Many new Brigade leaders email me to ask what resources CfA provides to new Brigades related to hosting their Brigade’s website. I’ve sent this reply to them, and realized I should probably just post this so we can collect the wisdom of the community into providing best practices.
Do you agree with my advice? Do you think CfA should make a Brigade website template? Leave your comments below.
Website guidance for Brigade leaders:
Currently, Code for America doesn’t provide any resources for hosting your Brigade’s website (financially or in terms of codebases). Most Brigades are able to host their websites on the cheap (free) with off-the-shelf platforms, and seem relatively happy with their setups. That said… I can point you to a couple examples of Brigade websites that you might consider forking or mimicking.
Specifically, most Brigades use Github Pages to host a static website, which is, in my opinion the best technological decision because it is simple and won’t go down.
Here are some pointers to what Brigades use most successfully:
Github Pages (Static website) – For example: https://codeforchicago.org/ (source code), https://codeforsanfrancisco.org/ (source code)
Many Brigades commonly use frameworks like Jekyll to build static websites that are hosted for free by Github using their Github Pages product. This hits the spot for most brigades because there’s no infrastructure to maintain, and the collaboration model is very easy (anything that is committed gets automatically deployed).
Laddr (Custom Webapp) – For example: https://codeforphilly.org/
Code for Philly built this product that allows brigade members to list projects, share updates, and schedule meetups with a wiki-style edit interface. About 5 brigades use it, and they’ve offered to continue supporting it for new Brigades that want to use it. Ping @chris (Chris Alfano) to get set up.
Other CMS tools (Wordpress) – For example: https://www.codefordenver.org/.
You can likely find some free/cheap hosting using Wordpress or other existing CMS providers.
Google Sites – No brigades use this, but I believe it is possible. This is the easiest option if you’re not able to set anything up that’s technically challenging.
The choice between these will likely depend on your team and what you’d like to do with it. As I mentioned, do let me know if it’d be helpful to hop on a quick call.