Of Widgets and Websites

Do you know what a widget is?  How about code?  Akismet stats?  SEO pack?
Thesis openhook?  Sociable plugins?  If the answer to these questions is yes, your
advice would have come in handy as I vowed that 2013 would be the year I finally figured out my own website.

Pitiful, right?  For almost two years, I’ve had a website.  As soon as it was up and
running, I ordered 500 really nifty business cards.  They feature a picture of an old-timey manual typewriter and say Jennie Ivey, Writer. My address and phone numbers–both home and cell–are printed on them, as are my website and web e-mail addresses.

But I never quite understood how to work on the website or check the web e-mail.  Meaning that anyone who visited my site was greeted with nothing but old
news and not even much of that.  Anyone who left me a message failed to get a reply.  Which is unacceptable. Embarrassing.  So NOT twenty-first-century.

As time for this new year approached, I went into action.  I contacted the two local computer geniuses who were kind enough to help me get the website up and running in the first place.  (And no, I won’t publish their names in this column.  They know who they are and I’m sure will be exceedingly grateful that I refuse to unleash any of my technologically challenged friends on them.) They assured me that everything was in good shape for me to update my site and make it sparkle.  All I needed to do was fiddle around with it.

First problem.  After digging out my notes and logging on to my website as “administrator,” I discovered all kinds of cryptic stuff on my pages.  Slash marks.  Greater-than and less-than symbols.  Meaningless letter combinations such as “img” and “em” and “src.”  Naturally, I went into meltdown, exited the site, and busied myself solving online Jumble puzzles and playing Solitaire.

And then I had an idea.  A brilliant idea. My daughter Leigh, her husband Matt, and grandboy Eli would be visiting on December 29.  Which just happens to be my birthday.  Though I’m pretty sure that Eli, though exceedingly smart at twelve weeks old, doesn’t know much about computers, Matt and Leigh—despite the fact that they’re both English majors—do.

What better present could they give me than to help with my website?

Leigh pointed out that they’d already given me a Christmas ornament with Eli’s picture on it and why did I need anything else but after some mild arm-twisting finally agreed to look at the site.  She immediately noticed that I was working in “HTML” rather than “Visual.”  Thus the cryptic letters and symbols.  Then she pretended it was time to feed Eli and turned me over to Matt.  Who, in his
ever-patient way, sat at my computer and fiddled around until he figured out
what I needed to know.  Then he coaxed and coached me through each step and waited while I wrote everything down in excruciating detail in my old-school spiral notebook.

I spent the next several hours editing and updating, becoming ever more confident as I successfully added pages and posts.  And, all modesty aside,
I must say I’m proud of how it turned out.  An aerial photo of Cookeville adorns the top of the Welcome Page.  An easily navigable menu takes visitors to
information about the books I’ve written and to links to some of the
inspirational stories I’ve had published in Guideposts magazine and Chicken
Soup for the Soul anthologies.  There’s information on how to contact me for speaking engagements.

Best of all, I’ve posted all of my Herald-Citizen columns from the past two years.  Though something of a daunting task, it was well worth it now that it’s done.

And while they were in a technology mindset, the kids also helped me replace the picture that has accompanied this column for the past three years with the newer one you see here.  But they never got around to telling me what a widget it.

(January 6, 2013)

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