Getting in control

There comes a time with every business that decisions have to be made on delegating responsibilities. This often occurs because one doesn’t have the skill or the time to do what needs to be done themselves. A common problem arises when delegation is needed but the funds aren’t available to pay a qualified person to do the job properly. There are many reasons why, when the situation comes up, the responsibilities are not properly delegated.

In my case, it was because I didn’t want to do it.

The problem

I have a website. I knew, to go in the direction I wanted to go, some changes needed to be made. I’m used to being able to making these changes easily. Change CMS, pick a design and move on. Unfortunately, things changed. WordPress has a booming community but WordPress, as nice as it is, can be very restricting as a blog grows and more control is needed over the CMS. WordPress is perfect for the average blogger. It has everything a person would need. Strong community, lots of options for plugins and themes, easy to update – it’s perfect.

However, I need more than WordPress offers (without hacking it to death). I have dealt with the limitations for quite some time and it has hindered my site’s growth. I used ExpressionEngine, but the uphill learning curve is a problem. I still have a paid license for it, but WordPress has spoiled me tremendously. With WordPress I can install, pick a theme and be up and running in 15 minutes tops. I installed ExpressionEngine Public Beta 2.0 and it installed without a default theme (I realize it’s a beta). Looking at ExpressionEngine’s template library I feel as though I warped back to 2004. The themes are horrifically dated (I’ve used all the good ones in the past when I used ExpressionEngine previously). Most people using ExpressionEngine have a custom design (which has to cripple their growth because they sure as hell didn’t start that way) which is backwards to the way I work. I have a ton of content and prior to getting a design or seriously sitting down with a designer, I’d like to get an idea on placement of the content, what to offer, etc. Do you see the difference? With WordPress I can say, “I want an gaming magazine”, pick a theme, import/add content, then make some intelligent decisions about what I want in a theme and upgrade from there.

Let’s look at my options
  • I can hire a designer to make a design so I can get up and running then upgrade the theme later.
  • I can use a basic design, like a template from the ExpressionEngine library.
  • I can learn how to do it myself = no more dependency on designers.

There are some other minor options but #3 is appealing to me the most, even though I don’t like the process of learning design/programming.

Repeating mistakes doesn’t work

Options 1 and 2 really aren’t options because I have already done them. I have hired designers previously and the winning designs came from when I knew what I wanted. I’m not building a site from scratch, I have thousands (literally) of articles and comments to make decisions on. At first I was going to start a brand new site but then I realized only after writing articles on the new site, I referenced something I wrote earlier. To phase out the old domains, I need to import the old content or not reference it (not an option).

Option 2 is an option but at the time I’m writing this, the templates are not in a form where I can easily install the template. The templates are formatted for ExpressionEngine 1.68. Yes, I tried this option.

I could uninstall 2.0, install 1.68 which installs a default theme, then upgrade to 2.0. Am I the only one thinking it is ridiculous anyone should have to go to this much trouble? I’m sorry, it shouldn’t be this difficult.

This is why Option 3 appeals to me. Armed with knowledge, this wouldn’t be difficult. Ever again. And I like that. A lot.

Like Janet, I’m getting in control

Being stuck in this rut for a long time, I’ve been watching the trends in the design community. I figured eventually the situation would change. Ironically, I know trends better than the community. That doesn’t look like it will change any time soon.

I also know my style – I like to be different.

I customize to put my own spin on things. Nails, hair, clothes…why should my site be any different? My entire life is “not the norm”. Considering I know trends well before the design community, if I was armed with the knowledge, I could always make sure my site stays fresh and innovative.

I wouldn’t have to worry about themes breaking when a CMS is upgraded, plugins not working, my site becoming outdated, nor would I have to worry about growing the site in the direction I wanted. I will be in control of two important components of my site: the content and the design. I like it like that. I just have to force myself to learn something that interests me, but I don’t want to do. In honesty, maybe the reason why I don’t want to do it is because it seems hard to me right now. Time will tell.

What do you do if you have to delegate?

My situation is not the norm. Most times, passing the job on to someone else is the only real solution. I know I can do this because I’ve done it before, with a site much larger than this. This is not the norm. Companies hire accountants and lawyers because they can’t do the job themselves. It has become clear most designers (entrepreneurs actually) need to consult business/marketing consultants because their skill is in design, not business management.

One of the hardest decisions to make is to realize one is deficient in an area and pass the responsibilities to someone more qualified. It requires us to admit we are weak. In business we can’t do everything and, whether we like it or not, some things need to be delegated. Of course, sometimes we have to educate ourselves in areas outside our comfort zone.

I’m lucky that I can learn design and programming enough to suit my needs. Will my site win a graphic design award? Never. Will my skills ever be as good as a qualified designer? Never. Thankfully, those aren’t my goals and I can learn enough to stop being dependent on designers for the growth of my site.