After many months of mind-numbing work, the “new and improved” Speaking of Speech.com is finally done! If you’ve been following the saga on this blog and on Facebook, you’ll know that I was forced to recreate the entire site, including the HUGE Materials Exchange, or risk the site being lost when the web host upgraded. Having been in this same position 10 years when the first web host went out of business, I knew how much time and effort it would take and, frankly, very seriously considered just shutting down the site. I put out a survey to see if the site was still of any value to SLPs. After all, times have changed since the site was first developed many years ago. The response was overwhelming! Well over 3000 SLPs responded in the first few days; 92% said the Materials Exchange was the feature they used most. Half of the respondents took the time to write comments, all in the vein of “PLEASE DON’T SHUT DOWN THE SITE!” I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of the very kind words of support and encouragement. Quite honestly, that’s what gave me the motivation to save the site. (I only regret that I am unable to answer each comment personally, as every one truly touched my heart). Attempts to hire someone to redo the site fell through, so I took on the project myself. Ugh.
Saving the site turned out to be quite an adventure. I did a bare-bones recreation of the site on 5 different platforms to see which was most suitable. Four platforms turned out to be insufficient for one reason or another, so I canceled those and went with the fifth. I built one entire page of materials on the Materials Exchange, only to find out that when the user downloaded the material, the document names change from the original, descriptive titles to a crazy string of numbers! This threw me into panic mode, and necessitated multiple phone calls to the host’s tech support to figure out a work-around. I also wanted to be sure that I’d never, EVER have to go through this “download, upload, type, and link” routine again. The solution was for me to purchase a second site used for Cloud storage of the thousands of materials. Files stored on that site retained their names when downloaded. Whew! I had to purchase a few additional upgrades so that the site would work better than ever. It is now 51 pages long (not including all of the message boards!), but you’ll it very easy to navigate.
After thinking very long and hard about it, I took the suggestion of many SLPs and added a “donate” button to the top of the site. It has always been my intention that the site would be free for all to use, and that is still the case. However, if anyone wants to donate any amount to help with the expenses of keeping the site running, I would be ever so grateful. I did add some advertising to the site as unobtrusively as possible; that generates pennies a day, but every little bit helps.
My goal was to have the new site up and running before the start of my new school year, AND I DID IT!!! (I go back to school on Monday). I truly hope that you enjoy the new format and that you continue to use it often. If you haven’t checked out the boards in the SLP Message Center, please do! The message boards provide a great way to dialogue with colleagues around the world. The HELP LINE message board is such a lively place that you can sign up for a daily digest of new posts. I check this and the other boards daily and always learn something new. I hope you’ll join in the conversations! I also hope you’ll contribute some new materials to the MATERIALS EXCHANGE. Directions are on the site.
I’ll be doing some tweaking here and there over the next few weeks, but hope that, overall, the site works well for you just as it is, because I really need a break! 🙂 Many thanks again to all for your support and encouragement! I hope you all have a happy, healthy, rewarding new school year!!!