Code Platoon Week Eleven and Twelve - React

Code Platoon Week Eleven and Twelve – React

The latest and greatest front-end framework that the industry seems to agree on is ReactJS, created by Facebook. This framework is extremely fast and makes the user experience very rich.

React Components

React is a front-end framework based on the idea of components. Components are reusable pieces of code that programmers can nest together in different ways to create dynamic web pages. We’ve worked with different pieces of front-end frameworks before, but React is the latest way to bring together HTML, CSS and JavaScript a complete in one complete package that is super fast and easy to write and organize.

Project-Based Learning

Students will tackle React by creating one large application over two weeks. We’ll start by coding out some very basic functionality to get a feel for how React works and what some of its major benefits are. As we develop the app, we’ll learn how to make API calls in the background, add a search function that updates the page in real time without having to refresh, and add login and logout functionality. We’ll also take a look at some common React libraries like React Router which helps manage the different pages in our app, and Redux for when managing the state of our components becomes too cumbersome.

A Fast Framework at a Fast Pace

By now our students are not just more confident coders, they’re more confident independent learners. By the end of these two weeks, students are often amazed at how much they’ve learned in such a short amount of time. Stepping into our final project weeks, students will have two state-of-the-art frameworks at their disposal, but more importantly, they’ll have the confidence and knowledge to go out and learn more. This opens up possibilities for their capstone projects they could have only dreamed about on week one.

skillbridge

SkillBridge and Code Platoon

Sailors and soldiers on active duty who are transitioning out of active military service may be eligible for the DoD SkillBridge program. In the Army, this program is also called Career Skills.

At Code Platoon, our mission is to help veterans and military spouses get into valuable new careers, and the SkillBridge program aligns with that objective. If the SkillBridge program interests you, here are some frequently asked questions and answers that may help you.

How does SkillBridge help DoD service members transition into new careers?

SkillBridge is designed to give active duty service members an opportunity to develop in-demand job skills while still serving. Specifically, service members who participate in SkillBridge can use their last 6 months of active duty to participate in a training program like Code Platoon.

How would an active duty member apply to Code Platoon with SkillBridge?

Interested candidates will simply apply using the normal application link. During the application process, list yourself as active duty and select that you are interested in the SkillBridge scholarship. Immediately after, email info@codplatoon.org and let us know if you need any help or additional information.

How does Code Platoon help with the command approval process for SkillBridge?

Your unit commander needs to approve your participation in SkillBridge at Code Platoon, and we have some information that may help you with that process.

Below is a downloadable information packet for your commander. We’re also happy to have conversations with you about your steps taken outside Code Platoon that are required for you to succeed.

PDF download for your commander: Introductory Letter from Code Platoon

Which Code Platoon programs can I attend with SkillBridge?

You can attend our remote live program with SkillBridge. This means you’ll be able to take the program from wherever you live now. You’ll be on track with our classroom schedule, and have access to our instructors via computer.

If you’re in the rare instance of transitioning out through Naval Station Great Lakes, then you may be able to attend our in-person program as well.

What Code Platoon scholarships am I eligible for with SkillBridge?

We are providing a special 100% full scholarship for the remote program for students who attend through SkillBridge.

Can I use the GI Bill with SkillBridge and Code Platoon

You cannot use the GI Bill with SkillBridge and Code Platoon unless you transition out through Naval Station Great Lakes.

What do I do next?

Click here to apply for the Code Platoon program.

If you know someone else who may be interested, share the link to this page and this flyer.

Skillbridge Flyer

Student presenting to class

Code Platoon Week Ten – Personal Projects

Our aim at Code Platoon is to have students graduate with the tools they need to get a junior role in software development. An important landmark on our road toward that goal is the personal project. We recognize that classroom instruction and curated challenges can teach a lot, but there are still lessons that can only be learned by stepping into a unique project where you’ll need to adapt to the challenges that present themselves along the way. That’s why we dedicate an entire week to letting students develop and deploy their own projects.

Build Something Unique

By now students will have all the skills necessary to build their own projects. They’ll have HTML, CSS and JavaScript to help them build a dynamic and responsive User interface and they’ll have the ability to implement data storage with SQL and Flask on the back end. From there we set them free to create whatever they want. In the past, students have built blogs, e-commerce sites, mapping applications, and chat apps. This is a chance for our students to take what we’ve taught them and explore what interests them. Instructors and mentors will be on hand to provide guidance, but students will do the bulk of the work themselves. The goal is that by the end of the week our students will be able to add a whole new project to their resume.

