How developing my first web page changed my life


A bit of background

There are several perks to studying computer science at university (you know - computers, science and being reminded that we can become the next Elon Musk). Sadly, learning web development isn’t one of them. So, I decided that I wanted to do an internship and was lucky enough to land one for 10 weeks with Red Badger! The experience so far has facilitated my strong ambition to do something outside of my syllabus and has given me a bitter-sweet taste of the real world before I graduate.  

Within a few days of settling in and meeting the team, I was assigned with developing two web pages and a burger menu component for one of their new products, ShareThyme. Honestly, it was a challenge and a half. It was my first time using React - a front-end Javascript framework, and better yet, it used technologies (JavaScript, JSX and CSS) that I was not familiar with - I only knew Java, VB and Haskell. Nonetheless, I didn't let these hurdles stop me from taking on the challenge. 

Where the challenge began 

First I tackled the About Us page. I was told that it was good practice to build web pages using a mobile-first approach, so I did just that. Although I was rusty in the beginning, once the content was on the page, I swiftly finished with the mobile-version.

After that, I moved onto the desktop version which brought up a new list of challenges. For starters, a section of the page required an image on the left and text on the right. Then I needed to figure out how to only show the change on the desktop version and not on mobile. I didn’t know where to start. So naturally, I turned to Google. I finally found what I needed after sifting through what seemed like 50 different websites.

Picture of ShareThyme "About Us" pageBuilding the error page was a breath of fresh air. The simplistic design made it quick and straightforward to develop. After completing both pages, the perfectionist within me emerged. But, it was quickly tamed by the next task.

Moving onto the burger menu, that’s where the real challenge began. Admittedly, out of the features I built, it makes me most proud. It was a new component, leaving me to construct it from scratch - unlike with the About Us page where other pages served as a template. It was the most complicated component I’ve dealt with. New instances such as hovers, clicks and active pages had to be taken into account. StackOverflow soon became my best friend. Fortunately, the burger menu is a core aspect of the website's mobile version, so I knew my efforts would pay off in a matter of time.   

Burger menu "Become a teacher" link in mobile viewBurger menu "About us" link in mobile view

Launch day

On the day of the product launch, I felt a mixture of emotions; accomplishment, pride, determination - just to name a few. What I built looked good, functioned great and snugly fit in with the rest of the website. Although the task was tough in the beginning, I grew more comfortable and came out triumphant. Receiving constant feedback, suggestions and support was a key instrument in my success. I’m very grateful to the marketing team, with a special shout out to my Badger Buddy, Simon, for providing that guidance.

What will I do next? What other challenges will I rise to?

Seeing my work live on a website, directly impacting users, sparks my confidence to do more projects. It makes me feel more meaningful and that I can take on any challenge. Maybe I’ll continue practising how to build web pages with intricate components. Perhaps I'll attempt a tougher challenge like building a website of my own. Or even build a web page full of burger menus. While I figure out my next steps, you can guarantee that I'll be showing off my work to all my friends.

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