Progress Update – June 2012

When I first started this blog, as with the many other blogs I’ve stated in the past, I vowed to update it regularly. So here we are after a blogless month but all is well, I have a few updates to talk about today. I’d love to be able to say that I’m going to start blogging each day but what’s more true, is that I’ll certainly let you know when I’ve reached a milestone.

I’ve been working pretty hard this past month not only looking for a new job but also getting as much done on WhatDifference as I’ve been able to.

Here are some of the user stories that I’ve been working on and have completed:

As a user:

  • I need to be able to view a request for help.
  • I need to be able to view requests by tag name such as “reading” “manual labour”
  • I need to see a list of areas I can subscribe to
  • I need to subscribe to an area with a single click so that I can see updates for that area
  • I need to see a feed of requests for the areas I am subscribed to.
  • I need to be able to manage my tag subscriptions
  • I need to be able to edit my profile. When I log in for the first time, I need to be taken to the edit profile screen to add any additional information.

As a Requester:

  • I need to be able to submit a request for help
  • I need to be able to update a request I posted.
  • I need to be able to add new locations for people to subscribe to

I also managed to do some styling work on the site which is making the user flow feel more more intuitive. I’m hoping to start working with some designers soon and I’d love to hear how you imagine WhatDifference looking.

Wishing all the best for you and with much love, Jamie

Posted in posts | Leave a comment

Catch up – Where are we upto in April

Hey! Thanks for reading.

If you’ve got a short attention span like me (and most of the modern day world), here’s the crux of what I’m on about:

I’ve been working on the ability to submit requests and to view them. It’s turned out to be a more educational process than I thought, trying to make the complex simple. Progress is going well and we’ve now got one of the main features 90% complete. Woo Hoo!

The focus of this week began with submitting requests. “Yay!” I hear you cry emphatically.

I thought this phase would be pretty quick, i mean what’s to it? A few form fields, put the information in a database and bingo, job done!

As it turns out there was more to be considered. I wanted the process of submitting a request to be as simple as possible. This meant doing some ground work and reviewing plenty of websites. As it turns out, I really like the way StackOverflow handles its submission of questions and I wanted to do things in a similar way.

I probably spent three days reasearching how they do what they do over at StackOverflow. Everything from the main input box which has familiar editing features like you get in other text editing programs, to the ability to add tags to a request so that people can find it under multiple categories.

Each of these things led to a deeper understanding of what needs to be in place to support them. I don’t want to bore you with all the technical details so I won’t :-) . Suffice to say, in order that something be simple to use, it takes a lot more work than creating something complicated to use.

I’m going to write a seperate post about the tagging system since it’s core to the working of WhatDifference, and when I mention it to people they tend to look at me blankly as a tumble weed rolls past.

So what’s actually been done? What’s working?

Right now it’s possible to submit a Request, to view an individual request and to see a list (as a preview) of all requests that have been submitted.

Tags can be added to the requests when they’re submitted and these tags are displayed for both the preview and the full request view. Later on the tags will link to a page that shows all requests tagged with that word. I’ll be working on that a little later down the line.

I’m back to my day job next week so I’ll be getting as much done on WhatDifference as and when I can. I’ve lots of ideas and they’re all being written as user stories. I’ll say more about that also in another post.

I’m still deciding whether to make the project system public so we can all see what’s being done and what’s on the list. What do you think?

Remember, if you want to be part of the beta testing for this hit the Register button below:

Posted in posts | Leave a comment

Please! No more credentials!

One of the big decisions that always needs to be made with any membership orientated site is how to manage user logins and most of us end up with a deluge of different login details for the plethora of websites we used every day. Remembering and managing all these details can quickly become a modern day malady.

To ensure that WhatDifference is as easy to use as possible we wanted to take a different approach to user logins. The ideal scenario is that users can login using the credentials they already have with other websites such as Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

To begin with we’ve decided to impliment a Facebook login system and we’ll introduce different login providers as times goes by.

The Facebook login system is pretty cool. If you’re logged into Facebook, you’re logged into WhatDifference and if you’re yet to authorise WhatDifference for logging in you’ll be asked to do so when attempting to perform members only actions.

We never get access to your password and Facebook is quite strict about what access we do have so that everything must be approved by you, the user.

If you’ve registered your interest in WhatDifference already, you’ve succesfully used part of our Facebook login system and will be ready to roll as soon as we launch the first beta version of the site.

