A few weeks ago, a small group of us participated in the Overnight Website Challenge. The event matches teams made up of 10 interactive pros with not-for-profits that need new websites. As the event title suggests, the teams then design, develop, and deliver a website in 24 hours. It’s challenging, fun, and rewarding.

Successfully condensing work that typically takes 6 months into 24 hours requires a few things: an engaged not-for-profit, a good process, a focused and collaborative team, and not surprisingly, well-spaced shots of caffeine. Luckily, our team had all four. 

We had a great partner

We were matched with Metro CISM Team, a local, volunteer-driven organization that “serves those that serve others.” Through peer-based support, they help first-responders cope after they go through emotionally and psychologically challenging situations while on the job.

We relied on our established process

I think the entire team would agree that using our finely-tuned (and soon to be published!) process helped us hit every angle of the project with precision and kept us on track. And both were very helpful as we approached our 20th continuous hour of being awake.

While it was compressed, the research and planning we did up front proved to be the backbone of what we executed. Taking the time to hammer out specific audiences, goals, and requirements was key to creating a site did what it needed to do for the clients, while being what it needed to be for the end users.

The big takeaway is that no matter how much time you have—or don’t have—a process always helps. In fact, it’s in these tight turnaround situations where the process is most necessary. 

From Eryn, one of our devoted devs: “And it was amazing to see how the Clockwork process supported us even on a crazy, crazy timeline. We all adhered to it—instead of throwing it out the window for the sake of time—and it paid off.” (Really, we stuck to it.)

We did it through collaboration

Collaboration is one of our key values. We don’t espouse it just because it’s helpful; we embrace it because it’s absolutely necessary.

The team worked together respectfully, but also pushed each other at times to go further and achieve more. Because of time constraints, those moments of review and criticism boiled down to the barest and more direct kind of communication. And it worked. 

From Matt, our master Tech Lead: “Every person gave it their all and that effort clearly shows in our results and top four standing.” (Yup, we made it to the finals!)

From Leaf, our QA extraordinaire: “I’m proud of the work this team was able to accomplish, drama-free and on time.” (Communication is the key.)

From Das, another devoted dev: “Also despite going an entire night without sleeping, we kept high energy and good spirits the entire time… and no one on our team or from Metro CISM suffered a caffeine overdose*.” (At hour 24, high energy is relative, but we were upright and coherent.) 

We drank a lot of caffeine

A big thank you to The Nerdery for hosting the challenge, and keeping us going with food, caffeine, and many other helpful treats along the way.

And we achieved success

In the end, the Clockwork team used the tools and values that we always do, and created a totally rock solid site. The before and after screenshots below only show the design, UX, and content changes, but there were just as many functionality and behind-the-scenes changes that support the organization’s needs. And our QA team made sure that it works as gloriously as it looks.

While we didn’t “win” per se, our clients were more than pleased, and so was our team. And that feels great.

From Corrine Becker, the Chair of the Metro CISM Team:

“Thank you all for the wonderful experience this weekend! I have gained such a deeper appreciation for the expertise of the computer sciences. You are true professionals and the generous gift of your time and energy will make a huge difference to so many first responders. Thank you is inadequate to let you know how grateful I am, but THANK YOU!”


* Eryn’s pretty sure she suffered from caffeine OD, but not until after the event, so we’re not counting that.

Metro CISM homepage before redesign.

Metro CISM homepage after redesign.