Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Day Arrives, Sort Of. Software Soft Launch, Spotlights in the Sky

For the last several months, I've been focused on moving my new software to market.

This has involved countless hours of programming, to get it right.  Then I recruited a group of testers, to make sure.  This involved setting up a feedback forum, distributing build after build as we all worked to find sticky interface and functional points, responding promptly to each concern, and learning all the spots where my brilliant ideas were exposed as not quite as brilliant as I had thought.

After I got through rebuilding the whole structure (those testers were thorough!) during testing, it was time for the next part.

Build the website. So I had to download and learn a new tool, Rapidweaver. I haven't built a website for over 10 years, and technology has marched on. Heck, I started coding HTML by hand back in 1994. 

Rapidweaver is a marvelous tool, but it's structured with lots of bits and pieces of add-on programming that each cost a few dollars. It adds up.  I spent...well, I can't even count the hours I spent researching online, downloading, testing, learning the software and tweaking on the website.  It was a very intense two weeks.

Then I had to add the e-commerce component. More downloads, more learning, more tweaking. I'm using a plugin called Cartloom that connects my website to Paypal, and then downloads the file to a purchaser.  Wow, what a tangle to implement. It works, now, but nowhere near as elegantly as I'd like.  

I set up a forum for users to communicate with me, and with each other. I connected the website to this blog, and the blog to the website.  I set up accounts hither and yon...I swear I can invent new passwords in my sleep. My password database got about 12 new entries. Yes, I am a geek. I have a password database. Doesn't everyone?

Oh, I almost forgot. I had to research, download, and learn to use installer programs on both Mac & Windows. How can you sell software without installers? More money, more time, more accounts & passwords. Whew.

The website and the webstore are both works in progress. They'll be evolving as I continue to find new and better tools and designs.

The software is now finalized in Version 1.0. That means no new features until I roll out the first upgrade.  But I'll be alert to user-feedback in case there are errors that must be fixed in order to have the kind of solid, robust program I want my company to sell. 

We've placed an ad in BeadStyle and Bead&Button magazines, which alternate each month. Six months at an amazingly high cost. But it's national exposure and this project is not going to fail for lack of marketing.

No sales yet, but the magazine will be rolling out to consumers in the next few days. Then we'll see.  It could all still be for naught. Or it could hit big. Some of my testers have been very complimentary.

Needless to say, beading has somewhat fallen by the wayside. But I did finish one piece the other day, which I will post soon. 

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