Behind FullCodePress

The real issue is not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire and persistence,“ says Milton Glaser, and never was this so evident as this past weekend.

In 24 hours

Three clients. Three teams. 24 hours. This was FullCodePress, a web competition that builds a site for a charity in 24 hours. And 24 consecutive hours it was. A team of us traveled together to New Zealand to have the privilege of working side-by-side with teams from Australia and New Zealand, each building a site for a nonprofit organization who would otherwise not be able to afford one on their own.

The six of us crafted, fairly quickly, an approach for working together beforehand. Even though some of us had worked together before, a 24-hour turnaround time changes patterns significantly. While a couple of phone calls, Basecamp, and an email list helped coordinate prior to the weekend, we had to remain entirely flexible in our approach once we arrived.

From thought to thing

There wasn’t time to wireframe, so our initial plan had been to go from thought to paper sketches to design. You can hear Jason and me talk about our approach a bit here. As it turned out, we were able to turn around some quick sketches — we all mapped out six sketches and wallpapered our room with them — then I translated the best ideas using OmniGraffle while Karen masterfully organized and crafted the content for the site (not to mention left time to write a 20-page user manual). From there, Jason — after refreshing their branding (see a brief video) — was responsible for working on translating the sketches and wireframes into the website design. Meanwhile, Dan and the fabulous John were working incredible feats while Jenn was keeping us on track.

See also:
Jason Santa Maria’s writeup and Dan Mall’s writeup

Final hours

The site is straightforward to highlight the strength-based recovery model that is specific to their approach. The centerpoint is their activities, which range from programs at the house to larger events in the community to support at the workplace. My favorite part came in hour twenty-eight, after we’d been interviewed by the judges, after we’d been set free, and were free to return to our hotels. We were packing up our room, taking down the last of the items. The room was bare save a few things. Jason looked up and saw one final sketch on the wall, that of the homepage. It matched, almost line for line, the homepage of the live site.

On returning

I’m extraordinarily proud of the work we were able to do in a short period of time. The team, the clients William and Garbux, and the entire process will stay with me for quite a long time to come. I’d been to Webstock before, so I knew how brilliant Mike and Tash were at putting together an event, but I was doubly impressed this time with their efforts as well as the astounding volunteer team. There wasn’t a 15-minute segment that went by where there wasn’t a meaningful video, an interview, or a photo being posted. (Note that you’ll be hard-pressed to find one of me without either a) a flat white, b) a flag, or c) a pony. This was exactly accurate for the weekend.)

Each time I visit New Zealand, I’m awed by both the natural beauty of the place, but more than that, the remarkable beauty of the people. The beauty is contagious, and it shows in the work from all the teams. Thanks to all for letting us take part.