Brag About Your Work

The last day of the week is presentation day. Students present their applications to the class. Building is a great skill, but knowing how to speak intelligently and clearly about what you’ve built is just as important, especially when hunting for a job. Students will get feedback from instructors and peers on their application and presentation skills. In the end, everyone will vote and awards will be given for the best applications.

What to look for in coding bootcamps: Code Platoon vs. Northwestern Coding Bootcamp

When someone wants to become a professional software developer, coding bootcamps can offer a fast, complete, and affordable way to reach that career goal.

However, not all coding bootcamps are created equal. We’ve established some benchmarks that represent the accessibility of various programs and the quality of their graduate outcomes. Whether you share some or all of these values, we encourage prospective coding bootcamp applicants to consider at least some of these features when making a decision on where to learn.

And rather than work strictly in hypotheticals, we’ve used actual data from two coding bootcamps: Code Platoon, our own non-profit coding bootcamp exclusively available to military veterans and their spouses; and Northwestern Coding Bootcamp, another coding boot camp also located in the greater Chicago area, run by Trilogy Education Services Inc.

Each section of the analysis is broken up according to the question we’re addressing about the coding bootcamp.

Do graduates from the coding bootcamp get coding jobs?

Most folks are going to a coding bootcamp because they want to become professional software developers. Coding bootcamps are challenging and job-like in their schedule, so hobbyists usually lack the needed motivation to drive through to completion. Of course, if you want to dabble in coding, there are plenty of other free, online resources and local classes!

But for those out to get the coding jobs, there are more factors in whether your coding boot camp will lead to a career than just the technical coding skills alone. What are the other keys to getting a job after a coding bootcamp, aside from the tech stuff?

Apprenticeships / Internships

The first job after a coding bootcamp is by far the hardest to get. Code Platoon has a corporate sponsor model whereby companies commit to host the majority of our graduates for paid internships. Most of those internships turn into full-time offers within the same companies.

Certifications

Do certifications help coders get jobs in the tech industry? Some do. A certification is not a guarantee for success, but certifications like those granted by Amazon Web Services (which Code Platoon offers) and Oracle for Java do matter to companies that use those particular tools.

Publish outcomes

All coding bootcamps should publish their job placement outcomes. This can help set realistic expectations for applicants and students, and even increase confidence (and as a side effect, performance) for graduates who may doubt their value before they land the job. Besides, with the data being readily available from alumni, why wouldn’t a coding bootcamp publish its outcomes? Code Platoon’s outcomes are available here.

Career preparation

Quality of career prep varies between programs, but this is an essential component of any successful coding bootcamp. We spend many hours, over the course of many weeks, doing resume and LinkedIn preparation, behavioral and technical interview prep, mock interviews, and more. Both Code Platoon and Northwestern include this in their curriculum.

Extensive networking opportunities

Many estimates suggest that 70% to 85% of all job opportunities are found through networking opportunities. Most coding bootcamps are aware of this, and say that they will introduce their students to the tech community.

Be careful with what they mean. Will the programs take you to meetups? You can do that by yourself. Will they introduce you to a mentor who is an employee of the bootcamp, or who only meets you three times during the entire course? Not much of a networking opportunity.

We bring the network to our students. Every night, two professional software developers volunteer to spend two hours working with our students on their homework. That means our students get to interact with 10 professional developers every day of every week for two whole hours in addition to their class time with our instructors.

Is the training program affordable?

The price tag on a program may not take into account various ways to offset the cost of that program, such as scholarships. It’s a great idea to compare similar coding bootcamp options along the lines of cost for the value, but remember to consider the final out-of-pocket expense rather than the initial price tag.

Scholarships

Many programs offer scholarships to make their programs more affordable. Our median scholarship for the In-Person Program is $10,000. Our Women in Tech and Remote scholarships completely cover the cost of tuition ($13,000). Here is a great list of coding bootcamp scholarships for many different schools.

GI Bill

This option is specific to veterans (and sometimes their families). Code Platoon is GI Bill approved, meaning that the GI Bill can potentially cover the cost of tuition along with initiating any other GI Bill benefits the student may be eligible for, such as a housing allowance.

Student loans

Still can’t afford tuition after scholarships? Many programs work with third party lenders for student loans. Making a decision to take a loan depends mostly on your credit history and your confidence in gaining employment after graduation (which may depend on the school’s outcomes, mentioned above.)

