Site Setup Journal: Prologue

I think that most of the people involved in creating software for the web have completely forgotten what it’s like to navigate these waters, and that “our setup is so simple!” statements are in general full of crap. Over the next few days, I am going to try to set up up a website on a domain I own using only the documentation and support available to the average person (who doesn’t have access to lead developers and heads of support teams). Is this decision predicated by the fact that none of those people were around when I tried pinging them today at 6am? Well, yes, yes it is. But given the frustration level I have encountered in the first 2 hours alone, I am glad they’re not around right now. I’ve been setting up websites since 1999, and I think we are making the process harder, not easier.

Get ready for some painful descriptions of just how janky all our product flows and documentation are. I know I’m wincing.

I’m thinking this will wind up being the equivalent of a play in 3 acts, but I could be wrong — it depends on how complicated things get.

Screen shot of unavailable webpage


A quiet home in the Pacific Northwest featuring cable internet with advertised speeds of 25Mbps down/10Mbps up. A comfortable bed with pillows propped against the headboard, against which our main character lounges at the opening of Act I, equipped with a MacBook Air circa 2010, an iPhone 5s, and a debit card.

Cast of Characters

Jen Mylo: An average web user trying to set up a site for the first time.

GoDaddy: The registrar holding the domain [Ed. Note: Legacy registrar; I’ll switch it to namecheap at some point before it’s time to renew].

Dreamhost: A web hosting company that Jen Mylo has loved forever and that employs one of her favorite people as their resident WP expert. They were hosting non-profits for free before it was cool.

WordPress: An open source content management system you can use to run a website. Claims a famous 5-minute install, “well-known for its ease of installation.” Rumor has it this web app is made by a bunch of weirdos.

BuddyPress: An open source WordPress plugin that creates a social network on your site. Also made by weirdos.

Rivermark Community Credit Union: A community credit union in Portland, OR that likes to do everything online; where Jen Mylo keeps some of her money.

Stay tuned for Act I!

6 thoughts on “Site Setup Journal: Prologue

  1. I look forward to seeing the future articles. I am actually doing a very similar thing. It will be interesting to see how the experiences differ and are the same.


  2. Looking forward to seeing the future articles!

    Full disclosure – I work for GoDaddy and am one of many folks championing the revamping of our help, setup and quick start tools. We have a ways to go so looking forward to the insights you call out.


  3. I’m really curious for your findings on this project. Although I haven’t had any real problems with setting up a WP site, I do know a lot of people who would never have succeeded without help.

    The “famous 5-minute install” can be true, but only when you’ve got some basic knowledge about webservers/databases/FTP. While WP’s setup isn’t that hard (there are definately more complex programs out there), it could probably be simplified further.

    I’ll be looking forward to reading your articles on this project! :)

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