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Lessons in Flexibility for Time-Pressed Future Stars of E-Commerce

April 14, 2006

Decided we would hold off on the Adsense articles for a bit. Most of the readers of our blog are companies marketing products, rather than informational sites trying to get into the black. Keep sending me your emails if you wish for me to continue and I’ll gauge interest.

I had a breakthrough today that solidified several lessons I have been learning lately. It deals with Web design specifically, but can be spread much further and applied to many other subjects.

Some of my friends are preparing to leave for Costa Rica to become medical missionaries. This is no week-long trip, either – they will be there until they are called elsewhere. Very cool – make sure you are in the right places to meet inspirational people like this. To save you time, I tried smoky bars – they’re not there ; )

Lesson 1: Surround ourselves with people much cooler and more inspirational than we are. I found this suprisingly easy to accomplish ; )

Lesson 2: Utilize Our Core Competencies

I was helping this couple with their Blog so they can stay connected with friends and supporters. Internet time is pretty slow down there, so they needed a way to maximize their time. For these reasons a blog is a perfect way to communicate. They are responsible for all the content, but I was trying to help them with the navigation menu and some minor formatting issues.

While I can design websites, I stick to the ecommerce style – meaning I am a pretty lousy designer. I finally embraced that realization. Now I try to waste as little time as possible doing web design. Joint venturing with a talented programmer or simply paying someone is much easier than sitting there for hours trying to accomplish tasks that I am simply not talented at.

Lesson 2: Time is short – do what we know and “farm out” the rest.

Lesson 3: Give Our Body and Mind Proper Rest

They are using blogger as their design. I typically use DHTML and Javascript for drop-down menus and was having a heck of a time getting it to work. The stylesheet had a bunch of interlocking divs and I also had some cross-browser compatibility issues. It was like playing pick-up sticks, except that I like pick-up sticks – this was NO FUN.

I beat my head against the wall on this one periodically over several days. I tried bringing in help, but all those I knew who could help had crises of much larger proportions. I had been praying about it, but had reached the end of my rope with it last night. I still thought about it as I tried to go to sleep, hence my time spent sleeping was short and unproductive.

Lesson 3: Sleep on it! Don’t work on problems right up until bed. Our spouses will like us much better, too.

Lesson 4: Have “Stick-to-it-ive-ness…”

Right before I went to bed I sent an email to my friends all but admitting defeat. That did nothing to boost my confidence. If anything it just made me feel like a dufus the next morning when I realized I could go sideways on the issue.

Lesson 4: We can surrender the battle if needed, just not the war.

Lesson 5: Maintain Flexibility

I woke up today with renewed confidence. I usually eschew the flash menus, as they are more difficult with Internet Marketing. Google can read links and text in Flash, but I am not so sure about Yahoo and MSN. If anyone wants to post on that, please do! Since the site is a blog, there are links from elsewhere on the site. We could have text links in the footer, anyway.

Lesson 5: Be flexible! People get rigid within industries, saying “This is bad” or “Never do that”. Technical decisions are rarely black and white. Usually it’s just not important enough to warrant serious concern.
Hope this helps. I’m sure you all knew this, but sometimes we need a reminder. Dexy’s Midnight Runners wrote “C’mon Eileen”, but I needed Guster to remind me of that.

Have a blessed (and profitable) day.

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