It’s been frustrating for us, and probably you too, that errors pop up, and then go away, that the site wasn’t always mobile-responsive, and that some, but not all, site visitors continued to run into problems after our big site redesign. Frustrating that we couldn’t often replicate those problems on our end. We wanted to let you know we’ve been working on our tech issues, as well as continuing our conference planning activities, but that things take time so please be patient with us!
As you probably know, the team behind the LMCC – and the new nonprofit org, LMC Group – are all volunteers. Library staff, info pros, and library consultants from across North America who originally came together several years ago so that a conference on the important topic of library marketing wouldn’t fade away, and could in fact grow. Some of our team has changed over the years, but we’re all still volunteers pulling double or triple duty in conference planning roles plus our regular work.
We decided early in 2017 that the conference needed its own, fresh visual identity. We wanted the new identity to carry over on the website and social media. And we needed to work on the functionality of our website. See, we needed to work on our own marketing! We looked for a website design and function that could better handle all our concurrent sessions, multiple speakers, display the schedule on mobile devices, and generally help our potential conference attendees to better plan their experience.
Again, we’re just volunteers, and even having various marketing backgrounds and skills, we don’t have anyone on the team who is a trained web developer or programmer, nor do we have a sys admin or the like. The two of us handling web stuff are also not available to be “on-call” fixing web things 24/7. The LMC Group is a brand new nonprofit, so we aren’t hiring a web team any time soon either. Like lots of libraries, we make do with our limited resources, do lots of research, and learn ”on the job.” In that mindset, here we are, learning and sharing with you, and asking for patience.
It hasn’t helped that the day we were migrating our (supposedly) lovely new site design – there was a hack of the site and several other domains on the same host. We had had security plugins working, strong passwords, regular updates of WordPress and all other plugins – and yet, it still happened. No, we don’t know exactly how they got in. [It was a ‘cross-scripting malware injection’ attack – lots of hackers apparently scan websites looking for vulnerable .php or files to get in a backdoor of one site, and can infect/take-over related sites.]
Let this be a lesson: Update your websites often, schedule time to check and update plugins/widgets/extensions or apps, keep a reputable security plugin, and consider adding on other paid layers of security. Every site is vulnerable, even if you think you have nothing of interest to potential hackers.
We turned to outside help and got control of the site back, files cleaned up, and new security measures in place fairly quickly (I’d recommend SiteLock again – they were fast – but not cheap!). But coincidentally or not, ever since the hack, there’s been a lot of strange errors that happen for some viewers, but not all, and we just can’t seem to properly diagnose or fix. If you get an error message, use the contact form at the bottom of this post to let us know in as much detail as possible what you encounter (browser, version, desktop or mobile, what page, text of error, etc.).
While the premium WordPress theme we selected was designed specifically for events, like conferences, and was supposed to be modern, modular, and offer flexibility, it has caused quite a few headaches. Some of the problems we have run into are not related to the hack, nor to our migration from a development site to our live domain. They seem baked into our new, premium, purchased theme. There are two of us working on the website, neither call ourselves web developers, and we keep running into issues we haven’t encountered before. One of us can only login via Chrome now. The theme is full of short code. It won’t show us pre-existing internal pages to link to when you select ”add a hyper link.” There are quirks, like ”why do I have to hand code in HTML to get a bullet?!” [Or … we can’t style blog posts – like this one – properly!] The theme company’s recommended fixes for some errors involve not using common, safe WordPress tools that work just fine on millions of sites and which deny us functions we need – like making it easy to share these posts or our schedule or presenter pages!
There are serious headaches that make us want to toss things out and start over. But … That’s not a good option while we are in the middle of promoting all our fantastic sessions, speakers, and new keynoters, and gathering registrations!
So … that’s a peek behind the scenes, and us showing you our messy technical difficulties while we plead for understanding and patience. And possibly some more knowledgeable web volunteers to raise their hands and come on board the LMCC team before we get deep into planning the 2018 conference!