Making Stuff

Oh hey. Way too late to still be up, but sometimes I just stay up and I don't feel tired. It hardly ever  happens, so when it does I feel like I need to be really productive... or at least accomplish things on my to-do list. Usually blog posts don't fall on my to-do list but I think this is important because I think it is a fun new step in my career. 

Allow me to explain. 

Remember that time I didn't know what to do with my life? Oh yeah, that would be all last summer. 

Even though it was fun and adventurous and I got to do some awesome things with awesome people... most of the my time last year was spent analyzing what I want to do and where I want to be. When I was going from interview to interview last fall, I remember a specific day driving Aaron and Melissa's white mini van (very good of them to let me borrow). I passed by a sweet sign for a storage warehouse. And then a few hundred yards later, I passed by a different sign that I didn't love. 
All of the sudden I felt this excitement that I could make anything I want. I could make a better sign for that person. I have the tools and the knowledge to do it. 

I started thinking about what I couldn't make or what I don't really want to make (cars, anything to do with welding, pianos, houses, basically things that involve electricity and metal). But I have been quite satisfied making other things that involve paper or fabric or plastic... stuff with ink or thread, etc. Making those things brings fun joy. 

Then I thought about the internet, another love of fun joy. And I had this feeling that the world wide web is just this big blob of mystery that I am not able to understand or make, but that I want to. 
I feel like so much of design is going to be focused on the internet... and I kept thinking, yeah I want to be part of that design-webby-movement stuff. 
So luckily I got my job! 
My official title is front-end web developer. This means I make websites. 

When I first learned about this stuff, it was very new to me. So I thought I would share to you, my loyal readers. (But let's be honest. It's mostly so my mom can understand what I am doing all day. )

So, I go to work. I go to meetings and talk about some new digital thing that a client wants. We chat it up with information architects and user experience designers and project managers and back-end developers and flash developers and brand managers. And finally at some point, an art director makes it all happen in a sweet layered photoshop design. 

Then they give their design to me. Last month, it looked like this: 

I look at the photoshop document for a long time. Then I think about how I should set it up and what elements I ought to group together. Then I write a code to format the layout.  I take the text from the copywriter and put in little tags so the browser knows how to recognize everything. The "language" of the code is called HTML. 

After I have done that, it looks like this. BUH-ORING. 

Luckily, websites don't have to look like that anymore. I write a different code that applies styles to all the elements. Style meaning, background patterns, images, colors, fonts, borders, spacing between things, etc. This code is called CSS. 

Sometimes I have to do special styles for Internet Explorer 7 & 8 because some people still use those. (If you are that person, you may consider Google Chrome...)

Adding style is too much fun! Once I think I am done, I work with the designer and a team of quality control who check every page and element in at least 7 browsers, plus the iPad and iPhone. Once it's done, it goes back to the client to approve.

So... this was my first site that I did on my own. It went live on Friday! 

Also, this week I got to make a mobile site... aka a site that you can see in any browser but if you are on a mobile device it will default to a site that is specially formatted to handle a small width. 
I got this adorable PSD for the chocolate festival at Central Market, which is a gourmet grocery store in Texas. Think Trader Joe's meets Whole Foods meets Costco's samples. 

So then I go through the same process first coding the framework in HTML and then adding some pizazz with CSS. For this site, I tested the site on an iPhone simulator on my computer. It was pretty weird to use my mouse to scroll instead of my finger. 

You can check this one out here. Ah! I just think it is so cute. All the chocolates and pink and textured background. So fun! 

Anywho. That is probably way more than anyone wanted to know about my job. But I love love it. I didn't realize how perfect it would be for me. I love that I can go in to work and get stuff done and learn new things, but still come home and do all the cool free-lance design stuff that I want to do. Perfect fit. Cheers to Texas!

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