If It’s Rubbish, Trash It

 

It was several months ago that I took ebookling down to give the site a much-needed upgrade.

I was actually really excited about the impending overhaul because I wasn’t expecting to be able to do it so quickly. When I build a business, I try to keep it overhead-free so that I’m in the black from day one, and nothing is invested but time (less to lose if worse comes to worse). In any case, things took off, and within weeks rather than the months I had planned for, I had the money I needed to buy a whiz-bang new e-commerce setup that would allow me to implement a bunch of new features, fix some problems I was having with the site and generally take things to the next level.

I spent the better part of 2 months working on a completely new site. I tweaked and finessed and augmented and redesigned and patched and updated and redesigned again and reinstalled and went back and forth with tech support until one day it hit me: I was 90% done and I absolutely hated the new site. I really couldn’t stand it.

It says a lot about willful blindness that I was staring at the same site I had been for months when I was struck by this obvious fact, and as soon as I was confident enough about my assertion (which I was after a few more minutes of thinking), I tore the whole damn thing down and decided to take another tact.

And boy am I glad I did. Looking back, I had strayed so far from the way I build and do business, it wasn’t enough funny.

I was absolutely intent on solving every single problem that ever popped up and building every single feature I had ever imagined into ebookling, and that goes against my values. I like shops that are easy to use, good-looking, practical and simple. If new features are added, they should be added on top of a solid foundation that has had all the kinks worked out to near-perfection. The front-end and back-end of a site should be intuitive and ‘just work,’ as they’re fond of saying over at Apple.

Even though it took more work to start over again, and despite the fact that I had to invest more time and money in something that is still an uncertain bet, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out and where it’s going.

The new ebookling launched TODAY and you can check out the new veneer and store by clicking here.

There’s an updated look and feel, but the idea behind ebookling hasn’t changed a bit. I still want to get all the best ebook and egood content from around the net in one place so that readers will have more to choose from and so that authors will have a bigger audience to work with.

If you have a product you think would be a good fit for the shop, send me a message and tell me about it.

Either way, keep in mind that you can ALWAYS start over, even if you’re deep into a project and it seems like an immense undertaking to start from scratch.

If something you’re working on is rubbish, trash it. And then do it again. Better.

If it’s the difference between putting out a product you’re happy with a little later than planned and putting out a product that you’re unhappy with right on time, you should choose the former every time.

24 comments

  1. Love the design, it’s very “Colin” :)

    Do you plan to implement any kind of comments or Amazon style star rating system? Every single one of the books looks intriguing but I simply don’t have time to read them all and it might be good to have reader reviews and what not.

    • Thanks Mark!

      I had thought about it, and I think it’s a great idea. I’m thinking that might be something for the next round of revisions.

      At the same time, I’m trying to avoid the Amazon-rating-syndrome, where people game the system and the stars are essentially meaningless extras.

      Anyone have ideas on how to avoid this kind of thing? I’ve been thinking hard about it but don’t have anything solid yet.

      • I was thinking about the issue a while back for another project. If there is a way to rate/vote/comment for a product only after you have purchased it through the store, then that can address the issue somewhat.

        However, a number of the free products might still be subject to fake reviews. I don’t think a perfect solution exists

        • Yeah, good point on the buying-before-voting method. If nothing else the site and authors would be compensated for bad reviews…that counts for something, right?

          But as you said, it doesn’t really help on the free ebooks, and I want to keep those as a big focus for the site (since most people show up for those anyway, and I personally love free ebooks). Would love to keep brainstorming on this. Let me know if anything else comes to mind!

        • Yeah, good point on the buying-before-voting method. If nothing else the site and authors would be compensated for bad reviews…that counts for something, right?

          But as you said, it doesn’t really help on the free ebooks, and I want to keep those as a big focus for the site (since most people show up for those anyway, and I personally love free ebooks). Would love to keep brainstorming on this. Let me know if anything else comes to mind!

      • Rating the ratings helps, as in the “voted most helpful” on Amazon, and also the Amazon feature where they put the most helpful 5 star and 1 star review back to back:
        http://amzn.to/aWYplz

        You’ve gotta have a lot of reviews before this system works though. Another solution is just to ask politely that people disclose their affiliations with the author. If they don’t they will be publicly mocked by people like me anyhow. :)

        • Yeah. I think what’s really holding me back is that I make decisions in business based on how I would want to be treated as a customer, and frankly I’ve always found rating systems more annoying than anything. I question their validity even when there’s little reason to suspect anything, and I feel like there should be a better way.

