Tuesday, 19 May 2015

128 ways to frustrate a designer

With my (tool) designer hat on...

I wanted ZazzleMySite's multi-page generation to be easy to use in practice.
The key to this was the ability to redo the page just generated.


When freshening a section of my website, some pages that didn't have a full product grid (eg wine bags) were getting fuller because peeps have been designing them since I last did the page.
(If you're at all curious, it was the bachelorette pages for Karmani Designer Lifestyle - actually, that's a great example of what ZMS can achieve, in case you were wondering.)

I found some winebags in the product grid that I'd freshly generated that weren't right for the page. I changed some of the exclusions / must-haves but the way ZMS works (worked!) meant I had to begin generating again from the beginning. So frustrating!
It would have been so convenient when on page 7 of 12, to be able to try page 7 again without having to go through generating pages 1..6 every time!

So, with my amateur-coding hat on...

Relatively straightforward I thought.
Not at all!! >:(

Catering for all the different combinations of circumstances to show the right buttons at the right time was a blooming nightmare!
7 different factors meant 128 different possibilites, of which only so many could arise in practice.

So I tossed the problem of which buttons to show under which circumstances back to the designer (yeah, me but with a different hat on!)

Wearing my designer hat again...

I had to put a spreadsheet together, listing all the different combinations - all 128 of them - and then list next to each one whether that combination could arise in practice and, if so, which buttons should be visible.
One of the most intensely brain-achey things I've done for many years! And so frustrating getting my head round it.

Anyway I did it and then threw it back to the near-useless, amateur-coding chap.

So, with my amateur-coding hat back on again...

(and very fetching I look in it, too!)
I fought battles. I won some and lost many. I got confused and puzzled at times. I ran round in circles for a while every so often (almost caught my own tail a few times!). Progress was made. And then came...

Being able to abandon the generation of a page mid-way through kept dumping my brain into the middle of a logic maze at moon-dark midnight - with the denizens (bugs, bugettes, gotchas and some that don't have a name) all biting and kicking and struggling as I tried to put them to bed - aaaargh!

Many cups of tea helped bring salvation. When it got too much, I carried on redecorating the hallway (...don't get me started!)

Well, it's done now and it's with the beta testers to see if I won the war!

Was it worth it?

Yes. If you're doing more than 2 pages at a time - which I do a lot - it's brilliant!

Enjoy :)

PS If you ever see me heading towards the coding saltmines again, do me a favour and talk some sense into me!

PPS Once the beta-testers give the go-ahead, ZMS V4 with all its enhancements will finally be released. Those of you who've been waiting for the must-haves filter need only wait a few more days!

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