This week, I had a tough time thinking of what I want my final project to be. I definitely needed a refresher on the languages I’ve learned and what I can do with each. It’s also been an experience learning what I can do with plugins and with PHP.
I felt like I had a lot of ideas, but also no ideas. Creating the portfolio site feels like a metaphor for my life. I have a grand vision, but the details are fuzzy. I want my site to be a revamped version of my current e-portfolio that gives a holistic view of Daja, the person (rather than Daja, the journalist).
I’m interested to see what I can do with plugins. Eventually (can’t promise it’ll be with this portfolio site), I hope to build my own plugin. The functionality is what excites me about web development. I guess if I became a web developer, I’d focus on front-end development (if not full stack). This class has really expanded my thinking.
I was looking back on the course description this week and something that stood out to me was “we do want you to come away with some coding skills and greater technical fluency.” Eight weeks in, I feel that I will definitely walk away with greater technical fluency. I find myself examining everyday processes that I see when I browse the internet and being that annoying friend that tries to explain how everything works.
Cheers to new knowledge.
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.
We finally made it to WordPress! It’s unbelievable that during this class we’ve learned the ground basics and now we get to put them all together to finally create a site. I’m a very indecisive person, so seeing all the themes threw my head for a spin because theres so many things I want to create. I noticed that WordPress uses a lot of PHP, so I can already see where my skills will lack.
It loomed on the horizon since the beginning of the semester. In the misty fog of deep sea waters, a mysterious indistinct other sat and waited for our ships to arrive. There was no turning back, no leaving the waters, no retreat. Our ships moved incessantly in the waves toward this impending other.
The curious entity sat and waited for us. It watched us as we learned, as we battled smaller enemies, and perfected our crafts. Every Codeacadmey lesson, every three-hour class session, and every analysis post — it just observed. It was if this entity knew it would be the last thing standing in our way before freedom.
And even as we learned, as we won smaller battles, and as we worked toward perfection — it felt as if this inscrutable being would still have us beat. As we inevitably inched closer and closer we could see the monster for what it truly was. Endless lines of code, front-end & back-end capabilities, widgets, modifications, MAMP, and original content — we were toast. All hope felt lost.
Days passed with no word from the mainland. We were all alone. The biggest battle we faced was quickly approaching. Food and water supplies were running low. And then it came. A message from the mainland. A sigh of relief. Aid was being sent, we were going to beat this thing! We could do it! In just the nick of time, we would be equipped with everything we needed.
The message you ask? It read:
“The website final project will consist more of modifying existing themes and code, rather than creating a new theme entirely from scratch.”
This week I was able to suss out where I am in the class as opposed to what needs to be done. This class has been challenging, and I think that I see the rewards of where I am from where I started.
When I came into this class I knew nothing about web development, and now we’re working on our final projects. I know the things I’ve set out to do are hard, and that I might need to consult people to make sure I’m on the right track, but seeing where I’ve come from has really made me feel better about where I need to go.
I’m excited to talk about project management this week in class. I’ve had some experience with project management, but seeing it applied to web development is something I didn’t expect, but it now makes a lot of sense.
I’m excited to get the hosting figured out on my computer and see where the final takes me. On to another week of web development!
What resonated with me the most this week was stated in the Agile Manifesto:
“Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.”
I want to be able to continue thinking like this as I approach both the final project and future web/digital projects. I tend to overthink things and get bogged down in the granular tactics instead of focusing on the big picture. I overcomplicate and get frustrated. I have to learn to be flexible, take a step back and look at the project as a whole in order to be as successful as I can be.
The Agile Best Practices video had great concepts that I think can be translated for any managing any project—planning, feedback and testing. For the final project, I will need to create a plan, ask my classmates for feedback and continue testing for the user on the front and back-end.
Updates on the final project: I had SO much trouble getting my site to be hosted on my server on my computer. I did see that it slowed my computer down a little bit, but it was not anything too significant. However, I have not had as much time to go into the code and begin updating it to fit my needs. I’ve begun taking pictures, short video clips, and creating content for the site, since I think that will be the easiest portion of the project. Moving forward, I hope to use a more efficient project management tool to keep me on track of small things I can do every day to alleviate the workload and added stress as we finish up the summer semester. Something I hope to be able to keep in mind is looking beyond the front-end and UX of my site and approach the customizations with a problem-solving lens, as explained in our reading.
A small update on last week’s PHP assignment because I was still having trouble with it on Wednesday: I think I was finally able to get my basic poll to work and show up correctly in my browser. After doing a bit more Googling, I think my issue had something to do with the way I was naming my files. Once I adjusted the name of my PHP and HTML files both in the code and in the individual file names, the poll ran correctly.
In terms of the readings for this week, I have to say being totally new to project management, it was a little difficult to keep up with our discussion last week. I was still confused about the difference between waterfall and agile methodology. However, the readings — especially the agile manifesto and the best practices video — helped me better understand the agile methodology at least. It kind of seems to me like this is the more popular method since it’s more team-oriented and focused on customer input?