          As I said, though, I have no idea what that way is, and I may try a few things to see what works best. Until ebookling reaches a huge audience, though, I’m not sure Amazon’s method will do it much good…

        • Yeah. I think what’s really holding me back is that I make decisions in business based on how I would want to be treated as a customer, and frankly I’ve always found rating systems more annoying than anything. I question their validity even when there’s little reason to suspect anything, and I feel like there should be a better way.

          As I said, though, I have no idea what that way is, and I may try a few things to see what works best. Until ebookling reaches a huge audience, though, I’m not sure Amazon’s method will do it much good…

  2. Colin, you are so wise to listen to yourself when it dawned on you what you were working on just didn’t feel so right anymore. And good thing too because ebookling’s relaunch went just great! Has just the right “feel,” at least, from a user standpoint.

    We will all fare better if we just listened to ourselves when what we’ve been doing (sometimes, all our lives) just doesn’t feel right …. and that can pertain to a LOT of scenarios, such as:

    – a relationship (knowing when to stay and work things out and when to leave)

    – work (when to quit and when to stick, as Seth Godin puts it in The Dip, wow, that was fun rhyming!)

    -a project (like writing a book or creating a painting, I recently did this to one of my paintings. I just wasn’t feeling IT. I had to turn my back on it (literally) because I couldn’t look at it any more. I’m coming back to it this week and painting right over it. Start over. Build from scratch.)

    – and more.

    Colin, it’s safe to say it’s pretty obvious I’m one of your 1,000 true fans (and friends, yay!). There’s nothing you put out there that I do NOT inherently like or enjoy reading. You’re one of the many brilliant and creative minds this world is blessed to have. For that, thank you for being you! Happiness and dragonfruit!

    • Thanks Nina :)

      I’m THRILLED to have you as a fan (and I’m a fan right back!), and this is why I write this blog to begin with: to surround myself with radtastic people who inspire me.

      Keep it up, and I will too!

    • Thanks Nina :)

      I’m THRILLED to have you as a fan (and I’m a fan right back!), and this is why I write this blog to begin with: to surround myself with radtastic people who inspire me.

      Keep it up, and I will too!

  3. Way to stick to your principles and start over. Way too many sites/businesses get compromised by too many features. The site looks good too. Most of the books aren’t my cuppa tea, but you’ve done a fine job with the website design.

  4. Yup. You can always start over. That’s what I tell myself each time I make a big move. Really, if that’s the worst that can happen, what do you have to lose?

    • Amen to that!

      My most embarrassing failures have turned out to be some of my greatest successes in that they’ve allowed me to be pretty fearless when it comes to taking risks.

      I’ve looked some of the worst-case scenarios (business-wise) dead in the eyes and come back from it. What can stop me? Only me.

    • Amen to that!

      My most embarrassing failures have turned out to be some of my greatest successes in that they’ve allowed me to be pretty fearless when it comes to taking risks.

      I’ve looked some of the worst-case scenarios (business-wise) dead in the eyes and come back from it. What can stop me? Only me.

  5. Congrats on getting the second version of it out! It really looks great and, like what you were going for, is very simple and intuitive. I hope you have a lot of success with it and I think you’ll have to trouble getting some business. I can definitley relate on scratching something you’ve been working on for a while if it doesn’t live up to your expectations. No use keeping something your not proud of just because you’ve put time/energy/money into it.

    Keep up the great work!

  6. OMG! This is such a great cool nifty shop you have Colin. Really cool stuff. It’s like an internet library, I mean, I think it is. .. That’s what it is right? The site looks really cool. Are these all bloggers you know?

    Note: I need a favor that should only take 6 seconds.

    My friend’s are in a contest to win band of the month in San Francisco and they need people to vote for Commissure on a website called, http://sf.thedelimagazine.com/snacks

    Go to: http://sf.thedelimagazine.com/snacks
    Vote: Commissure

    It honestly takes like 6 seconds to vote. The contest ends October 15. Every vote helps. Thanks.

    Their website is: myspace.com/commissure

  7. Pingback: My Borders Moment | Exile Lifestyle

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