If you’re yet to register your interest you can do using the registration box below.

Remember, you can manage all authorised apps in the apps section of Facebook. This is where your registration to WhatDifference can be managed at any time.

Progress is being made and the first beta of the site will be launching as soon as possible. Until then keep checking back for more updates and posts on the progress at WhatDifference.


Posted in posts | Leave a comment

A warm welcome to our new Board Member (Hilarious, right?)

Ok ok, I just had to lead into this with a board related pun. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s a picture of me with my new whiteboard saying hello to you :)

Hello from Jamie at What Difference

Of all the tools a Web Developer has at their disposal the whiteboard is quite often the unsung hero. This is really where the magic happens. The planning, the diagrams, the scibbles and doodles of a mind trying to make sense from nonsense.

Hurrah! for the whiteboard.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Put some clothes on!

Today I’ve been speaking with a fantastic London design agency who have offered to put together a few design ideas for the What Difference website.

I’m very exicited to see what ideas come back and once they do, I’ll post them here so that everyone can give feedback and be part of making the decisions on how the website will look.

They’re very kindly doing this out of an interest in the project and so I’ll write a little bit more about the design agency and the work they do once I have some ideas to show you.

Posted in posts | Leave a comment


Hey! Welcome to the What Difference blog.

What is What Difference?

What Difference is a concept born from a simple question:

“What difference can I make in this world and how?”

Whilst I was asking myself this question, I wondered how many other people were asking the same thing and so I started to ask people about the difference they were making in the world. It soon became clear that we’re all making a difference and that to not make a difference would take much more work than simply living a life.

I also began hearing that people would like to make more of a difference in their communities but were often unsure how, and those who were sure felt that a large commitment was required of them. The two questions that followed give What Difference its life blood:

How can I find out ways of making a difference in my community as-and-when I’m able to do so in a way that’s flexible and enjoyable?


How can I let people in my community know that there’s a way they can make a difference?

What Difference is my answer to both of these questions.

Who is What Difference for?

Put simply, it’s for all of us.

As individuals, as businesses, as parents, as mentors, teachers, students, plumbers, community members, as humans.

We’re already making differences in this world, many of which we haven’t yet recognised and What Difference provides a place for those who want to be a contribution even more than you already are.

How will it work?

As I see it at the moment there will be two main needs that will be fulfilled by the What Difference website.

The first action is to let people in your community know of specific ways they can make a difference.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things people might let you know about:

Hi, I’m George. I’m moving into your local area on Friday 15th at 2pm and I could really do with a hand unloading the van. Are you free to help out?

We’re a local care home and we need someone to read to our residents on Wednesday at 3pm for one hour. Would you like to do this?

I’m planting some new flowers in my garden ready for spring and would be very grateful for any willing volunteers to lend a helping hand.

The second action is being able to commit to making a difference.

Once you’ve found a way of making a difference you’ll be able to commit your time to making that request a realisation. Commiting to a specific action will inform the requester of your interest and provide them a means of contacting you. It will then be up to them to decide and confirm that commitment using a simple user interface.

There may be times when a requester is looking for someone quite specific to help them. Perhaps another parent, someone with a certain teaching qualification or someone with an interest in their given area of expertise.  Because of this and for the safety of all our users, requesters must “accept”  or “deny” each offer to establish that their needs are met correctly.

Will I see everything or just requests for my local community?

You’ll be able to subscribe to specific areas as well as being able to see the live feed of global requests being added.

When a request is made, it’ll be made for a specific location such as Cambridge, West London, Manchester. You’ll be able to subscribe to the areas you’re interested in hearing about and these requests will show on your home screen.

Why the blog?

I believe that the more transparent and visible we are, the stronger our What Difference community will become.

I’ll be using this blog to keep you updated about the goings-on of What Difference, what’s currently being worked on, what’s planned for the future, what’s been done and much more.

To begin with I’ll be writing a lot about the process of creating What Difference. Work has already begun and our pre-registration form is ready. This will allow you to connect with What Difference through Facebook’s secure authentication system and to register your interest in being a member.

Those who signup during this initial phase will be invited to beta test the website before it goes live to the public. I’ll write another blog post about the timeline and my hopes for the next few months.

Anyone who’s interested in keeping up-to-date with the latest goings on at What Difference, the progress being made, changes, updates and much more should watch this space… :-)

…and click Register below to make sure you’re included in the beta testing!

Posted in posts | Leave a comment