Welcome to HappySchools.com

Raghuram Sukumar Edu News 31 Comments

As of today HappySchoolsblog.com is HappySchools.com

HappySchools.com

It was a logical move considering the brand name. I think it was better option than migrating to completely different domain name.

Growth Opportunities

Happy Schools Blog is an established brand, but to convert this blog to Higher Education, Career, Lifestyle portal, having the word blog in the domain name wasn’t appropriate. So, decision was made to buy HappySchools.com.

After long negotiation with the company that HappySchools.com parked, deal was made to buy the domain.

With HappySchools.com, it opens up world of possibilities.

What’s New in Happy Schools

Here’s a list of new features in this site.

  • New Custom Design
  • Social Community
    • College Groups
    • Members Directory
    • Forums
  • Game Mechanics

After talking to lot of Happy Schools Readers, the most request feature was a social community for interactions with other students and readers.

This re-design is focused on creating a platform to build a community.

Social College Groups

It’s just like Facebook Groups. But, with cool  tailor made features that students applying for college admission will love to be part of.

  • Admission Statistics
  • Single Group per College
  • Groups Blog ( to be added )
  • Additional Pages ( to be added)

Forums

  • Lightweight forums
  • Place to get your questions answered

Use forms to post your questions. Previously, all the questions were posted as comments to the blog post and that resulted in questions about H1B visa posted in GRE blog post.

Going forward, comments that are related to the blog article will be approved.

Members Directory

  • Add Friends
  • Connect with other members of the community
  • Tag Members
  • Add updates to your Favorites

With Groups, you can get to meet other students applying, studying in a specific colleges.

Consider this scenario: If you find another member who is applying to same university, same program and semester? You can send friendship request and network with them.

Game Mechanics

  • Get Badges and Points for completing achievements
  • Leader Board  see where you stand based on your points and Badges
  • More Points = Better Influence
  • More Points = Redeem for Rewards

You get points for doing various activities in the site.

Here’s few ways to get points

  • Visits
  • Create New forum Topics
  • Post Reply to forums
  • Join Groups
  • Share your story

When you are preparing standardized testing and applying for colleges is long boring process. Idea behind Game Mechanics is to make the long, boring process a fun filled adventure.

More Game Levels will be added in coming days.

The Story Behind HappySchools.com

Here’s the Time line of events

  • July : Acquired HappySchools.com
  • Aug – Sep : Created Requirements Spec
  • End of September : Identified Developer
  • October : Identified Designer
  • End of October : Design Works Begins
  • End of November : Development Begins
  • December : Development and Testing
  • End of January : Desktop Site Completed
  • February : Mobile Site

Yes, it was long process and lot’s of lessons learned along the way.

Previously, I purchased Premium WordPress Framework and Theme.  Installed and activated the Theme. It took less than a minutes to get new look for the blog.

But, to get a unique design with custom social community, premium theme’s wasn’t the way to go.

Why WordPress?

I explored several platforms Drupal and Drupal Commons, Joomla (Jom Social), Ning for Social Community. In the end, I decided to go with WordPress, BuddyPress and bbPress for following reasons

  • Availability of developers
  • Cost of development and maintenance
  • Ease of  use
  • Less learning curve
  • Familiarity with the platform

I installed a Drupal Commons –  Social Community is a test site and I was totally lost. I never used Drupal before. I’m used to publishing using WordPress platform. Going from WordPress to Drupal was like going several years in time.  As powerful as Drupal can be, but I didn’t find it easy to use.

Why Not Drupal?

  • Drupal doesn’t work right out of the box.
  • There’s no famous 5 minutes Install Script for Drupal
  • Upgrade’s are expensive and time-consuming process.
  • Drupal developers were expensive.

To upgrade to new version of Drupal, I would have to hire developers to get the work done, which would add maintenance cost (few thousand dollars)

After two months of research, dilemma and confusion, I decided to stay with WordPress.  I’m glad I did that.

Developing custom website is not an easy process. Here’s why

  • Have a visual mind map of new site
  • Create Requirements that reflects the visual mind map
  • Find right Information Architect
  • Find right designers
  • Find Right Developers
  • Convey what is visualized and ideas to them

It’s very hard to convey the ideas, visualizations to designer, who then creates wire frame of the website. Then developer implementing designs.

After several months of work, changes to design, bugs fixes, frustrations, anxiety and sleepless nights, HappySchools.com is now live.

This is not the perfect a site by any means. There’s lot more work to be done. I’m following Lean Principles with this website launch.

Lean Methodology

  • Build
  • Measure
  • Learn
  • Back to Build

I could have spent two more months to get all bugs, layouts and alignment right.  Goal is to get a working website and improve on that. I have built it and now it’s time to measure and learn.

If you have suggestion, feedback, new features recommendations, do let me know. That’s the core principle of Lean Methodology.

If you find any bugs, please do report it using the contact form.

