Over a 10 year period, I spent around 6 years at Tushita Meditation Centre, McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India. I was the main designer, writer, editor and content manager for Tushita Meditation Centre’s website and other marketing channels. This included designing and typesetting their print media: advertising posters, newsletters and explanatory exhibits, and co-building two websites for them.
When I first starting updating the Tushita website in 2009 it looked like this:
It was built using a rather primitive software that I’ve since erased from my memory, but involved using FileZilla to ftp every change made. It was also almost non-functional and riddled with malware. A change was urgently needed but we couldn’t afford to pay a professional web developer and no-one on our team had the know-how to do it. A year later Rob, a friend with some prior experience, offered to help and with the occasional advice of visiting professionals who happened to be taking our courses, together Rob and I set about a grand adventure – building a new website from scratch with little understanding of what we were doing, while dependent on a dial-up connection, frequently lost due to monkeys swinging on the cables. Really.
Rob did the more technical aspects, while I concentrated on the information and graphic design. One of the visiting professionals advised us to use the Joomla platform, and in 2010 we built this site using it:
This was a huge achievement for us, and a massively beneficial learning curve. The site looked attractive and was arranged in a much more logical way, but it wasn’t quite everything we’d hoped for. A year or so later, after Rob had left, we started getting reports of visitors finding anomalous links embedded within pages, and came to realise that the site had been attacked with a malware code injection. Unfortunately, it turns out that such attacks upon Tibetan diasporic communities are quite common.
We were able to hold that infection at bay but the site’s low defenses were breached several more times and by 2013 we were actively looking for a professional to help us build a more secure site (Tushita was attracting many more students and we could now afford to pay someone). I got in touch with Brian, a developer who lived down in the plains, where the internet connection was faster and monkey-free. Over the winter of 2013-2014 we built an entirely new site on WordPress, him doing the gnarly tech and graphic design stuff and me sitting next to him as his eager apprentice, UX designer and content manager.
This site has been very successful, and continues to be in use. I remained the Content Manager until I left in early 2015. An early example of the site with content I almost entirely wrote or created can be seen on The Wayback Machine here, while the current iteration of this site can be seen live on www.tushita.info.
In addition, I was in charge of Tushita’s social media and print marketing. I began Tushita’s facebook account in 2009 and managed it for 6 years. We saw a 400% increase in student numbers in the first 2 years. Tushita is now connected to over 14,000 people on facebook.