Excitement on Going Live…

Tomorrow’s my big day, one that I am looking forward to. The projects that I’ve taken on are finally going live. My big project is an internal application, and I’ve already put it to use and reaped the benefits from it. To know just what impact it will have on things here and to experience it firsthand, it’s a glorious thing. My public project will also come out, and my responsibilities will be stepped up a bit because of that.

The last time I did public-facing web development (other than personal sites) was when I was quite new to programming. A teacher saw that I could write content; a classmate saw the programmer in me and convinced me to abandon PageMill and clean up the pages with simple HTML. Looking back at how I did it then and to know that my
classmate from then (now my husband) is still behind me 100%, I’m really psyched about tomorrow.

I’ve had some crazy things to tackle on the way. For example, being out of web development so long, my skills were fairly rusty. I had done a little VB.NET web app in my last job, but it’s nothing as elaborate as my most recent program. I’ve switched languages (now using C#), expanded my toolbox (AJAX), and started considering overhauling just how I code a project. In working with it more, I’ve gained a better respect for JavaScript. Don’t get me wrong – I still wish it would go away, but that’s the joys of having a love/hate relationship with it.

The biggest things I’m looking forward to are the improvements on the public-facing side. We’re adding graphics to our resource center, so that people will be able to say “Oh, that’s what that device looks like.” I grew partial to this section of the website early on, as there’s a lot of user experience to consider, and that’s what I love doing the most – focusing on just how my work will impact the users.

When I get into the public design, the main thing on my mind is “What can I do to get this information to my end user with the tools I use now?” (The question in the back of my mind though is “What technologies can I work with to make this even better than what I’m working on now?”) When the project manager for that section approached me with what he was looking to see, I was extremely excited. I knew that I would be able to pull it off with all sorts of bells and whistles. Being resourceful, I found the way for my Safari users to get the same experience that the other users will get. My non-JavaScript users will still be able to access the data and get a similar experience. My mobile users will have a similar experience, with images hidden but still accessible.

I’m just getting started with our website. Soon enough, the whole site will be in .NET. There’s another section where data will be more accessible once we release the .NET version of it. Again, I took on the design and thought of my mobile users and non-JavaScript users. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited about the changes in store.

There’s just one part of the user experience that I have a lot to work at – as my own websites show, I’m not a designer. I make things work, but I can’t make things pretty. At work, I have an awesome designer that I work with. Having been the first time working with a designer, I’m lucky that I can incorporate his ideas into my layout without any problems. So I don’t have to worry about the “look” of the “look and feel” part as much at work. But that’s one thing I want to get better with on my own. Something tells me that I ought to be looking into Silverlight and Expression. It also looks like I’ll need to pay attention to some of my Silverlight and user experience bloggers – like To Code or not To Code and JUXtapose.

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