On November 17-18, three students from the Interactive Arts & Media department joined seasoned professionals in an exclusive challenge organized by The Nerdery—an interactive production company specializing in user experience design and programming. Eric Mikkelsen (BA ’13), Hannah Scoyni (BA ’13), and Caitlin Wirth (BA ’13) served as production assistants on the Overnight Website Challenge where multiple teams competed to help non-profit businesses.
About the event:
At The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, an event organized by interactive development firm The Nerdery, volunteers form teams of 8-10 web pros that show up not knowing what nonprofit they’ll serve, pro bono, for the next 24 hours. Previously at The Nerdery’s nonprofit nerdathon, volunteers have freely given over $2.5 million worth of professional web development services to 84 nonprofit organizations. The Nerdery considers this a good start, but as long as there are good nonprofits with bad (or no) websites we will rally our nerds and community to deliver nerdy deeds done dirt-cheap. At last year’s Chicago event, about a hundred volunteers gave 10 nonprofits nearly 2,500 hours of professional services.
“It’s been an entire week and I still can’t believe that last Saturday I was in a room with a hundred other interactive designers creating 12 websites in a 24 hour time slot. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be “surreal.” It was like a crash course in web design and implementation. And yet, my experience was overwhelmingly positive considering how nervous I was just walking into Roosevelt University that Saturday morning. Once we got down to business, however, there just wasn’t enough time to worry. We were on the clock and we had a goal. Not to mention a wonderful team and a worthy cause that needed a new website.
Despite feeling a bit under qualified working among a team of experienced web gurus, I was able to keep up with the front-end division of my team fairly well. Overall, the event was very challenging, both mentally and physically.”
“When I walked into Roosevelt University for the Overnight Website Challenge, the excitement was palpable. Upon checking in, a frightened freshman handed me my gear– an ample swag bag, with my favorite item, a lanyard with my name. It felt official, I felt like I was one of them, the nerds.
The incredible, mostly windowless hall, was wall to window stuffed with hot-running computer equipment, power cables and yes, nerds. I sat a little intimidated until my group showed up. When the clock started the countdown, my team got bug-eyed, focused, and professional. We flagged down the clients from across the crowded hall. They were two of the sweetest clients we could have asked for. The women of About Face Theater were passionate, stylish, and FIERCE. They had a vision, but they appreciated the gap between their understanding of what we do and what we actually do. They were realistic, we were happy, and we all got to work.
As no one in my group had graphic experience, I was tasked with the layout mockup and design. After being patiently talked over a few times by the “real” web pros, I had a dialogue with a client about what they wanted in a site, looked at a few examples of their poster designs and asked for a few adjectives to describe them: cutting-edge, fierce, sparkly, professional rainbow unicorn, bold, queer, drama. Now this was my type of client.
For the next several hours, I worked across the table, asking frequently for input, molding and shaping the colors and layout to their vision.
I am pleased to say they enjoyed my design, and ended up using most of it in the final site. Before the event, I was panicked, questioning my even being invited to the Challenge. After, I am sure I can rise to meet anything.
Bring on the next challenge. Who needs sleep anyway?”