The Term Project: Designing Your Life

Notes for my course this Fall: Web Programming for Nonprogrammers

You will practice the skills you learn in this course by building a project over the next 11 weeks. That project is, of course, a website. Actually, just one page. You will be designing and coding a complete page from scratch. This page will utilize most of the techniques that you learn in this course. You will use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. And at the end, the page will look professional.

The page will be publicly available and you will be proud to share it with your friends and family. And it is something that you will want to put in your own professional portfolio. Throughout the course, we will talk about why it’s important to do your work in public.

The project will be due about two weeks before the end of term. During the term, you will have various milestones that keep you on track. This is not something that you can put off until the last moment. I will help guide you through the process. And at the end, I will advise you on how to improve the site so that it looks professional. And you will come to know what that means.

The project will be graded satisfactory or unsatisfactory. No letter grade or points will be assigned to the project. If you receive an unsatisfactory, you will have until the end of term to revise the project and resubmit. That’s why the project will be due two weeks prior to the end of term. I want everybody to do well, to produce a professional site. Some of you may need more advice on how to do that. But I have confidence that you all can do this.

The deliverable

A professional one-page website that properly utilizes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Due date

November 6, 2020 (Friday) by 11:59pm

The topic

What is the term project about? You learn from working on something that interests you, and what can interest you more than your own life? Specifically, what do you want to get out of the next 5 years of your life?

Throughout this term I will provide you with a series of questions that will prompt your thinking about your life and your potential career. Life happens whether you plan it or not, no matter what you do. But developing intentional habits that encourage you to take deliberate actions provide a structure for thinking about what you are trying to accomplish.

You are not here to be a passive recipient of information. You didn’t come to this place unless you care about what’s happening in your life. But it’s very easy to get distracted. There are so many competing demands on your attention. If you are not careful, you can lose your way. I tell you that from my own personal experience: when I was a student at a small liberal arts college, Sewanee, I lost my path. I was drunk most of my senior year, and in a deep depression. At your age, 18 – 22, a lot of things are happening in your life. It’s not easy for anybody. But I want you to think about the project in this course as a tool that can help you on a productive path forward.

I don’t want the assignments in this course to be just some exercises, some hoops you jump through like a trained animal. I want you to get something out of this, something that will give you a bit of an edge in life.

The page you will create will focus on designing the next 5 years of your life.


An important theme throughout this course is self-reflection and thinking about your own thinking. Those are also key aspects of succeeding at web development and, well, at any venture in your life. I will provide you with guided questions that serve as prompts to spur your thinking about what you want to say on your web page. Some of you may not yet have any idea as to where your life is heading. That’s okay but this is the time in your life to start developing the mental models that will help you plan and make decisions. It’s an unavoidable part of adulthood and a process in which all of us can always improve. Your web page that results from this process will highlight possible paths you want to pursue and the actions you need to take to there. You will use the technical skills you learn in this course to create the page. Our life is always evolving and shifting directions. Often those shifts are beyond are control. But the way that we respond and deal with changing circumstances is completely within our control. Indeed, our response to a situation is one of the few things ever within our control. Throughout the coming years, you will want to revisit the goals and actions you outline. You will want to revise those regularly as you learn more about yourself and the world around you.


To take off some of the pressure, you are not graded on the content of the web page. You are graded only on the technical and design aspects of the page. There is no type of wrong content, though I hope that you will use this as opportunity to think deeply about your goals and the action steps you need to take to accomplish what you want. The milestones will provide you with prompts for self-reflection. I hope that, for yourself, that you want to create some very thoughtful content that is helpful to you and that helps others understand who you are as a person.

Technical components

The course contains 25 learning targets that are technical skills in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You will utilize most of the skills, these learning targets, in developing your project. Indeed, you will not be able to complete the project without having mastered a large number of these techniques.

The technical components can be separated into two areas: design and code. Design is an integral part of front-end web development. Indeed, design comes first.