What I Learned From Building 48 Websites In 48 Hours

This past weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer for an event called 48 in 48. The goal was to build 48 websites for 48 Atlanta based non-profits in 48 hours…and it worked!

Over 100 people came out to volunteer their time from 6pm Friday night until 6pm Sunday night.

To be surrounded by so many people putting countless hours of their own time into these projects without a single gripe, negative remark, or bad attitude, with no alternative motives other than being a part of something special, being helpful, and learning new skills was mind blowing to say the least.

A Small Idea Can Bring Huge Value

Knowing good and well that most non-profits need all the help they can get, especially with the web, Jeff and Adam thought ‘hey, this could be a great way to give back, what the heck lets try it’.

Next thing they knew, a ton of people showed up ready to support the cause.

Now 48 non-profits in Atlanta who had very outdated or non-existing websites have BRAND NEW, beautiful websites. These sites do not just look good, but they are set up to be the foundation of their online presence.

Each website had at least one designer, one developer, and a content strategist working on it. People who do this day in and day out for a living that know exactly what it takes to build a website that works.

Each of these sites will now help these non-profits get their message out, build their audience, and in turn, help more people themselves. This took us just 48 hours, but saved these non-profits tens of thousands of dollars, and set them up for success.

Just imagine how many lives will now be changed for the better because of a small idea Jeff and Adam had months ago.

People Can Do Amazing Things When They Come Together Without Ego Or Expectation

48in482Not only did this event bring a huge value to the community, it was executed a thousand times beyond what was expected.

Knowing what it takes to build just one website, it’s pretty unrealistic to imagine building 48 quality websites for real businesses in just 48 hours.

Put a bunch of really smart problem solvers into a space and give them all the resources they could need, and it becomes more realistic.

One of the first jobs I was given included greeting each person that came in and helping them chose a team to work on.

I was to ask them about their specific skill set, during which time I learned just how few people actually worked with WordPress, which we were using to build all of these sites.

Many of these people, developers specifically, work outside of the WordPress environment most of the time, but they are problem solvers. They are the kind of people that can be given a task and instead of scratching their heads, they start finding solutions.

Not one time did I hear anyone complain that they were unable to use their platform of choice. Instead, everyone dove in head first and started learning.

Limitations Can Be Extremely Effected

In the web space, I often tell people that if you can dream it up, most likely you can use WordPress to build it. The opportunities are endless with the right team. That being said, sometimes it’s better to set some limitations.

To build this many websites this fast with a bunch of people that may or may not be familiar with the system, there had to be some limitations. Each of these sites was built on the Evermo.re platform, which allows you to use a specific set of Themes and Plugins.

This meant that all the developers in the house could not access the code base for anything to make custom changes, we could not add new plugins or themes, and for the most part, had to learn to navigate a new system.

You would think people would be flipping tables out of frustration, but the WordPress platform made it easy to manage.

The themes were all Genesis Child Themes, so we had a great platform, but if someone is not familiar with the Genesis framework, they might spend an a ton of time trying(thinking it would be faster) to reinvent a wheel that is already existing. We had to use our problem solving to make due with what we had and essentially keep it as simple as possible.

That mindset, keeping things simple, was one of the core reasons these sites were actually completed in in 48 hours.

I strive for simplicity in all of my projects and this event just drove that notion home even more.

It’s ALWAYS Worth Giving Back

warrickdunnOn Saturday we had a special guest arrive, Mr. Warrick Dunn.

If you are not familiar, he was an awesome running back for the Atlanta Falcons, and played with many other teams.

During his talk, he mentioned a phrase that one of his earlier coaches had told him that really resonated with me.

“If you are going to live in this community, you need to help support this community”

This was directed at him as a new player in a new town that was going to be supporting him at all of their games. He didn’t know anyone, but he relied on that community to be at the games making sure he gets his paycheck, which in turn helps him take care of his family.

His story is really inspiring, and if you do not know it already, you can read more here.

He ended up started a charity that helps families buy a home by offering a down payment on the house, and fully furnishing those homes with everything the families would need. All the family has to do is bring their clothes and they have a home.

He’s since helped over 125 families across the country with this charity and is continuing to grow.

That’s HUGE!

Of course he has more resources and reach than most of us, but all of us have something we can do to help our local communities.

I never thought that being a web developer would lead me to help support 48 local non-profits, but to do that, all I had to do was show up. I could have easily spent this past weekend hanging with my family and friends, riding my bike around the city, going out to watch some football, and honestly would have felt just fine…but is ‘just fine’ enough?

If I had done those things instead, I would not have met and befriend all of the extremely talented, generous, and kind people I met this weekend. I would not have had the opportunity to change the lives of people I’ve never met, who will never know my name, but will benefit and grow in their own lives because of something I put my skill set towards.

We Actually Did It!

In an interview before the event, Adam mentioned that its not unusual for a typical website build out to start around 50 hours. For maths sake, let’s say that number is 48 hours.

48 websites X 48 hours = 2304

If we are working 8 hour work days, that’s 288 work days.

If we only work 5 days a week, that’s about 57 weeks.

To put this all into perspective, we basically did 1 years worth of work in 48 hours. That’s incredible!

Fortunately, some of the work had been taken care of before everyone arrived. The non-profits had already been vetted, much of their content was already supplied, and we had a really great Website Worksheet for each site that explained what the non-profit was looking for.

I can’t speak highly enough of the people that showed up to participate in this and the quality of work they provided.

Atlanta is a very lucky city to be the first to have this event and I can’t wait to see the growth these non-profits have a great platform to spread their message and reach more people.

This was a great experience and I look forward to working with this team again in the future.

If you have a desire to get involved, head over to http://48in48.org and get in touch.

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