The volunteering spirit was in full flow the weekend of 17 and 18 Sept at crUX. Over 20 IT professionals devoted part of their weekend (some of them all weekend), coming together to develop a new website for TWC2 pro-bono.

Led by Wen Huang and Mohammed Pitolwala from Savant Degrees, the aim of the event was to hothouse the development process, so that the key elements of the new site would be finished over a weekend.

Savant Degrees is a web product management consulting firm, turning ideas into intelligent businesses. Their focus is on user experience — which in the industry is termed “UX” — and product management.

“There are multiple definitions of what UX is,” explains Wen, the Product Guy at Savant Degrees. “What we want to do is to take a more methodical approach to UX, as well as product management, and one of our goals is to further push understanding of UX in our community.” Savant Degrees has organised get-togethers among web developers to share about UX, but previous events, Wen felt, did not quite result in much tangible value, however interesting they were.

Then, when Wen saw an appeal that TWC2 placed on the news site, The Online Citizen, something clicked in his head: “Why not try to get the community to do something positive with a get-together?”

Said Alex Au, TWC2’s Treasurer: “I loved the idea from the start. Getting lots of brilliant people into a big room, cross-fertilising ideas among them and then doing the design and code-writing intensively, sounded like the ideal way to realise the aim.”

It sounded to him to be the exact opposite of how many website projects are done, dragged out over months.

And that’s how the weekend came about.

Gary and Aakriti eyeballing code

Aakriti Agarwal was one of the volunteers at crUX. Weekdays, she works for a financial MNC, but this weekend, she could realise her passion for social volunteering.

“I love to volunteer,” Aakriti told TWC2. “Doing so has an impact, making the world a better place.” She described this project as a “win-win situation”, where “I can put my skills to use, and in the process, help another group of dedicated people to do good.”

In order to do the project successfully, volunteers had to understand the situation of migrant workers and TWC2’s work. In turn, her own mindset about migrant workers has changed, “I used to feel a bit weird in Little India, and used to see them in a bad light. But now I realise they are human beings.

“We shouldn’t be having this bias against them,” she added, referring to construction workers. “I mean, we have a roof over our heads because of them.”

And from this group of enthusiastic IT volunteers, TWC2 has a new website because of them.