I read Austin Kleon's book Show Your Work last week, and it's motivated me to spend thirty minutes a day posting about my work (still working on that time limit). Some days, the posts are just about inspirations, people and work that move me. Other days, they are thoughts and insights into the design of everyday life. Days like today, I'll share my actual work, the work I spend my day (and often night) hours slaving over.
After finishing a third of Udacity's Nanodegree in Front End Web Development, I took a contract job rebuilding a landing page for the travel company Trepic. The company is a visually-oriented discovery app that helps you figure out where in the world to go based on the kind of experiences you want to have. Because the old landing page was quickly slapped together, I decided to build a brand new app for the landing page. After a quick refresher on how to put together a Rails app, I had it up and running in hours. I was amazed at how much more quickly the process took the second time around (and I can't believe it's taken this long for me to build a second app!*).
The landing page is up and running on www.trepic.co. It was a weeklong project that ended up taking about six full working days to complete. It's fully responsive for every device size, with fourteen breakpoints.
There were so many lessons I learned from this project:
- The importance of setting proper boundaries and conditions on freelance projects (number of hours spent, what happens when the budget is exceeded),
- The trade-offs inevitable in every project (jQuery animations or email alerts? Image size optimizations or font customizations?) due to time constraints,
- The significance of design prototypes for both mobile and desktop (at least one version of each), and high-fidelity, low-functionality animations for user flows.
- That even though I wasn't the designer for this project, I as the front-end web developer actually had to make a lot of judgment calls as the viewport changed from the original design. Especially when I realized that there were missing elements, I had to step in and design email layouts, responsive footers, remove excessive content at smaller screen sizes, and the like.
- That speaking out when I see a web-standards-inappropriate design choice is vital to the success of the project, even if the designer maintains her ground.
All in all, it was a tremendous learning experience. Even though I am not pursuing front-end web development as a career, this project gave me a greater amount of empathy for developers implementing the intuitive visions of designers.
Thanks for following along!
*Actually, yes I can. The first time building a Rails app (without any prior substantial coding experience) was a slog! The algorithms and frameworks weren't too difficult to get my head around, just the command line interface and precise formatting that got me most of the time.