Design thinking

The principles behind the agile manifesto reminds me of a graphic design event I participated in last semester where a number of professionals (trained in the university and self taught) shared their common experiences with clients and expectations. They essentially pointed to these as the three tentpoles for successful projects:

  • Clients and developers working daily throughout the process and communicating face-to-face as much as possible (As opposed to just the start and final moments)
  • Building projects around motivated individuals. Having an enthusiastic (and understanding) attitude when considering the necessary granular work for a project is going to keep most developers from quitting.
  • Working simply and building on working software in small steps while communicating clearly the short term goals that have been met along the way.

That same event was effective in demystifying the magical “in between” the start and finish of projects. Standing with the aforementioned tentpoles as a foundation and communicating what what has been done before, what’s possible and what we could “try,” in the most straightforward, logical way brings every difficult project into a better perspective.

It was also helpful to go through the qualities of the Twenty Seventeen theme. It’s also a great coincidence that we’re on the subject of adding autoplay video/audio to the front page of a website as MySpace recently experienced its massive loss of songs added (generally on the front page). Overall, I am excited to continue adding to my personal website.

I’m still trying to learn the merits of PHP working within HTML (and needing a server) as opposed to linking to a JavaScript document, and I believe I’ll have to go through the previous assignment with some assistance (which I wrote natively and added as one commit when I realized later it should have been multiple granular edits along the way.)

Trying to Take It All In

Out of all the topics we have learned in class, I was hoping I could hide away from php. I was sure that I made an enemy out of php with my lack of understanding of its functions. During the past two classes, I have questioned Greg and Laura about the purpose of php and I am proud to say that I have at least made progress with my understanding of php from this week’s assignment. Since I originally started out pretty desperate for php help, I made it a priority to read a little more on php so I can learn some cool tricks before digging into the assignment. One of my favorite php tricks is the ability to create forms! I was happy to see something php related work on my homepage because I initially came in thinking nothing would work. However, there were a few php tricks that didn’t work on my homepage prototype and I know I still have a lot to learn. How do you know if the cookies function from php works on your page if cookies are more behind-the-scenes? After taking a glance at the Twenty Seventeen on GitHub, I noticed that there were many php files. Is it easier to create many files rather than place all the php code within html or one php file? I don’t quite understand why there are so many files for twenty-seventeen here?

On a lighter note, I found the design thinking reading to be mind blowing and change the way I think about web development. In particular this quote allowed me to think of web development as a creative skill, “when you add ‘thinking’ to the word ‘design, it’s no longer about color or decoration. It’s now about process. It’s about getting to a more intentional outcome. It’s about thinking about the experience of the customer, user, and employee.” Basically, web development falls into the design realm since it is a process where a lot of thinking is involved as witnesses in this class, right?

WordPress and PHP

For this week’s assignments when we were going over WordPress more in depth and touching back on our previous lessons regarding PHP, I felt confident at first. However, that quickly waned as I realized that it was true, everything is getting harder as the semester progresses on. I will add that I was personally unable to attend the class session this week in class and reviewed the lecture with the substitute Laura via her shared video. I followed along while watching the video as we reviewed the readings regarding making a child theme and felt successful initially, but for some reason I have yet to figure out, could not make my child theme from my folder via wp-content —> themes to appear on WordPress itself. I tried restarting the programs, my computer, WordPress, make sure I had no spelling errors, played around with the text on the lines and Google searched solutions to no avail. I spent more time on this than I’d like to admit but cut my loses after multiple hours. This is absolutely one reason why I wish I could have made it in-person this week. However, I did feel still relatively confident in my ability to figure out WordPress – because I appears very user-friendly and more simple than it could be. Regarding the PHP assignment this week to make five PHP features and commit them to GitHub, I literally have no idea what I am doing and feel like I have lost my mind. Initially I was unsure of where to actually write PHP – WordPress, GitHub homepage or Gallery assignment? So I settled on GitHub, the first homepage attempt from weeks prior. I didn’t see my text change colors to recognize functions and command in Sublime text, which was unsettling. I watch numerous YouTube videos and Google searched how to include PHP an reviewed the lessons on learn-php.org again. I read online somewhere while Googling that GitHub only hosts static material and doesn’t read PHP or similar code. So here I am confused and will try to make sense of it in-person tomorrow, apologies.