How hard is it to get into the coding bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps have a choice:

  • Let anyone in (immediate profit, long-term reputation damage)
  • Let only experienced coders in (decent outcomes, possible student burnout)
  • Let people in based more on non-coding attributes (prioritize personality over skill)

Ask yourself: Does the program want students who are eager to learn? Or does the program admit anybody who can write a check?

We focus on selecting the most motivated students, which leads to a student body that encourages and drives one another. Spirits are high, bonds are strong, and results are better because our students are linked together by a common thread of dedication.

Getting into a new profession is hard, and as a student you need to come committed to putting in the time and effort to get there. To offset the motivation requirements, we use fairly modest coding challenges to determine who is ready to attack our rigorous program. It’s more important to show us what you can do during the prerequisites and the course than how much you knew prior to applying!

How can I judge the program’s quality?

Instructed Hours

Want an easy way to evaluate how much material you are going to learn, and how deeply you will learn it? Take a look at how many ‘supervised hours’ (instruction time / guided workshops / project work with instructors available to assist) versus their ‘unsupervised hours’ (solo homework time).

Of course, pure hours is an insufficient indicator of quality. But it is definitely an indicator. By the time students finish our program, they will have had over 700 instruction/supervised hours; at Northwestern Coding bootcamp, that number is 300.

Reviews

Student feedback, testimonials, and review score averages are the ultimate validation of a program’s quality. Course Report and Switchup.org are two industry review sites for coding bootcamps.

What type of coding bootcamp is it?

  • In Person: most learners prefer an in-person delivery, if logistically possible, since you can easily communicate with your instructors and fellow students, and more readily form bonds with your classmates.
    • Full time / Immersive: the original bootcamp model. Go hard for a short period of time (9 to 20 weeks typically) and you are done.
    • Part time : need to work or have other daytime responsibilities? Some programs offer the same or similar curriculum to full-time programs, only presented in nights and weekends.
      • Again, look for more ‘supervised hours’
  • Live Remote: same as the In Person programs, only you attend live classes and workshops from the comfort of your own (or someone else’s) home. A great option if travel or housing are issues.
  • Self-paced remote: need to work, support a family, or just can’t find time to immerse yourself in a bootcamp? Self-paced is a good option if you can only find a few hours here and there. It will take a lot longer, but if you have the tenacity, you can still succeed in this type of program. If you want a leg up on attending a live in-person or remote program later, a self-paced remote program is a good way to prepare yourself in advance.

Does the coding bootcamp focus on a specific population and work to accommodate that group?

Most programs are for-profit, and serve everyone who can pay and pass the application process. Some programs are mission-driven nonprofits seeking to serve just a single population, like Code Platoon does for veterans and military spouses, and Ada Developers Academy does for women.

There are various advantages to attending a mission-driven nonprofit. First, since they don’t have shareholders, every dollar they take in goes back into improving the program. They are also able to serve the student population’s specific needs; whether it’s partnering with other veteran-serving nonprofits, like the The Road Home for mental wellness, or providing accommodations for Guard or Reservists who need to take time off to drill, or providing full refunds to our students if they get called up to serve, we understand our population and how we can best help them.

Conclusion on comparing coding bootcamps

Simply put: Do your research and decide what is most important to you. It often helps to write your objectives, priorities, and available coding bootcamp options down side by side.

Creating Web Apps with Flask

Code Platoon Weeks Seven, Eight, and Nine – Creating Web Apps with Flask

After 6 longs weeks, we finally get to Flask, a microframework written in Python. We will use this framework to develop basic CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Destroy) apps with authentication and integrate with other web services, commonly known as APIs (Application Programming Interface).

CRUD

Most apps on the web are what developers refer to as CRUD apps. These apps are so common that there are hundreds of frameworks that exist to help speed up development. One of the most popular for the Python language is Flask. Students will start to dive deep into Flask. We’ll come back to lessons we learned in week 4 about Python’s object relational mapper Alchemy and learn to hook our Flask apps up with SQL databases. This will also be our first look at how the front-end and back-end come together to create a complete application.

Keeping Apps Secure

Once our apps are up and running, we’ll need a way to keep our users’ data safe. Security on the internet has become an enormous topic with lots of complicated ins and outs to keep track of. Thankfully, there are third party APIs that can help. Code Platoon students will learn how to use these libraries to make their Flask apps less vulnerable to attack. We’ll talk about the different kinds of attacks hackers use to get control of a site and steal data and what industry tools and best practices are commonly used to combat them.

