Overnight Web Site Challenge

January 17, 2008 by

A Minnesota tech company is hosting the F1 Overnight Web Site Challenge, where teams of geeks will create fully functional web sites for Minnesota nonprofits in only 24 hours. Public radio’s Future Tense covered the challenge on January 4 (scroll down):

“When you look at 24 hours of time from a team of five or six people, that’s a lot of value we’re delivering to the nonprofits,” said Mark Hurlburt of Sierra Bravo. “We’re hoping the teams are going to like working with the nonprofits and they’ll continue to be working with them and making that donation as time goes on,” he said.

I love this idea. Most nonprofits (like churches) have terrible web sites and don’t have the resources to do them right. So here’s a way to give one highly-caffeinated push and move those nonprofits into the 21st century.

I think it could work for churches, too.

So often web projects take forever. I think forcing the job to be done in a short time frame is a good way to make it happen (hey, it works for novels). For many churches whatever you come up with in 24 hours couldn’t possibly be worse than what they currently have.

Maybe it’s time to have your own F1 Overnight Web Site Challenge.

  • Scoring a team of top-notch web geeks from a local tech company would be ideal, but even if you can scour up a few pros from within your congregation you might be able to make it happen.
  • Next, you need to keep the expectations in check. You’re not going to have a jaw-dropping site in 24 hours. LifeChurch.tv isn’t going to be calling you up and asking how you did that. The goal is to get something decent and functional that actually meets your needs. Take a page from the 37Signals guys and their book, Getting Real.
  • And that’s a big one–meeting your needs. Anyone can slap together a quick site, but if it doesn’t meet your needs, it’s not a step forward. A good chunk of those 24 hours needs to be spent on planning and listening: What does your church need? Who’s going to update it? Those practical considerations need to be kept at the forefront, above bells and whistles.

So if your church web site needs some help, maybe it’s time to load up on caffeine and snacks and get to work! (To make it even more interesting, maybe you could challenge your pastor to an Overnight Sermon Challenge.)

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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5 Responses to “Overnight Web Site Challenge”

  • adam
    January 17, 2008

    I think this is a cool idea. I have quick question though….
    Are the IT people getting anything out of it at all?
    I work with churches in the web arena and my biggest frustration is that they want lifechurch.tv quality stuff and they don’t want to pay anything for it. The minute you give them an invoice, which I already lowballed, they have the nerve to ask for a 50% or more reduction.
    So, I’m all for helping. I just want to know what you are suggesting. :) Certainly, design and implementation time can be donated. But hosting? Things like that too?

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    January 17, 2008

    Hey Adam, I think those are questions you’d have to work out on a case by case basis. I’m just pointing to something a mainstream company is doing here in Minnesota. They’re doing it as charity and because it’s good publicity. I’m sure anyone volunteering for the project has similar motivations.
    That may or may not be true if you did the same kind of project for a church. I’d envision a bunch of people in the church doing it because they like their church and are tired of a lame web site and don’t want to take six months to get a new one.
    If your church can pay for a web site, more power to ya. If that’s the case, you’re probably not in this situation in the first place.
    As for hosting, that’d probably have to be something the church takes care of. Though honest hosting is cheap. I’d expect that would be your last concern.

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  • Jermayn Parker
    January 17, 2008

    Yes the problem is that they dont expect to have to pay for it….
    They think that seeing you go to church you will do it for free, I have turned down a few ‘jobs’ due to this. I cant afford to work for free.

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  • brad
    January 17, 2008

    I’ve been on both sides of the church/payment equation. Let me sum up my experience with this thought: I don’t care if the church does or doesn’t pay. But it gets what it does (or doesn’t) pay for. And if there’s anyone reading this who’s in charge of making those decisions, paying good money can be far cheaper than getting it for free — human cost is not measurable in mere dollar figures!
    In our particular case, we have a volunteer web team that is experiencing a lot of inertia (lives are really, really full). There’s a lot of passion and skill, but it’s held back by all the “might-bes”, “could-bes” and “should-bes”. At a meeting, we’ll go a distance down one road, making real progress with the conceptualisation of features and tools, and then someone says, “You know guys: we shouldn’t be doing in Typepad, we should really be developing it under Joomla.” The groans that induces become increasingly exasperated when our entire platform changes every 20mins! It could be an episode of the office, or a Dilbert cartoon.
    I think this 24hr-push idea might just be the kick in the pants we need to get running. Planning gets trimmed right down to the bare essentials, and implementation happens immediately, which is infinitely more gratifying than months of “this feature not quite implemented yet — please stand by”. I’m going to float it with the pastor and the guys and see where it takes us. Of course, that means I need to find a free and clear 24hr period…
    Oh, and just in case it needs to be said, that all night preaching marathon holds no appeal for me! :-)

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  • adam
    January 18, 2008

    Ha! I think I misunderstood. Were you challenging people to do their own churches sites in 24 hours or were you challenging people to do sites for other people’s churches?
    I may have misunderstood completely.

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