With an extra two weeks to report on my project, this period has been exceptionally kind to me and my web quest. I’ve managed to:
- Get my site live
- Publish my first few blog posts
- Insert my first few lines of CSS
- Install a dozen plugins
- Explore FTP files
- Create engaging images for my site
- Publish our organization’s database of pollinator plants
It is one thing to tell you of my process, but another to show it. So without further ado, here is the site.
I modelled my site after other ones in the same field of interest that I’m publishing about. The large image before the content loop for example, was created to get our message across immediately, and earn the attention of an otherwise indifferent visitor. This is a common practice amongst businesses and other non-profit organizations. I also decided to upload some of the plant research conducted within our organization, in hopes of inspiring like minds to pursue a similar path. This turned out to be the “Plant Profiles” on the menu, and is heavily inspired by UBC’s “Grow Green Guide”. Perhaps one of the most important features I embedded into my site is the contact form, and the abundance of links I’ve provided to the page. This invites interaction with our visitors, and allows for potential partnerships in the future.
Surprisingly, the biggest challenge these weeks was creating the blog posts. They required a significant amount of time and had a different admin interface than the one I am use to. The theme I used on my site came with unneeded blog decorations, and took away from the content of our posts. Because these customizations were ingrained into my page template, I was required to write a few lines of code in order to get rid of them. This sent me down a rabbit hole of knowledge, and ultimately brought me to learn the basics of CSS. One major takeaway from these 4-weeks is that no site requires just a web-developer. A site a collection of media and information you hope to get across to your audience, and requires multiple talents to create an effective online page. For example, I recruitted aspiring writers, graphic designers, and programmers within our organization to help build my site.
- Most of my research information exists online, in a textbook and generalized format. Web design however, presents every developer with different challenges and workloads for their projects, making it incredibly difficult to get help on specific questions. This can be compared to boxing. No matter how much you prep for a match ahead of time, their is always a cloud of uncertainty that arises during the process. When you step up to fight, nearly all mechanics and short term strategies go out the window, since each round is a completely different entity governed by its own scientific laws. Mr. Nortcott has been especially helpful because he provides me with personalized guidelines that adhere to my specific situation, weeding out any uneeded information. For example, we covered embedding Google Maps because it seemed appropriate to my contact related pages.
- Because of my interest in programming, Mr. Northcott suggested that I pursue this topic through online courses (which is more efficient than studying code textbooks!). This lead me to find an organization called “Free Code Camp” and their free HTML/CSS course. It was much lighter than I anticipated, and I managed to finish a quarter of the course in a single day. This boosted my confidence in the technical aspects of web design, and gave me insight to the rigours of software development.
- Asides software engineering, Mr. Northcott also has a very clear understanding of optimizing a page for business purposes. This has helped me develop personal standards for myself, and research features that would help my site receive more leads. Mentorship aside, I have been continuously motivated to further improve my site by the expansion of our organization itself. To catch up with the progress we’ve been making, I’ve been making constant updates and additional functionalities in order to cater towards our audience. Because of this constant pressure, I am weeks ahead of the schedule I originally set for myself.
- Our sessions are mostly conducted in the form of a conversation, picking up new discussion points as we progress. This opens up my project to adopt foreign and otherwise unknown intricacies and characteristics. For example, we’d dabble in grammatical rules of thumb and gradually transition to hex codes. Like I anticipated during my first week, we don’t typically cover any technical aspects of web design, and instead pursue tangent inquiries in order to further develop my breadth of front-end and back-end web design.
- Although I’ve gained a relatively enormous increase of knowledge in web design, there are still many concepts that I fail to put into words. As I have mentioned before, Mr.Northcott has an incredible talent for sniffing out these details, and filling me in on them before progressing with our discussion. For example, when I was struggling to inquire about the “inspect” feature of a web page, he gave me a crash course on server-side vs client-side requests.
- From our first meeting I was able to recall his history with code, and observe the characteristics that entail putting thousands of hours into software design. For example, Mr. Northcott has an exceptional understanding of tone of voice, discerning the differences between human communication and machine communication on a whim. It is also a delight sharing my environmental passions with him, often finding myself spewing information about “the Pollinator Project” and its vision. I don’t know too much about his personal life, but I anticipate that this knowledge gap will weaken with time.
Overall, I’m extremely satisfied with my progress. I don’t think i’ve procrastinated once during this process, and I don’t expect to anytime soon. Until next time.