Everyone loves to complain. Unless you’re Jimmy Stewart or Mother Teresa it’s one of the things we do best as a species, and I’m sure you’re very good at it. For me, I got lots to complain about, be it the Mets or my three-year-old daughter peeing on the carpet this morning. But, on a professional level regarding Penguin Place I’ve been pretty fortunate. I love penguins, and how many people get to make a living at what they love? If you’re curious, you can see the story of Penguin Place in this link. About 25 years ago I began my penguin odyssey in a little shop in downtown N.Y. at South St. Seaport, and obviously as with everything in life there were some bumps along the way, but all in all, no major complaints. I left my brick and mortar penguin existence about 10 years ago dedicating myself to Penguin-Place.com as my full time gig. I ran it out of a windowless, former art studio attached to my downtown Brooklyn loft. No complaints there. Then about 5 years ago I realized I needed a new, improved, upgraded version of PP.com as it been about the same site for 8 years or so, and the world of on-line retail was passing me by at warp speed. The only people I had ever worked with regarding Penguin Place.com were the folks who designed and maintained my site since its inception way back in 1997. So, I naturally went to them for the upgrade. Sure thing, they said. We can do this for you and then some. Unfortunately, there had been lots of turnover at this company, and all the folks who worked with the initial PP.com start-up were gone. The company had downsized lots, and my new designer was working on his first commercial website (found this out after the fact). Not good. Over budget, and way behind schedule it launched months late, with an iceberg of problems at the worst possible time of the year. Right at the beginning of the holiday season. It was a disaster, and it appeared that my designer, who was in way over his head when it came to commercial website construction, was incapable of fixing this. In a panic as October was turning in November I desperately searched for someone, some company who could fix this and fast, and through a friend I found a west coast developer that specialized with Joomla based websites (which is what I had). They came to my rescue, patched things up in short order, and in turn gained my trust and gratitude. All good for the time being, but PP.com site still needed an upgrade, a new look and some big time changes. My west coast peeps now had my confidence as they helped me in my hour of need, and they impressed me with their organizational skills, cool tech lingo and the multiple on-line teleconference meetings. They seemed committed and were taking the time to put an upgrade plan together. But, as one deadline after another came and went, the Penguin-Place.com upgrade never came. Weeks, turned into months and then the months turned into, well you get the picture. Then this fall, with traffic and sales down, yet another holiday season approaching, and all talk, no action coming from my web developer, I had a feeling no changes were going to happen and was desperate once again. Because of the antiquated look and feel of Penguin Place, sales were down and the future looked bleak. So, fed up with all the delays and broken promises, I turned to a local web designer who I liked and talked a good talk. She was enthusiastic and had great ideas. But, in the end she turned out to be a wonderful designer, with bad communication skills, and as was the case of my original designer back in N.Y. she also did not have the skills to put together a commercial website, and without it sales and traffic continued to drop. The check out page / shopping cart, and many nuanced, yet crucial customer service aspects of Penguin Place were still lacking. Some aspects of the website were even worse than before. I was frustrated beyond words, as I’m sure many of my long time customers were as they tried to navigate the many speed bumps and dead ends that they faced on penguin place. We limped through this holiday season, and I knew I needed to find a professional web design company to turn this around once and for all. My Penguin Place Igloo needed to be righted. After interviewing a half dozen companies around the world, in the end I choose a local company called Left Click right here in my adopted home town of Northampton. In fact their office is only about 150 feet from Penguin Place. Let, me say first off they’ve been great. The first step to making Penguin Place whole again was not cosmetic, but only to get penguin place to act and interact like a 21st century commercial website. Including all the things shoppers take for granted. Get the check out page and shopping cart to work properly, easy customer login, install multi-tiered shipping options in plain sight on the check out page, a home page slide show, working pagination arrows (that means you can go from one page to the next within a category), customer service friendly e-mail confirmations and working links, etc. All the basics. Next came the cosmetic changes and adding things like customer wish lists and even a penguin birthday club, which takes us to our new look PP.com which I’m happy to say we re-launched a few days ago. All this they did within budget and on time. Great communication, easy to reach, nice people, they know what their doing, good listeners, with good ideas who actually act like they care. And all the time right next door. So, what I’m saying is as easy as it is to complain, I wanted to say thanks to Left Click. I wish Penguin Place had found you sooner.