Interesting Bob image

2015-01-31

What Am I Trying To Do Here?

A couple of days ago I phoned one of my sisters (Pat, the artistic one) for a bit of advice about the look of this website, because I can get the mechanics side working OK, but I have very little idea about what looks good. Rather than suggesting various fancy colour schemes or smart ideas for the layout, she surprised me by asking a number of questions, none of which I could answer, and I still can't. There were a couple I could answer easily enough, but the first four, that I'm still struggling with, were as follows:-

1. What is your objective with the site?

2. Who are you aiming it at?

3. What are you expecting to get back from it?

4. Are you trying to start a blog on any particular subject?

Probably any sensible person setting up a web site would have thought it through carefully, and would have perfect answers to every one, but that's not the way I usually do things. Actually, to be truthful, it is the way I do some things, especially things I don't really want to do.

I found out many years ago that if you plan a job for long enough, the job eventually becomes unnecessary. For example, many improvements around the house no longer needed doing, because the kids grew up, moved out, made babies, and now have their own household improvements to worry about. By not rushing into doing jobs which obviously didn't need doing, as history has shown, I saved a huge amount of money on tools, materials and time, so I am well aware of the importance of careful planning.

When it comes to building a web site, writing a new program, or anything else connected with computers, things work slightly differently as far as I'm concerned. I retired back in 2011, and although I have many more hobbies than I can handle, the computer is my main interest. Any new project begins with me immediately starting to write code, and getting something, usually one small section of what is needed, to work, followed by figuring out what isn't working and why it isn't working, followed in turn by changing lumps of code until it is working. At that point, Phase 1 is complete, and I move on to Phase 2.

Phase 2 consists of bolting on another lump of code, getting it to work (see above), and then making sure it works in combination with the lump of code created in Phase 1. Quite often these lumps of code are 'borrowed' from other programs or websites I have built over the years, and while recycling can save time and effort, sometimes, especially if I've forgotten exactly how the code works, it can have precisely the opposite effect. Several hours and a lot of cursing later, Phase 2 is completed.

Phases 3 and above are just like Phase 2, except that things get more and more complicated, until everything does what needs to be done, and the program or web site is then complete.

Except, it never is really complete, because at some point, possibly years later, I feel the need to tinker with it, and 'improve' it. I have written about this phenomenon in an earlier Ramble, entitled 'Why Are My Websites Never Finished?', so I won't go through it all again.

I had hoped that writing this would help me find the answers to the questions posed by my sister, but it has only worked up to a point. I now have answers, but I'm not sure they will help much...

Q1. What is your objective with the site?
A1. I don't know.

Q2. Who are you aiming it at?
A2. Anyone who finds the site and takes the time to read what's there.

Q3. What are you expecting to get back from it?
A3. Financially, nothing. I just like building websites. It's easier doing it for other people, though, because they usually have at least some idea of what they want.

Q4. Are you trying to start a blog on any particular subject?
A4. No. I would just like to write stuff on any subject that people find interesting.

Actually, I just realised that those answers are in fact a vast improvement on those I originally gave, namely 'I don't know', 'I don't know', 'I don't know', and 'I don't know', so I suppose writing this has, in fact, helped me.

Thanks for the help, Pat.

OK, now that's done, I'd better write some more code for something...