A Life Update and My Journey Into Web Design

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Hola! You may be wondering where I have been for the past year. No, I didn’t turn into an Eskimo in Chiberia or give up on this blog entirely. Instead, I was wrapping my head around media queries, CSS transitions and even a bit of jQuery.

In November 2014, I signed up for a web design course through General Assembly. The three-month, intensive course taught the basics of front-end development and design, including HTML and CSS. From experimenting with various source control programs to learning elementary concepts regarding navigation and page layout, the class definitely tested my patience and made me think about the design process in a totally different way.

What motivated me to start this journey into coding? As a communications professional in the IT industry, I often feel frustrated that I don’t have the skills to take a project full circle. Translating technical concepts into user-friendly marketing materials is what I do on a daily basis, but taking my work to the next level creativity-wise is something I’ve always struggled with. I wanted to push my limits with my personal endeavors, enhance my freelance portfolio, and design a blog myself from scratch.

In the first few weeks of the course, I began learning about key design elements such as focal point, size and balance and used these concepts to build wireframes for my very first static HTML site (check out my design for a restaurant offering a little southern comfort in Chicago below). Although it looks relatively simple (and it is), I was slamming my head against the wall learning about floats, clears, and divs. It was clear from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be easy.

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After countless hours spent wrapping my head around basic HTML concepts like classes and IDs, we moved on to font pairings and color matching. I was excited to delve into my own blog for the next project. I created a very rudimentary logo in Illustrator and experimented with different colors and fonts in developing a style guide. I cringe when thinking about my first attempt at a logo (it was very Sex and the City).

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After more research on font pairings and logo design, I finally settled on a minimalistic look that more accurately portrayed the “alli in the city 2.0” vibe I was going for. Once the skeleton of the site was complete, I thought what came next would be peaches and gravy. Taking a static HTML site and building it in WordPress turned out to be fairly complicated and led to a lot of frustration. Let’s just say PHP is not my strong suit.

Ultimately, I did have some help getting the site up and running in WordPress, but I’m proud to say that the design and code was something I did on my own. If you are thinking about learning front-end development and design, I highly recommend General Assembly. With the help of a fabulous mentor guiding me every step of the way, I went from knowing very basic HTML to coding a fully functional, responsive website.

This post was a long-winded way of saying that I’m excited for you all to see the blog’s new design and I’m proud to (::drumroll::) unveil alli in the city 2.0. So there you have it. It feels good to update you all on my progress! I couldn’t end this post without asking for feedback, so please, please let me know what you think about the new look!

The Year of Change: How Did I Do?

“Gonna be some changes made, changes made, can’t keep on doing what I’ve been doing these days.” – Bruce Hornsby

2013 was definitely a year of change as I transitioned into my new life in Chicago and began adjusting to all that comes with living in the Midwest – including the sub zero temperatures and harsh reality that home is not a short car ride away.  Although I was blessed with an amazing career opportunity, the normalcy of life as I knew it would be forever changed. It was daunting considering I didn’t really know anyone here, but at the risk of sounding super cheesy, I can definitely say that over the past year I’ve met some of my best friends for life.

Here are a few highlights of 2013:

Travel

I flew more than ten times this year, which is more traveling than I’ve ever done in previous years. From Atlanta to Rhode Island to visiting family back at home, I managed to head back to the East Coast quite a bit. I also received my shiny new passport back in March and took a trip to Curacao with some of my best girlfriends. In June, my mom and I had some great bonding time over a week long trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Writing

In April, I purchased a web domain and spent countless hours drafting my very first blog post. Using WordPress to get my blog site up and running was a lot harder than I thought, but over the past several months it’s evolved into something I am definitely proud of. I completed an online blogging course and received one-on-one critiques of my writing from Jon Morrow, author of CopyBlogger and owner of his very successful blog, Boost Blog Traffic. In November, I landed my very first guest posts on Her Packing List and Brazen Careerist.

2013 was great but I’m striving to meet even more goals in 2014:

1. Continue to build my blogging portfolio through guest posting opportunities

2. Get my foot in the door at a top Chicago lifestyle publication

3. Create a mini e-book (more on that to come!)

4. Quench my travel thirst by exploring more countries on my bucket list

What are your top goals for 2014? Are you satisfied with your 2013 achievements?

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

“The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.” – St. Augustine

Howdy! As you all may gather from reading, I have been bitten by the travel bug. From my very first trip abroad to Japan at age 13 to my latest adventures in the Caribbean, there is just something about exploring a totally new place. I love taking it all in and seeing something I’ve never seen before (and will likely never see again.) It’s just magical.

After a few months of writing about my personal experiences in and around Chicago, I’ve decided to go in another direction with this blog. I plan to focus solely on my desire to see as much of the world as I can over the next several years. Budget travel tips, fashionable vacation wear, travel planning, and solo travel are just a few of the topics I plan to discuss over the coming months.

Want to come along for the ride? Make sure you subscribe (the snazzy green box on the right) for email updates!

alli at el yunque