Case Study: demoday.ninja
Into the world of unaccredited coding bootcamps
As has become Portland tech lore, our school was shut down* just as my class was beginning our month-long capstone projects. Because of our awesome community, my classmates & our instructors continued with our work*. After a month of fixing bugs, my team unveiled our project at Demo Night.
I was part of a three person group. Our original project concept was along the lines of “Portland Code School Student Profiles.” When the school closed, we were forced to make a slight pivot. However, the ultimate scope of our project was ideal. We were able to create a web app for our classmates to showcase their work.
*See links in the “footnotes” section at the bottom of this article.
The Problem: Information about our cohort and our projects is fragmented, without a centralized directory.
Our Solution: Design & build a “digital brochure” for Demo Night.
My Roles: Product Design Lead, Front-End Lead
- Our classmates
- Demo Night attendees
PHASE 1: RESEARCH & IDEATION
By choosing our classmates as our primary user group, we had the benefit of a rapid feedback loop. We took advantage of this throughout the project.
We searched the web for examples of well-designed student profile sites. We took the most inspiration from General Assemb.ly’s alumni profiles.
Skills: comparative analysis, user interviews
Tools: surveys, Google Docs, Post-it Notes
PHASE 2: DESIGN & TEST
I built several generations of lo-fidelity prototypes, and made extensive use of Invision’s commenting functionality to solicit feedback from my classmates. Our team had a number of long discussions about how our web app should look and behave.
Skills: site map, user stories, wireframes, interactive prototyping
Tools: pen & paper, Sketch, InVision
PHASE 3: BUILD & TEST
As our designs began to take shape, I transitioned to the roll of Product Design to Front-End Developer. I used Backbone.js as the MVC, and used a modified version of Twitter Bootstrap to style the UI. According to GitHub, I had a 2:1 ration of code written to code deleted.
Skill: web development
Tools: Node.js, Backbone.js, GitHub
PHASE 4: GRADUAL ONBOARDING & ITERATION
From the beginning, we knew that our project was going to have bugs. So, we designed our user-onboarding strategy to allow for that. We initially deployed with a “concierge MVP” for 3–5 users. As we fixed bugs and gradually rolled out additional features, we slowly added users. This allowed us to iterate on the product with a slow trickle of improvements.
Skills: bug fixing, product iteration, UI refinements, usability testing