In setting out on this project, I wanted to meet a couple of secondary goals: to actually complete a web app, and to have an overarching strategy and result for the project. I needed to make sure I could see the end result from the start, and that meant being very deliberate and measured about how to make it.
For the site I chose to use Ruby on Rails. It's a Ruby-based framework that was quite popular in the late 2000s and early 2010s, but maybe lost some popularity over the last few years. I love it -- it's an elegant framework, and I appreciate the level of thought that goes into it. The convention-over-configuration mentality suits me.
I host a bunch of sites using Dreamhost.com, including this blog. It's pretty good, but sometimes hosting Ruby on Rails sites can get awkward and difficult. So for this site I decided to give Heroku.com a go. Heroku is a cloud-based, platform as a service (PaaS) for building, running, and managing apps. It's got really solid support for RoR, but comes with some functional overhead -- namely, using Postgres databases, and tight Git integration. I've used Git before (it's not my favourite version control), but never Postgres. So it was a learning curve for sure.
UX & Design
Oof. I just jumped into the design of the app as I built it. It went through many, many changes as I did. Which I think is a good thing -- even though it might not have been the fastest method, I effectively had several rounds of user testing just through development.
Naturally I wanted the process of sharing these statements to be as easy as possible. One click. But it was not to be -- certainly not with the moving target that is social media API compliance. Image sizes change, API calls change, oof. And what I assumed would be simple functionality -- rendering out text to a fixed-size image -- proved anything but. Many lessons learned there. But it works -- at least, enough for a first version. More planned.
Social Media & Responsibility
Part of the idea of this site is to ask people to take responsibility for opinions on social media. The current state of sharing allows for individuals to share a post from someone else, yet disavow agreement if confronted, to say "oh, I'm just reposting". But the sharable image generated by We Agree That… explicitly states "I agree" -- and that positioning with the first person makes it difficult to repost without taking responsibility. I've been tracking analytics, and there has been some traffic, but I hope that this gets picked up organically. If not, phase II means a more deliberate approach to publicising the site.