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“In a Perfect World…”

I had the privilege of job shadowing at ONEsite for a day this week – what a great experience!  This was the first time I had the opportunity to observe the workflow that goes on behind the scenes with web design and development  (and the first time I’ve ever seen the ‘stand-up’ desk!.)  One of the phrases I heard repeated throughout the day was “In a perfect world..” because in the world of web design and development you have browser-compatibility issues, constantly changing technology and new challenges with every project.  In a perfect world, everything would work right the first time, you could design without limitations and ‘bugs’ and ‘glitches’ wouldn’t exist.  Instead you have an evolving world where you commit to a lifetime of learning and perfecting your craft – but that’s what keeps things interesting! – and at the end of the day (or 3-month project…) you can sit back and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

I started out the day with Derrick, one of their developers and he walked me through some of the PHP, SQL and JavaScript he was using as he worked on creating an elastic search function for a website and pulling content into the site from a database.  This particular site was for a video game company and will be available in multiple languages.  He explained how they designed the site, knowing that the content would have to be available in multiple languages and the content would change based on what gaming console choice the end-user selected.  The results of just these features alone, meant that each product had upwards of 9 or more different content sets just for the product info pages.  He also showed me where employees are assigned ‘tickets’ for bugs or other issues that need to be addressed on client sites.  While I was observing, he fixed a bug in a site that has a reward points feature.  Users are rewarded points that they can redeem for prizes – the problem was that the coding behind the feature would allow them to select a prize and the feature would ask for all the shipping information before actually letting the user know if they had enough points for the prize.  He changed the coding to correct the order of those functions and then submitted it for approval, after which point, it would be reviewed, tested and then added to the live site.

Next I met with James, a designer at ONEsite.  He showed me around the ONEsite control panel and the drag and drop feature that allows the designers to quickly add modules to a page with custom html content or Smarty-templates and Wonders.  He was working on creating a web page based on a mockup from the client in .jpeg format.  He showed me how he sliced images from the mockup in Photoshop and added them to the page.  They used original artwork with the typography included for links to pages on the website.  He demonstrated how they could drag and drop sections into a web page they were designing and then choose from an extensive list of template options or add custom html content to the section.  We talked a little about HTML5 and CSS3 and I asked if they used web fonts on many of their sites.  He said they normally didn’t because of the processing time and multiple server requests required to implement those font kits on a website.

Afterwards, I met with Whitney, a project manager who was trouble-shooting, trying to determine why a particular section of a web page wasn’t showing up.  She referred to this section/feature as a “Wonder” – I had never heard of a Wonder before and tried researching to figure out exactly what it was, but could only find references to it on the ONEsite website.  From what I observed, and read on the website it’s a custom module created by ONEsite that provides an interface for clients to go in and update content (i.e. text, pictures, etc.) on their own after the site is live.  After trying different options on this particular project and getting nowhere, the creative director sent an IM over with a suggestion and she added it to the code and it worked!  Once the Wonder appeared on the page, I watched her work through the styling of it.  It required more custom Photoshop work to create an original background gradient with decorative lines and a separate image for the hover state of tab links that looked like an arrow pointing to a slideshow feature that was also included within the same Wonder.  This feature was included on the website to resemble a similar flash feature the client had seen on another site, but without requiring the use of flash.

It was really interesting to see what a typical day for an actual designer or developer is like.  Everyone was very welcoming and took the time to explain what they were doing.  It was a great experience and I gained a better understanding of how I’ll be using my skills after I’m done with the program.  Thank you to everyone at ONEsite for this great opportunity!

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