I am extremely excited about my final project. As I explained in my final project pitch, I will be working part-time, so my business idea of creating a business site is going to help me build a name for myself and freelance my work. I have always wanted to create my own business website and this will be a step into my dream of building my business. I was thinking of combining a personal blog with information and details about the business services that offer. I want the site to reflect my brand and personal touch and reputation.
I am still conflicted on who to target specifically and what would be the best approach for my audience. I want to do more research on my audience and learn more about my best opportunities are. I have always been interested in the food and hospitality industry. I am going to work with a coffee shop for my capstone class and help them create a business strategy for their digital platforms. That would be a great chance for me to see my interest in that industry and whether or not I want to continue in that industry and line of work. My background is mainly doing political PR. I worked for the embassy of Jordan and will be moving to work for an international organization in a few weeks. Private companies are profit-driven, while working in international development is not. It is driven by making a difference and leaving a positive impact in the world, as well building a good brand and reputation. Their mission is usually intangible.
For the readings this week, I was really interested to learn more about the different concepts used to describe different aspects of a site. Learning more about themes and formats allowed me to understand the backend work that comes into play to create the final version of a site, which is beneficial when building a site. While the content and the style are very important to the way a site is displayed, the theme creates an overall look to the final version of the site. A post type is also another aspect to the different types of content in WordPress. The post type shows how different posts have different content and layouts. For my new job I will be working with meta-data a lot. I was happy to get that exposure in our readings.
I am starting a new job where I will be working as a consultant. I will be working a set number of days per year, which leaves me with a free day or two a week. I want to create a business site where I promote my work, portfolio, resume, ideas about digital communications, etc. I would use the website to promote my business and book clients. The audience for this site would be small businesses who are looking for someone to boost their social media and digital platforms. I would like to target the food and restaurant industry but could expand to more industries.
My website is going to have my resume and portfolio on the main page. The top of the website will have drop-downs that will take the site visitor to services, fun facts, advice, and contact information. Every page will include icons to my social media handles.
PHP was a lot of fun to learn and I really enjoyed it. I did, however, find the logic behind it a little bit redundant. I had to go over the code multiple times to understand the logic. I ended up copying the code from the top into the exercises most of the time and running it in order to see how it comes out and why. The language is also aesthetically ugly and has a slow speed. Most recently, however, there have been many changes to PHP and a tremendous speed gain. Generally speaking, PHP is an easy language to learn and tutorials are very common and often quite good, so I was not sure why I had a hard time with it.
I was curious to learn why software developers used PHP so I started reading more about it. Many developers like it, but others really do not. The language is mostly used on the server side, so it runs on the web server software. The name PHP initially stood for Personal Home Page and then later it changed to Hypertext Preprocessor.
You can do anything with PHP including blogs, scripts to process data, writing desktop applications, etc. The bottom line with this particular language is that PHP is everywhere, so a lot of extremely popular software is written in using it. WordPress is the biggest example that uses PHP. It is low cost and accepted globally, so you can use it in all website development. It also supports a wide range of databases.
I want to take some time to explore WordPress and see how PHP is utilized there. I have never worked with WordPress before so this is a great opportunity to put the two together in order to understand the bigger picture. I am going to start using Drupal more often so I want to see how PHP is used there as well.
For the past few weeks, we have been doing various short exercises to learn HTML, CSS and jQuery. We have been doing them separately or only in pieces each time. This week, the gallery exercise was perfectly timed because we got to see a bigger picture of the three languages and see how all work together to create a full project from beginning to end.
It was extremely helpful that we worked in class on the gallery on Tuesday. Since this was our first full project, it would have been hard to wrap our head around the logic of the jQuery code. I would suggest offering more direction in the prompt itself just to give more input into our first project.
I used Google a lot to try and find tutorials and all sorts of help online. Many websites mentioned a Lightbox that you download and add into the code to help make the gallery get set up more easily. Since we are still in the early stages of coding and we have advanced in the learning process, we had to go about it in the long manner and actually explore it step by step. I decided to make the next and previous buttons the focus of my code. The first image was my first slide and the rest followed as we clicked on the next button or the previous button. I found it difficult however to figure out the code needed to have the gallery reset once we go through the entire carousel. I was not sure if I did the first part right but I did not really add anything for the second part. The good news is that my HTML and CSS were not difficult to do and pretty straightforward, but I spent around 3-4 hours a day since Thursday trying to figure out jQuery code. I decided to go with my own logic and something different from the logic we did in class. I realized that I need to spend a few more hours in the next couple of days getting more comfortable with the handlers. I need to become more natural with understand the code and reading it as an actual sentence.