Adding Third Party Functionality

These days, bringing in third party functionality is essential. No one writes their own mapping program – they use Google Maps API. If you want to send a text message from your app, there are services like Twillio. Need to set up a payment system? You’ll probably want to use something like Paypal or Braintree. Applications these days are breaking up into microservices: a bunch of smaller applications that do one thing well. Code Platoon students will learn how to incorporate these services into existing apps.

Adding Behavior and Creating a Personal Website

Code Platoon Week Six – Adding Behavior and Creating a Personal Website

Continuing with our front-end curriculum from last week, we’ll dig into running JavaScript in the browser. Adding Behavior and Creating a Personal Website using JavaScript allows developers to add behavior to their websites: slideshows, more advanced animation, and reacting to user events like moving the mouse or entering text.

JavaScript and the Browser

The Document Object Model, more commonly referred to as the DOM is how the browser understands your web page. We’ll break down how the browser constructs the DOM, why it’s so important, and how we can use JavaScript to traverse it. Students will use technologies like AJAX  and JQuery as well as newer ES6 features like fetch to make HTTP requests in the background.

Building a Portfolio Site

At Code Platoon, we work to make sure that when our students graduate have all the tools necessary to enter the job market as junior developers, which is why we put heavy emphasis on projects to build their portfolios. We’ll have several of these opportunities throughout the cohort and the personal site / blog is just the first. Students will spend the end of this week utilizing their new found HTML, CSS, and JavaScript skills to build and deploy their own personal portfolio site where they will be able to showcase projects and accomplishments as well as host their resumes or any other information they want.

 

 

Learning the web development with code platoon

Code Platoon Week Five – Learning the Web: Structure, Style, Function.

Code Platoon offers a complete full-stack curriculum. In week five we take our first look at front-end web development. Students learn the basics of HTML and CSS, how to implement third-party libraries that will help them create dynamic and visually appealing websites, and will finally see their code run in the browser.

Rules of the Road

In order to build anything for the web, it is essential to understand how it works under the hood. The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the foundation for communicating on the web. It’s how web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Edge talk to servers and vice versa. Students will get hands-on with HTTP by creating several small applications designed to teach the ins and outs of server-to-client communication. This is an exciting week because students start to see how all that data they have been creating and saving in databases on the server side finally gets into a browser and becomes a web application that a user can interact with.

All About Structure – HTML

Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) is the foundation for every web page on the internet. It’s what gives web content structure and provides it with meaning, and it is a need-to-know for programmers of any kind. Students will learn how to properly structure an HTML document and how to create common content tags for things like images, links, lists and forms. We’ll discuss how the browser reads and renders the HTML we write, learn the basics of the box model, and best practices to make the code we write readable and the content we create highly accessible.

Adding Style with CSS

HTML may be the nuts and bolts of any web page, but Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is what gives a website character. Everything about a website’s appearance has CSS code behind it. Students will practice adding color, fonts, and animations to website. We’ll look at the principles behind responsive web design and see how frameworks like Bootstrap can make creating professional looking websites easier.

golf platoon celebrates graduation

Golf Platoon celebrates graduation

Code Platoon is excited to congratulate the graduates of Golf Platoon, our seventh class of students.

We held our graduation ceremony on December 7, 2018 at 2:30 PM CST at the Motorola Solutions office in Chicago, Illinois. Eight students graduated, six of whom received tuition scholarships in order to attend our program.

These graduates will continue in their journeys with software development internships exclusively offered for Code Platoon attendees to further their coding careers. The internships for this cycle are provided by Enova, Guaranteed Rate, CTC, Prota Ventures, DRW, and Novetta.

rod levy code platoon golf graduation

Executive Director Rod Levy had this to say about the graduating class, with whom he worked directly throughout their training:  

“We are extremely proud of Golf Platoon, our seventh cohort. They worked extremely hard over the last fourteen weeks, really came together as a group, and have demonstrated impressive growth in a very short period of time. I’m sure they will be incredible contributors to the companies where they go work, and continue on to be leaders in the tech community in years to come.”

Golf Platoon graduate testimonials

Golf Platoon celebrates graduation

 

I have to admit that I was somewhat nervous about attending a program that had only been in existence for two years. I ultimately decided to take the risk because I could not have attended boot camp without the financial assistance provided by the GI Bill. It ended up being the best educational experience I’ve had.

-Katherine R.

 

I had zero experience in programming before Code Platoon. After attending the course, I was able to make apps with Ruby on Rails, React.js, and React-Native with iOS. I was taught algorithms, object orientated programming, building servers, using git and github.com, HTTP/2, and databases. This is a true full-stack developer course.

