Welcome to the NEW melevsreef.com
It took me about two years to redesign melevsreef.com, my main website that I've cared for since roughly 2002. It has helped countless people over the years, and during my travels people come up to me often thanking me for said information provided assisted them in their reefkeeping. In early 2012, I began building a new version to replace the aged website -- using a database-driven CMS (content management system) instead of HTML-code that I was so very familiar with.
Of course while this was going on, I also helped organize and run MACNA 2012, dealt with the 400g tank's surprise leak and resulting 215g temporary system, ran into issues with the core programming, sought out help elsewhere, focused on customer orders, cared for DFWMAS club business, dealt with my son's needs and more. Many hours were dedicated to adding the 400g's various new page descriptions, even though that tank was actually in limbo for a long time. I added images to the Gallery section, something my previous site lacked. Pages were added to "On Location" and YouTube videos were embedded. The entire Critter ID section had to be imported one by one, which also features a predator section with any ying/yang situations we usually encounter. The shop section became more complex as new items were added, coupled with the current items already offered.
Yet there was a big underlying problem with the shipping module, and at least four different groups were tasked to solve the issue. In the end, it turned out the software included what I wanted/needed but it was merely added as a placeholder in the code, but didn't actually do anything. To fix that, someone would have to actually program some type of workaround or bring that portion to life. In January it occurred to me that the obvious solution was to abandon that feature entirely and change what I was doing instead. For years, all the RO/DI systems I sold were dropped shipped from my supplier. As of March, I'm the one building the systems and shipping them out myself.
As people discover the new website's look and feel, emails like this one should cease coming in:
Are you still building sumps? Your website hasn't been updated since 2010...
or this one:
Your blog seemed to stop some time ago. Hopefully you are still in the hobby and will receive this message...
Yes, melevsreef.com didn't have any new pages added nor updates made over the past few years. I began blogging about my tank on ReefAddicts.com (my other website) in January 2010 which they clearly didn't know or never correlated. All new information was being added to the newer version of melevsreef, which they never saw because I didn't want to put that same content simultaneously on the old site. I never dreamed it would take this long; the expectation was a big reveal would occur in September 2012 at our DFW MACNA event.
For anyone that knows me, they've seen how patient I can be with each project I tackle. I spent seven months building the new fishroom for the 400g from the ground up. I waited just about 18 months from the leak until I got my 400g replaced with a new tank. My website was just another one of those projects that I wanted to do right, rather than rush it out there half-done. However, Google was indexing the newer version even though it was only a temporary URL (melevsreef.biz) whilst I worked on various sections as time allowed and when motivation was strong.
At the same time, people close to me continued to point out that I needed the new version to go live because it put my business - my source of income - front and center where it belonged. With the old website, I provided the content to help others, and hoped they would purchase products from the shop section because they trusted me, or to thank me for making that knowledge available to them on a continued basis. I've never been a fan of being hard-sold and thus I don't do that to others. I try to follow the golden rule to treat others the way I want to be treated. When people try to sell me stuff, it's a turn off. Advertising bugs me, essentially. It's a necessary evil, and I tolerate it to some extent... unless I really need something and am actively seeking it out, then sell me on why it's the best product for my needs and I'll listen and make my decision accordingly. What I've done with the newer shop section is provide pictures, descriptions of the products, why I like to use it and providing links to my product reviews or a related blog to help the customer understand as much about the product before they buy. I'm selling the products I use myself because I've come to trust them for my reef's needs, and hope that translates to buyers. I'm here to answer your questions and to provide you with quality merchandise, but not be pushy about it in the process.
With the newer version, my shop section is on the front page for potential customers to see what I carry. My articles are in the dropdown menus, and if any are missing I'll be sure to add them in. Over the next week I'll be looking for errors, broken images, and the like. I've endeavored to keep the popular pages named the same so bookmarks will take people to the actual subject they expect to find, but I welcome you to explore the site to see what else it contains.
On Friday I held my breath, made a conscious decision to quit worrying about "what ifs" and changed .biz to .com to see if the site worked as expected. Within 24 hours, the switch took place and overall the transition went smoothly. I've viewed it on a PC, an iMac, an iPhone and an iPad. I've seen it in Firefox, Chrome and Safari.
I'm excited to get this stage completed, but I can tell you this: There is more to come. If you encounter anything odd, feel free to let me know so I can correct it. Melev's Reef is how I've chosen to earn a living so I need it to be right.