As of today HappySchoolsblog.com is HappySchools.com
It was a logical move considering the brand name. I think it was better option than migrating to completely different domain name.
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
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
- 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.