IN-DEPTH

Alright! This week’s progress motivated me more than it did frustrate – which is a statement I rarely get to associate with my TALONS projects!

Here are my main takeaway’s from the past two weeks:

  • WordPress is best CMS in terms of ease of use, access to external plugins (functions), and community forums.
  • Do not overload your site with flashy and necessary elements. A real world example of this point would be roaming a candy shop. Although there are literally millions of colorful options, gluttony will always result poorly for your health.
  • A cheap, shared server is perfect for the nature of my project. It costs as low as $0.99 a month, but offers a user friendly interface and value hosting. The value of hosting is usually dependent on three factors: speed, up-time, and server capabilities. Speed measures how long it takes to communicate with your site – or in simpler terms, how fast your page loads. The industry standard is around 0.7 seconds.Up-time measures how often the server remains online without failure. A good up-time range from 95%-100%. Capabilities is an umbrella term for the statistics of the server. It refers to bandwidth, website maximum, etc. Shared hosting is exactly what it sounds like – a budget friendly option that crams thousands of clients onto a single server.
  • SEO refers to how well your pages rank on search engines. SEO is the reason why youtube.com shows first when you search for “videos”. It is crucial for enterprising corporations, but quite irrelevant in my situation. SEO varies from search engine to search engine, but the similar requirements consist of: lawful operations, page speed, and originality of content

So what did I do and what were the challenges?

Perhaps my biggest accomplishment these two weeks was installing WordPress on a hosted platform. I first purchased hosting from the company “Namecheap”, which offered a dirt cheap price tag. In total, I spent $12 – a dollar per month for the next year. Its interface is created by a company called cPanel, which provides quick and easy CMS installs via a software called Softaculous (ridiculous name by the way). After a few questions, it did its magic and installed WordPress onto the server.

What I then realized was that I had almost zero options for site customization! I could change the name, and add logos, but that was about it. Fortunately, one of my teenage neighbours was a hobby blogger, who offered to send me a theme called “Monstroid 2” that allows for easy changes in its appearance. Installing this theme was the highlight of my week, but also brought some frustrations along with it. In order to install this particular theme, there were a few server requirements. I met all but one: a maximum execution time of 60s (I have no idea what this is). In order to fix this issue, I consulted the WordPress elders of Youtube. I was instructed to login to cPanel, and somehow manage to find the PHP (a programming language that mainly handles communications between a server and page) document for my website. If you didn’t understand anything I said in the last sentence, I empasize with you. After an hour of sorting through strangley named folders, I finally found a document called “PHP.ini”. Within this document, I had to locate the line called “max_execution_time” and change its value from 30’s to 60’s. And just like that, I nervously wrote my first line of code! Although I was more than uncomfortable in this situation, I received my first sense of accomplishment.

Following this excursion, my theme installed without any problems.

This week was alot more dynamic than I anticipated. Now that I have all the technical aspects of my project complete, I can start applying my creativity by next week. In addition, I also decided to change my mentor. Although Mr. Hwa offered to help, I just don’t know how we can get our schedules to align. Because he is the CEO of a media company, it is very difficult to meet him face to face. Most of the communication I’ve had with him since has been through my parents, who are connected with him via a Chinese social media platform. In addition, there is a slight language barrier between us. He speaks english about as well as I speak Chinese, which will impede our conversations – which will predominately going to be about technical skills/terms.

Because of his outgoing nature, it was no issue communicating this to him. After networking with my peers, I discovered that the father of one of my classmates is involved with web design: Phillip Northcott.  I shot him an e-mail, and he responded within a matter of seconds. Because he is no stranger to volunteer work, he already has a criminal record check completed. I am hoping to schedule a meeting with him before the next blog post.

From previous experience, I’ve compiled a list of strategies to ensure that this mentor/mentee relationship will go well:

  1. Always plan ahead of time

A lot of careful consideration and planning is required to run a successful meeting before you and your mentor. A general rule of thumb I use is always plan for two weeks ahead, and then work your way around that range to find a suitable date.

2. Always come with a research list of topics to explore with your mentor

Your mentor should never feel like they are working harder than you are to educate yourself. While I am planning my meetings, I usually curate a list of central ideas or skills that I need to improve upon. Here are some things currently on my list: What are specific programming languages used for? What is the difference between web-design, and programming a website? What makes a successful landing page?

3. Apply and further develop the answers to your questions into a tangible list of actions

This squeezes out every once of knowledge your mentor is trying to teach you. It is never a good thing to be pedantic!

That concludes all the events, knowledge, and frustrations that transpired in the past week. I am locked, loaded, and ready to actually start designing a web-page, so anticipate a colourful blog post in the next two weeks!