Design Thinking

The PHP assignment for this week was interesting. I am not a big fan of PHP and I do not find it as useful as I would like it to be. I am sure PHP is very useful for people who know how to use it well.

The Twenty Seventeen reading was full of information. The design they offer makes it easy for us to use WordPress and work on adding various features to our webpage. The different parts of the site is well organized for the user to simply add content.

The concept of an agile business model is rather new because it offers continuous work and feedback on a project. Early and continuous delivery are key in this method. The project must be worked on daily. Both the business people and developers must work together. There needs to be open chains of communications to make sure everyone is on the same page and understand the timeline expected. A working software is the ultimate goal. The project must have intervals with various deadlines, and once feedback is given after each deadline, the developers can go back and make changes.

Design Thinking is a concept that is heard frequently. The concept has a positive connotation and it discusses the new approach by companies which has helped them become more successful. It is a design methodology to solve complex problems by drawing upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systematic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be. The author believes that Design Thinking is just a different name to Design. It offers nothing new. Creating a design is not just making something look good, but it is also about problem solving and finding an end-to-end solution. Many companies push back the design aspect of a project till the very end. This is because they think they need to create a product and at the end create its design and make it look nice. This is a wrong approach. Design, which is now called Design Thinking, should be introduced early on in the game, in order to find solutions to the problem and cater to the user’s needs. Therefore, changing the name from Design to Design Thinking, non-designers are now looking at design in a more complex matter.  It’s using the basic, proven tools of design to the maximum effect. This new name to Design has given designers more power and authority especially at the beginning of the project, which is a plus.

Rethinking – Design Thinking!

Apart from the WordPress documentations and the customizing features; from the header  media,  to adding still images and videos to the the front pages of a website, color customization, among other creative features. The instructions seem fairly straight forward.  I was however wondering how incorporating the programming languages like HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, jQuery etc will be – maybe I am just overthinking it.

The traveler with the stone soup!

The most interesting read was from the piece on design thinking and how a mere change of an old concept could alter public perception of it. The “traveler with the stone soup” allegory was brilliant and precise in helping to demystify the somewhat esoteric view of “design thinking”. Frankly I fall within the ranks of the many who viewed design as an after thought and not a solution mechanism as the writer intelligently opined.

I didn’t quite understand the codes on GitHub  part, I tried checking the content of a few of them and the skipped to the next readings. The agile best practices link went straight to the Plural Sight website . I’m not sure if that is the right page, so I googled the Agile best practice video on YouTube. The principles behind the Agile manifesto and their desire to employ the best practices promote the best relationship between the human experience and software, is admirable.

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan”

After all, programmers do care about the impact and member experience of their clients contrary to the general perception.

PHP vol.2

This week was quite different in terms of the coursework for the Web Development course. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the class on Wednesday because of another class that took place on the same day. Fortunately, thanks to the classroom recording I was able to catch up on some relevant concepts. Also, the little “student support group” helped me to complete the assignment on time, with most of the code working on the actual webpage. However, there’s still a lot of work ahead of me, especially if I want to include some more interactive components on my website for the final project.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my final website will have a blog/news format, where I will upload different types of content. For this week’s project I was able to figure out how and apply my knowledge of PHP in order to add forms. As it turned out, of the most unique features of PHP is the way it handles HTML forms. Based on what I have created for this assignment, I would be able to include forms that could potentially help me to make my website more interactive and user-friendly. For instance, I could create a message box, where a user could leave a message for me in regards to the content I would upload there.

To conclude, a good benefit of using PHP is that it can interact with many different database languages. I am excited to participate in the class tomorrow, since I still need some more practice as it comes to combining PHP and HTML languages. I would also want to learn how to create a stand-alone PHP tab, instead of including everything on the HTML tab. I feel like this knowledge would be beneficial, since having both scripts on the same “page” turns out to be confusing – especially if I want to make edits to a specific part of the code.

Design Thinking and the Return of PHP

Reflections on the Homework

This week’s homework was a good reminder of how fast a skill can atrophy in the face of Spring Break. While searching for the simplest PHP features I could find, I realized that I still don’t really know how PHP interacts with the base of a website’s HTML. I understand that PHP is a server-side language that can create functionality on a website that HTML can’t do alone. But  I never stopped to consider how the two languages “talk” to one another.

