Jackson Charitable | Kalib Watson's Portfolio

Jackson Charitable Foundation Website

Situation

The Jackson Charitable website was around long before I joined Jackson, but its web developer left soon after I arrived. It was in this way that I became the new web developer for the site. After several short training sessions, I was entrusted with the wellbeing of the site.

Part of the Jackson Charitable homepage, which I helped design and develop.

Process

The Jackson Charitable website is one that is updated regularly. It has blog posts, children's videos, and announcements to the community. This meant that the site was updated weekly, at the very least. It also had a small team of communicators and writers working on it, which I got to partner with.

The site also undergoes a very manual process when being updated. It is not built on a content management system like WordPress. Instead, it is a plain HTML and CSS site, which requires a web developer to update content. Therefore, every week I was reaching into and touching the code of the Jackson Charitable site.

This work included everything from adding new blog articles, to rearranging the design of the homepage to include new content, information, or images. It also required working closely with the UX designers and content team, as they often wanted feasibility estimates, design feedback, or editorial assistance. I too, wanted feedback on my implementation of their ideas, and we generally touched base three to four times per week.

An example of an article I added to the Jackson Charitable site.

These different parts of the site were often controlled using page templates implemented using JavaScript. This wasn't something I had worked with before, and because the previous developer for the site left quickly, I mostly tackled this new material on my own.

After working on the site for several months, I felt comfortable enough to suggest some sustainability and accessibility updates. These included updating the styling and ordering of the site's headings, adding documentation to the existing code for better clarity, and updating the external documentation for the next developer who took over the site.

After only five months of working with the website, my manager asked me to train up a new developer to help with the management of the Jackson Charitable site. I gladly did so, and was surprised by how much I had learned in the little time I had with the material! I was also able to be around longer than the previous developer, and give some feedback to our new teammate as she learned.

Currently, the site is live at www.JacksonCharitableFoundation.org, as are many of the articles I developed in my time at Jackson.

Takeaways

From a technology perspective, the Jackson Charitable website allowed me the opportunity to stretch my HTML and CSS muscles, as well as teaching me about JavaScript templating and deployment technologies like Jenkins. I also got to work with designers and content creators to make several different types of changes to an existing website.

Throughout this project, I learned about the value of good documentation, the process of collaborating with a small, distributed team, and about managing code in a way that will be useful to future developers. I believe the sustainability and accessibility of my code and work has improved because of the time I spent with the Jackson Charitable site.