A car mechanic rebuilt my website
The sign on the rusty door read 'Webb & Sons'.
I hoped that wasn't intended as a pun. Something told me I was about to make the mistake of my life.
The door creaked open. In the dim light I could immediately tell he was older than me. He sat at an old school desk. He wore greasy overalls. On the wall behind was a nudy calendar.
His hoarse voice cut through a curious mix of sounds: a distant banging, a classic hit on the radio, and … yes, the whir of a hard-drive.
He stood. “You're Ian, right?”
“Brian.” He wiped a hand on his overalls and shook mine with a firm grip. “You spoke to me son, Andrew. He's out back, knocking a small utility app into shape.”
I didn't quite understand, but I wanted to stay focused. “I heard you can help. I heard you're good with sales sites.”
He grinned and nodded. “Andrew's the expert. Should see 'im with a mallet.”
Still puzzled, I drove the agenda forth. “I have a site. I sell lifestyle experiences. You know, hot air ballooning, snorkeling. That sort of thing.”
Brian interrupted. “Let me guess mate. Content hierarchy's useless. Site nav's wobbly. Your search engine's blown. Typos, broken links, SEO's outdated.”
I nodded. He knew his stuff. I wanted to impress him. “I played with the code, but –”
He cut me off again, sucking in air through his nicotine-stained teeth before speaking. “There's half ya problem. No offense mate, but you're not a coder. You could've disrupted your style sheets. Shifted a bold tag. And then where'd ya be? Total site overhaul. That'd cost ya.”
Again, he was right. “So what can I do?”
He sucked in more air. “Hard to say without getting in there. I couldn't even have a look til … ooow, Tuesdee the earliest. And Andrew's booked for the week. Got a government extranet that's all shot. Server crash. Major data leak. Very ugly.”
Brian must have seen the look of dejection on my face.
“Look mate. I could have a quick look and give you an idea.”
I nodded. I told him the address and he quickly pulled it up on a greasy iPad.
I watched his beady eyes dash over the site.
“Big job mate. Big job. You'd be looking at … oooh, 300 words homepage text alone. Lifestyle experiences you say? Hard to get words for that this time of year. I'd have to order in some nouns. Ten days minimum from China. Even then.”
I hadn't counted on that.
“And those fonts. Could salvage them, maybe. Maybe, that is. Make it quicker, but then there's labour. Like I said, Andrew's a whiz with the mallet.”
“I'm keen to move on this,” I replied.
“Design. Now that'll cost ya. I'm guessing this is built on a cheap Blogger rip-off CMS. They built those things all wrong. They put the CSS under the front-end code. So I'd have to pull the whole thing apart just to get it on the hoist. Like they say, spend on the search engine and save on the copy.”
“So,” I gulped, “how long?”
Brian sucked in air again. “Oooh, dunno. It's a real mess. Rewiring those links'll set you back a day alone. I'd say … two weeks all up.”
“And … how much?”
“Gee mate. Parts aren't cheap these days. Hard to say. I do it for three grand, even. Couldn't go a penny lower.”
I was not happy, but I didn't seem to have a choice. I nodded. I signed some forms and handed over the log-in and password.
In exchange, Brian lent me a spare to keep me on the web. It wasn't much, but a small Facebook page was better than nothing.
I stepped out into the glare of the daylight. I looked down at my dirty hand, wondering if I'd just been greased up. As I walked back to my car, I reminded myself: Brian's the best, that's what they say. My site's in good hands. I could only hope so.
Dedicated to my dear old friend, Jane Ormond, without whom.
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