2013 – 2018
Designing a site that is an explorable master’s degree
Conceptualising an interactive diploma website
One of my biggest complaints about my bachelor’s degree is that I had spent four years working myself into the ground to earn a first-class degree… and all I had to show for it was a dead piece of paper.
Degrees don’t hold the same weight that they used to.
A traditional degree diploma is a dead piece of paper that says nothing about all the blood, sweat, tears and life-changing and skillset building experience that goes into earning a first-class degree.
So when I decided I was going to build my own master’s degree, I knew I had make up for this deficiency and not just produce another dead piece of paper.
I had to create an engaging multimedia degree diploma that you could open up and explore a fully-fledged overview of all the grit and grinding and growth that went into earning my master’s degree.
I needed my master’s degree, with all its concentrations and final projects, to jump out at people.
I needed a fully responsive website to act as the interactive diploma for my self-directed master’s degree.
Foretunately I had already acquired the technical knowledge for creating my own original website in the final year of my bachelor’s degree.
Repurposing an unused concept
The idea for a website existed long before I even had an inkling that I was going to create my own master’s degree.
During my final year of my bachelor’s degree, I had hit on the idea of creating a website as part of my practical dissertation.
My practical dissertation was a web series concept proposal package called EYES.
For EYES I devised an idea for a short form web tv series idea that was expressed in a series bible document I wrote; a 7-minute pilot episode that I wrote and directed; a producer’s planning portfolio document I compiled and a blog that chronicled the development of the project.
An additional project element I had planned on including was an original video-centric website that I would use to house the pilot episode and other project components.
The site would also act as a concept of what the actual website/online branding for the fully released web series would look like.
Ultimately, I decided against building the website as it would have created a whole new mountain of work that I just did not have time to do.
But I had already done a lot of research and preparation for building it at the beginning of 2013.
I had already purchased some web hosting.
I had also purchased a WordPress theme to let me realize the rough idea I had for the overall website.
I even had a plan to create another original website that would have served as my personal portfolio website.
So the desire to enroll myself in web design and to build websites was already present in my mind when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2013.
I hate leaving things unfinished.
I’m also a strong believer in recycling.
If I can’t use something for one thing, you can bet I will eventually find another use for it.
It’s no surprise that I very quickly hit on the idea of creating an embodying website when I decided I was going to create my own self-directed master’s degree towards the end of 2014.
I already possessed the technical knowledge of setting up my own WordPress site and the desire to build my own websites.
I just needed to figure out what my master’s degree website would look like.
I spent the next four years mostly focused on studying online courses as I built out the curriculum of my MTA.
But alongside this I would occasionally sketch out ideas and make notes for my MTA website.
I never mapped out what the full site would look like, but I did have a clear idea of what the homepage would look like and how all the elements of my MTA Portfolio would branch off from it.
Towards the end of 2018, I had reached a clear threshold in the development of my MTA.
In fact, I naively believed I had completed the study part of it (how little I knew).
I now had my MTA formed into its ten concentrations… with it’s ten final project slots (and the intention to make the building of my MTA website one of those projects).
Possessing a clear structure for my MTA Portfolio meant that I now had a clear structure for the website to house it.
But before I could start building that website, I needed to decide on a definite name for it.
Branding the site as something distinct
In order to start building the site, I needed to attach a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) to it and that URL, a.k.a. web address name, needed to embody the branding of the site.
So before I started building anything, I needed to figure out the branding for my website.
I had already christened my postgraduate studies my Master of Transdisciplinary Application a.k.a. my MTA Portfolio.
But I was never going to call the website that housed it www.masteroftransdisciplinaryapplication.com.
It would have been ridiculous to call the site that!
Way too wordy and dull.
I guess I could have called it mtaportfolio.com.
That certainly sounds better and is more succinct.
But it doesn’t really express what the site is about.
I needed a name that expressed the nature of my self-directed studies without calling it a Master of Transdisciplinary Application.
A name that needed to be similar but separate.
The working title I came up with was…
My Big Picture Education a.k.a. mybigpicture.education
Being a transdisciplinary master’s degree that goes above and beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, my postgraduate studies are much focused on big picture thinking.
