les grands enjeux de website maintenance

three weeks into my internship, i’m finding that the most challenging thing about my work so far has been maintaining the website.  mindless and menial, you say? you’d be surprised at how difficult the most mundane jobs can be.

the website design company which created the website did so out of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) quota for the year. they created a pretty, professional design template then outfitted it with the most basic and powerless admin interface ever (equipped enough only for us to edit the content and sections), and left it at that. so now if we want to edit or add a section header which stays at the top of the webpage at all times, we would have to pay for their services. with no budget allocated for website maintenance, the result is we are now stuck with, to use a metaphor my mentor grumbled all the time, a ferrari without an engine.

several interns have been here before me who have also been set upon this sadly underrated task of maintaining the site through the admin interface. strangely, although the interface is so stripped of organizational flexibility that i can actually do more things on my blog than with the company website, my predecessors seem to have, in their inability to grapple with the idiot-proofed admin interface, made a grande merde of things anyway.

in my initial tour through the various sections of the website, i unearthed two Calendar of Events, each one under a different section of the site and each listing different events, one of which seemed more excited about Malaysian holidays than parliamentary sittings as it mentioned Hari Raya Adifilfitri four times. none of the calendars actually bring you to a calendar, but a click on any event brings you to a whole blank page dedicated to one threadbare sentence consisting of (1) the event (or holiday), (2) the date.

i’ve managed to delete the holiday-obsessed calendar, but the calendar conundrum is a problem i have yet to deal with thoroughly because right now i have a whole other goliath to deal with – organizing our press statements by year. to divulge unnecessary details, i’m trying to delete the 2008 section and replacing it with the new 2008 archive i created. unfortunately i cannot do this because i need to remove all the articles under the 2008 section first, but because the admin interface does not let me search for articles under one specific section nor apply an action to several articles at once, i will spend at least 45 minutes painstakingly digging up each article and deleting it manually. and this is only the mindless part of my struggle.

the website has been so poorly updated that several events have already come and gone but never brought to the light of cyberspace. 2009 has been decently busy, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at their homepage. i don’t know how long it will take for me to unravel the mess, but i foresee a long-term investment of effort on my part. the task is unintellectual yet requires enough logic problem-solving that you actually need to concentrate. the result is unimpressively simple, but the effort put in can be so physically and mentally draining that you just want to throw the whole interface out of the frame of its computer window. on top of all this, my eyes are puffy from lack of sleep and recent tears and staring at the screen all day trying to reorganize the website is making me look like death.

may lee kwan yew and mahathir’s so-called asian values grant me patience and fortitude!


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