I took to Google, hoping for a quick bit of code similar to the one that you use to link a css stylesheet to an html page. No such luck.

What I found were forums with varying opinions on whether you could code PHP directly into your HTML file. The conclusion I drew was that it’s best to keep files separate (hello, Separation of Concerns), but, like CSS, PHP can work when referenced directly in an HTML file.

I also learned that in order to get the PHP functions to show up, you need to be hooked into a server (makes sense) or server software like Apache. I’m assuming this is where something like MAMP comes into play, but to be honest, that’s where my train of thought ran out of steam.

So, here are some questions I still have: What’s the best way to set up a local server for simple websites like our homepage repos? What’s the best way to test the specific functions of a PHP script? And how do you reference your PHP file in an HTML file?

Readings on Design Thinking

Switching gears to focus on the future, for a moment. I’m grateful to have had these reminders about good design and user experience as we begin to plan out our final projects. I found the Medium reading, “Shh! Don’t Tell Them There’s No Magic In Design Thinking,” particularly interesting, because I hadn’t thought about the tenants of Design Thinking in that way before—i.e., the concepts have been part of good development forever, but now people are starting to pay attention. Here are my favorite mantras/takeaways, which, consequently, are the ones that I think will be the hardest for me to master:

  • We’re going to do things differently from how we’ve always done it before.
  • We’re going to study problems before we jump to solutions.
  • We’re going to diverge on our best ideas before picking the one that matches the solution best.

Never used WordPress before

Reading about themes and how they interact with WordPress seemed relatively straight-forward. When I think of a theme, I think of it as to something similar to the different themes available on PowerPoint of Word documents – they do all the design or color schemes for you. Now with the templates, those appear to be a bit more intricate on WordPress than choosing a different theme. Index, home single and so on .php seem like elements that strictly control posts in WordPress. To be honest, I have never had any experience on WordPress before. Even though I have heard of it I know that it is one of the most widely used hosting sites, so this will be interesting and hopefully not too frustrating for me to learn alongside employing php. When reading about child and parent themes, the concept of discerning the difference between the two is reassuring since that it something I can understand without re-reading. As for reading about plugins, I like how sincerely they start off by stating that there is a “cardinal rule” for WordPress – not to touch the core. This is good to know for someone with no existing experience because I will remember that statement. So it seems that plugins are what allow WordPress to add any additional functionality to my site, which is cool. To my understanding formats, they change the layout or display of certain elements such as images, gallery, videos and such. Also good to note that when concerning post types, that it is not recommended that I do custom post types along with a theme, but should instead use a plugin. The custom data in the form of meta-data seems to be a fun/interesting way to incorporate more tidbits of information on my WordPress site. It reminds me of the same available stuff you would see on Facebook.

website theme development

This week’s readings on theme development and parent/child themes was good. In the past, when I’ve used WordPress themes they were usually the pre-made ones. I’m really interested in learning more for the most customization ability possible. (As for plugins, I’ve only dabbled in them in the past.)

Having the formats laid out in the post themes section was helpful. I already knew about galleries, quotes, images, video and link options. But the aside function is new to me from a programming/developer perspective. And within the suggested styling section of that same page, I actually think I found what I previously was curious about doing (per my final project idea rundown). It says a chat option is available. I wasn’t sure if this was the same style that customer service friendly pages have (with automated responses queued for simple questions and more specific questions sent directly to on-call staffers). But if it is, I’m definitely interested in pursuing this for added functionality.

I’ll also be revisiting some of I believe week 4’s lessons on scripting zoom-in function for images after the cursor hovers over them. And customizing my navigation bar is something I’m looking forward to, considering I’ve only been able to use the limited settings from pre-made themes in the past.

I also am grateful for the post types to be neatly arranged in the section on this topic. I have something to reference for my boiler plate, as opposed to pulling them together at the end and forgetting the other page options apart from the basic index.html, Java and CSS pages. I know from the start to create a page for each and organize them accordingly.

And it’s finally time to write up my developer profile. I’ve already got the content from my interview and I can finish writing it this week. I was fortunate to have a great subject, who is currently employed with Facebook.