Big picture thinking refers to a thinking strategy that focuses on the entirety of a concept or idea instead of on each individual detail. People who use big picture thinking can often see the long-term possibilities of a plan and the overall potential for success.
What is the big picture?, Indeed.com
Utilising the ‘big picture’ phrase was also a part of a much bigger branding plan I had for my overall career brand.
Originally, I had planned on using the big picture name for my personal brand, my life coaching brand and the education platform offshoot of this site.
Then I experimented with differentiating the different sub-brands of my career brand by dropping the big picture phrase from them and giving them mostly distinct names.
This is when I started using the phrase renaissance in my branding.
Renaissance referring to concept of being a renaissance men or person…
A cultured man of the Renaissance who was knowledgeable, educated, or proficient in a wide range of fields. A present-day man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field.
I very much consider myself a renaissance man.
In addition to my personal website being called renaissancepete.com, I did consider calling my MTA site myrenaissanceeducation.com.
But I decided against it when I felt it would be smarter to distinguish all my sites with their own brand identities.
This also is when I decided to call my MTA Portfolio website…
MTA Education a.k.a. mta.education.
I had been researching what urls are available and had discovered that you could use all sorts of TDLs (Top Level Domains), that’s the name or set of letters that comes after the dot in a web address.
It’s actually also how I hit on the name for my life coaching business as Not Your Average Life Coach when I found the .coach TDL, I could create a shortened url as notyouraveragelife.coach.
Stylistically, it was also very clean and quirky.
Likewise, when I discovered the .education TDL, I just knew I had to use it for the name of my MTA site.
Then I hit on mta.education for the name.
While I liked how short the name was, I still wanted to find a name that more thoroughly encapsulated the essence of what I was doing with my self-directed MTA.
But mta.education would do until I came up with something better.
I think I very wisely decided against using the big picture or renaissance phrase for my overall career brand.
While the big picture philosophy and being a renaissance man are both very much central to me as a person and how I go about operating in the world, they’re already pre-established phrases and brands.
I needed to come up with my own original branding that was unique to me and to my creative thinking.
Increasingly, I was looking at the design of this website and its name from a marketing perspective.
The reason why I was building my own master’s degree and a website to house it was so I could market my expertise to potential employers, collaborators and clients.
The breakthrough came when I was designing my personal website, a site I eventually came to call Pete Be Creative a.k.a. petebecreative.com.
I was working on my personal website, my life coaching website and this website all at the same time throughout 2019, so they all rubbed off on each other.
As I explained in the component page detailing the creation of my life coaching website…
I wanted names that would sum up each brand and that would work as clear descriptions about me on the main page of PeteBeCreative.com.
mta.edcuation didn’t sum up the essence of my self-directed master’s degree.
I wanted something a bit snappier, quirkier and immediately clear to understand.
Something that was a simple statement.
A statement that would work on its own and alongside the other brands present on my personal website.
So I started conceptualizing…
I really liked ibuiltmyownmasters.education but I was concerned with there being confusion over whether it was ‘master’ or ‘masters’ (although really its ‘master’s’) and people typing the url in wrong and not finding the site.
Not that most people do type in urls!
Most use search engines.
But it still didn’t sit right with me.
Then I thought about replacing ‘masters’ with ‘postgraduate’
Although it was a bit long.
And then I thought, why not just…
It’s a simple, short, descriptive, catchy and proactive statement of what I’ve done with my postgraduate studies.
It’s also a name that allowed me to fully separate my MTA Portfolio into its own distinct brand and to make the construction of its website a project in its own right.
This is why the building of ibuiltmyown.education is now component 2 of the final project for my Education Innovation concentration.
A final project that is slightly confusingly called I Built My Own Education.
So ibuiltmyown.education is both a product of my MTA Portfolio and the website that encapsulates it!
The name of this site as ibuiltmyown.education doesn’t sum up the focus of my studies as being a transdisciplinary master’s degree in Sustainable Globalisation and Creative Enterprise.
But, the name does something so much more important, is sum up the philosophy behind my postgraduate studies.
After all, I had built my own education and now I was going to build a website to house it.