem. Which I have no fucking clue what it is. I was upset because I was out enjoying some time with my relatives and got a very angry message directed at everyone involved in the creation of the site. Describing it as a “horrible disaster” and “very dissapointed.” Ouch! Those are such harsh words for me to hear when I am so used to making my clients really happy. I hate to have a client that I actually like become so disappointed in my service. I mean, I could give her excuses and blame it on StoreFront or anyone else. But seriously, what is that gonna do? I reccommended StoreFront to her! When I’d never even used it myself. That was a mistake. George though, insists it’s a great piece of software once you know how it works with your databases and shit. But this time around, I failed to see that and it really bit me in the ass.
If Amy somehow manages to read this, I sincerely apologize. It all comes back on me and I take the blame for it. I’ve never had a client be so dissatisfied with me. And I know it’s an exaggeration when she says she’s losing “TONS” of money, but still. Losing any money is bad. And I know it’s just harsh words to show how angry she is at us and how urgent she needs this site working. Which believe me, is my top priority over anything. We’ve spent “tons” of extra hours troubleshooting and trying to get this site up. Which makes us lose money. We have clients willing to pay us 12 grand for a website waiting for our services but we are all super busy with 15 other simultaenous projects we have to do. It’s all part of our job and you gotta take the good with the bad.
So any designers out there reading this, there will be times when you try your best but you fuck up somehow and your client ends up really dissatisfied with your service. And then you just hope they don’t go spread the word around that you suck. I mean, I feel we’ve been really supportive and friendly with Crystal City. She probably could agree with that. However, they probably think we are retarded when it comes to making websites. Which sucks, because we aren’t. We’ve just never installed such a robust piece of e-commerce software on a Windows Server before. And working with other companies across the country also makes it hard. George from LK is such a great dude, and I am still good friends with him. But if we could have avoided all these problems, I would have done it somehow.
The good thing is, I should learn from this. And on my next big project like this we’ll charge what we are worth and make sure we aren’t working with something we can’t control. That sucks!
So to Crystal City, you guys are great people and have a great clothing line. I hope we can make this up to you somehow. And to George at LK, you still rock man. Thanks for being great to us and we’ll continue to be friends and work together! And to Chris at Go Media, thanks for all your help and your patience. See you on Monday and have fun in New York this weekend!