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Ten days ago I started work to update the look of my site. I wanted to add a “wow” factor and style. I posted about Acquiring a New Magic Wand as I ventured into the world of JavaScript. Now, with hours and hours invested, I’m left wondering if I’ve added value and if this was the best use of my time.

Before anyone else decides to jump in with both feet consider:

Frustration number 1: IE. The thing about “wow” factors is they usually require JavaScript and lots of CSS and well, IE does not play by the rules. After 10 days of development I open an IE brower to find the panel that shows the large image selected on the carousel along with its description and artistic statement does not show up in IE and there are no errors reported in the console. A silent, very LARGE, failure. The worst kind. Go back through earlier additions of IE and the story just gets worse.

Julia Dziuba shows her website as it appears on the Chrome brower

Example page of Julia Dziuba’s site on the Chrome browers

Julia Dziuba's site on IE9

Example page of Julia Dziuba’s site on IE 9.

Do I debug? Do I scrap this carousel JavaScipt all together? Do I look harder for a carousel JavaScript that is compatible with IE? How much more time do I invest? What is this worth? The old site, with no frills or style, meticulously built up tables on each page for maximum compatibility across browsers. I feel longing for the outdated but dependable site.

This has got me thinking about what adds value to my portfolio pages and I will write a separate post about this soon. Stay tuned!

Frustration number 2: Site loading time. With both thumbnails, a large image and lots of JavaScript the site takes much more time to load. Now I have to invest the time to see what is taking the longest and how I can improve it. There is nothing worse than a site that takes too long to load.

Frustration number 3: Quantifying value. I invested in looks instead of content and this leaves me with a large list of aesthetic improvements along with my original long list of content to add. These hours could have been spent adding great descriptions of all my work or adding my new works to the site. Did I add enough value by improving aesthetics?

Frustration number 4: Social media buttons. I try to include “PinIt” and “Like” buttons on my portfolio pages to make it easy for visitors to share my work with their friends and family. Pinterest has made the configuration of their PinIt button very explicit. You define the image to include and the suggested description. This is good. I can control it. However the Facebook Like button does not play nice with JavaScript. When it creates the post on a person’s timeline it grabs the first  imagine it finds in the main content of the page and then tries to create its own description. In the new site it grabs the first thumbnail on the carousel and not the featured large photograph. In my old site I only showed a single picture at a time in the “gallery” view so life was easier for the Like button. The Facebook Like button is not smart enough nor configurable so I’ve removed it. Have I lost something of value?

In the scheme of things the hours invested are not THAT much. Maybe I’ve just reached the Moment of Flailing Panic and am conteplating retreat.

This is the time for me to stop and think. I guess I should have done this before I embarked but I didn’t know what I know now. Questions to answer: What improves the quality of my site? What do I need and could live without? I will be posting on these topics so look out for them.

To end on a positive: I am not questioning the value of the time I spent on this, only the value added to the site. The value of the time was invaluable. I have opened the door to JavaScript. I’ve learned, debugged and got a taste for something that can be extremely powerful but also quite difficult to manage. I highly recommend you start the journey if it interests you.

What do YOU think? Is JavaScript more trouble than it’s worth?

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