In October 2014 I began developing the initial idea for My BookCycle. This idea was created following my own attempts to sell old textbooks online and either having to pay substantial amounts to post these textbooks, that were not covered by the buyer, or having the website take a cut of the profit. I began to think that the majority of students must face the same problems. I started to believe the best solution, especially in a University where the same textbooks are used each year, would be for students in later years to sell their texts to those in earlier years, and swap them on campus; thus the Idea for My BookCycle was born.
The idea was to develop a website on which Bath Spa students could login and only Bath Spa students with the @bathspa.ac.uk email address; they would be able to use the website to sell old textbooks and find new textbooks for the next academic year. All the swaps would take place in person, so there would be no postal fee. With other Universities offering a similar webpage, it seemed unfortunate that our University lacked a similar site (see Appendix 5).
I pitched the Idea to Mimi Thebo, our module leader, who was happy for me to take the project on. Originally, I was to work with another member of the Creative Enterprise team, which would have been beneficial as he had previously worked with websites, and I personally had never built a website. Furthermore, all tasks would have been divided which would have made it a more manageable project; however, the other student dropped out having decided on an alternative independent project. I still wanted to undertake building a website as a Bath Spa book exchange, because not only did I think it was a strong project, but I felt there was a gap in the market, and it was important to our University to offer students this book swap opportunity.
One of the first issues with which I was faced was a key one; I had never before built a website and had no idea where to begin! After speaking to Mimi, it was agreed I should contact Katherine Reeves (see Appendices 2 and 3), Subject Leader of Publishing, and ask to be shown how to create a website. Katherine invited me to join in with a publishing session and learn to use Bookcycle.org (see Appendix 3).
During the publishing session, and afterwards when talking to Gavin Wilshen, a Technical Demonstrator for Publishing (see Appendix 2), I realised that although wordpress was easy to use to build most websites, the task in hand would be a complicated one. After discussing certain aspects of the project with Gavin, such as how to list the books for selling, and allow people to upload books to the site themselves, Gavin informed me that this would be difficult to achieve on wordpress.org and that I would have to do some research and explore multiple possibilities.
It appeared that this would be a larger project than I had initially anticipated and not perhaps as straight forward as I had hoped; however, rather than making the project more narrow or purely design based, I decided to learn the skills to create the fully functioning website and produce a template for future Creative Enterprise students to expand upon and launch.
After some more advice from Gavin ( see Appendix 4) , I bought a domain for the website, www.mybookcycle.co.uk, which will last for two years; he then linked this domain to the University’s wordpress.org account.
After research, (and much determination!), I discovered that the best way to create the book exchange section of the site was to install a directory plugin (see Appendices 1 and 7). I decided to choose Business Directory which allowed me to create a list of categories under which books could be listed (see Buy/Sell page), and add a search bar that allowed students to easily search for books. The directory also solved the main issue of students being able to display their own books for sale; I simply edited the directory form to make it book specific (see Appendix 1).
The website, after solving this problem, was easy to develop with regards to content on the pages as this simply required me to explain the website usage (see Home, About, Rules, FAQ’s). I had several attempts at creating a logo that worked (see Appendix 1); I decided to go with Bath Spa colours so it was in keeping with the University style.
I did have a few problems with my WordPress theme which would not allow me to hyperlink between pages; I therefore changed to a new theme which allowed me to edit more easily. Furthermore, when adding a ‘contact us’ page in case of any site issues, I decided to create a My BookCycle email address so that I could pass it on to future students and it would not be in my name (see Appendix 1).
Despite the initial goal of launching the website before the Easter break employing the advertising strategy I had put in place (see Appendices 1 and 6), and printing flyers (see Appendix 1), technological constraints prevented this; additional work was required to find a way to add a second menu at the bottom of the screen and ensure only Bath Spa students could log in.
The biggest issue I faced was trying to create a login where only Bath Spa students would be accepted. Originally I had used plugins which allowed me to have administrator approval of students trying to access the site (see Appendices 1 and 7); however, when I test ran logging in to the site with another email, it would send me incorrect passwords, thus not allow me to use the site even after I had been approved. I tried several plugins, all of which had a similar issue. In the end, I asked Ashton for aid (see Appendices 1 and 2); he was able to help me recode the site login so that it would only accept ‘@bathspa.ac.uk’ emails and, additionally, no one would have to be an administrator for this. This meant that the website can only be used by Bath Spa students and staff, and additionally only required an admin when contacted about issues rather than having to approve each individual.
However, due to this issue and the length of time it took to be corrected, I was unable to launch the website to the student population through the planned advertising campaign (see Appendices 1 and 6).
Although it was unfortunate that I was unable to see the website being used by the student body, I set out to build a fully functional, easily to navigate book exchange website and I strongly feel this has been accomplished: www.mybookcycle.co.uk. I have set the website up and laid the groundwork through developing an advertising campaign so that it might be taken over by another Creative Enterprise student in a coming year, who may wish to make their project launching the site.
I feel this project has furthered my computer skills significantly; I can now make a fully functioning website. It also challenged me to apply my researching skills in unfamiliar topics and networking ability, in order to achieve my goals. Furthermore, it demonstrated to me that, although I may come across challenges in my work, I have the ability to overcome difficult challenges, resolve difficulties and adapt to the demands facing me in order to deal with significant set-backs.