Manifesto of Happy Schools

I wouldn’t have created Happy Schools Blog if it wasn’t for the education and experience gained from USA.

Studying Abroad is a beautiful thing.

Instead of looking at Studying Abroad as an expense, think of it as an investment. An investment that will pay for multiple generations to come to your family.

Not everybody can get to come to USA. But, you can get equally life enriching experience by studying in any foreign country.

All the countries comes with it’s own set of challenges, opportunities and learning experience.

President Obama : Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.

Ultimate goal of this blog

  • Help you make better career, education decisions and lead a better life.
  • To encourage you to identify your passions
  • To Motivate you to follow your passion
  • Above all push you to live your dreams  (not others)

You don’t have to follow the path taken by others, just because the way is clear.

By creating this social community, I like to bring together a tribe like-minded people who want to change their stars, career, future and life.

>> Click here to Join the Happy Schools Tribe

Comments

  1. That’s a good notion on branding. This site now looks what it is going to deliver.
    On a couple of things I noticed.
    1. The sticky menu could save time on switching to items.
    2. I don’t see a search box anywhere (atleast on individual pages), I’m sure many would use this to quick search past posts.
    3. You might want to review Privacy/Terms pages as these static pages still mention HappySchoolsBlog 🙂
    4. Why not put some popular or latest discussions from the forum on the sidebar!

    I just noticed them for now, hope you are on constant improvement. BTW I’m not a designer.
    Cheers for the new thing.

    1. Author

      Hello Eken,
      1. Are referring to Top Nav Menu that remains static when scroll?
      2. I’m aware of that. There is a search box in home page, but queries are not working. Should be fixed by this weekend.
      3. Attorney is working on creating legal documents. I should have a hard to read, lengthy document in about week’s time.
      4. I didn’t have time to plan for items in sidebar. Will start testing items in sidebar from next week.

      I’m taking a short break before starting to fix things. Great comments. Keep posting.

  2. I like this blog @ Raghu Sir…
    From last 4 years i m Reading this blog.
    very Happy with New design of HappySchoolsBlog.
    New design is really good.
    But really like to comment on Domain name… Happyschoolsblog.com already strikes in mind. in doubt about new Job section of this site.
    Does it will work?

    1. Author

      Jobs section will take time to reach employers. But, I have detailed plan to make it work.

      1. Thanks @Raghu Sir…for replying my comment.

        I would like to suggest you for only selected jobs. like. plz dont add Indian jobs.

        Jobs opening for students in abroad will helpful for students….

  3. Yes, I’ve been expecting a change like this and you made it at the right time. Now the HappySchools home page looks really great. Hope this is just the beginning and I wish HappySchools all the very best for serving for us the people of the world. I started with HappySchools in the year 2008 and your valuable blogs and information helped me get my H1B in the year 2010. I’m working and living in USA since then. Thank you once again.

    1. Author

      Thanks Joseph. Good to see you are still keep-up with the blog. You need to share your experience in USA for last 2 years. Can you send me a write-up?

  4. Great job Raghuram. I’ve been following your blog and getting feeds directly to my inbox. This site has always been a great resource for me and will continue to follow. Thank you!

    1. Author

      Nice Name 🙂 This is the first time I’m seeing your comments here though.

  5. Hi Raghu, I am following this blog like from almost 5 years. You really did awesome job by collecting these scattered pieces of information for like minded people and making it available for everyone. Keep it up this fabulous work.

  6. Nice to see new version of Happy Schools. I learnt a lot on this forum and I hope that it will grow to new heights and continue to guide students who aspire to go abroad for higher studies and career opportunities. Best of Luck and Thanks for all your hard work.

  7. Good to see the new version…. Congrats sir you really did great job…. Your blogs always help to inspire me to pursue my dream….. Thanks a lot……

  8. Hey Raghu,
    Good going mate..Good luck and The website is Cool,catchy and easily accessible…The best part is new website..itz shorter and can be easily remembered..

  9. Great Job Raghu. This blog gave me a life. 1 year back I was studying three tier college in India, now I am in world class university, If I was able to achieve anything its only because of the guidance from HSB community.

    All the very best for your new venture 🙂

    1. Author

      And thanks a lot for all your suggestions and testing that you did with the blog before launch.

  10. Dear Raghu
    Can you help me to find cheapest and valuable university for phd course in environmental engineering in english world?

  11. I am a dentist from India and applying for mha program in usa. I dont want to do dds. Is it right to do mha on a long term basis.

    1. Author

      That’s something you have to figure out. Career related suggestions are to be self-exlpored. Are you doing MHA just because you don’t want to be a dentist or just because that’s easier way to get to USA?

  12. Your blog had been a tremendous help for us to source for information. Thank You and all the best in your new venture.

  13. Raghu where are the video that used to exist in old layout.. I cant find them here.. They were of great use.. Can you please make some provision to accommodate those videos too in your website..

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