DesignNews

Designer builds 180 sites in 180 days

Code-learning project provides lessons about creativity and iteration

We’ve seen some crazy web deadlines before (notably Oak’s one-day redesign), but designer Jennifer Dewalt has decided on a rather more extreme path. Her current project is 180 websites in 180 days, which aims to … well, you’ve probably guessed.

With Dewalt (JD) now well past the halfway point, .net wanted to find out how things were progressing, in what ways such tight deadlines affect the creative process, and whether it’s a course of action others in the industry should consider.

.net: What made you start this project, and what have you learned so far?
JD: I’ve learned that I like JavaScript! I feel it gets a bad rap, but the language is pretty nice and you can do amazing things with it. As for the project itself, I wanted to learn to code and started thinking about the different ways to do so. Eventually, I came up with the idea of building 180 websites in 180 days. It seemed like a good way to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible!

.net: How do you think things are progressing?
JD: There are highs and lows. Some days, I am on top of the world and feel like I am telling the computer what for. Other days, it’s like bashing my head against a wall. One thing that’s comforting is that when I look at the code from my older websites, it looks pretty awful. I take solace in this because it must mean that I have come a long way!

.net: How does the self-imposed deadline of one new site per day change your approach?
JD: One of the hardest things to do when learning something new is to be comfortable with the fact there are some things you just don’t understand — and then to move on. Doing a website a day forces you to move on, and the freedom of self-direction means you can choose a different path if the one you are currently following has dead-ended.

But what really drives how I attack the code on a day-to-day basis is the fact I have to release a new website every day, along with the fact I’m doing everything out in the open. I want people to like what I make and I feel obligated to actually come through day after day.

.net: Do you have any particular favourites from the sites you've created so far?
JD: My favourite site right now is ColorWorks, which is the first real tool I have made for myself. I now use it daily to help choose the colour scheme for my sites.

I’m fond of Song Machine. It’s playful and silly, and I am really happy with how it works. I also think about Alien Attack! a lot, because it looks really cool and I feel with a little more effort I could make it into an engaging game.

.net: Is this kind of project something you'd recommend others, perhaps to shake off any cobwebs if they're stuck in a creative rut?
JD: Absolutely. I didn’t have 180 ideas for different websites when I started this project. I only had about 50 — and some of those didn’t pan out. But rapid iteration gets the creative juices flowing. As you move from one thing to the next, more and more ideas start popping up. 

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