Tag Archives: final project

Murphy’s Law?

It always seems like the closer you get to finishing a big project, the whackier the obstacles in your way become.

When that time comes, I always find it helpful to clearly define my priorities—what needs to happen, what’s do-able, and what’s nice to have. This week, priority one was getting my live site up and running. Surprised? So was I.

I hadn’t looked at my project for a few days. I thought a full step away from the project would give me the energy I needed to finish the final push. But when I logged on to take a look at my site, I saw nothing but the WordPress White Screen of Death. Nothing on the front-end, nothing in the admin.

And that’s how I learned to pull out error messages from the apache_error.log file. After a quick google search, I learned that that was one of the best places to look. I also restarted my server, and realized I couldn’t connect. Queue the next half hour with the EasyWP support team.

Long story short: my site is back up and running, and I only lost a few hours of working time.

But I realized something heartening. If this had occurred a few weeks ago, a month ago, a semester ago, I don’t know how comfortable I would have been conversing with the support team. But I did it! I had done my research, I had concerns that I could articulate and I could answer the questions they asked me. That’s a skill I know I can carry forward in my life and career.

As far as progress on my site is concerned, I’m trying my best not to break things in the process of fixing something else. I’ve fixed a minor menu issue and have a fully-functional Jobs plug-in. Work remains on my Events plug-in, and I’ll need to decide whether to prioritize a bug-free plug-in over one with all of the bells and whistles, but that might not work.

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on my site. I really appreciate everyone who took the time to give it a look, and have added a lot of those suggestions to my list.

working on plugins and replacing

I spent the weekend working on my final project, and I’ve still got quite a bit to do.

I have to add a 404 page, finish styling the individual pages and making adjustments to the 4ish plugins I already have. I plan on replacing the chatbox one with one I build myself if that’s possible. And I will likely add a static shopping cart at the top right of the site’s homepage and following pages for users to book repair/purchase items.

I originally had a slider on each unique page and I took it out when transitioning from the local host to the live site. Starting to regret that, as it did offer some individuality. I think building an auto slider would be good for the site (technically it would be be eight — one for each main Acoustic/Electric page and another 6 for each page, along with unique corresponding content). I reviewed pages that carry a similar vibe I’m looking for (elderly.com and reverb.com, for instance), and they take advantage of sliders. I may also add a footer with helpful direct links to other pages.


This week I got to work a lot on my final assignment. I had a mini heart attack when I mistakenly deleted my htdoc folder and thought I lost everything. I was able to find it in the trash and restore it, but then my website stopped working. Then, when I got back on my desktop, I was able to restore it all. Thankfully.

I watched a lot of videos and tutorials. I read a lot of articles. I asked my friends many questions. I think what helped me the most was taking the time to absorb all the information. All the materials I found were very helpful and allowed me to articulate different ideas into the final project.

I am going to take the time on Tuesday during class to work through some other areas of my website and make it better.

I want to take some time and reflect on the process of developing my code. I started by wanting to customize a contact form plugin. That idea went out the window when I realized what WordPress already offers, so I decided to just use an already existing code. I, then, decided I am going to code a plugin for the services I offer. This plugin ran well, but I had an issue connecting the menu on the first page to the services plugin.

The second thing I was working with was a plugin that asks the user a question. The question is “what is your favorite social media platform to use?” the user would submit an answer to that. The final thing I did was a child’s theme to the Twenty Seventeen theme I choose. The child theme changed the font and the color of the main text. I inspected my website and made the changes there first then came back to my Sublime and made changes to the code.

I also added social media platforms and other codes into my website. I also changed the main theme’s image into a Georgetown one, which reflects a big part of who I am as a professional and a person.

Overall, this was a great exercise to work with WordPress because it is an extremely useful site. As I used it more and more, I got to learn a lot about it. It is SEO-friendly since it is written using standard compliance high-quality code, which I came to learn is loved by Google and other search engines.

Crawling past the finish line

I don’t have a great feeling of accomplishment with my website, unfortunately. I don’t believe I’ve been able to complete the amount of customization required — I’ve customized the look of the site with CSS to a good extent, and I’m happy with the look. I think it’s clean and functional. Good design, I think, is both pretty and practical. I think I’m able to call the eye’s attention where it needs to go.

However, I simply wasn’t able to figure out where and how to add more functionality that would be useful without pretty much just following along and building a simple plugin from a YouTube video — I did add a couple simple customizations to the functions.php file.

