August 27, 2015
I wanted to share ideas about the future of our Green Coffee List and our Reviews, so click here to jump down the page if you want to skip all my phlegmatic ramblings and see the mockup images that envision our future Green Coffee List. -Tom
(The SM website banner circa 2006)
I'm not going to be opaque here ... things have been rough on us the last few months. It has led me to some reflection about 17 years of Sweet Maria's. Please excuse my candor; my style is not the usual press-release pablum.
The web has changed so much since those days when I used a text editor to write basic html and upload the first Sweet Maria's site. That was late 1997, not the early internet by any means, but also not the fancy graphicized browsing experience of 2010 nor the mobile-centric internet of today.
I reluctantly signed on to a basic shopping cart (Miva Merchant - it still exists!) in 2000 or so, because I just couldn't handle phone and fax orders at that point. And my "secure order form" that was called up by https but sent an unencrypted email (!) wasn't really up to snuff. But in 2000, it wasn't a big issue. These days, both the security requirements and the demand for features is way beyond any of my simple abilities. I'm just a user, I left the room at Dreamweaver 8.0
Even then, and more-so now, our site is a lumbering behemoth. There are many thousands of unique pages, so many old articles (many still worth preserving, some outdated), thousands of archived reviews, old travelogues, all these are tremendously important to me. Yes, we were always a store too. But shopping wasn't the only activity I was aiming at with this endeavor. I wanted Sweet Maria's to be a lot more because my focus was and is much more: I wanted Sweet Maria's to reflect myself and my interests in coffee, in culture, and in a broadening understanding of both.
Sadly, a lot of people are going to be so frustrated trying to find all that content, or to place an order in a reasonable amount of time, that they aren't going to have the patience to share that vision. It's an overreaction I know, but my feeling the last months has been that Sweet Maria's sucks, because our site sucks, and the site is basically our connection with our audience. That hasn't stopped me from my job sourcing coffee, from traveling, making videos and podcasts etc. But it's been a pall...