- What did you enjoy about the experience?
I enjoyed the flexibility I had while working on my project. I feel like I was able to get more out of the experience by following my own individual path than adhering to class-wide guidelines.
- What was the most challenging aspect of your Twenty Time project?
Well, there were some serious unexpected bumps in the road (getting hacked) which took a dent out of my initial aspirations. Other then that, the project went smoothly.
- What is one thing you learned about yourself by participating in your Twenty Time project?
I learned how to deal with a setback, how to step back and figure out how to rebound from a seemingly impossible problem. I also learned that I am flexible and can change my initial goals to accommodate unexpected occurrences.
- What are you most proud of? Why?
I am most proud of the fact that even though someone hacked my website, I was able to clean it up and still make it look really nice and function well by the end. I fell like I accomplished a lot.
- What lessons did you learn from your successes?
I learned that if you work hard enough at something, you can still get a great end result even if you suffer a really big setback early on.
- What lessons did you learn from your failures?
I learned to be prepared for everything. In retrospect, I should have guarded against any possible malware and installed security software on my website before I ever took in online.
- What is one thing about this project you believe you’ll remember for a long time to come?
Well, I will certainly remember the hack :). It caused me lots of stress at the time, but now I can look back on it and laugh.
- What is something the teacher could have done to make this project better?
I think the very nature of the project means that the teacher does not have to do a lot; each student has their own individual path. I think you provided enough information in the begging and checked back with us helpfully throughout the year.
While I missed class today due to an orthodontist appointment, I was able to make up the lost class time at home. After school, I added some images to the site that my dad had sent me, and I fine-tuned the blog some more. One of the things I am working on now is trying to change the settings for my blog to allow some people (members of the nonprofit) to post and comment, but not random viewers. I did not quite get this fixed, but I did learn that I could make every member of the nonprofit an administrator and thus give them access to the site. As the company expands, I am not sure this is the best solution but it will work for now. Additionally, I finished polishing up the site structure and navigation layout for the entire website; it should now update dynamically whenever new pages or content is added. This will save me a lot of work in the future.
Website development is a lot like the old iceberg analogy: While the tip seems beautiful amazing, all the real work happens underneath the surface. Today was an “under the surface” kind of day and the front page still is a bit of a jumbled mess. However, now that I have gotten most of the difficult work out of the way, I am getting closer to the finished product.
Today, my dad sent me an email saying that he wanted to me rethink the look of the website. He thought that it was not professional enough, and sent me examples of some other sites of similar nonprofits. Using those as examples, I spent multiple hours changing the look and feel of the website. After I was done, I felt happy that the new style was both professional and visually pleasing. Additionally, my dad sent me content that he wanted to add, and I uploaded as much as possible to the website. I was also pleased that I was able to set up the blog on the website. The framework for the blog is there, I now just need to get some initial posts to kickstart the discussions that the nonprofit wants to talk about. Today was a good turning point in my project, and as it stands I am confident that I can meet my initial goals.
Today was filled with less activity than most. This was due to the fact that the non-profit had not given me any tasks to complete. With Cody’s departure from the organization, I had to go thorough my father to find out what the nonprofit wanted on their site. Because my dad was on a business trip today, I lacked any instructions for my time in class. As a result, I did not get much done. I used the time to check out parts of the website in detail and plan my next steps in designing a blog (which was one of my goals initially). Additionally, I fixed some little things like typos and small errors in the code. Overall however, I was not able to add content or restructure the website, so I did not get much closer to my overall goal. I plan to do a lot of work over the weekend however to make up for this.