I expected to have a lot more time than I ended up having. The migration from a locally hosted site to the live site was painful, as I was stuck in recurring errors when trying to activate a child theme. In the dashboard, my child theme wasn’t recognizing the parent theme — even though I had the parent theme installed. It was suggested the metadata included in the styles.css file was wrong, and that I could just replace the wp-content folder via FTP. Both solutions failed me, and replacing the wp-content folder took the good part of an afternoon to load.

I’m going to keep going and add more customizations when I have free time later this week. I do feel accomplished in the sense that I feel I’m able to use the site now as my portfolio site. My site is corydawsonmedia.com.

The Feeling of Accomplishment

Many times throughout the project, I would become extremely frustrated when I tried several times to perfect a customization and the outcome wasn’t what I wanted. My customizations ended up being 3 custom pages, a contact form, a map, 404 error page and a gallery. I think the custom pages were my favorite part of the project because I enjoyed having the ability to manipulate the page to my liking and utilize some of the code we learned in previous lessons like JavaScript, HTML, CSS and PHP. However, when I didn’t use a custom page, I ended up having errors. For example, I tried to customize the homepage on WordPress and it said I already trashed the coffee photo and the old contact mini page. I hoped that when I made my site live, these issues would disappear. However, you will notice that when you scroll all the way down on the home page, the coffee photo and fake contact page is still there. Classmates, I would love any tips or advice on how to get rid of this!

The customization that took me the longest was the map. Oh, this darn map! This sucker took me several days to do because I had to watch tons of videos and read articles to accomplish what I did. One source didn’t work so I ended up combining lessons from different sources. Ultimately, I came up with the code that you can see on my repository. I wanted each pin to have a pop-up information box when I clicked on it. However, the information box would only pop up on one pin. 🙁 I tried changing variables since I had 6 pins, but then the whole map would disappear. The map was really difficult since there were many moving parts like making an API key and pulling out the longitude and latitude.

Finally, the last issue that I had was making the contact form work. I thought it would when it went live, but then my thank you text appeared at the bottom of the contact box. Then, when you submit all the info, it takes you to an error page. I would love advice about this as well.

Although, I ran into a few difficulties. I am strangely energized to keep working toward fixing these issues and self-studying code. I thought I would say goodbye to web development after the final project, but I feel like I have learned so much that I can’t give up on the knowledge I have so far!

Oh, and one big apology for the amount of ‘freaking out’ emails that I sent to Greg this past week.

Making the Deadline

All semester, Greg reiterated the importance of meeting the deadline, even if the final project isn’t perfect. This weekend, I met the deadline; and my final project is far from perfect.

But I’m happy about where I’ve ended up this week. SCSstudentlife.com is a good start for what may someday be a widely used resource for current students. It features a job board and events page (my two custom post types) that will streamline information from various sources within the school and across the university and its corporate partners. I look forward to demo-ing it for our class to get their feedback not only on my project, but also on the resource itself. (Please be kind!)

I’ve created a custom 404 error page and custom error messages for when users use the search function. I’ve added Georgetown-branded styles using a CSS stylesheet and a child theme, and added two custom post types that receive different information via metaboxes to ensure that each custom post type (events and jobs) display uniform and complete information. The goal of this project was to create a user experience that simplifies and consolidates information for students.

I’ve learned a lot.

Of course, there are still bugs. I had a hard time getting the data in my custom metaboxes to save, and sometimes the data doesn’t display on the front end of my page templates. For some reason, the live site doesn’t look exactly like it did in the local environment. Some of my modified reading-list code is messy. And, of course, the whole thing could use a better design eye than mine.

But, given the time, I think I could fix these problems—I feel more comfortable reading other people’s code on GitHub and Stack Exchange, and I understand how the pieces of my website communicate with one another. I can articulate where the problems are. I’m still a novice, but I’m beginning to feel comfortable speaking this language. Here’s to another week of refining, and a finished project we can be proud of!

I can’t wait to see everyone else’s project.

Deja Vu

So for this past week, amidst everything coming to the end of the semester, I have been completing the setup and installation on my new laptop. At first, things were going swimmingly — I was downloading everything I needed on my computer to pickup where we had left off for the WordPress final project site.

