December 5, 2006

To Suceed You Must First Fail

A wise man once said, 'To succeed once, you must fail ten times.' Which brings me to the topic of the day, daring to fail in order to succeed. Success, such a solid yet evasive word. So relative to the state of expectations, nebulous, difficult to quantify, yet so sought.

I have found hesitancy to be my own worst enemy in much of this venture. I tend to analyze the heck out of something before taking the leap. This tends to ensure that I get very little done, and certainly don't fail as often as I otherwise would. Well, even that proclivity has its downfall. As those of you who have been reading along may know, I discovered fatal flaws and logistical nightmares with Fern's General Store - errors which I should have picked up on immediately but didn't as I was standing far too close to the tree to see the forest. Or the other way around.

To make matters worse, or better as the case may be, this is not the first failed design the store has labored under.

Failure 1 - The first attempt was ugly, top-heavy, poorly set for navigation, and was missing several critical components including search. That got tossed in favor of a store directory approach which was, in the eyes of some critics, worse by far. So I scrambled to make things less focused on the store directory and more on the store itself.

Failure 2 - A benevolent visitor clued me in, said it did not motivate her to shop, and pointed me to a site that did, the clue sunk in. I scrambled to restructure the place, ditching everything in the process and moving to a .php setup which could be more easily updated. The result was declared 'better' by quite a few folks. I rested on that laurel happily.. right up until I decided to do some shopping myself.

Failure 3 - I tried to use the site. The laurels toppled away into the abyss. It was unusable. Irredeemably difficult to navigate since there is nothing to navigate to. I scrambled to restructure the place, then stopped dead in my tracks when I looked at the data made available from the affiliate partners. Almost without exception, their product item scripts contain no prices. NO PRICES. Who shops at places and pushes Buy Now buttons without knowing what they're going to have to spend!?

Nobody sane, or very few, that's who.

So, at this time, wishing I could climb into a WayBack Machine and rewind three months worth of fruitless labor, I am once again in analysis paralysis mode, trying to figure out a way to do this right, or at least do it well, or at least not face Failure #4 of the ten I have to achieve before making it work.