Something I don’t think I’ve discussed a huge amount in the public sphere is web authoring. When I was fifteen-going-sixteen, I did a web design course. It was only basic HTML and inline styling with CSS. We didn’t even know it was called CSS. The programme was so basic, and the opportunities for us to do anything with the code were incredibly limited.
In November, I applied for a position to teach on the same course that I had done eight years beforehand. I was an assistant on the course, my HTML and CSS were a little bit rusty at the interview stage, and then I was back in the classroom with a friend of mine as instructor come January.
By then, I had given myself a wee crash course in both HTML and CSS, and I was more or less up to scratch on the things the majority of the students would use. Some required a little bit of extra help, because they were actually working faster than the others, and that pushed us in the room a bit, but it was fun.
Then, eventually, we began our own web authoring class as part of the Masters. We started with basic HTML and CSS – which I had taught myself a month before the module began for the purposes of teaching it to the students – so I worked on developing my skills in those areas.
Our first assignment – a website for a fictional character from one of a number of writers, directors, and playwrights (actually, playwright – Shakespeare) – was due in March. We had to create a website as if they were a real person, not fictional. I chose Ophelia, modernised her a bit and gave her a style of her own.
Ophelia has her own hashtag – #OwnYourMadness. She has her own YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Twitter account. She has a full gallery of photographs from a single-day shoot, and four video blogs.
I edited the content, never mind the code, over a couple of days, until my eyes were sore, and pushed myself in making original thumbnails for every video, too. The Ophelia site was my biggest solo project to date in the college, though it didn’t account for as many marks as assignments from the previous semester. But it was done right. It was a thing I could be proud of, with most of it behaving as I wanted it to.
Since that assignment, we studied PHP, which was a whole new kettle of fish for me. I think I’m still getting used to it. We have another assignment due for that, a few weeks after lectures ended, thankfully. I’m still settling on an idea, though I know that whatever I end up on, I’ll be able to use in the future.
More importantly, this extensive lesson in PHP will serve as a training ground for when I go to do what most authors don’t do: code my own website from scratch.
Aside from the book cover production I plan on doing, I’ll be working on my website over the summer months. As with the covers, my thesis comes first. It might be October before I finalise everything for the site. The important thing is that I actually think I’ll be able for it, and I don’t think it’ll be awful.
Last year, any self-coded version of a website I produced would have been an awful mess of HTML and CSS. But this is 2015. This is the year I discovered my love for creating websites. This is the year that I found the things I really wanted to be working on in the future.