The trouble with Homestead

Some of you have come to this site by way of the web site for ordering the book “Buffalo, Home of the Braves”. You’ve likely noticed how out of kilter the site presently appears, and I’d like to explain.

The site is hosted and its template supported by technology from Homestead offers small businesses the ability to: “Build a website in minutes with our award-winning website hosting solution and website design software”.

To be fair, I have been a Homestead customer going on three years and have until recently felt positive about their ability to give a novice like me the opportunity create a business web site and have the ability to change content at the drop of a hat. Overall, their customer service was available and quite knowledgeable.

Awhile back I had minor problems integrating a merchant service account into the existing Sun Bear site so I could accept credit cards. I felt comfort in finding someone stateside (live not an online instant message chat) that could lead me to a solution.

With this as background I felt confident last fall paying Homestead a decent amount of money for a redesign of the site. That’s when things started to go sideways.

After Homestead recreated the theme and style of the template, I was no longer able to make simple changes that I had made prior to the redesign. The Sun Bear site serves as a portal to offer a variety of ways to make books available to inquiring customers. Purchases can in theory be made online, by phone, through seven different independent Buffalo bookstores, Amazon, and eBay.

For eBay, the link to the eBay listing needs to be updated periodically as the auction for an item expires. It was explained to me several weeks ago by a Homestead rep that guided me through the process, that even with the new design and limitations the hyperlink could be changed.

Last week we had to relist the book on eBay after earlier copies sold out. I took the previous advice and made the recommended change, which included a backup procedure. The change disrupted some code that resulted in the train wreck of a web site, that is far from appealing. I’ve had to now wait through the weekend, during the peak of holiday sales until Monday when a Homestead web designer can put things back to where they were. I’m afraid to calculate the number of lost sales and am quite peeved at Homestead for two reasons.

1. The customer service reps from Homestead have been stellar, but the managers I spoke with (or didn’t speak with because they didn’t call back) were complacent and downright apathetic.

2. It’s frustrating to spend $599 for a redesign of a site that I cannot place a simple hyperlink into. If I had known of the editing limitations of the redesigned site I would have saved my money and stuck with a plainer looking (but editable) site.

I’ll follow up with an update tomorrow (Monday), but for now I’m no longer recommending to anyone. In the meantime please realize that aesthetics aside, one can with some patience navigate the site and place an order. Oh and here’s that hyperlink to the eBay listing. Thank you Word Press for making that part easy.

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