-Dan F.

 

Code Platoon really hones in on and expands on everything you need to be a successful web developer and creating full stack web applications. They are very accommodating for veterans and have their true interests at heart.

-Anonymous

 

The instructors do a great job of talking about best practices, as well as giving you plenty of opportunity to practice what you’re learning, culminating in two week-long projects in the end that give you a great sense of accomplishment!

-Skyelah B.

 

Graduation Ceremony of Code Platoon Graduates

Code Platoon would also like to thank the sponsors who made this particular cohort possible, including Motorola Solutions and Boeing.

SQL and Working With Databases

Code Platoon Week Four – SQL and Working With Databases

Programming languages come and go. Frameworks come and go. SQL (structured query language) is forever. Students will spend week four learning how to read and write data to Postres, a modern database, using SQL. Students will learn the basics of database design and how to incorporate a database into their app.

Working With a Database

Saving data to a file is fine for small applications that have limited functionality, but most modern web applications use a relational database. We’ll spend all of week four learning the tools and practices that will allow students to interact with data in much more dynamic and complex ways. The first step will be learning how to create and talk to a database. Databases have their own languages for accessing and manipulating the information they hold. By far the most popular, and the one students will focus on throughout their time at Code Platoon, is SQL. Students will learn how to set up a Postgres database from scratch. They’ll work on building out a schema and start to read and write data, all using SQL.

Database Design

The design and structure of a database can have a huge impact on an application’s performance. Databases need to be adaptable, scalable as an application grows, and changeable as new features get added. They also need to be secure. At Code Platoon, we teach all the skills students will need to build a database that is effective and efficient, and we’ll discuss best practices when it comes to how to store sensitive data like passwords and other personal user information. The highlight of this week will be a day-long database workshop hosted by Hashrocket. Hashrocket is a web consultancy in Chicago / Jacksonville Beach known for creating quality software. One of the presenters will be Jake Worth, a US Army veteran-turned-programmer.

ORM

SQL is a powerful tool but it can get tedious to write. Most languages have something called an object relational mapper or ORM. Python’s ORM is called Alchemy. Think of it as a way to talk to your database using the Python programming language. ORMs help developers read and write to the database more quickly and efficiently. They also cut down on code you have to write.

By the end of week four, students will have most of the nuts and bolts necessary to build their own web applications. We’ll spend week five looking at how to structure and style web pages before jumping into our first framework, Django, where all of the pieces from prior weeks will finally come together.

launching a website as a non-profit

Our experience launching a website as a non-profit

Code Platoon officially launched a new website in October of 2018. While the new website looked better, functioned more smoothly, and provided a higher-quality user experience for those outside our organization, what we most appreciated at Code Platoon was the straightforwardness of the development process, thanks to the contributions of many.

In the web development world, projects of this scale often take an enormous amount of time and don’t come out as planned, if they ever make it to deployment. Sometimes they’re outdated by the time they go live. They can be stressful, run way over budget, and functional changes can even end up having unintended, adverse consequences for the organization.

That was not our experience with the Code Platoon 2018 website launch. What was even more improbable was that we were able to circumnavigate those common pitfalls and launch the website of our dreams when we’re a non-profit company without the same resources as bigger businesses on the web.

We’d like to share what our website overhaul considerations and challenges were, how we overcame them, and how other organizations might do the same (especially other non-profits)!

Background

When Code Platoon first opened its doors, volunteer and staff availability was extremely limited.

Providing our veteran and military spouse students with a world-class training program and career transition experience was (and still is) top priority. A website could serve as beacon to educate those who might benefit from such an experience, but at the time, a perfect website was not mission-critical.

What does help, though, is that nonprofits can often receive discounts offered by web design studios, and we were fortunate to do so in establishing our initial website, which also included a hosting plan.

That version of the website, for a time, served its purpose. It displayed our mission, informed stakeholders of our value, and was a catalyst in expanding our program from one to three cohorts per year. It relied on the WordPress content management system, which was intuitive enough that non-technical team members could log in and make changes as needed. As our organization grew, the team added new features, such as a student application form and new visuals.

Without a dedicated web administrator to test changes and maintain quality, and with so much attention focused on the actual program, two things happened: Code Platoon became a force in the coding bootcamp scene, and its website fell behind in effectively communicating that message.

