This past weekend the WordPress Cape Town hosted their second annual ‘do_action‘ WordPress charity hackathon. The idea? 8 charities, 8 teams, 8 awesome new and kick-ass WordPress websites, in 8(or so) hours!
The charities who were selected this year for their free digital makeover were,
- Foodbank South Africa,
- Child Welfare / Kindersorg Stellenbosch,
- The Carpenter’s Shop,
- Wildlife ACT Fund,
- The South African Psoriasis Association,
- Code for Cape Town,
- The Academy for Adults with Autism,
- Down Syndrome Inclusive Education Foundation NPC
Each charity was assigned a team consisting of 1 project manager, 1 content manager, 1 social media manager, 1 designer, and 2 developers. Every member of each team came from different companies and backgrounds, and all were meeting each other for the first time on the day. It was a great experience and opportunity to meet a whole bunch of new and enthusiastically driven people, who were all there giving up their time on a Saturday for such a great cause.
I was incredibly fortunate to have been selected as a developer in one of the teams on the day, The Carpenters Shop, and had an amazing time helping them upgrade their web presence using WordPress.
We were also very lucky to have had representatives from Obox and WooThemes, 2 incredibly talented WordPress theme specialists and marketplace providers. They were also incredibly generous to allow us free pickings to any of their themes from their massive catalogues to use for our sites, and were on hand to provide us with any technical assistance we may have needed integrating and/or customising their themes. (our team ended up using Obox’s ‘Layers‘ for the base of our site, since they have developed a pretty powerful visual interface builder with a hit-the-ground running type of set-up time. This proved valuable for the minimal time we had, and saved us a lot of time in having something up quick to start styling and customising with minimal effort)
All teams kicked off at 9 that morning with a deadline at 5pm to present our efforts. It was a really fun, long and challenging day. Fortunately though, everyone involved was well catered for. Breakfast, coffee, lunch and pizza was graciously sponsored and provided for all (Big thanks to Butlers Pizza and WumDrop delivery!), so everyone was adequately fuelled throughout the day.
Despite the relatively tight deadline, all teams did amazing jobs on their websites and was amazing to see everyone’s hard work payoff when it came to presentation time that evening. Once the presentations were done, everyone had the opportunity to finally take some breathers and unwind over a couple of drinks while the judges went to make their difficult task of picking the ‘winning’ team.
The winning criteria wasn’t all about looks and technical functionality, but about how the teams were able to deliver a power product for the associated charity that met their organisational needs the best. Those needs could have been clearer content, a modern look and feel, an inviting new website with easy and clear actionable items (whether integrating a shop or donation system to support the organisation), and/or a great social media campaign for greater public awareness.
I would have hated the responsibility to have been a judge that day, since every team did amazingly well, but there had to be only one winner! And the winning team for hackathon 2015 was team ‘Foodbank South Africa‘, who managed to do all that and above, and more, in such a short period of time.
The members of the winning development team all got tickets to attend WordCamp Cape Town in September this year, while the associated charity got an incredibly valuable free short course sponsored by the guys at GetSmarter.
But at the end of the day, every charity was a winner. All organisations were able to walk away with amazing new websites and technical experience provided to help manage and move their new website even further going forward.
It was an INCREDIBLY fun experience. Was an amazing opportunity to meet a whole bunch of new people in the WordPress/development community and space, and made some new friends who I will definitely keep in touch with.
Huge thanks to Hugh at WordPress Cape Town for organzing the event, massive thanks to the sponsors who made it all happen in the background(website hosting by Hetzner, WordPress themes and support by WooThemes and Obox, lunches and munches by Butlers and WumDrop), and even greater thanks to all 46+ guys and gals in the teams who all got together to make it all happen.
Everybody made it such a great experience, and I eagerly await to do it all again next year!
(If you would like, please support the associated charities by visiting their linked websites above. Each are incredibly deserving of your support and doing great things in each of their sectors. And when their new websites go live shortly over the next couple of days, be sure to tell them how awesome it is! ^_^ )
** I would also personally like to thank both Dee Wills and Jane Mills from The Carpenter’s Shop for being there and helping us with their needs and putting up with the all manic during the day, you guys are doing an amazing thing and I’m a real supporter of your cause! As well as to our team’s project manager Guillaume ‘G’ De Smedt (from ‘Joojooberry’), our awesome Content Manager Anika Sharma, our Social Media guru Fiona Juan (from ‘Just One Percent’), our designer wizard Niel Berrow (from Hetzner), and my fellow kick-ass developer, Sam Tabriz (from Gemgo). You guys rock!