New Website: Back to Life
These last few years have been a long and quite painful road for slaptap. Back in 2014 in September slaptap had a major problem and it has taken until now to fully resolve the issue. This little post is to try and explain what happened and try and build the confidence and success we were having here at slaptap until the dreaded day occurred.
The story starts like I said in September 2014. The Slaptap.com domain name was due for renewal. A month earlier I had sent payment to the domain provider and had assumed that all was well and the domain would renew and continue working as normal. To my shock on the renewal day Slaptap.com died. The website went down, the email went down and I was left in a state of flux. I couldn’t email any of the web designers who built slaptap and I couldn’t get hold of the domain renewal people, as all contact details were stored in the slaptap.com email account. Finally I managed to get hold of the web designers after a couple of days and they told me that the domain provider couldn’t be contacted and had essentially moved to Cyprus and basically disappeared with regard to his business. This left me with a very big problem as by now the slaptap.com domain had been suspended for a month before the domain would be able to go back on sale to the general public.
After speaking with the web designers we decided we would use the slaptap.co.uk domain that we still had but wasn’t in use and move it to a new domain provider. Luckily the website data was still in a server in the same state as when running and we had access to the server to move all of the data. The web designers moved all of the site data to a new server and set it all up to work with the slaptap.co.uk web address. Obviously this caused issues as all advertising and links and Google search data sent people to slaptap.com, which at this stage didn’t exist. So I had to start the big task of changing everything to point at this web address and start to build a new website up from scratch with regard to Google search positions and internet visibility. The new server also brought problems with regard to making payments via anything other than PayPal. Basically the whole website was build on an outdated platform and the new server wasn’t talking with the old out of date platform very well.
This was a very big issue and prompted a decision from the web designers. I had two options, the web designers could write a load of code to get the old software working at some level or they could update the background software and rebuild the website completely. The plan for the future of slaptap was always to update the website at some point but this was a lot sooner than planned. The cost was going to be similar with either option so after talks with Anthony the Slaptap Graphic designer it was decided we should go for the new site. Little did we know this was going to cause what could have been the end to slaptap.
After a few weeks the web designers got back in touch with a few options of what the new site could look like. Unfortunately the site options were very basic and not clean or tidy with regard to design aesthetic. Anthony showed me some of the sites he had made with his design company and they were perfect and exactly what we felt were needed to move Slaptap to the professional place we were looking for it to go. We spoke with the web designers and although they were less than happy to use the template we had suggested they agreed to it. They built a development site and transferred all the data needed and the new template over and then let us see it. We were not impressed. The site layout was there but it wasn’t clean or fresh. The design was lacking in all regard. After speaking to the Web designers it was clear that to do what we wanted was going to cost an awful lot and as slaptap was lacking in sales and hardly any money was coming in due to the payment system on the active site not working and people not realizing that the website had moved address spending that sort of money wasn’t really an option. Anthony stepped up to the plate and said he would do all the work necessary to get the site ready. Little did he know he would basically have to learn a completely new skill in this process.
Months and months went by with little movement on the site and few sales coming in. I had to really tighten the belt with regard to slaptap spending as the bills were lining up and the money coming in wasn’t really covering them. This meant that I had to put more and more money in just to keep the wolves from the door. When you have a full time job and you have a mortgage on your own and child maintenance to pay and all the normal bills plus you have to find money to cover your sideline business you soon run out of money. It took a while but I got to that point. Even after setting up new ways to sell Slaptap stuff like setting up an EBay shop and cutting back on all outgoings including sponsoring events, advertising and the team travel budget the money got too tight. I had a decision to make I either had to give up slaptap or sell my house. Unfortunately I brought my house right before the big housing crash in 2007 so I had a rubbish mortgage deal and a house that barely had any equity. In a very business based decision I decided that the house was a bad investment and slaptap had a lot more potential for growth than the house did. So I decided to put the house on the market and dig my heals in with slaptap to try and at least give it a good go. Pretty much as soon as I made this decision the tide started to change and sales through eBay really picked up and in some ways kept Slaptap beating.
Going back to Anthony he basically had to learn from scratch how to web design using Magento software. Luckily he had friends that he worked with who had a good idea of how the process worked and he finally started getting the site to where we wanted it to be. After nearly a year from when Anthony started on the site it was finally looking good and ready to go. Now was the time to get the web designers back on board to finish off the last few bits. Unfortunately as it had been so long they had forgotten that they still had this work to finish and it took a lot of emails and phone calls to get them back on board to finish the project.
By this point my house had been on the market for about 6 months with no offers but then finally an offer came in and although I was basically going to come away with nothing I accepted and the sale began to go through. My next problem was where am I going to store all the slaptap stock and how was this going to work. I was moving back in with my parents until I got myself back on my feet but there was no way that Slaptap would fit at their house. My next quest began with deciding what space I needed and how it would work. In my search I looked at many options from storage crates and large cupboard storage on farms all the way up to small industrial units but in the end I found a lovely little office space just around the corner from my parents house with a fairly large storage room. This was perfect and very reasonably priced. I worked out a deal and moved the stock and set up in straight away. The house sale took its time to complete but once it did it felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and I could finally start to put my plans into action.
After a few months in the Slaptap office with everything slowly falling into place the web designers got in contact with me and let me know that the site was nearly ready to go and I should start populating the site with products and news and make sure everything is working correctly as they were ready to launch the site within the next day or two. This brings me to now, writing this post. This has been a long road for me getting to this point but I feel that my love for blading although shaky at points has done nothing but grow and I am feeling good about the future. I love skating again and pushing the Slaptap Brand using Instagram and Facebook has kept my love for Slaptap strong. The whole team has pushed hard and kept the brand in plain sight even when the sales haven’t been so strong. This team is strong and I would like to say thanks to them. I would also like to thank Anthony, as without him Slaptap would not be where it is today. I would also like to thank all the Slaptap fans and friends for the support. I am now looking forward to growing Slaptap with this new website as a platform. If you find any issues with the site please get in contact and hopefully this is the start (again) of something great.
For the Rollers….