A group of Web site experts from The Lacek Group were among the teams named as top finalists in the 2011 Twin Cities Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, March 26-27, 2011.
Lacek’s own Belden Sadler, Robbie Manalo, Travis Hall and Shawn Grigson were part of a 10-person team called “John Lennon’s Miracle Sunrise Soda Shop Franchise” and spent a non-stop 24 hours redesigning a site for the Eye-Link Foundation, an organization that provides grants for technology and software for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Learn more and see the work at http://www.eye-link.org. The Lacek Group sponsored prizes for the event to provide extra motivation for the teams.
“We needed to make this site fully functional for the primary audience, which would be using a screen reader,” said Belden, Business Analyst at The Lacek Group. “But the site also needed to be visually pleasing as well for donors, partners and others who want to learn about and support the organization.”
Held at the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education Center in St. Paul, this year’s Overnight Web Challenge paired up 18 teams with 18 non-profit organizations. The teams consisted of individuals with varying Web expertise, including designers, project managers, strategists, copywriters and back-end developers.
A pre-challenge “speed dating” event, including questionnaires and 5-minute meetings, helped match up the teams with their non-profit partners. Pairs were announced at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, and teams had until 9 a.m. Sunday morning to complete their projects.
In addition to doing some quick, but critical research on screen reading technologies, Belden said the team members needed to toss out their usual Web development approaches to create the new design which included an online grant application, an important site feature. And although not part of the original assignment, the team designed a new logo and identity for Eye-Link during the redesign process.
“When we started this, our goal was to go ‘live’ the next morning,” said Belden. “They were turning off the Internet connections for the competition at 9 am, and we were up and running by 8:45 am.”
The teams also got a boost from Senator Al Franken, who stopped by the challenge to give teams some midday motivation. You can see a meet and greet with the Lacek employees at http://vimeo.com/21531651.