Last night, my father sent a word document that would eventually go on the “About Us” section of the website. After scanning the document, I realized that it was a few pages too long and I would have to shorten it considerably. I spent the entire class period editing and shortening the text until I thought it was concise enough to not intimidate visitors on the website. The “About Us” section is very important because it provides the centralized information about the non-profit organization whose website I am designing. A professional “About Us” page has been shown to increase faith in companies or organizations and bring back individuals to the website a second time. In addition to simply copying and pasting the final draft of the text onto the website, I also had to set up a page structure for the “About Us” section. For many professional websites like cnn.com and un.org, this means having the ability to hover the mouse over a dropdown section, and have different menus appear. To create this type of menu for my website, I fiddled with the page substructure and was able to create a that pointed the viewer towards pages with information about the nonprofit. Overall, while today might not have been the most visually satisfying day, it was an important step in creating a fully-fuctional website.
I just keep chugging along. In the weeks since I have got the website fixed, I have struggled for new ideas. While I certainly have the “skeleton” of the webpage, I currently have a lack of meat. I have contacted Cody, and he replied informing me that he was actually ending his time at the nonprofit. This comes at an inopportune time for me because this is the time I need new feedback and ideas the most. Luckily, my dad is on the Board of Directors, and he has agreed to ask the other members at their next meeting for suggestions of new content that can be added. In the meantime, I have kept making little polishes to the site. Today, I worked on uploading the logo for the business and rearranging the site menus to provide a simpler method for browsing all the different pages. While I was not able to get a huge amount of work done today, I am prepared to handle the flow of requests that will (hopefully) happen in the future.
Good news at last! Two weekends ago I locked myself in a room with a computer and resolved not to come out until the website was fixed. Suffice to say, the entire process took much longer than I had anticipated and I had to leave the room to vent my frustration to my family. Ultimately though, my toil was not in vain and after trying a variety of plan B’s the website went online. That success was important, because now I am able to begin work: Build the website up from the bare-bones sitemap it is now. Today, I contacted Cody once more to ask him what the nonprofit wanted me to do next. After that, I began to redo some of the work that I had done earlier in the year like installing plug-ins and rearranging code. This time around, I was able to condense 3 weeks worth of work into a single class period, because I could rely on past experience. I know there is a lot of work left to be done, and I still might not meet my updated goal, however today I am feeling satisfaction in having fixed what at first seemed an insurmountable problem.
I have made good progress towards fixing my website. Well, maybe I haven’t made any physical progress, but I have done my research. After calling my hosting company multiple times, I have planned my course of action, I am going to completely wipe all my server files and reinstall “clean” versions of them. Today in class, I researched how I would do this, because if I mess up this process, I might be going out of the frying pan and into the fire. After watching some youtube videos and visiting a few blogs, I feel confident on how to do this. Over the weekend, I will download a “clean” version of the files on my desktop and begin erasing the current ones and replacing them. I will do this though a process called FTP (Free Transfer Protocol). Basically, I will use a software program to access code on the server remotely. Then, I will execute a few commands (which I learned today) and begin the sequence. Once all the files are replaced, the website should be back online and I can begin working again.
Today in class, I was assigned to a table with three other students and we discussed the progress we had made in our respective projects. Unfortunately, I seem to have had negative growth for my project, the website is worse off now than when I started working on it. Luckily, I still have seven more Twenty Times to get the website up and running, but due to the lost time, I have had to update my goal. Instead of leaving the static portion of the website completely finished and instituting a dynamic blog that will not need my supervision, my new goal is to just finish the framework of the website so the nonprofit has a presence on the internet. While this realization came as a disappointment to me, if I can get the website online and malware-free within a few weeks, I will be on track to at least completing part of my original goal.
Unfortunately, the situation with my website only appears to be getting worse. Previously, the hack only affected how the website was portrayed on search engines, but now I cannot access the website at all. I am not sure if this is the hackers doing or the result of my own modifications that I made trying to fix the website. Nevertheless, it is a new and more pressing problem I have to deal with. Luckily, the glitch/hack is very common, but it is so common that I found it hard to isolate what pieces of code were causing it. After researching possible solutions, I am going to go home and try and manually delete sections of the website and reinstall clean versions of them. If this does not work, I may have to completely delete and reinstall all the code on my website. This would mean that I would have to redo much of my previous work, but at this point, I think that is a small price to pay.