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.
This week and last week I’ve been doing a lot of reorganizing for my site. But I’ve been mapping out/writing pseudo-code offline due to login issues on the backend with my site. I remember having a similar issue before when our guest lecturer was in, and the problem was that I had two WordPress accounts and I believe I started writing the child theme code into the local host that wasn’t connected to the domain.
Regardless, I look forward to getting that issue addressed at the upcoming class and continuing with my work, as I hope to finish it by this weekend.
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.
I’m officially at the “just keep going” stage of a big project like this. It’s been hard (but getting a bit easier as it goes on) to compartmentalize the project in my head. I am a very linear and visual thinker, and things like recipes, instruction manuals, building projects come easily to me, and I’m consistently underestimating how long each step is taking me.
Little problems with the mechanics of my plugins are popping up every now and again, and the fixes almost always come from finding somebody online who have made some similar mistake and reading up on how they’ve fixed it. This is a workflow that I’m still getting used to. The real anxiety comes when I feel like I’ve followed instructions to a T and something just doesn’t work…ugh.
On the other hand, I’m having a fantastic time pushing my styling. I’ve done some sketches and designs for the overall feel, and even if it doesn’t come together exactly how I envision, I’ll be happy because at least I had a direction. I know enough about myself that I can be successful when I create as I go, but having an end vision especially when talking about design language is a more surefire bet.
Overall, I’m feeling tentatively optimistic, I’m looking forward to workshopping and in the end, actually having a working website that I can say I put together pretty much fully myself. Although I’ll take as much time to do it as I can get!
This past week, I worked a lot on one of my plugins. I wanted to make sure I have that done and ready so I am able to work on the other plugin and child theme. The “post types” page that Greg shared in class has been very helpful to me. There are a lot of different features that WordPress offers. I have been learning through trial and error, which has been helpful to figure out what works and what does not.
While working on my final project and personal website, I wanted to add as many features as possible. One idea that I had was to add my LinkedIn feed to my website. It would pull in my posts on a regular basis. I wanted to start posting on LinkedIn on a daily basis, in which case it would show up on my website. I want to customize my daily posts on LinkedIn and include daily advice and tips on how to optimize social media content.
I want to create a strategy and a vision for my website. What am I trying to gain out of the website? Am I going to focus on conversion rate, brand awareness, business growth? Am I going to try to promote my business on social media platforms? I also need to modify my social media platforms to make it more professional or I could launch new ones that reflect my business and work.
This week, I also want to reflect on how helpful this class has been the past three months. While I do not have a lot of deep knowledge of coding, the general knowledge that I have gained from the languages and my ability to somehow make sense of a code when I see one has been really helpful in my job. I am able to inspect pages and figure out where links go and where the information on the site goes. I am also able to to understand when people talk about embed codes and the back-end of a site. This has been helpful in carrying out conversation even if basic and I have been happy about that. When I started class in January I did not even know the different languages of coding and now I am much more knowledgable even if at a basic level. I am not sure whether or not to continue the learning process, but maybe I will delve deeper into it in the future.
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!
This was another week of bits-and-pieces work on my final project, scsstudentlife.com. I’m starting to feel more organized about my workflow, and can better articulate for myself specific problems I want to solve (and specific features I want to add). I’m sure there will be a long wish-list at the end of this project. In fact, there’s a wish list at the end of this post. But I also want to share two tips I learned this week.
Add content for clarity
Even though the site content isn’t a huge part of the assignment, I started having trouble assigning custom CSS to my skeleton site. Filling out the menus and adding a few posts for each post type not only boosted my confidence, but gave me a better sense of what the final live product will look like. Plus, you might find that you don’t like some of your custom theme choices when you see them en masse.
Clear your browser cache
I spent a good amount of time trying to troubleshoot my custom CSS. I would save my Sublime Text file, refresh my test site, and nothing would change. Finally I realized that the data on my test site was cached! Duh! I cleared my history on both browsers that I’ve been toggling between (Firefox and Chrome) and was relieved to see my latest changes finally visible. The final check? I opened my site on my phone.
