Author Archives: Kyana Harris

Week 8 – Nervous but Trying

This week we learned about WordPress themes and their importance. Themes are made up of a number of files. The two main files are: a PHP file (as a template) and a CSS file (for styling). While I could find myself easily falling into a rabbit hole of themes, I know that the perfect theme isn’t necessarily just for aesthetic purposes. The ‘perfect’ theme is the one that is the most user-friendly. Throughout the week I’ve e=been looking at examples of theme code. I’ll most likely be customizing a theme for my mom’s website but it has been helpful to see how themes are structured in coding. When we discussed themes and plug-ins during class, I didn’t quite understand the difference. The Theme Handbook helped me understand the distinction. Themes control visuals while plug-ins are for functionality.

In general, I’m pretty nervous about creating this website for my mom. I knew this project was coming up, but now that we’re actually setting it up, I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’ve been reading up on the different aspects of a site in chunks. There are so many different things to think about! Navigation menus, themes, plug-ins, taxonomony. It’s a lot to consider. I thought that reading and researching would help build my confidence. So far, it’s just made me more unsure about whether I am capable of creating a website I am proud of. I’m going to give it my best effort and see where it goes. I am also going to come up with a schedule of when I’ll work on the site to lessen my anxiety. I know for a fact this is not the kind of project that can be done overnight, so I’m going to plan accordingly.

Anotha One – PHP

I hope you read my title in DJ Khaled’s voice. If not, the reference went over your head. I do know how to spell. Anyway, I can’t believe we’ve been in this class for 7 weeks already. This week we learned PHP basics. This is one of the most commonly used programming languages of today. It’s an interesting language because it can be written in PHP, then the output can be written as HTML. Another interesting thing about PHP is real numbers are called ‘floats.’ I’m proud of myself because I actually caught onto this new language really quickly. Learning PHP would not have been so easy had I not started with HTML, CSS and then JavaScript. I feel like the puzzle pieces are finally coming together. Another thing I want to note is I really liked the website we used for the tutorials. The exercises were fairly short, but easy to follow. It was also helpful that the instructions were written in comments for the exercises.

Thus, my confidence in my coding has increased. This may sound dramatic, but I really feel like my learning this new skill has inspired me to get back to learning. As a senior in college, I’m in a stage where I’m perfecting the skills I need for my desired profession. I’m so hyper focused on that, that I had convinced myself learning any skills outside of that would only be a waste of time. I’ve changed my mind. Having a diverse set of skills makes me more marketable for any field. In the event that I decide to switch gears, I have a whole gamut of skills that can transfer to a number of different occupations. I’m going to keep reminding myself of that as the year progresses. Who knows, I might switch up and decide to go into the tech industry.

Final Pitch

What: For my final project I am building a website for my mother’s event planning business. It’s funny because when we talked about the final project on the first day of class, this idea immediately popped into my head. I remember thinking I might change my mind as we move further into the semester, but my answer has stayed the same. She recently bought the domain, so now all she needs is a website.

Planned Modifications: The website will include a (1) photo gallery of photos from events that she’s done, (2) a contact page, (3) links to her event planning social media pages, (4) blog posts, (5) a mood board for the current season, (6) a section that features her services, (7) an e-mail button that links to her event e-mail, (8) a header image, (9) her logo, and  (10) an about page.

Why: I want to build this website for my mother because I fully support her dreams. She is currently stuck in a job that she is not passionate about. Having to listen to her vent about how unhappy she is has been hard. I’ve been pushing her to step out on faith and just start. She had a logo made, got business cards, and was actually in D.C. this past weekend for an event planning certification workshop. This website will be like my way of encouraging her to move full speed ahead.

Audience: This website will be for my mother’s potential customers located in the tri-state (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) area. People interested in event planning and/or decorating will also be targeted.

Week 6: Feeling Hopeful

This past week we had to apply the concepts we learned about jQuery and create a photo gallery. We created an outline of the steps during class, which was really helpful. The thought of having to figure out making the gallery on my own is overwhelming. As we worked through it during class I realized, I am picking up on the vocabulary and concepts. JavaScript alone was challenging, but jQuery helped make it a little more bearable. Writing code is really about understanding how different parts relate to one another.

The highlight of this week was being able to interview a black female web developer. This class has really opened me up to the industry and hearing her perspective really impacted me. Though the field isn’t as diverse as it could be, she stressed the importance of showing up. Karen had a totally different career before transitioning into web development and design. Hearing about her career path also reassured me that it’s OK to jump around in your career. Interests change and that is perfectly normal. As a senior with no current job offers, this was a helpful message.

I’m not exactly sure where my career is going but I’m so glad I am in the School of Communications at Howard University. Our journalism scheme forces us to have knowledge and skills in a variety of different mediums. I never would have thought I’d be learning how to code, but here I am. I can only hope that my diverse skill set will allow me to stand out as a potential candidate for jobs.

Karen Howell Demands her Seat at the Table

You wake up around 8:30 a.m. to start your day. Before you even get out of bed, you’re checking emails from clients to make sure nothing urgent needs to be handled. Once you’ve showered, dressed, and eaten, you’re climbing into the car and heading to the office. As soon as you get settled, you look at the time on your laptop screen. It’s already 10:15 a.m. Now it’s time to make a to-do list of all your responsibilities for the day. You might have to update some code on a site and record a screen capture so your client can understand the changes you’ve made. Your phone vibrates. It’s time to go to a meeting. After that you have two back-to-back conference calls. Between all these meetings, you’re communicating with clients through various project management systems. It’s a good thing work ends at 5 p.m. However, learning doesn’t.  Later on tonight you’ll be attending a class for a new programming language. This is the everyday life of a web developer.

