By Rachael Wilson

Could you Build a Complete Web Site in 24 Hours?

By Rachael Wilson

FullCodePress 2009Do you think you could you build a complete web site in 24 hours? What about if you had an audience watching your every move?

Sound stressful? You bet. FullCodePress is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The competition is back in 2009, and if you’re based in Australia or New Zealand, then you can get involved, possibly even to represent your country!

Here’s how it works. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create:

  • 1 fully functional website for
  • 1 designated charity, in
  • 24 hours with a team of
  • 6 talented individuals with whom you have (probably) never worked before.

In the words of the organizers, there are “no excuses, no extensions, no budget overruns.” A complete, fully functioning web site from go to whoa in 24 hours. Key to the contest is the fact that there will be no hints as to who the charity is — nothing, zilch, zip — until the 24 hours start. Then the competition is on to create the best possible web site with only the skill of you and your five other team mates. Sound like fun?

There’s more. The best part is that some very lucky charities get a professional ready-to-go web site at the end of the competition. I’m sure most of you would agree that it’s rewarding to be involved in an event where you get to test your skills and contribute; you get to help a charity help other less fortunate people.

And if charity isn’t your thing, how about the thrill of such a complex project, a 24 hour deadline with no outside help, your success being dependent on just the skill of the people in your team? I’m sure that when the pressure is on some very innovative and creative solutions are born.

This year it’s Australia vs New Zealand live at the CeBIT conference in Sydney on the 13-14 May. And while two charities end up with fantastic sites, there can be only one team that earns the international bragging rights and trophy for the best creation on the day. Luckily for everyone else, there will be other prizes given away over the course of the event, including some of our very own SitePoint masterpieces (in book form).

There are numerous ways you can get involved: you can either apply to participate in the Australian team or New Zealand team or help out as a volunteer on the day. If you can’t be there in person, you can tap into the live blogging, interviews, Twitter feed, Flickr and YouTube action that will be available online so you can support the event and the cause.

We believe this is a fantastic event, and we’re excited to be supporting it — we’ll have members of the SitePoint team present at the event, and one of us will be involved in judging the sites, so be sure you come up and say hello. Visit for more information or to register as a participant, volunteer or non-profit organisation.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Check out some of our coverage of the previous FullCodePress event:

  • VitaminCM

    What are the rules? Can you use packages like WordPress or other prebuilt systems? or does it have to all be coded from scratch?

  • Bobby Marko

    Sierro Bravo out of Minneapolis runs a similar event:

  • Scott Petrovic

    Sounds so fun. Wish I lived in the southern hemisphere. 24 hours is pretty fast. Some of it would depend on the site and if frameworks or other CMS tools could be used.

    Great idea for a competition!

  • akstar

    wow cool stuff.
    are we allowed to download templates and use free scripts ?

  • Scully

    I’ve looked at the aims of this competition on its official Web site, and trying to code up a decent site in 24 hours that’s more than ‘brochureware’ doesn’t only sound like a bad idea, but also damaging to the industry. It’s going to give people the impression that it’s alright for some sleep deprived cowboys to knock up a site in a day. I can only assume that this event is going to make use of lots of pre-written software available on the Web already, ‘cos anyone that tries writing a non-trivial Web application in 24 hours needs their head testing.

    I really think they should emphasize that this is a bit of fun and NOT how things should be done, especially if you want to keep your visitors’ private data safe or deliver a product with which the customer is satisfied!

  • With those requirements it seems a bit easy. Is there a level of professionalism it needs to achieve? Functionality? Must be hand coded? Use of scripts? I have made up to 5 websites a day myself with WordPress and some templates. Obviously that is not allowed, but it does not seem real clear!

  • Easy? I think not.

    Here’s the thing — you’re not just implementing any old template. You’re performing a complete requirements gathering process, designing everything from scratch (possibly including a logo, and definitely including a custom layout/colour scheme), writing all the copy, implementing all the features that the client requests during that period, and making sure what you deliver fulfils their requirements, as well as striving for best practice code. This is not just an exercise in downloading a template and implementing it. This a professionally designed site that meets a specific need (a need that you won’t know until the day).

  • nachenko

    Man, I’d like to be in Australia now to enter the contest.

  • Is it just me or does this seem too easy?

    I mean I’m assuming they have all of the assets for the site such as source images and copy. So its really just putting the site together. I’ve done this in 24 a lot of times and I’m sure a lot of others have as well. No big deal.

    Also judging by the gallery on the site, all of 5 people where there last year.

  • Easy? How?

    From nothing to something in 24 hours is hardly easy. Just preparing a design may take time, let alone preparing it in html and css. Then what about the part of planning (code side of it) and building the entire site using a server side language and a database, plus making it function correctly as outlined?

    To the poster above. With the sites that you have done in 24 hours “alot of times”, what was the complexity level of those sites, and were they actually built from scratch or did you just use existing code available?

