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Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 10

5397 Computer Cartoon

My Customers Are Overcharged

On May 13, 2014, I sold one cartoon for $50.

I examined my merchant’s receipt and realized the customer had been overcharged.

I immediately emailed her: “I only charge $15 for use in presentations. I’ll figure out how to rebate you the $35. I just relaunched the site, and there have been glitches.”

She graciously replied: “Thanks very much, I feel it is worth 50 bucks. I have been looking for this exact humor for 3 hours so please, keep the 50 and THANK YOU!”

I replied: “Wow! The money is appreciated in that my relaunched website has been beset by problems and you’re my first sale in over a week. If you find two other cartoons you want, let me know and you can have them too.” Continue reading Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 10

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Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 9

6099 Wrecking Cartoon

A Wrecking Ball Hits My Site

My website, redesigned by Watermelon Web Works, was visited seven times during the week of April 15-21, 2014. Six of those visits were from me.

Watermelon had hired two external consultants to “audit” the site to figure out why Google hated the new site. Changes were “implemented” on April 15. Paul Clerc, Watermelon’s top web guru, said it would probably take four weeks for Google to “reindex the site and re-apply the algorithms to it.”

One week down, three very long weeks to go.

I wrote Paul Clerc: “I’m sure it will all work out, but it is nerve wracking.” Continue reading Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 9

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Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 8

8570 Computer Cartoon

My Site is Lost in Cyberspace

When I was in high school in the early 1970s we learned how to use a slide ruler and, no joke, went on a field trip to see a computer.

About thirty years later, sometime in early 2000, I uploaded my first web pages to www.pioneer.net/~mchumor. The name just rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it? It was free web space my Internet-provider, pioneer.net, provided. Continue reading Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 8

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Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 7

7218 Blog Cartoon

The Reluctant Blogger

In April 2014 Watermelon Web Works hired two external consultants to figure out why Google hated the site they had redesigned for me.

One of the consultants’ conclusions was that Google penalized the site because it had “thin content.”

The site had 4,200 cartoons on it. What did they mean it had “thin content”?

Google, according to Watermelon, likes blog posts. Lots and lots of them.

Blogs, according to Paul Clerc, Watermelon’s top web guru, were “like candy to Google.”

And cartoons? They were like boiled Brussels sprouts to Google? Continue reading Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 7

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Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 6

6821 Software Cartoon

Duplicate Content

There were many days in April 2014 when my web site had no visitors. I had no shortage of bills, though, especially from my web designers, Watermelon Web Works.

On April 5 Watermelon sent an invoice for $467.50 for work I had paid for in February. This was the second time I was double-billed. Continue reading Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 6

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Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 5

Sammy And T

My Dog Dies

On March 4, 2014, I emailed Watermelon Web Works: “Everyone says that they love the new site. The only hiccup seems to be the home page when viewed on a smart phone.”

One of the main reasons I had hired Watermelon to redesign my site was so it would be easy to use on smart phones. Sigh. Continue reading Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 5

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Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 4

6990 Computer Cartoon

IT’S ALIVE!

On February 16, 2014, my web site was visited 939 times and I sold no cartoons. It was a Sunday and Sundays are always slow. Too many people wasting time reading the Sunday comics.

On the day before, though, I sold four cartoons for a total of $60; the day before that I sold a cartoon for $85 and was commissioned to draw a cartoon for $300; the day before that I sold $180 worth of cartoons; and—well, I could go on, but you get the idea. I was having a good month, and I figured it was only going to get better because my “new and improved” site was about to be launched. Continue reading Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 4

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Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 3

5484 Spider Cartoon

Web Design 101

On October 31, 2013, Watermelon Web Works emailed: “Your new website is all setup and ready to be reviewed.”

