On the 6th February, musicians, filmmakers and software developers gathered at the City Library to kick off the second cohort of the Ladders programme: free, 8-week additional industry insight in each creative/digital sector. The evening was brief, yet foreshadowing the next few weeks and acquainting the students to their industry mentors. For software development, Phil Jeffes was introduced – a professional software developer, previously working in radio, phone apps, social media streaming and gaming, to name a few of his achievements.

Once the team were guided to a workspace at the City Library, Phil swiftly dived into the details of the Software Development course. We discussed the sort of things that participants may expect from the course and to brainstorm their final project which will be showcased at the end of the course. There were faces of excitement, nerves and uncertainty – all of which were perfectly understandable at this stage. Nonetheless, it was lovely to see their willingness to take on a challenge. After a few technical fiddles and giggles from the group Phil covered the beginning of the course content including basics, HTMLs etc. It was a very relaxing and encouraging way to start the week.

Wednesday followed up with the basics of software development. The session was filled with top tips, including the key software and tools for creating the webpages. The students were encouraged to use Brackets, a tool for creating web pages, to explore some of the possibilities that can be achieved with web design. Phil covered the basics, including how to use hex colour codes. As they began to build their website, questions were flowing: How can we incorporate gifs/moving images? How can we zoom in on an image?

We also looked at how we can make CSS which reacts as a user moves the cursor around the page. This allowed us to gain insights into user experience and user interface design which was an interesting way of putting yourself in the user’s shoes to visualise how they might approach and use a site you were designing. It was clear that people were particularly interested in the little tips and tricks, such as hovering over an image to zoom in, similarly to a shopping website. As the students began to improve, Phil covered how to make a smoother transition to enlarge the image. The students were very patient and continued intelligent discussions, filled with questions and suggestions for future sessions. Phil was delighted to see so much enthusiasm.

The first week has proven to have shown a mixed bag of different characters with various abilities and ambitions – some were covering old ground whilst others were thrown into a new and slightly intimidating digital world. This didn’t stop the constant flow of communication and teamwork amongst the group, thus ending the first week with pride and smiling faces. Phil was thrilled with the enthusiasm shown amongst the group, as he revs up and prepares for week 2 of the Ladders programme.