For the second assignment for Digital Media Project I am in a group with Jenna Smith, Jessica Nutley and Kelly Hyslop. Our client is the Titirangi Festival of Music, for whom we are redesigning a website.
Titirangi Festival of Music’s current website
My role within the project
My role within our group is as the Technical Director. As someone who is not so secretly nerdy this role suits me because of my love for technology, as well as my somewhat extensive knowledge surrounding our project area of web design. I work mainly with Kelly, the art director, as we are the two team members focusing on the development of the website whereas Jenna and Jess are more focused on the client and documentation side of the project. Despite this working split we all ensure that everyone is kept up to date with the status of the project, reporting back on our group Facebook page, as well as by having weekly team meetings.
My tasks and contribution within the project
In the beginning of our project I set up our communication channel, opting for a Facebook group because all of our members regularly check Facebook.
I also set up a shared Google folder for our group, due to the success and ease I had using Google Drive for my previous project. This enables us to edit documents online, with stored revision history. We can access these documents anywhere and can share it with others not in our group if required.
Admittedly in the early stages of the project I had a hard time adjusting to not being the project manager, a role I tend to adopt because I like to ensure everything is running smoothly and on time (as may be evident with me setting up communication and documentation channels). In order to be respectful of Jenna’s role as our project manager I have had to actively ensure I step back and allow her to manage the project in her style. This has been challenging for me as I am quite a perfectionist and would be what Belbin describes as a solid organiser.
Within my role as the Technical Director one of my main tasks is to undertake research surrounding the website redevelopment, such as what web development tools we should use, what programs we could use to do this, where we should keep our shared code, and other tools and resources we could use. During these stages I take on the role as what Belbin describes as the explorer.
In the development stage of our project I proposed to the group that we use bootstrap framework to assist with the coding aspect, and make the responsive feature of the website easier for us (before we had all learned what it was in our web design class). I also suggested that we use github as a place to store and collaborate on website code. Due to developments in the project, as will be detailed below, we have decided not to use either of these resources.
While writing our first proposal my group imagined that we would be coding the website from scratch, which would be another main task of mine. This has since changed after being in contact with the client, however, as we discovered they would need to be able to easily add content as they would not have much of it ready before the project was handed over. Unfortunately it was only two weeks ago that we discovered this, as we had initially been in contact with someone who is not directly involved with the website development. The client also informed us they would like the website we develop to be similar to their current website, which was not online when we initially scoped out the client. Both of these developments meant the previous research I had done and mockups Kelly had created are no-longer of use, and we have had to write another proposal. This has delayed our project considerably, however we have adjusted to the changes and accepted it as a part of the process.
As a result of project changes Kelly and I decided that to ensure efficiency and ease for the client it would be best to encorporate a CMS (content management system) into the website we develop so that it is easy for the client to upload content after we handover the website. We looked into using WordPress.com, Joomla, Weebly and WordPress.Org. Ultimately we have decided to go with wordpress.org because of the range of themes and plugins available that we can develop and manipulate with more freedom than the other sites. Unfortunately no one in our group has worked with wordpress.org before so we have had to go through testing before sending an updated proposal to the client, to ensure we could do everything within the framework that we needed to and believed we could do. Thus I set up a free test domain and hosting site using the website Altervista. Although I had not used this website before, I decided to go with this site over other free domain and hosting sites because of the benefits it had in comparison to other sites, which I discovered using a handy wikipedia chart shown below (and then doing further investigation to ensure it was correct, because never trust wikipedia).
I had to install all wordpress.org files through the back end of altervista (image below), and couldn’t bulk upload because it will not upload folders which has added time to the project – but we could not have tested wordpress or our chosen themes without going through this.
By using this site we are able to test and manipulate themes and plugins that we wish to use (such as the photo gallery slider, potential directory plugin, and free layout – all solutions that I found and installed and have recorded on a google document, top image) and multiple team members are able to log in at anytime to see test progress (second image).
This is where our team progress to date stops, as we are awaiting communication from our client. We have sent an updated project proposal, as well as website mock ups, and requested to work directly on their hosting site and server so that we do not have to use a free alternative (which is only suitable for testing). We are hoping to receive good news by the end of the week so that I can contact their website host to set up an additional sub-site for us to work on – our team decided it would be best if I was in contact with the website host as I am the most involved in the technical aspects of the website.
In regards to time management I think I have been doing a pretty good job individually, as has the entire group as a whole. Since we recieved the project we have aimed to meet weekly as a group, which has helped us to keep the project rolling. We took a two week break over the uni break, in part this was because I was out of the country for two and a half weeks. We did not have anything to work with, though, as our client has also been overseas.
Our project is not at the stage I would like it to be, however this is not our teams fault as we have been slowed down significantly by the client, as previously touched upon. I am eager to get started on the main part of the project, as I do not want it to be left until the last minute.
Although this project still has a long way to go before it is finished, I have learnt a considerable amount in the time we have been working on it. I am very aware of how much I like to be in control of things, and am not very good at delegating tasks because I would rather do something myself to ensure it is done to the standard I want it (so it’s good that I’m not the project manager). I have become more aware of my passion for finding technological solutions to problems, such as by finding resources to use as detailed above.
I have learnt to lower my expectations of our client, as they have a lot going on and our project is not their priority. Initially I had envisioned they would be able to respond to our questions immediately and tell us exactly what they wanted, however this has not been the reality. This project has definitely been a learning curve for me, because although I have worked with clients on digital projects before I have not worked with clients of this nature before. The way the client has been handling our project has been a bit off-putting, as I feel like they might not even decide to use our website redesign so it is hard to want to put in 110%. Despite this I am trying not to become discouraged and am looking forward to completing the project.