Originally from Los Angeles, Seattle-based web developer Karen Howell was eager to express her love for her profession. She is a freelance web developer, designer, and digital media strategist with a background in sales and management. This isn’t uncommon considering that the top majors developers have degrees in are computer and information sciences, visual and performing arts, and business, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Some of her specialties include WordPress, Squarespace and ConvertKit. She leverages this expertise to work with small businesses to build their online presence. After a decade-long career in sales, she realized she needed more of a challenge. Sales didn’t allow her to be as creative as she would’ve liked to be. With her already-established online community through beauty blogging, she started dabbling with code by customizing her WordPress website templates. After talking to people she already knew in the web development field, she transitioned into web development and design.

When asked what the biggest challenge was a newcomer to the developing world, she said with a laugh, “Definitely JavaScript. I had a pretty good handle on HTML and CSS, but I didn’t feel like I was really getting somewhere until I got over that hump of JavaScript. I almost quit about three times.” Although she now has years under belt, she stressed that the learning never stops. The technology field is constantly evolving, so web developers have the challenge of keeping up with it. This fast-growing field also calls for curious minds who genuinely enjoy figuring out how to solve problems. “As a developer, you have to be willing to look at the bigger picture in order to break problems into smaller steps. In addition, you have to comfortable and confident enough to assert that you can offer your client the solutions they need,” Howell stresses.

The web development field can be especially challenging to navigate when you are working with people who don’t look like you. Karen offered some perspective on the disparities she has seen first-hand. She shared, “A lot of times I am the only female and the only black person in the room. Sometimes when I’m in a room full of men, especially older developers, there’s a bit of an ego problem.” She said she’s even had to endure being talked over during a presentation. Situations like this could easily make someone want to shrink back but Karen has a more positive outlook. “I think it’s important that I continue to show up. Just because we’re not there in high numbers doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be there.” The numbers are less than progressive. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 60 percent of web developers are male. 77.4 percent of developers are white, while African-Americans make up around only 6 percent. When asked why the lack of diversity still exists in 2018, she pointed out the overall education gap. “It’s hard to learn how to get into the industry and who to speak to, especially when all communities don’t have the same resources.”

Despite the statistics, Karen encourages those interested in web development to take full advantage of all the free resources available online. The industry is becoming more accessible to all communities with groups such as Black Girls Code, Women Who Code, MotherCoders, and AllStarCode. Even Google has recognized the importance of inclusion, and now has a tech lab in their New York office for Black Girls Code. It is also important to note that this industry is booming. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the growth rate for developers is 7.4 percent faster than the national average over a 10-year span of employment. As the industry grows, we can only hope that the diversity rates will parallel these rates.


The Genius of jQuery

So up to this point, I understood that everything had its place on a separate file. It’s kinda like how people in the different schools stick to each other. But here we are as journalism majors, taking a very computer science-y class. We’re bridging that gap and putting our different skillsets together in order further our journey into the coding world.

I think learning jQuery after being introduced to HTML, CSS, and Javascript is much like our figurative bridge we made between journalism and web development. jQuery makes it easy for developers to target HTML elements and make them interactive. Much like the hierarchy system in HTML, the Document Object Model (DOM) is set up like a family tree. We can even refer to elements as parents, children, and grandchildren of another element within the code.In addition to targeting elements by familial relationship, we can target them by closeness to a current element. Another pretty cool function is the find method. This is a way to target a singular method out of a group of descendants to an element.

Going into this week, I was pretty nervous about learning something new. JavaScript kinda killed my confidence, but jQuery helped me redeem myself. I understood the concepts and caught onto the coding formats pretty quickly. I’ve also come to realize it’s much better to at least grasp the concepts rather than just be able to regurgitate out code.


Week 3: Challenge Accepted

So far, we have learned about the different parts of a website such as the head, body, and paragraph in HTML. The following week, we learned how to make these parts look pretty using CSS, which is a language that focuses on the styling of a website.

Up until this week, I hadn’t had any major difficulty getting through the Codecademy lessons. The way I was powering through the lessons made me think coding was not as scary as I originally thought. I even found myself really getting into manipulating CSS to make a web page design more colorful.

This week’s JavaScript unit seriously challenged me. It was so different from HTML and CSS. I can’t say that I liked it if I’m being honest. However, I do understand the importance to learn this programming language. JavaScript uses three data types (strings, numbers, and booleans) to organize information. The lesson on using booleans made the most sense to me because it was a different way of writing an “if, then” statement.

The area where I started to get confused was with the arrays. I understood the concept but when I was applying it, I had to re-do my code a couple of times. When I got it wrong, I would look at the solution, go back, and correct my own code. It helped to see the solutions so that I could see where I went wrong. Also, I kept forgetting that sets of numbers start with 0 in JavaScript!

One concept I found interesting was how DOM elements relate to jQuery. Combining JavaScript with HTML using the library was much easier in comparison to combining it using syntax.

Overall, I appreciated this week’s challenge with JavaScript. I’m quickly learning that coding involves a lot of problem solving. With this perspective, it makes it easy to get excited about learning more.