The last few weeks have been busy ones. The next few weeks will most likely be busy, too.
I’ve been neglecting this blog, but it’s for a good reason. The website I have been working on, Food Insecurity Tuscaloosa, is finally live and only has a few kinks, which we are currently working out. The site is a result of weeks and weeks of work. I worked on all of the journalistic work, and Spencer Baer, a fellow student at Alabama, designed the site and wrote the code for it. It’s been a long ride, but we are finally putting the finishing touches on the site and I’m breathing a sigh of relief that it came together like it did.
So, now that I have my first website build under my belt, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned, and what I will do differently next time.
1. Start early, start early, start early. Those with more experience in web building laughed in my face (literally) when I told them I was building an entire site from the ground up in a matter of months. I can’t go back, but if I had the knowledge I do now, I would have come into graduate school with a detailed plan of what I wanted to do, and started on it long before Christmas 2013. In reality, we really began work on the site during Christmas break, and I keep thinking of elements I would love to add to the site that I don’t have time for now.
2. Set detailed goals and make a plan. Write it out. On paper. When I say detailed, I mean minutely detailed. Every small facet of the site should have its own point on your to-do list. That will make it easier to get things done, and easier to know what you still have to do. Also, make small goals for yourself for each day, week, or whatever time frame you are on.
3. Scour the web for sites dealing with your subject, or for web design that you could use. Better yet, have ideas of what you want to do in mind and constantly be on the lookout for stuff on the web that can help. I search Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Google, and magazines for different ideas. The site deals with food insecurity in Tuscaloosa, so I was constantly looking for news articles on the subject, too.
4. Learn code, or find a gem like Spencer who will program your site for you. I was the only one of my classmates who did not use a pre-made WordPress theme. Their sites are all phenomenal, don’t get me wrong. I am constantly amazed with the journalistic and design work that my classmates are doing. However, because Spencer wrote the theme for the site himself, we were able to fully customize the site to my exact preferences. On my to-do list for this year is to learn how to write code (wildin’ I know).
5. Don’t Wait. More than anything, what I have learned from this year is that building your own site is easy and anyone can do it with the right help and will power. There were days when I wanted to burn every mention of food insecurity or food desert within a 100 mile radius, days when I literally pulled my hair out, and days when I stayed in bed and binge-watched unenjoyable television simply because I was so tired of looking at a website in progress. I can’t tell you how proud I am of what we produced, though, and hopefully it will make a slight difference in food insecurity in the Tuscaloosa area. After working on this project, I am constantly thinking of new ideas for blogging and site production that I want to start…if only I can find the time.
It’s been a rocky journey, and I’m not quite finished yet, but I have grown and acquired so much skill throughout the process that it was entirely worth the late nights, bad moods, migraines, and criticism from professors. Feel free to take a look, find the site here.