“Yikes,” I thought when I went to the site. “The cartoon images are blurry.” This might be OK for a site trying to sell impressionist paintings, but not for one trying to sell print-ready images. The problem was easily fixed, but it troubled me that no one noticed this in the first place. Continue reading Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 3

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Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 2

8203 Pottery Cartoon1

In the Beginning

On June 19, 2013, I had a long talk via Google Hangouts with Paul Clerc and Mark Leonas, two of Watermelon Web Works top web gurus. I joked that my mother told me never to hang out with strangers.

I told them about my current website. I’d designed it myself, using Adobe Dreamweaver, and I uploaded the first pages sometime in early 2000. By June of 2013 it had about 2,500 pages, 4,200 cartoons, in the previous twelve months was visited over 600,000 times, and netted about $1,900 a month. Continue reading Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 2

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Watermelon Web Works Review: Part 1

No Watermelons Allowed

The Prologue

On February 17, 2014, one year ago today, my redesigned website went “live.” The site was an utter failure. If it had been a city, it would have been declared a disaster area. And, frankly, dealing with FEMA would have been a lot less exasperating than dealing with my web designers, Watermelon Web Works.

I surf the web with a computer. My fifteen-year-old niece surfs it via her smart phone. My cell phone is a dumb phone and all I use it for is making phone calls when I’m out and about. My niece needs an app to remind her that she can use her phone to make phone calls. When she calls me at home I answer on a phone that has a cord and a rotary dial—or, as she calls it, a leashed phone.

More and more people surf the web with mobile devices, and since I’m not terribly attuned to a user’s experience on them, I hired Watermelon to make my site more suitable with viewing on these devices. I also wanted them to make it possible for customers to instantly download cartoons after they pay for them instead of waiting for me to email a jpg.

On February 16, the day before the new design was launched, my site had 939 visitors.

The site Watermelon designed was lovely to look at, but it only averaged three visitors a day. Not three thousand. Not three hundred. But three.

For much of the last year I suffered a double whammy: having no income coming in because no one was visiting the redesigned site, and paying Watermelon’s fees. I nearly went bankrupt.

In June I asked Paul Clerc, Watermelon’s top web guru, if there was any chance I could get a partial refund. My old site netted about $1,900 per month. The new site was netting about $10.76 a month. Paul said “No.”

Soon thereafter I balked at paying Watermelon for a fourth time to fix a programming error that was causing my customers to be overcharged. I concluded my email by saying:

If I was only out $8,000 (almost double your bid) it would be one thing, I could walk away from it, but I’ve lost my livelihood, I’ve lost the way I made a living, I’ve lost a business it took me 35 years to build.

When I was looking for a design firm everyone said: “They do good cheap work in India.” I was an idealist, and was willing to pay more to hire not just a U.S. firm, but an Oregon firm. So much for idealism.

Paul emailed: “I do not appreciate the attitude. … These are services that you should be paying several tens of thousands of dollars for. … I understand why you are upset, and I have a good deal of sympathy for your situation, but it is in NO WAY our fault.” The caps are his, not mine.

You can read Paul’s entire email in Part 13 of this review.

He said he was willing to restore my old site for free.

Over the next nineteen days I will blog about my experience with Watermelon. I’ve tried to write the posts in such a way that you won’t need to be a computer geek to get the gist of the story, but there are some technical bits: mostly unedited emails from Watermelon. I’ve included these emails in their entirety so Watermelon can’t claim I’ve taken things out of context.

I doubt that few outside of those who reached this page by Googling “Watermelon Web Works Review” will read my tale of woe all the way through, but that’s OK. I mainly wrote it for those particular Googlers.

Next: In the Beginning

***

At one point Paul said the way to save my website was to blog. Another of Watermelon’s web gurus once wrote me, “Blogs are considered highly sharable, so write great blog posts for people to share!”

Feel free to share–especially with anyone you know who’s looking for a web designer.
Read Watermelon’s response to this review.

Computer Cartoons for use in newsletters, text books, etc.So cheap you can afford them even if you’ve paid your web designer way too much.