I really enjoyed Jared Spool’s piece on design thinking, particularly the section about design being more than just a way to make things pretty, because that is an issue I’ve found myself having as I’ve begun working on my project. In terms of my project, I’ve been slow to start this week, but I hope to have a child theme created and begin working on a custom post type for my blog before Wednesday. I think I’ve been too caught up in thinking about how to make it look pretty — thinking about which theme is the best looking, what aesthetic I want — rather than remembering I need to be focusing on functionality and the idea, as Spool puts it, that design is about problem-solving and end-to-end solutions. On a less serious note, I also really loved his reference to the stone soup folktale because I’m pretty sure I heard the Russian version as a child.
Finally, I’m including a link to my WordPress site here once again and want to give a shout out to Victoria for answering my questions about how to set it up last class! Also, here is where the code will show up on GitHub.
A Life Surfeited
I am super excited to have my website, “A Life Surfeited,” up and running! I must admit, however, that all the steps we took to get there are only slowly beginning to make sense to me. What is GoDaddy.com, what is Google 360, and why do I need them? I get that we bought our domain and hosting privileges through the GoDaddy site, but why do I need login information and a new email address? And now that I have my own live domain and WP account, do we still need the local server and WP site? I’m confused as to which we should be working in. But overall the process was seamless and to me seemed like magic — a few simple steps and POOF I have my own website!
I have enjoyed playing around with themes and looking through the associated code. It’s given me some ideas of other modules I can manipulate for my final project, like altering the metadata for a comment box to ask commentators to tell me where they live and their favorite place they have traveled to. The “Shh! Don’t Tell Them There’s No Magic In Design Thinking” article was a good piece to read before really jumping in because it gave me pause about trying to “pretty” things up first. The concept of “design thinking” is one I’ve had in my mind before but didn’t know how to verbalize. It makes sense that design should be strategic and part of the brainstorm early on in project development. And I’ve always felt that designing with the user in mind is key. It’s so frustrating to visit a website and nothing is where is intuitively should be, or in fact is hidden. The user experience should be the priority, even if we are talking about a personal blog. I will look to my classmates to give me this type of feedback on my blog and will strive to provide productive and useful commentary about my experience of their site.
This week’s reading on GitHub Features, as well as last week’s in class lessons around project management, really helped me get a better grasp on how the features and tool in GitHub flow together. And how they are there to help guide me and my project to fruition. I’ve already set up my Notes to track my progress and am looking forward in a couple weeks to going in and offering feedback on my classmates work via Commits. Also, with GitHub’s powerful ability to host code, I now better understand why the developer I interviewed, Jamie, said he browses GitHub code repos to stay up-to-date on new and fresh things happening in the programming world.
I am out of town for work this week and haven’t had as much time as I hoped to get my project going. But I plan to spend all weekend next weekend making some real good progress.
Until next week, cheers and laissez les bon temps roulez (as they say here in New Orleans!),
Balancing work, school and other projects can be challenging and learning web development is no easy feat. It is definitely a full-time job! I’ve installed my WordPress folder and have been playing around with some ideas for my website, but I need get going on it more. Right now, I’m at a slow start since I’m honestly afraid of building it, but I know once I get more familiar with it, it will get easier. Like I said, I’m excited about building a website that is user-friendly and exciting for our clients since I am very passionate about what I do!
I know nothing about project management. During my senior year of college, I had an interview for a project management position that I was scared about. I always thought it was for technical people only (and I do not consider myself that technical), but at the end of the day, project management is just problem-solving, which is a skill we all need.
The principles behind the Agile Manifesto were helpful. Some of the principles that resonated with me were: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software,” and “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”
As a creative person, my favorite article was the Design Thinking article. I enjoyed how they emphasized how design is way more than “making things pretty.” One quote that stuck out to me was: “It’s important to bring design into a project early, before the team settles on a solution, so they can truly explore the needs of the users.” I love that the article emphasizes user-friendliness. The essence of technology is that it makes everything easy for a user. Ultimately, that is what makes a great tool. I strive to create a website that will be engaging and creative for our clients.
Another quote that stuck out to me was: “It changes the conversation. 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.” Overall, it was great insight.
Now, I will chip away at installing themes for the WMG Podcasters!
Thank God for YouTube. Out of all four of the readings and videos, the “What is an API” one was the clearest and most helpful. It was also a little funny. I like the idea of data being carried by a waiter on a platter to and from the “kitchen”. Although I do not think I will use one for this project they do seem useful. I like the idea of incorporating something like Google Calendar into the site. How this will work and whether or not I will be able to adapt some the code are two different questions entirely. I would like to add something like a map and pin drop, which you mentioned we could do with a plugin, and the calendar attached to a form. Again, the next few weeks will determine whether or not these things happen.
Now for a little bit on the final.
I have finally chosen a parent theme. I’ll be using a cinema graph, an idea I got from Molly, where a still image is layered over a few milliseconds of video. I want the site to be dynamic and engaging. However, I will be using a regular WordPress theme. I will just be adding the cinema graph as the header image. It will not be scrolling, since running the server on my computer has already slowed my computer down a lot. If I change this in the code, it will be on of the last things I do.
I am still playing with the other planned features. I know I have not created the GitHub repository, yes, but I will. I just want to play with the code a little more before putting it up there. I want to have something a little more substantial that I do now. Don’t worry it will be there soon!