Website: SPJ 4.26 Day of Giving
Client: Society of Professional Journalists
Contributions: Built the whole thing — front end, back end, the databases needed to make it all work, and the translators needed to bring the data from one place to the other.
Live demo: 2017 version [archive.org] • 2018 version
In 2017, the Society of Professional Journalists wanted to host a Day of Giving, which is an event non-profits and universities host when they want to rally would-be donors into donating en masse at the same time (and, consequently, inspiring others who might not otherwise donate to follow their lead). Where April 26, 2017 once was just a Wednesday, now it was one of the bigger days of SPJ’s year.
A website was needed to act as the sun around which donations, live events and other activity would orbit. So I built one. And to look at it, it seems like a simple job — some nice copy up here, a couple of tables with data down below, a chart in between and some big pretty buttons our would-be donors can click or tap to become true-blue donors.
Beneath the surface, though, it’s a frightful mess — the kind of mess you hide in your closet and under the bed when you’re a hopeless slob and you’re informed with 30 minutes warning that company is coming over.
SPJ’s site runs on a less-than-popular coding language and, due to the hosting setup there, it doesn’t allow me access to create and manage databases, which the Day of Giving site would need in order to display, sort and calculate all that data. Nor, after creating those databases on a different server that speaks a different language, is there an easy way for SPJ’s site to communicate with those databases and pull and display the information it needs.
We reused the site again in 2018 for a second annual event, and while the page design received a couple of nominal tweaks — where there was a video introduction in 2017, there were rotating testimonial graphics in 2018 — all the functionality returned pretty much unchanged (dead simple for the user, a duct-taped horror show if you looked at the code) and fulfilled its mission for a second straight year.