Date: January - April, 2021
Tools: DigitalOcean, Figma, Adobe Illustrator, WordPress, Elementor, Yoast, Gmail API, Paypal API, Google Developer & Search Console, Google Analytics, Forminator
Designing and creating a website for a local student nonprofit I volunteer at was one of my biggest and most challenging projects. I needed to replace an old and outdated HTML website with one that ran on the WordPress CMS with a fresh, modern design.
I first changed the hosting from a poorly managed GoDaddy managed plan into a better performing DigitalOcean droplet. As I always do, I started my work on the homepage, trying to come up with a site theme that was both practical in purpose and visually appealing. It needed to capture Science Infinity’s educational foundations while maintaining a tiny bit of playfulness and youth. After more than 900 revisions and multiple font switches, I settled on a soft. curvy theme with a pastel blue and green color palette and the Neutrif Pro font.
Along with coming up with an original design came the need to create art that was just as original. I took to vector-based applications such as Figma and Adobe Illustrator to craft such. In order to fit Science Infinity’s theme of going “beyond to infinity”, I decided that mountains and space would be appropriate. The mountains on the homepage symbolized climbing higher and higher, and the moment the user decides to “go above and beyond” by clicking register, they are transported “above and beyond” to the registration page’s canvas of outer-space.
With the general website theme nailed down, I began moving towards the many other pages of the website. Drafting new paragraphs of text to fill the void of white space left by the old website was quite time-consuming, and organizing Science Infinity’s extensive curriculum into concise and aesthetic tables was a rewarding but tedious endeavor.
Then came the actual functionality of the website. One of the main goals of this project was also to replace Science Infinity’s old system of third-party Google Forms and informal Paypal transactions, so I decided to install a neat plugin called Forminator to host forms directly on the website. It also integrated nicely with the Paypal REST API, so users could pay securely on the website’s class registration form. I also set up an SMTP system using Google Cloud’s Gmail API to allow for automated emails at zero cost.
But what is a website if users cannot find it? One of the best ways to market Science Infinity was through search engines such as Google and Bing, so I started working on optimizing the site’s SEO–despite its somewhat complex structure. Luckily for me, Science Infinity’s domain was already high ranked, both on Google and Bing, so I simply needed to update the Schema and metadata using Yoast and remove old links with Google Search Console. Once that was done, I sent my prayers to the gods at Google once again and set up a Google Business account for Science Infinity to make ourselves a neat knowledge panel. Finally, I created a Google Analytics project for the website to track user engagement and general statistics.
Ultimately, even though this project took me more than 4 months to complete, it was a great learning experience and I felt like I did some very charitable work that benefitted the community more. I genuinely enjoyed the overall process as well, and every time I visit the website I am overcome with feelings of pride and, to be honest, relief.