This past weekend, Oct 22-23, 2016, was website weekend Los Angeles. The event was put together by Natalie Maclees and Alex Vasquez, who set out to bring together developers, designers, and project managers to help non-profits that need website work, but may not have had the time or resources to do it.
Each “team” consisted of (if lucky) 1 lead developer, 2-3 junior developers, 1 project manager, and 1 UI/UX designer. Each “client” or non-profit was assigned to a team, and this meant they had a full range of talent and skill sets to do just about anything they wanted. It was almost as if each nonprofit was handed full control of a web agency for the weekend, and the agency worked together to meet the weekend goals.
I worked on team Thero.org, a non-profit based out of San Diego. Paul and Erika came up for the weekend to work with us and wanted to be put to use as well. Jan was our project manager, and i had 2 excellent developers helping and learning along the way both named Kelly. A honorable mention to Ryan (modemlooper) for being at our team for 2 days helping with some of the finicky CSS code.
Thanks for covering this, Roy. And thank YOU for getting involved. Seeing all our volunteers get dirty and do work for the myriad causes is simply amazing. We got quite a cast of do-gooders in our little part of the community and you’re a big part of it. Your nonprofit couldn’t say enough good things about you. Keep gulping and grunting your way to success!
Before going into the weekend Thero’s team had already created a scope of work which our project manager had put into a Trello board and organized by what we would work on, and what would be out of scope for the weekend. I didn’t have too much time to prep, but did have a conversation with Jan before going into the weekend to get a better understanding of the project since she had already spoken to everyone on the team, and the non-profit, Thero.
In the end we decided to tackle 1 big piece of functionality, while other teams were revamping existing sites (some even creating new sites), we already had an OK site to work with, plus they had a lot of users already, so moving away from their existing setup in a weekend would have been unachievable. On Thero.org there is a directory, where users can search for clinics, hospitals and treatment providers across many different specialties. We revamped this with the hopes to make it feel more like Zillow, with a simple form for searching which takes you to a map page that has markers and the results. Each marker would click to the existing profile page. With extra time we also managed to do some minor tweaks to the site including the profile page, and the header menu. Ryan was able to help by removing a few items that sped up their site, as well as made the donation flow a lot better.
I talked to many lead developers through the weekend, and some non-lead. While the non-profits were the main focus for the weekend, we were clearly all there to help them, many developers got a good tutorial or two in advanced coding especially on a team. Ryan on our team helped Kelly and Kelly setup DesktopServer, and we both taught them how to use GIT for versioning, SASS and finally gulp for processing. I even got a chance to bestow some AngularJS knowledge since the map and search results sidebar on the map were an AngularJS application powered by custom routes & endpoints of the WordPress REST API.
I’m sure this wasn’t only the case for developers. I’m sure many people just starting out in the web world, or freelancing, learned how to do new things and work in new ways.
My main takeaway from the weekend is pure astonishment. While the weekend wasn’t a “WordPress” weekend, and many developers had never even used it before, it was great to see a tech community come together to volunteer their time to help non-profits with the things they need. My team sat in the back of the main room, and a few times I looked up and saw people coding, designing, and chatting about their web project, and it reminded me of work. However, at work people are getting paid, and every single person at Website Weekend was volunteering their time to help.
I hope to see Website Weekend come up again next year, I cannot wait to do it all again.