Questions for the next workshop (minimum viable product)
- My custom post types are working, but I’ve noticed that the data entered into the metaboxes doesn’t display on the post. I’d love to make those visible and searchable.
- I made a custom 404 error page by copying the PHP file from the parent theme and adding custom content. I’d like to be able to use the same content for the error page that appears when a search term can’t be found, but I’m not sure where that code is…
Wish list for the future
- A PHP/jQuery connection that would automatically add new “event” posts to a separate event calendar.
- A method to organize events by event date, and to remove past events.
- A “new!” indicator for job posts fewer than two weeks old.
- Multiple admin levels for use by a team of people, preferably with some built-in approval workflow.
Even though the project’s deadline is approaching, I feel like I’m still stuck in one place and not moving forward. Setting up the WordPress and other actions undertaken by me in the preparation process took me much longer than they were supposed to. Moreover, getting back to the previous lessons and learning the skills we should have mastered already makes the assignment frustrating and confusing – a complete opposite of what I imagined it to be last week.
I still have issues with the child theme, especially the edits we need to make and plugins we are required to implement in our website. My questions related to this matter are the following: are we supposed to use WordPress to make basic edits (such as background color or image) to our website? We learned the fundamental skills of HTML and CSS – now we are not supposed to use them, but instead rely on a few clicks and selection buttons?
To conclude, I have a small request. Namely, I would be very grateful if the deadline for the final project would be moved to April 28th, since rushing through the code and incorporating the Easter break chaos into the entire equation might result in even more confusion. Even though at this point I already accepted the fact that my website won’t be a piece of art, I still strongly rely on its usefulness and efficient user experience. I believe there is still a lot of work ahead of me, including watching tutorials online and finding helpful resources online that could eventually be beneficial to my workflow.
My biggest challenge with my final project was that WordPress made everything seem too easy. I get it, programmers are lazy. Every time I tried to make a customization, I found out that there was a plugin that did all the legwork. Also, there was a customizer (pretty sure it came with my theme) that worked through all the code and gave me a scary warning message when I tried to access the code manually. I was brave and bypassed it, which allowed me to customize the front page code.
Most of my code ended up being shortcode (that I did still customize) so I felt like I didn’t do the work on my site. My interactive map, which I feel is the pride and joy of my site, took the most work. I spent a lot of time inputting the photos, creating markers and linking to photos. I could not figure out how to make the photos on the markers bigger, so I had to settle with linking to larger photos. Between creating the map and the child theme, I feel like a real coder.
Overall, I found myself scrambling to create more customizations. Some things I incorporated were social media feeds, my interactive map, my resume, a custom meta box that allows to select which publication an article was written for and a contact form. My favorite feature on my site is the hero video. It makes me feel like my site is very modern.
Aside from the difficulties I had throughout the process, I have one major issue. My site still isn’t up because I can’t access the SFTP client. 🙁
Creating a website is hard. Throughout the semester, we have technically learned all the tools that we need to be successful. But it seems to be really hard to take my vision of a ‘finsta-like’ blog into an actual website, that makes sense and is user friendly.
My latest struggle has been with my poll plug-in. I’ve searched high and low on the internet to find a solid poll plug-in template that I could base mine off of and have come up empty handed. I’ve had to take everything I’ve gained from the many sites I’ve browsed to create my own and hope for the best. I have the basic format done, which I am really happy about. But, I can’t seem to master collecting results. So if anyone knows anything about that, it would be greatly appreciated.
I experienced some difficulty with CSS, trying to get all my fonts the way I wanted–keeping them ‘on brand’ with Instagram. At first I was able to download the font but not import it to WordPress, then I discovered that I needed an additional plug-in to facilitate that merger.
I spared you guys most of the crying that was involved. All in all, website creation is an uphill battle that is designed with the brave at heart in mind.