  • i am in pakistan , i want to apply for this event !

    hmm , may be its not possible .

  • This has got me excited. I want to apply. But do I have the money to travel to the other side of the country, which I have never been… hrmmm!

  • Cool! But I will pass this opportunity!

  • @chopsticks….

    Its just crunch mode.

    Database design: 30min-1hr
    APP config: 30 min
    PHP User system: 1-2 hrs
    PHP CMS: 1 hr
    Photoshop: 3-4 hrs
    XHTML/CSS: 3 hrs
    QA/Testing: 1-2 hrs

    Given this would be a simple site, but even on the high I can’t see it taking more than 15 hours to build and deploy, and thats just with one person. You have 6 to a team.

    But hey its for charity, so it doesn’t really matter.

  • @slaction
    PHP CMS: 1 hr – I don’t think they would allow you to copy and paste. What’s defined in a 1 hour CMS any way?

  • I thought as well that you weren’t allowed to use a CMS, instead only code written yourself (or team written) and/or using an existing framework like Rails or Zend.

  • @NetNerd85

    A 1 hour CMS would be a pretty basic system. I’m not creating anything like WP here. Just fields to allow you to enter the Title, Meta Data, and Body of a page (body using a WYSIWYG). I would not be copy and pasting code. The database would be simple, just write the php code to enter the data, and create the functions for display. I’ve wrote this kind of stuff 100 times before so it would go pretty fast.

    I’m not at all trying to brag here. I’m just saying I don’t see the 24 hour deadline as a really difficult challenge. If it was something like building an e-commerce system from scratch in 24 hours then it would be different.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to see cakephp bakers join.

  • There’s no rule about not using pre-existing code. The last time this event was held, one team used Drupal, whilst the other wrote their CMS from scratch (Rachael linked to my interview with the developers at the end of the post). However I think many of you may be forgetting that this needs to be a site that fulfills the goals defined by the client, from a design, content and usability perspective. The client needs to be happy with it, not just you. This is much more about problem solving than it is about how fast you can copy and paste code to get something online.

  • zuneone

    I made 22 websites in one day once. Actually only took about 6 hours, but they were custom ASP. For a fat loss empire I was building

  • guys , i want to take part in this Event but i live is Pakistan . i missed such kind of Events .

    Alas !

  • Building a website in 24 hours for a client is probably hard, but building them for yourself is fairly easy. I took TwtCop from idea to finished and working website in 8 hours. It’s a Twitter bot with a very basic start page and basic ticket page (example linked from main page). It uses PHP, MySQL, and the Twitter API. It’s probably the shortest amount of time I’ve ever put up a website in, and it turned out great.

  • MLErica

    Very cool stuff! Any kind of contest for charity is a winner in my book.

  • krdr

    Of course it can be done. Especially if you have 6 skilled professionals on your side.

  • molona

    I don’t think I am that quick and I wouldn’t be up to the challenge, but what a great idea! I think it is not only rewarding because you help others, but it is also a better way to know yourself a bit better and how you would deal with a complete unknown team, as well as in a stressful situation.

  • Some people here seem to be missing the point that you will have to write the copy, source images and meet the client’s needs. This isn’t just slapping up any old site from pre-existing material.

  • @slaction

    What your breakdown appears to miss out is all the copy writing, image sourcing, planning and so on. Of course it’s easy to do the technical stuff in 24 hours, but the hard stuff comes before you even start that.

  • KiwiJohn

    It must also be realized that, although the website must be completed in 24 hours, each group has a total of 144 (6 x 24) person hours to do it.

  • Russ Weakley

    Some interesting comments about the FullCodePress event. I’ve responded to one of the earlier comments over at the FullCodePress site.

    Are events like FullCodePress damaging to the web development community?

  • Anonymous

    I was the programmer for the NZ team at the previous FullCodePress, and I just wanted to respond to some consistent misconceptions that I feel are being raised in this thread…

    Some of you might think you can build a PHP CMS in 1-2 hours. Perhaps you would be surprised at how hard it actually is. The mistake people are making I feel, is to condense the quality of the task into a technological or rote production context. But that’s not where the difficulty lies.

    We started from a blank slate, we knew nothing about the charity, and to make a complete site, we had to research everything about who they were, the services they provided, the structure of their organization, who their audience was, what their goals of a website would be. For my job as the programmer, this meant translating these requirements into an architecture that would guide the actual structure of the content and templates, and defining the different objects and the relationships between them. Mockups and wireframes, and lots of sketched diagrams helped establish this, and were what I used as a guide to which fields to implement. This all took a fair amount of time, and the process was not as simple as just ticking off ‘activities’ from a list, we had to go back and forward on a lot of things, and change them as we went along.

    In other words, we approached this project exactly how we would approach a normal website project, just in an insanely compressed period of time. The Australian team did the same – they had some talented people, and they worked very closely with their client to understand the depth of what they were presenting.

    Sleep deprived yes, cowboys, no.

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