I did this by scouring the class syllabus and schedule to make sure that I had everything in order. However, some of this setup we had completed in class (which was wonderful) and I had minimal to no memory of what specific files to download or link or create databases for. I ended up Googling solutions and instructions for step-by-step setup and was feeling pretty abysmal until I read that MAMP is inclusive of phpMyAdmin and Apache (duh). So I spent a great deal of time exhausting a search of how to download these things that were already taken care of, it was relieving but frustrating.

When setting up my WordPress development environment, I was posed with the same problem I encountered when Laura was substituting — my child theme was not appearing. I redid the entire process about four times. I did read that there is a “Going Live” set of instructions via Smashing Magazine and I think that this will serve as a solution to my confusion. At this point I needed a break from continual failure and will try this tomorrow and move forward by starting on some CSS I plan to implement.

I have been rewatching the video from Laura regarding child themes and the reading list plugin, and by doing so I am starting to find a little bit of clarity (yay) as this projects comes to an end. For some reason there was a disconnect in my understanding as to how GitHub and WordPress related to one another for the project, but now I realize that it is just being used to document my progress as I complete it. Anyways, heres to finishing strong and sorry for the multiple emails, Professor Greg.

The Final Confession

For the past week I spend a lot of my time sitting in coffee shops and searching for inspirations for my website. And I don’t mean by staring blankly at a cup of coffee in front of me, but rather through an extensive research, going back to Laura’s recordings and finding resources online.

After some thought and a lot of trial and error, I ended up creating 2 custom pages and an additional one that I later customized as a 404 error page. Moreover, I was able to create a contact form and with some adjustments I think I was able to make it work properly.

The lessons I have learned is that if you don’t taste the real flavor of web design, WordPress might seem like a piece of cake. However, it is a statement that could not be further from the truth. The system is very sensitive; make one little mistake and your entire site can stop working and you are left with the pulsating anxiety of a white, blank page.

Also, you cannot fully rely on the parent theme, as by following a template you are not really creating a unique online presence.For example, with custom pages I used for this website, one gets to choose certain aspects of the design that could potentially meet the needs of the visitors and also integrate the programmer’s personality into the design. For achieving this purpose, I used CSS: I could choose colors, edit fonts, their sizes and layout.Unfortunately, in many cases templates don’t give the control you might want to have. Thus, a customized site allowed me to choose what I want and the way I want it to look like. Still, there is a lot of work ahead of me, however, for a first time I believe I did a good job.

Connecting the Dots

My focus during the weekend was to get all the pieces together and at least get the basic HTML and CSS done for my custom code, but to no avail. The Twenty Seventeen child theme for some reasons will not appear in the WordPress dashboard for activation. I tried deleting the old theme and created a new one, scan through numerous tutorials online and it still won’t show. It’s been pretty frustrating, and I feel like I didn’t get much done in my other assignments because I was determine to get this done. I figured if I was omitting something, at least a second eye will spot the error, so I compared notes with Sarah, and everything seems fine.

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s workshop to solicit ideas from everyone on what worked for everyone or otherwise. I have a pictorial view on how to put my ideas on the site, so I can’t wait to get this error rectified for the subsequent work to be done.


Step by Step, right?

As the days go by, I am started to freak out because it is almost April 21 and I am not where I would like to be!! I have been making a huge effort to dedicate chunks of time to my final project. However, I feel like most of my time has been semi-wasted by reading about customizations and plug-ins online and then freaking out that there isn’t enough time to accomplish all the things I want for my site.

However, I have been trying to utilize the timeline method that our instructor recommended in class. Instead of writing down big picture tasks, I have changed my tasks into smaller steps so that I can have something ready for Sunday. For example, I did my research for each of the customizations, but decided to start plugging away with some of the content on the WordPress side so I can add the plug-ins afterwards. I am not sure if this is a good idea, but I hope it works out.

Overall, I am really looking forward to this workshop on Tuesday. I wish there was one last one, but maybe I can convince some classmates to come in another time this week to have another final-project cram session. I think tomorrow will be a great opportunity to bring in all the questions I can think of and some of the concerns that arise so I can take advantage of asking my classmates and instructors for help.

For some inspiration and guidance, I decided to check out previous posts about the final projects from the other classes in the past. One of my customizations is the interactive map and it looks like the plug-in worked for one of the students in the past. I’m looking forward to taking a stab at that, but scared I will run into Firezilla issues as students have highlighted.

Not so happy ending thought though….what if I am that student that can’t produce a good enough site? Guess we will see if I can pull through! Crossing my fingers a miracle happens!