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Reflections on 24 hours of design

I’m still exhausted. But I’m happy. I’m happy because I got to be part of something that made a difference, and I got to spend 24 hours with amazing people who wanted to make that difference. I’m happy because I spent my weekend at Project Freshkicks.

Project FreshKicks was in the works for almost a year, and I was so honored to play a part in bringing Project FreshKicks to life.

It’s hard to envision all the things that are involved in an event like this. Not only do you have to think of the big things (name, time, date, place, participants) but also the little things (what to eat for lunch, how to organize registration, or how to keep up with all the emails).

Even though I would have loved to be on a webteam, I decided to focus only on logistics and project management, and I’m glad I did. It felt great to be serving everyone who was working so hard to make this event a success.

So from a completely biased, personal perspective, here’s what worked (and what didn’t work) for our 24 hour design event.

What worked:

Open Media Foundation

I could and would gush for hours about the awesome and awesomely professional folks at Denver's Open Media Foundation. It was such a pleasure to plan this event with them, and without their support and hosting of the event, Project FreshKicks would not have been possible.

The web teams

Not only did the web teams work, but they worked it hard. We had nine webteams local to Colorado and a couple of people working remotely. Not only were these guys and gals all consummate professionals, but they were also all incredibly nice people. Websites are not cheap; to donate your skills and your time – that’s truly a precious gift. And to share gummy bears at 3 a.m. with everyone – those kind of people are one in a million. And we had almost 40 of them all in one building.

Social Media

As this was our first year doing Project FreshKicks, we didn’t have a reputation and/or clout (or Klout) to speak of. We relied entirely on social media and word of mouth to advertise the event. It was amazing to see how the word was spread –tweets and links begot retweets and posts. We were thrilled to find so many web pros to take part in Project FreshKicks. We also had an extremely difficult time choosing only nine nonprofit organizations from such a huge list of deserving groups.

It was also a lot of fun to livetweet the event. I really started to feel like we were all connected by sharing the hashtag #projfreshkicks and sharing jokes. Especially as the night progressed. The later it was, the funnier everything seemed.

What didn’t exactly work:

The schedule

Some people thrive in a tightly organized environment. Web folks – not so much. It’s that freedom that allows creativity to bloom – odd hours, strange work habits, and inconsistent eating routines. While having an ultimate deadline was extremely effective, I found that it wasn’t necessary to adhere to strict, scheduled breaks. It was great to have a common space equipped with coffee, tea and snacks, but it didn’t seem necessary to have scheduled times for check-ins. If anyone had any questions or concerns, they were addressed as needed.

Website content

It was extremely difficult to get all the content ready for the day of the event. Even with all my nagging mass emails for two months straight, we weren’t able to solidify all the content for the nonprofits. Some representatives came in with only a few pages. Others with tons of photographs and videos, but no body copy. 

One member of a we hours creating content. Next year, we will try to find a way to work with the nonprofits to help them develop content – maybe by holding a workshop before the actual event.

What half worked:

Communication

A lot of people don’t read their emails very clearly. It’s hard. There is a lot to remember and a lot to keep up with. Despite a few misunderstandings, it was ultimately fine contacting people through email, but unfortunately, we can’t rely on people thoroughly reading anything.

Sponsorship

It was really hard to get sponsorship for this event. Mostly because we were asking for donations in April and May and many companies had already planned out their contributions in months previous. Next year we’ll start bright and early. I have it on my calendar to start canvassing for sponsorship on January 1, 2012.

However, the sponsors we did get were absolutely wonderful.  Local coffee shop, Yellowfeather Coffee Co., provided some tasty caffeination. Whole Foods sent us one of the best lunch spreads I’ve seen, vegan restaurant Watercourse donated a seriously delicious cake for our Sunday celebration, and EllisLab donated licenses for all sites built in Expression Engine.

My favorite/least favorite moments:

My favorite part of the entire event was the presentation of the new websites. Though my tired mind could barely comprehend what the designers were explaining, seeing the new sites and the bright faces made me so happy. I was grinning like a fool for an hour straight.

My least favorite part of the entire event was waking up from my nap. I've since concluded that getting two hour’s sleep was much worse than staying up the whole time. 

 


Lindsay McComb's avatar

Lindsay McComb

Writer and Content Specialist at Q Digital Studio

Lindsay McComb is a writer and content specialist at Q Digital Studio. She's a wordsmith with a wicked sense of style and a serious case of Wanderlust. Lindsay can be found tweeting at @themetaq and off-the-clock (and at all hours) at @lindsaymccomb.

Posted

8.16.2011

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