Digital Immersion Into How To Build Things Online


Have you ever wondered how websites are built? Ever asked yourself how do these tech kids do it so easily?

Well we found out for ourselves at a recent workshop on Digital immersion. The workshop, which was part of the NEF’s Fast Track Learning Programme was set up to help our cohort learn the key steps in building a website and making it into a mobile application with lots of cool functionalities.

The day was run by Free:Formers, a company making technology easy for business people while delivering social impact. For every business person they train, they also train a young unemployed person for free.

Ed, Lewis, Nick and Kay were our trainers on the day helping to manage our group of very keen entrepreneurs.

The day started by reviewing key facts on the digital acceleration that is happening and how everything has to be more mobile and has to look like an “app” as people are looking for more and more interactions.

We then looked at creating an app in our browsers using a free, open source code editor called JSBIN. To do that we learned how to use the different languages:
HTML: this is for your content
CSS: this is used by your browser to style your HTML content
Javascript: it is about the behaviours you want from your browser in response to certain events

The day was full with tips on where to find the information to be able to create and code a website. As Ed said: “giving you the 10% of required information that will put you on track to achieve 100%.”

We also looked at how to use API’s: Application Programming Interface: these interfaces sit between your app and a big IT system. And so you can write code to use APIs that get maps, make tweets, find out what trains are on time, track the stock market or indeed buy shares.

We finished the day by prototyping our app on paper: we used the POP app to quickly prototype our mobile app on the iPhone/ iPad or Android devices. It allowed us to very quickly create a concept, see how it works and show it to other people.

The key message being that there are thousands of internet platforms that provide powerful features. They are free resources readily available on the web (you just need to Google your questions) and you can use them. It is all about mixing, and with just a few lines of code you can cut and paste complex functionality into your app.

Here’s what some of our cohort said about the day:

“I can now build a site…How awesome!”
“ It’s not as much hard work as it seems!”
“I can code!”
“Google everything. It is possible to build stuff quickly, lego-like!”
“I am now able to build my own one- page website to promote all my entrepreneurial ventures”.