At the Back End

It’s now been a year since I ran my first lockdown training, and about nine months since I first suggested to my wife that I set up a digital platform to host my training. With her support, the Academy is now coming on quite well.

Sales are slower than I’d like – I’ve got to make a living, and the Academy will work better when there’s more people in it. However, I’m building up a mailing database again (you can subscribe here). So until that’s in place, I’m doing a lot of promotion on Linkedin. Sorry, everyone! I’d love to just be sharing content there, but short-term at least, I do need to do business too.

I’m recording my training sessions using Prezi, with a Logitech webcam, Blue Yeti mike and plenty of natural and artificial lighting. Prezi allows me to record myself alongside my slides, sometimes with a bit of touching up in Camtasia. I think it’s brilliant as presenting alongside my content has made such a difference to presenting in a different area to my slides. It takes a bit more effort as I need to design my Powerpoint slides then design the Prezi too, but it’s time well spent in my opinion. I can still get better at this over time, eg I want to experiment with having content as png vs jpg files so my hands don’t disappear behind a white block and you can better see what I’m pointing at. And I want to try using Canva to improve the design of my slides too.

The Academy is built on WordPress and uses LearnDash as the LMS, with the videos hosted on Vimeo. The front end and social learning is built using BuddyBoss. The shop uses WooCommerce and PayPal. These plugins are all great too, but keeping them playing nicely with each other is taking more time than I’ve really got available.

But my biggest problem, and regret, is using GoDaddy to provide my Managed WordPress hosting. We’ve had so many issues, and such bad advice.

Sorry but this post becomes a bit of a frustrated rant about GoDaddy at this point. I’m including it in the post because 1. I am feeling a bit frustrated!, 2. I’m trying to be open about my experience running the Academy, and 3. I’m hoping GoDaddy my see this and that it may add to pressure to sort out its Customer Services team. (Note, I’m not complaining about the individual guides I’ve spoken too – I know how difficult customer service jobs are – this is an organisational issue and needs sorting across the organisation (I would of course, love to help!).

Anyway: here are some of my recent experiences:

1. Most recently, I’ve been experiencing difficulties loading documents. Some, although not all of it, is down to nobody telling me the hosting doesn’t support docX files. Instead, they’ve increased the PHP memory, deactivated and reactivated plugins several times, had me twice try loading files using FileZilla, and even asked me to sort the broader problem myself using public suggestions on StackOverflow.

Guide: The team is asking to follow these steps:

Jon: I’m sorry, but which steps? There’s a lot of stuff on the page, most of which I don’t understand

Guide: These are all wordpress file upload troubleshooting steps.

Jon: Seriously? We pay for ultimate managed hosting so we don’t need to worry about the complexities of WordPress. You want me to figure out Apache2, LAMP, CDN, Nginx, Cloudflare… I’ve no idea what any of these things are, never mind any understanding of where to begin

2. Last night, I left these problems with their advanced team. Today, I had a message from that team saying everything had been fixed – and a broken website. Back onto chat (there’s a wait time for 45 minutes by phone) and this must have been the most duff advice I’ve received so far:

Guide: Your issue is with the permalinks. The below link would help you with resettiing it

Jon: OK, let me look at that. What’s happened between 11.30 last night and now though, so this doesn’t happen again. Again, it was working perfectly well when I went to bed (the problem the advanced team were looking at was just about file uploading). Also, the permalinks have always been set to month and name and we’ve not had any problems previously. Why has it gone wrong now? And are you absolutely sure I need to do this. All my site members have got links, external sites have got links which will now be broken. There would seem to be a definite possibility that this will have knock-on effects on some of the plugins. I would really prefer not to change this.

Guide: Yes you need to reset the permalinks

Jon: Please can you explain why, and how if there is a problem with them the site was working perfectly beforehand.

Guide: Well, this could be due to your content like plugin or theme causing issues. We are not the one making any changes from our end,. You might have to review the logs with the help of a developer or you can restore the website from the backups when the website was working fine before.

Jon: You have made changes though. The site was working perfectly last night. The advanced team were working on it. Now the site isn’t working. It sounds to me like something they’ve done, not something about permalinks that were working perfectly fine before. Nothing else has happened to the website between now and then

Fortunately, somehow, the website started working again a few minutes later, but my first step was going to be restoring the backup, not changing permalinks – even I know that’s not a good idea (The WordPress dashboard says ‘Changing your permalinks settings can seriously impact your search engine visibility. It should almost never be done on a live website.’)

3. Again, I’ve got nothing against the individuals I’ve been talking to, but they’re clearly not able to focus on the task or customer. For example, after having got cut off (often) although they say they’re reading the previous chat, they’re clearly not. In fact, they’re getting completely confused during a chat too:

Guide: Taking a look. It seem to be issue with the redirections given within the core files. Checking if there is something we can do at our end. I have checked it with the back end team as well for stopping it. As per them, We wont be able to stop the event as it might affect the hosting configuration. You should wait till the event is completed

Jon: What event are you referring to?

Guide: Event of backing up the Database. The event seem to be completed now. Please see it

Jon: The site gets backed up at midnight each night. I don’t understand why it would still have been running.

Guide: I am really sorry Jon. Please ignore the last messages. My bad

Jon: Ah, wrong customer?

Guide: Yup

Anyway, the main thing is that I’m not having to travel into London to talk about the same content I’ve already talked about lots of times before. And even more importantly that we can have a global membership who get more, higher quality content, and a huge amount more time to discuss with me and each other. All for £298 per programme which is great value, even if the back end of the system isn’t working as consistently as it should – though I’m doing everything I can to ensure that it will do soon!

Now, does anyone know how to get magpies to be quiet while I’m recording?

Jon Ingham

HR Strategist, Trainer, Learning Facilitator and Amateur WordPress Developer at the Jon Ingham Strategic HR Academy

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