To make things even harder, the backend of the website became increasingly more cumbersome to manage. For example, when a talented volunteer designer created the amazing logo and theme colors we still proudly display, the team sought to globally apply the elements to the website, but the child theme of our hosting provider would no longer permit it. Another volunteer offered to help, and was able to manually code the changes. Cracking open the website template and discovering more issues, though, made it apparent that the first iteration of the website would not be able to scale with the growing organization much longer.

Key Considerations

We could have resolved those concerns on the old website with a bigger budget, but as a nonprofit startup, there wasn’t any extra financial padding built into our budget to cover luxuries such as customization costs from a web design studio or an in-house, full-time paid web development team like a major corporation might have.

And because we are a non-profit that relied on the generosity and participation of many stakeholders, we had lots of potential audiences for our website. Although we needed to reach prospective students, we were also aware that donors, grantors, sponsors, volunteers, staff, and third-party awards organizations would use the website as a focal point in their research. There was an enormous pull to please everyone at once, which made a website project both more complicated in planning and more enormous in scope.

Another potential solution involved leveraging volunteers to develop, deploy and administer the new website. We considered this option for several months and designed prototypes with other themes. We even attempted reformulating the aging website structure and content in order to gain a sense of the scope and magnitude of such an undertaking. During this time we reflected on ways we might maximize our productivity and performance after rolling out a new website, and we created a standard operating procedure for managing future changes.

With more and more hours invested in the process, the unsustainability of fully relying on volunteers became more apparent and significant. Even while some dedicated hosting providers offered in-house customizations at reasonable rates, the possibility of hiring and training their team at a moment’s notice was far from ideal. Hammering out the details of a contract and allowing an established web design studio to build a site from scratch with tried and true tools and practices seemed like the best solution.

That left us with many questions for the potential new provider. If we encountered a problem, would we communicate by phone, chat or email, during what times and with how fast of a turnaround?

At what point would bandwidth and storage limits be enforced? After roll out, to what extent would we be able to customize the site, and would they collaborate with us in that process?

To what degree would they outsource services such as web hosting and WordPress management to third parties, what were their policies, and would we have the ability to interface directly with them as needed?

Were essential services offered, such as optimizations (compression, caching, redirects), continuity (website backups, server backup, and security), security (SSL, brute force protection, password policy, file change detection, spam filtering) and updates (CMS, plugins, staging area)? Were such services included in the contract or provided as add-on costs?

The Code Platoon Solution

After seriously considering and walking away from a few lower cost options, Code Platoon identified a development and hosting provider with an impeccable track record, a commitment to quality, and the flexibility to meet our unique demands. With cost a potential sticking point, they worked with us to structure a plan that we could justify to our stakeholders in the immense value we would attain in the short and long term.

Once the decision was made, our team fielded each team member’s valuable perspectives in order to refine the website mockup into the best it could possibly be: strategy, planning and execution, look and feel, technical requirements, SEO, and stakeholder outreach were all thoroughly deliberated and settled by consensus. When the time arrived for our design studio to lay the hammer to the chisel, progress was quick, and before long, the basic site structure was complete.

We could have at that point rushed the remaining work to publish the site in a much shorter time frame. Instead, we had each member comb the site with its array of new features to assess whether new opportunities existed for further improvement that we may not have considered at the outset of planning. Sure enough, we ended up with plenty of new requests that we didn’t imagine could all be accepted and implemented.

To our surprise, the design studio was fully on-board with the revised requirements and invested in making the site the best it could possibly be. To ease communication, a Code Platoon volunteer became the liaison between both teams and expedited the remaining changes. At a point where the site was publishable, our team applied another quality control comb through and arrived at a much smaller, easily implementable list of revised requests, and prioritized those that were necessary for launch versus those that could be implemented later.

Reflection

We got the website we wanted in a budget and timeline that we could handle and still have a happy, ongoing relationship with our web developer.

We were able to achieve these results by:

1. Focusing on our mission.

We decided early on that the website layout and messaging needed to focus primarily on our potential students. We had faith in our supporters to see the website as a portal for applicants above all. And not just in terms of where the most resources were committed, but also in removing distractions for students that might be appealing to other audiences.

2. Relying on dedicated people who understood the mission.

For us, this was our volunteer and staff team, our sponsors, grantors, and donors, and our world-class web design studio, Digital Ammo.

If you are an organization under similar circumstances, start with a simple goal. Collaborate with all of your stakeholders, and reflect on each soft decision to consider different perspectives before finalizing. Compromise, get consensus early in the project, and follow qualified expertise whenever you reach an impasse.

And most of all, never lose sight of the mission.