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Non-tech founders and business owners should go to at least one Hackathon (read this article to find one near you or do a Google search).

Hackathons will teach you about tech and connect you with developers.

If you are non-tech you’ll feel really useless at a Hackathon because basically if you can’t code, you come up with the idea, copy and business plan, then you may feel redundant after the tech starts BUT go.  

It’s an awesome learning experience and gets you excited to see how fast projects can come to life.

If you’re in Sydney, you can see how a startup comes together from the ground up at Sydney Start Up event run by Simply Wall Street’s Alistair Bentley (click here to find the next one).

CODING

Coding.   It’s a little like writing.   There are paragraphs, sentences, phrases, syntax, synonymous, verbs, nouns etc.

Coding is like writing for maths or writing with a mix of data and using the alphabet, signs, and symbols.    If you plug X, it pushes Y.

If you use the wrong phrases or symbols or numbers in a line of code it sends the wrong message and the rest of the code won’t function properly.

Just like writing and using commas properly the same applies to coding.

Helping your Uncle Jack off a horse  

helping your uncle jack off a horse

See the difference?    

Which one do you think would be done if this was coding and by a good developer?

Simply put code is a set of instructions written in a language that computers can understand.

Just like in life there are hundreds of different languages you could learn like Russian, Spanish, Croatian, etc so too with coding languages and each language needs a framework to work.

Frameworks are like the dictionary or another precedent system where the codes are pre-made and used to speed up the process.

Developers will grab a set of code (just like you do when you look up a word in the dictionary for meaning and use) then use that set of code to develop.

It’s similar to builders building the foundation (or framework) you build your website on and the tools you use to build it with can show how flexible (or agile) the finished product will be. 

Depending on what you are trying to do, the quality and performance of your website can have nothing to do with how much you paid for it.  

It can come down to the framework, the developer and founder understanding of what they are trying to do and how well your developer knows that particular framework.

If you pick Drupal CMS framework and you hire a programmer who’s never worked with Drupal then expect a site that is going to take a long time to build and an even longer time to fix.   Makes sense right?

Just as finding the right architect is important to building a great building so too is finding the right people to build your site and finding the right framework and features to suit you now and build on as you scale.

Just like a house has different elements which keep it standing with strong foundations and pretty interiors so too with a technology product.

Your job is to pick the right IT Architecture – language, framework and library and CMS (content management system) for your App, your website or your artificial intelligence project.     

Strongly recommended is hiring a UX / UI designer to create wireframes.

EXAMPLE

Languages:                                              HTML, CSS, Ruby, Javascript

Frameworks                                         Bootstrap, Semantic, Ui, JQuery, Rails

CMS

(content management systems)    Wordpress, Joolma, CloudCannon, Drupal

WHO SPEAKS TO WHO?  

HTML, CSS               TALKS TO THESE GUYS     Bootstrap, Semantic,

Ruby, Javascript     TALKS TO THESE GUYS         JQuery, Rails

If your MVP website is a brochure style (information only no interaction with users) – style pick a WordPress theme from ThemeForest or Square Space or another template company (note that Square Space is not good with SEO because the content isn’t flexible).

If you have content sorted then you can use sites like Fiverr, send your theme and have your website built for around $100 unlimited changes.

If you don’t have any content or any idea on exactly what you want don’t use sites like Fiverr or other freelancer outsource sites because frankly, it’s not the freelancer or developers job to find you a business to create.   

You need to know exactly what you want if you are going to use freelancer sites and you need to be comfortable with not being 100% happy with the finished product.

You need to be very happy to fire fast with developers because it’s not going to get any better. 

HTML (HyperTextMarkupLanaguage) – HTML links between pages using tags and headings, subheadings and paragraphs.

Anchor links take you from one part of the website to another.   Attributes give more information or instruction.   Images are self-closing, it doesn’t need tags.   Nesting elements will keep you tidy.   Nesting is essentially a little bucket of code inside a big bucket of code to keep it safe and always linked correctly (eg; visit our website for more information [insert your website].

Essentially HTML is the structure and order how many rooms, windows, floors, doors etc.   It tells the browser where the buttons will sit, the text and separates the content into rooms.

CSS are your property stylists – it makes your house (HTML) beautiful – paint, colour, garden – in tech talk, it’s the beautifier, the font, layout, style or size etc. It will do this by selecting an element, a class or an ID then applies styling through properties and values.    Your CSS that you code into your website will overwrite the CSS from your browser.    

