Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I did web design

Lots of career advice seems to be along these lines: "Get a job doing something you love." I did. Web design was something I started as a hobby and enjoyed so much that I started doing it professionally. But for me, at least, as soon as I started doing it for a living, I lost all interest in doing it as a hobby any more.

Yesterday, I accomplished something website-related, without anyone having to pay me for it, for the first time in I don't even remember how long. This is not to say I never do anything website-related outside of work, but I rarely ever go beyond "tinkering" and "learning" (with the intention of having another marketable skill to add to my résumé) to actually "doing."

What I did was something simple: I developed a graphical 5-star rating system for my Giant Cookie Reviews.

This project was actually precipitated by a comment on my last macaroni review wherein the commenter expressed sympathy that it wasn't "as good as you'd like." But in my macaroni-reviewing world, 2 Happy Mood Noodles is actually a pretty high score. And so I realized I need to make it a little clearer what my ratings actually mean.

For example in a star system, 3 stars out of 4 would be a proportionately higher rating than 3 stars out of 5. But if I just conclude my reviews with "3 stars," no one really knows how good that really is. So I made graphics, showing 5 empty stars, and only filling in the number of stars that correspond to the rating.

I could have done this easily with static images, but I took this opportunity to learn how to code inline SVG. I spent a good 3 hours on it, copy-and-pasting code, deducing how SVG works, researching how SVG works, calculating coordinates, trial-and-erroring, and working in a bit of half-hearted graphic design.

In the end, I came up with some stars that I found acceptable (you can see them in yesterday's post)—but didn't really make me happy. The HTML source is atrocious, which is never going to fly with an anal-retentive web developer such as myself. And furthermore, in the midst of this project, I learned there is no easy way to provide alternate text for inline SVG graphics, meaning that my rating system is still not accessible to the visually impaired.

So back to the drawing board. I'll probably use static images next time, but at least I learned something.


Kristi Lonheim said...

I just learned that there is a whole lot I don't know about what you know! I do understand the concept of only dabbling rather than jumping in and fully doing something 'just because' that once was a hobby and now is a job. Way to go? Was it rewarding? Did you start a trend for yourself?