Over My Head

I was in way over my head.

I stared at the computer screen, dumbfounded.  It had taken me hours of painstaking sorting through the raw HTML code on Rick Springfield’s website to determine how to make updates on the beautiful, graphic based page.  Every website I’d ever worked with (which amounted to exactly one other) was a simple combination of images, written words and links to other websites or pages within the website.  I knew how to set up a background image for it all to lay upon, but that was about it.

I had purchased a new web design program, Adobe PageMill, to help me with the heavy lifting.  It was like a word processor, but for web pages, allowing you to click on icons to add different items to the page, rather than having to learn the raw HTML language that really built web pages.  It was similar, but had more capabilities, than the free Netscape Navigator program I’d been using for the last three years.  One advantage it had was a much easier way to view the raw code on a web page, which was sometimes just necessary to make changes that weren’t built into the program.

Which had been the case with Rick’s website.  The image that the site was created upon had certain segments of it that were clickable links.  This wasn’t obvious to the user at first (and one of the chief complaints I’d heard from fans), and so you had to move your arrow around the image until you found areas that would allow you to click.  This made for a very, simple, beautiful web page, but it also led to one that wasn’t exactly user friendly.  Many fans reported leaving the page thinking that there was no content there yet.  Ones that did figure out how to navigate the site still lamented that the clickable areas were not labeled, so each click was a mystery until you opened it.  I hadn’t wanted to rock the boat too much though; so I went about just updating the current design before broaching the idea of a redesign with Rick.

I had quickly figured out how to add tour dates to the set up on the tour page, and no updates were needed to the bio.  But the fans were craving more interactivity from the site, so I wanted to add a News section and a Message Board to the page.

I had the News page all designed, ready to be linked to the front of the site; this would allow fans a quick way to find out all of the latest information about Rick in one place; he was doing a lot of TV appearances this spring and summer; VH1 was taping a “Behind the Music” special on him, and they were coming to a show in August for footage.  Rick was doing guest spots on a sitcom called “Suddenly Susan” and an adventure show called “Martial Law”.  There were CD signings and new concerts and all sorts of things going on; the fans were clamoring for more information, all of the time.  New fans were coming to the site after visiting the shows, all of the time.  We needed more content.

In addition, I wanted to add a message board to the site.  The fan club had grown so much in the last three years that our AOL chats were hardly manageable with the room cap of 25.  There was already one internet mailing list devoted to Rick, and Vivian had talked about starting another one for the fan club.  It was clear the fans wanted to chat and talk about all of the shows and things Rick was up to.  They wanted to do it directly, not wait for me to post a review on the website.  A message board would address this need and allow fans to freely share.  I’d found a service that would host the board for us (since I had no clue how to set one up myself).  I had it all ready to go; I just needed to figure out how to link it to this graphic on the main page.

I had looked through every button and hadn’t figured out how to make just part of this huge image clickable.  There were no words on the image to highlight to use the normal internet hyperlink tool.  I had sifted through all of the code manually and I could see the HTML for the linkage, but couldn’t copy it because there were commands that referred to the location, in numerical format, of the area.  Each area linked corresponded to a specific part of the image, and having my new ones randomly placed wouldn’t make sense.  I was just about to pull my hair out when I accidentally clicked on the shape tool and it created a square in the middle of the graphic on my screen.  Below that, a window opened up asking for a website address.

Tentatively, I added the link to the news page I’d created and hit the preview mode to see if I’d actually created the link.  I crossed my fingers and watched as my arrow turned into the little hand that indicated an area was clickable on an image.  I jumped up from my chair and screamed “YES!”, causing Zach to come out from his room and look at me with a mixture of curiosity and embarrassment on his face.

I sat down quickly and excitedly drew another clickable area for the message board and uploaded my handiwork.   Maybe I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I would keep at it until I figured it all out.  No one would ever have to know how clueless I was when I started this whole endeavor.

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