Properties are grouped so you have the same properties in one selector or declaration (sort of like a word description in the dictionary).

Javascript – is the interaction, it’s the automatic garage door, lights which turn on from your app or the oven which cleans itself!   In tech, it’s the sliders, the moving parts, the interactivity between the HTML and CSS.

Front End

Means the customer-facing parts of the website.   Like a department store Harrods or David Jones, this is the part the customer sees and interacts with.

Languages could include HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Back End

If you ever visited the backend of a department store, it’s usually organised chaos. 

Same with development (which is why documentation and Github explained further is important!) but it’s this chaos that powers the front end.

Databases, Servers, and Code.

Languages could include PHP, Ruby, Java, Python.

You can learn at home in your own time but if you are anything like me I learn by doing and coding can take a while to understand.   You need to focus without interruption so homes with families, partners or even the dog can make that hard.    So find a good coding course that you can concentrate on.   Call the people that attended the course, don’t rely on online

DATABASES

You may have recently heard about how hackers, university Ph.D students, data scientists, developers, and businesses all joined forces to scrape opened sourced data (freely available data) on climate change that the Obama administration collected over 8 years.

After they moved the data they stored it on European servers (read here) right before Trump’s inauguration.   This is because immediately after Trump’s administration completely removed all the data.

How did all that data end up there in the first place?

Some of it was inputted by hand by real people (surprise!), the rest pulled in from data already existing on the Internet or stored in excel spreadsheets or word documents.

MySQL is the most popular language for adding, accessing and managing content in a database.

If the data already exists then you can store it in Excel and use MySQL (an open-source relational database management system) to feed it into your website.

For example for my website Gardenhood.   I built a plant and produce database from scratch in an excel document (it took me 2- 3 months of solid building by hand I had no scraper!) then we used MySQL to pick up all that content from the Excel document, matched it with the images I had collected from sites like Flickr and feed it into the website.   So now when users upload a product it’s all there.

Databases are ways to store and reuse information, it’s as simple as that.

DOCUMENTATION

If developed poorly and you aren’t issued with documentation, then expect your website or app to cost money to run or fix up all the bugs later and don’t expect to find a developer who can work on it straight away without documentation, you have no instructions to help the next person – agency and developers who do this really are damaging Australian start-ups and have no interest in helping the community (only themselves). 

If this happens and your agency or developer hasn’t kept documentation get your website audited from a company who operates with the framework.

When dealing with tech the best approach is try to keep it as simple as possible, find modules (Drupal) or plugins (WordPress) that do what you need.  

If you have trouble with one particular plugin or module it’s quicker to contact the creator of that particular module or plugin to troubleshoot.

This is why code repository is so important and essential for all tech projects.

NO CODE REPOSITORY? NEXT.

Always own your source code.   

This is so important that I will say it again.

ALWAYS OWN YOUR SOURCE CODE and KNOW WHERE IT IS AT ALL TIMES

When we talk about Github, Gitlab, Bitbucket (any code repository) or an Agile SCRUM environment we have moved way beyond a brochure site.

Your agency and developer will show you all these flashy websites (some are just brochures sites) and they’ll show you clients who are killing it because of them.

They’ll show you testimonials from successful client outcomes, talk about how they “saved the day after someone else ripped off their client” or say they believe in your vision and want to help you.

Save yourself time and slice through the BS in two seconds by asking:

“That’s great.   Can I see your Github?

If no Github then Gitlab whichever code repository they run, you want to see it and know they have it.   Wherever your source code is this is your IP, your data, not theirs.

Do yourself a favor and read these by Sydney based business person and entrepreneur Mike Nicholls (medical prototyping).  

Although the articles are 2 years old they are still extremely relevant and very detailed, so make sure you have you have a coffee or other way to switch the old brain on before reading. 

Start Up 88 – 11 Reasons Why You Should Implement Github

7 Tips for Hiring and Managing Freelancers

Prototyping Hardware – 15 Lessons Learnt The Hard Way

Leaving aside transparency over the project and if based in Australia you need this repository for your tax compliance for R&D Tax Incentive (read this article on R&D Tax).     UPDATE the Federal Budget has just be released in Australia read about the R&D Tax changes here. 

But wait, there’s MORE – READ our next article – Let’s Talk A Little Tech