I did a mistake while doing the chapters this week. I did the interactive lessons, then the quizzes for all the chapters and then I went back to do the freeform projects for each chapter. The issue was that I got the concepts all confused and when I tried to do the freeform projects I became confused with all the information and the concepts I had learnt. For the future, I am going to do each chapter fully and separately from one another and I am going to do all the parts of the chapter at the same time and not in pieces so that I apply whatever concepts I learnt immediately. This will help me build one new information in a more organized way.
I liked how Codecademy walked us through the logic behind all the shortcuts they have. For example, they do a lesson on if/else and show us how it can get complicated when dealing with more code and when more items are included. Then in the lesson after, they teach us how to use functions to make the code simpler. It can be a little frustrating to learn something and practice it, then to realize it is useless because there is an easier shortcut. However, I think it is important to understand the logic behind all the shortcuts.
CSS was exciting to get to figure out this week. We have been working on HTML and the content of a page. Getting the chance to take our work a step further and develop a design for the content was interesting. I did the Codacademy lesson “A closer look at CSS,” but did not finish it and, when I went back the next day, I had to upgrade to pro so I did the Khan Academy exercise. I found the Khan Academy one very useful and a better way of learning for me because it was easier for me to listen to someone narrate than to read the instructions in Codecademy. However, I prefer Codecademy’s exercises because they are more interactive and they walk you through everything step at a time.
The piece about responsive web design that we had to read for class this week is a very crucial one to understand. It is extremely important to understand your audience and cater your website accordingly. User experience is one of the most important areas that businesses need to focus on when providing a service for their customers. The way the website looks and the way it is designed are necessary for that. A business must conduct research to know who their target audience is and the medium used to access a business’s website. For example, if your business is attractive for millennials, they are most likely to use their phones to access your website. You need to make sure your web pages can be viewed well on phones. Since web pages are originally set up for desktop view, it is important to make sure the viewport is suitable for phones.
As for the GitHub portion, it took me some time to figure out GitHub desktop. I was confused in the beginning because I thought Sublime and GitHub are connected. I realized after googling and reading more that Sublime is one of many text editors for code and GitHub is a hosting site to upload our work and share with others. My goal in the next couple of days/weeks is to get more comfortable using Github.
This week was the first week to delve into the first exercise of coding and learning more about HTML. I really enjoyed the exercise and the steps I took to create the final outcomes. It was a little frustrating in the beginning to get something wrong because I forgot to add a comma or a “>”. Then I came to realize that every single symbol, letter, and space matter — which is crucial in our field of work — and the importance of attention to details in coding. Also, the organization and the neatness of the code and the spaces used are essential to the final product. I am very excited to get started with CSS because I am really interested in developing more knowledge about design, which is as important — if not more important — than the content.
One of the readings shows a great analogy of building a website and building a house. The analogy helped me understand the layers of work that go into putting together a house apply in the same way we put together pieces to have the final product of a website. This understanding of structure helps journalists in laying out their work and creating that final piece of work.
I found it most interesting to learn more about the browser’s web inspector. We started the exercise in class but I got more into it this week with the readings. I was playing around with different pages and looking at the HTML code. I found it very helpful that you can hover over the code and it will highlight on the website to show you where it is. I am also fascinated by the back-end work of websites.
I am excited to be learning more about the various structures of a website in the next few weeks and see how these are out together to create the final product.
Our world is constantly developing and changing. From the readings, we can see how the internet evolved to lead us to where we are today. It is not going to stop here and as our demand increases, the urge to create something new is a requirement. As our world becomes more complex, the problems we face do too. Computational thinking is a critical way to solve such problems because we need to understand and assess the situation before taking a stab at solving it.
I found it very interesting to learn more about the importance of our mindset behind learning how to code. As PR professionals, we understand the importance of digital platforms and how crucial it is to utilize them as best as possible. A couple of years ago, I was working for a tech company that helped couples plan their weddings. One of our main goals was to constantly update our mobile app to make it as user-friendly as possible. Consumers are always on their phones and we need to meet such demand. We must understand human behavior to understand their needs. Journalism is evolving and in order to do better journalism, we need to incorporate innovation and technology. We must look at a matter as a whole then dissect it into small pieces, in order to find patterns and understand what the issue is made up of.