Toby Joe and I have been pretty busy lately. It’s a good kind of busy, but it’s a busy nonetheless. Between the paying jobs we have had to complete, Toby’s full-time job and my half-assed bartending/waitressing attempt, we’re diligently working to complete Self-Portrait Day, which will be pushed live this Thursday, February 24th at 9 a.m. Today, I feel compelled to give some updates on SPD’s (which sounds a little like a venereal disease) development. (For those of you who missed the first day, it can be seen by clicking here.)
Toby Joe has been working on the backend/database design since last Wednesday when we realized how many people were interested in this little monster. Within the first two hours of its semi-launch, I had received nearly a hundred requests to be featured on launch day this Thursday. Even after that day filled up entirely, the emails and requests kept rolling in. At first, I was manually sending email in response. Later, I began an auto-reply letting people know what day they would be featured and what it was we were trying to accomplish with the site. Basically, we pulled out the roll of Internet duct-tape and went to town on our idea in order to hold it together long enough to figure out what it was we needed to do.
As spots began to fill up, Heather Champ, creator of The Mirror Project, emailed me with suggestions and to personally congratulate us. I thanked her as much as one can through an email (I’m not even close to finished yet, however. Heather hasn’t heard the last of my praises.) While she was giving me suggestions, Brandon put a link up over on photoblogs. Countless others added a link to their Web site as well. And still others linked to our SPD banner which has been so helpful. (I am still trying to personally thank each and every one one of you. If I can find you and if the time holds up.) Before we knew what was happening, the email I had been receiving doubled. It was then we realized we had a bit of a situation.
It became pretty clear to me right away that if we were to take subscriptions (for lack of a better word) via email, before you knew it, we’d be booked up solid through the rest of year. After all, 21 people isn’t a lot of people per week, and given the response we were receiving, filling up for at least half a year wasn’t necessarily that hard to imagine. Both Toby and I went back to thinking. I emailed Amanda B. over at VeryZen asking for her opinion. After all, she was the catalyst for SPD’s creation. Our biggest question was about submissions. Should we close the submission process until we’re live? Should we begin to handpick people based on their images? Should we open a window each week enabling a first-come, first-serve situation? Or should we up the number of people? (Which I have been vehemently against because I feel that not only will it make the homepage way too large, but who really wants to sift through more than about 25 faces at one time? Though, I am still open to suggestions. How many is too many? Someone on a dial-up might have different ideas than someone on a T1 or DSL.) Our other option, should the interest continue like this, is to update the site twice a week instead of once a week. That way, we enable more folks to be seen but still keeping faces there for at least three days at a time. (This is the option I am leaning more towards. Especially since EVERYONE’S portrait remains on the site until I drop dead, or the site does. Our archive section has been tediously designed and structured to make it readily available and easily navigated. Hopefully, it too will push live on Thursday.)
But before everything became too unruly and therefore out of our reach, we were forced to shut down email submissions as long as Toby Joe continued building the back-end. The system (which I have seen working as of last night.) enables people to answer all five questions and captures the data they themselves input. It ALSO lets them make edits to their answers should they wish to.
PHP and my husband are two of the most amazing things on earth. It’s no wonder how he wrote a book on it. (That’s my personal addition to this rather tedious post.)
While he was building out the brains, I was trying hard to design something that would work well using CSS and XHTML. This has been quite the learning experience for me. Let me tell you.
We’re still very open to taking suggestions. We have received numerous thoughtful ideas already and are trying to include them in our build as we continue on after it launches. For now, we’re trying to get the basics completed: Build the back-end so it actually works, design the site so it doesn’t annoy people, write copy without having errors and grammar mistakes all over the page, and thank those who have helped us through this whirlwind of a week. I will tell you one thing. This is the absolute last time I try and design a Web site, get sick and start a bartending job all in the same week.
I would like to take a moment to publicly thank Toby Joe. While he might know how much I adore him through the praise I sing him daily about how thankful I am for having him take this on so quickly (and for FREE, mind you) I need to say it on here as well. Thank you, Toby Joe, for doing this. You are a wizard. Or, as Amanda B. might say, “You are Spiderman.” I hope that it becomes something we’re proud of. I hope that it enables folks to discover new faces and help them to have their voices heard and images seen.
We are both really excited about this adventure and I hope others are as well. Please, if anyone has anymore suggestions, feel free to drop me a line at michele at this domain dot com or (if it’s tech-related) give Toby Joe a shout at SPD at Toby Joe dot com. Or, feel free to leave a comment here as well. Thank you.