Your Spelling Mistakes Keep Me Up At Night

The work I do depends on spelling words correctly. The work I do depends on naming things consistently.

I can name an element “fragglerock” not very semantic but we have to remain entertained. We have to keep our spirits up.

If I write code that needs to be able to find “fragglerock” but I’ve gone and created object “fraggelrock” – the code looking for fragglerock will die.

If I write out an element name in the HTML outline and then try to style it in the stylesheet but I misspelled the name in one of the locations nothing will happen. Nothing happening is a harmless result. Nothing happening is a lot better than things breaking or not working. I’ll take nothing happening over breaking any day. Plus since I’m the one in control of both the HTML outline and the stylesheet I can find my spelling mistake and correct it. And then things will happen. Good things.

If I spell something one way and base code around that particular spelling and then you spell it another way, the code won’t get to do its job. Poor little code.

Any coder knows this stuff, by the way. I think we might come off as crotchety, old schoolmarms to “normal” people because we harp on endlessly about consistency. It’s because we need and require and apply consistent spelling or naming of things in order to do our work and to have our work, work.

If we hand off a site to someone and ( God forbid) some of its features require consistent spelling when the site is updated, we will probably get an email in a few weeks (or days) saying the site is not working.

Consistency when naming things and correct spelling when typing those names of the things, will result in those things always being named and spelled the same way. That is not only a statement of the obvious it’s also a redundant statement.

If I require a normal person to be consistent about naming things to the point of acquiring an OCD I can expect the work to fail. Recent case: the chosen eCommerce solution didn’t provide large enough product images. I decided to use the name of the product to create a url that linked to a gallery of larger images which I devised via the implementation of another thing you might have heard of: WordPress. In their local application they can type the product name any way they want but they have to type it the same way in the WordPress side. This worries me in particular… The code “reads” the product name in the template for the eCommerce solution and the code I wrote creates URLs out of these names but the viability of the URLs depends on the galleries being named (and spelled) the same as the product name. If this system fails new image galleries won’t load in the eCommerce template.

Fragglerock or Fraggelrock, but never both.

What’s Up With That?

I don’t usually use my website to complain about something that is not 100% work related – it is impolitic to complain about my work since that basically means complaining about clients and I’m not sure clients exactly love that. But I do like to shop online and here is an odd and really unhelpful event that occurred after attempting to shop on the Lucky Brand website.

I’d been ogling this blouse because I love the print and the big sleeves. I don’t know why but I am a total sucker for big, flappy, drapey sleeves. I don’t hate my arms any more than the average female person over 35 who isn’t built like a lady Schwarzenegger or Stick Bug, I just like this kind of sleeve.

But I didn’t buy. Why? Because of the product images. The model is quite Stick Bug-esque and the shirt is styled tucked in. The horror! No additional images are provided with the shirt not tucked in. To confuse me even more the product description blatantly declares this shirt could be worn “as an unexpected cover-up over swimwear”. Describing an item of clothing as unexpected is not helpful! Why is it unexpected? Is it because this is a shirt you’d not normally wear as a cover up because it is short? Or because it is fancier than your usual coverup? This kind of playfulness in product descriptions is fine as long as it is playfully helpful not playfully confusing!

I spent a decent amount of time on this site and I read the product descriptions and details. As I browsed, I noticed that a lot of shirts had very similar product descriptions. As if someone had copied description text from one product and pasted it into others. I don’t have a problem typing. I can type and I am pretty wordy even when it isn’t my job to be typing wordily, like on my website writing unrelated-to-work posts.So if it is your job to write product descriptions for a major online shopping website why are you being so lazy? And who is your boss? Don’t they care that you are writing the same product descriptions for multiple items?

Still, this blouse intrigued me so I wrote to Lucky Brand to ask them how long it was and if it really could be worn as a beach coverup. Online, the product description clearly states the blouse is 100% Rayon and “can be worn as an unexpected coverup over swimwear”. I included the link to the shirt on the website and the product id number just so there could be no mistake about which item I was inquiring.

Here is the reply I received from customer service:

Thank you for contacting the Lucky Brand Corporate Customer Service. Unfortunately, this item would not be appropriate for a beach cover up top.
This blouse is made from silk chiffon and should be worn with pants for a dressier occasion. The blouse also is not very long and can only be tucked in or left out.

They didn’t even bother to check the product I was asking about!!!

Here’s a funny story

A while ago I was hired to do an eCommerce site for the owner of a stationary shop in Carrol Gardens,Brooklyn. We met up, she showed me some mockups she gotten from some design students at FIT and then I went to work. Unfortunately, at the exact same time we began the online shop project the owner was also opening the brick & mortar and it was also right before the holiday shopping season and, oh well she didn’t have any time at all to give me input or feedback on they way my design was shaping up. So I ended up working entirely on my own. And also (this is a big one) she never sent me any photos or gave me any page content.
Yeah, that happened.

Anyway she did not like the site I showed her (too boxy she said) oh, well it was based on the boxy mockup, after all. I whipped up another template design out of the goodness of my dumb heart. Yeah, I care if they like my work. She didn’t like it. I ended up selling that template design for $750.00, thank you very much.

I went on working, making 4 more differently designed templates and (in the end the client received at least 7 unique design deliveries) she didn’t like any of them. Later I was told that industry standard is to deliver 2 designs, tops. Well!

Eventually my other projects with people who were actually invested,motivated and serious took precedence over this project which had devolved to the point where I practically begged her to hire this other design company and let me off the hook. She said nope, she’d paid me and I was indentured to her for life ( just kidding). Quite a lot of time went by – communication came to a standstill. She had a baby. That should tell you just how long this thing was taking!

At the beginning of the next year I wrote to her and asked her to either let me go or approve one last final design. This time she sent me links to other sites she liked (all very boxy) and I delivered using those sites as inspiration. We always had that sticking point though of her not giving me any professionally shot photos to use on the home page. What is up with people who won’t pay for a professional photographer??? The ones I got were grainy, blurry,totally low res.I didn’t want to use them. I know the quality of the photos can make or break a site.No matter how great the design is the site is going to look awful if these horrible photos are front and center. So, everything was done just the home page needed some serious photos.

More communication standstill. Finally she wrote me to tell me she was going with some other folks. I let out a whoop – I was free!

I recently went to take a peek at what these geniuses, these paragons of web design had come up with and lets just say I was not impressed. They’d actually used that woodgrain background image tile that everyone was using in 200 9 – a big design trend back then. But now it looks dated. Plus what does a stationary shop have to do with woodgrain? Because there are wood floors in the brick & mortar? Do me a favor!

So here’s the funny bit. About a week ago, my awesome colleague and often my project manager called me to let me know that the owner of this site had contacted the owner of another site I’d built and wanted to know who their designer was! We had a good chuckle over that.

Holy Crap

Sleep deprived much?
6 days ago I updated to WordPress 3.1.3. Before I upgraded I de-activated all my plugins. The upgrade completed successfully & I forgot to re-activate all my plugins. This means my contact form as well as all my downloads were unavailable for 6 days.

I might have been tipped off a few days ago when someone emailed me saying they Whois’d my domain name to get my email address. I thought it was odd that they didn’t just use my contact form and now I know why they didn’t: because they couldn’t!