If we plotted a curve of the general well-being (physical-, mental-, financial-, social-wise), we would find ourselves in a local minimum. Not only can’t we see our friends and family, the virus is also eating away the income of a substantial part of our population. It’s needless to say that COVID-19 has a significant impact on a lot of lives and businesses.
Enough negative energy for this article. Instead of letting isolation and quarantine take the better of us, we (a group of enthusiast engineers and consultants at IntellectEU) decided to organize an E-brainstorm. Let’s take you through the process of going from “no idea” to “production-ready application” in 13 days. The process that made the local minimum that tiny bit more positive.
Day T(-13) | The E-peritivo
2 weeks in lockdown, and we’ve already created new rituals. Friday night E-peritivo’s quickly became a fixed value in the lives of our colleagues. On the agenda for this edition:
- Start by talking about the impact of the coronavirus (classic one these days)
- Brainstorm on how to use our knowledge to create a positive impact
I’ll skip the discussions we had around the first point and move directly to the main findings of the second: One of our colleagues already had 3 ideas in mind. (I) Build an application which would make drinking an E-beer (or E-coffee) more fun, (II) Build an application to support the healthcare industry and / or victims in a financial or moral manner and (III) mimic the spread of the virus digitally. It should be obvious by now which idea was the winner. (Tip: it’s not I 🙃)
The E-peritivo was exceptional. Not only did the beers taste great, the ideas were even better. Every single one of our colleagues was on fire. Ideas on ideas on ideas. An idea-pancake which we immortalized in the following description:
#SpreadLoveNotCorona wants to digitally replicate the spreading of a virus, with one big difference: #SpreadLoveNotCorona is a positive virus, one that brings people together and emphasizes the impact every single one of us has in the battle against COVID-19.
In the past few weeks, various fun challenges have been emerging on social media to show our solidarity in these trying times. By combining these challenges with a straightforward way to donate to UN’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO, people from all over the world can spread love to support both doctors and nurses as well as the populations hit the hardest by the novel coronavirus. By gradually involving more and more people with your love and support, #SpreadLoveNotCorona will cross oceans and borders, showing the impact each and every one of us can have to #flattenthecurve. All donations made will be tracked on the blockchain, making it possible to verify each donation.
By creating a username, you receive a unique link that you can use to donate or share and spread the love with all your friends, challenging others to #SpreadLoveNotCorona. As more and more people start spreading love, you will be able to find out how many people you affected with your love (friends, friends of friends, their friends!) and see how much money was raised because YOU shared your love!
Some of us continued their Friday night with one-on-one brainstorms about the tech stack and solution architecture while others started working on the design.
Days T(-12) & T(-11) | The weekend
“Let’s sleep a night over it”, the literal translation from a Dutch saying meaning that you will come back on a certain topic after a good night’s sleep. That’s exactly what we did. We organized a second E-brainstorm to go over some -very roughly designed- screens and to decide on a team composition that would take up the challenge of developing this app in a record timing.
Let’s start with the first version of the screens (look ⬆). The fully clickable mock-ups can be found here. Let’s conclude by saying that the effort of creating a design in 40min was appreciated. A design that could serve as a starting point for a real designer.
Next up, the decision about the team. As we wanted to develop this product in a very, very narrow time frame, we needed the right people in the right place. One product owner, one front-end developer, two back-end developers, one solution architect, one designer and three consultants kicked off the project. Leveraging our proven agile way of working, we started by defining user-stories during the weekend. User stories that would be followed up in stand-ups for the days to come.
Days T(-10) ~ T0 | The build
All of us worked on the project whenever they had time. We had several streams of progress, touching base again every day:
Design: Starting from the -extremely rough- first design, our designer took on the challenge of making the interface look beautiful while being fool-proof at the same time. During the daily stand-up, she would demo almost-finished screens, gather feedback, adjust the (often) minor details after which our frontend developer could start implementing the screens. The design resulting from this track is the design that you use today on www.spreadlovenotcorona.io
Frontend: In parallel with the design track, our frontend developer coded non-stop to bring the designs to life. Agile development is all about moving forward as swiftly as possible, while still being manoeuvrable. Following this principle, he already started developing -before the final designs were ready- by creating a skeleton for the frontend. Next up, he dressed this skeleton, screen by screen. This way, the design track didn’t block frontend development and vice versa.
Backend: As for every development project that we take on, the frontend and backend are decoupled. What does this mean? Everything you see and interact with on your screen (frontend) can be developed completely separate from the logic of the application (backend). Again, this enables the formation of parallel tracks, which speeds up development. After thinking about a scaleable architecture (we want our application to be able to handle millions of users), our backend developers started the implementation. You can read more about the solution design and technology stack in our Medium post: #SpreadLoveNotCorona | The Tech
Strategy: This track covers strategy on different topics. We put in place a press strategy. As a company with a global presence, we can leverage our press contacts in Portugal, Belgium, Ukraine and the US. We sent out a press release accompanied by a demo narrated in the local language. Next up is a social media strategy in which we involved all of our colleagues. We set up a schema for everyone to see when they had to share www.spreadlovenotcorona.io, on which social platform, which big actors they had to tag, etc. Having an application that goes viral is only worth something if it can handle the flood of users. For this, we set up a testing strategy. This testing strategy not only involved automated testing, we also had a rigorous testing plan in which almost everyone in the company took place to test different scenarios.
Day T(0)| The launch
The time on our landing page’s count down timer is ticking away. Testing the last features and pushing the last changes. And… BOOM — we’re live. 2 hours in, and we already got 135 involved who collectively raised $942. Everything works as expected. #SpreadLoveNotCorona can now start to live its own life. We’ll cover the final results in another post.
If you haven’t yet, go to www.spreadlovenotcorona.io/maximpiessen, create your own username/link, donate and most of all #SpreadLoveNotCorona
None of this would’ve been possible without an amazing team dedicating a lot of their (free) time to this project. Naya Tease (Thanks Panenco for borrowing your awesome designer), Bruno Almeida (Product Owner), Robbert Coeckelbergh (Architect), JGaspar | Pieter Debaere | Farid Aly (Back-end), Carlos Filipe Marques (Front-end), Chaim Finizola | Thomas Bohner | Thomas Smets | Robert van Donge (Ideation, Strategy)