There are few things in life that will guarantee you success like a passion for learning. And with more and more resources becoming available for learning everything from basic coding to cooking coq au vin, there's no excuse for a stagnant skill set.
Unfortunately, as almost anyone who’s tried to dive deep on a subject through self-education alone can attest to, that’s not always the case.
React has quickly become one of the major buzzwords in the front-end development community, and is used on the homepages of companies like Netflix, Imgur, and AirBnB.
With that much hype, you’re sure to have an active community and Ryan and Michael were already some of the loudest voices in the React community.
They built ReactRouter, the most popular 3rd-party library built on React, and have been responsible for a huge amount of the open-source work that goes into supporting the library’s development.
And, as their open-source work slowly started to shift from part-time hobby to full-time work, they saw a gap that needed to be filled: There were no in-depth, in-person training events being offered to the community.
So, with a list of potential students and a deep understanding of the subject matter, Michael and Ryan took the entrepreneurial plunge, leaving their jobs to commit full-time to React training and open-source development.
“We left our jobs, started our business, and it was kind of just one big blur. It happened so quickly.”
“We put up this website, which was pretty ugly, but we had a buy button on there and people could buy tickets and that’s all we really needed to get the ball rolling,” explains Michael.
Now, why wouldn’t they just create an online course? Low overhead. Low maintenance. And a steady stream of customers.
Well, first off because they have a deep connection to the community. And secondly, because learning to use React is as much about the how as it is the why:
“The thing about React is it’s a functional paradigm, whereas most people programming today were trained to use an object-oriented paradigm so there’s a bit of a shift in the way you need to think about how you write code in order to use React really, really effectively.”
To make sure people really understand this shift in thinking, Ryan and Michael’s in-person training sessions for companies and individuals focus on different levels of React expertise.
And for those with some experience—say, they use React on a regular basis and might have even shipped some to production—there’s the advanced course:
“There’s just so much you can do with React. You can do things like server-side rendering. You can do React native. You can use the router. you can do things like animation and transitions. There’s a whole discussion around performance and optimizations and profiling and tolling and building. And so the takeaway from the advanced course is really a better understanding of the tools and the community and to practice with some more advanced techniques using React.”
And these aren’t your average college class-style lectures. Michael and Ryan work hard to make sure the live trainings stay, well, live:
“We want people to have the opportunity to stop us mid-sentence and ask us a question or get specifics help to things that they need.”
As word spread, their training sessions quickly picked up steam. But with their popularity growing, Michael started to notice a major issue in their online presence.
“When I was looking at our site and at our Twitter profile and the communication that was coming from us as a company in general it just didn’t seem very consistent to me. So I wanted to with the site and the redesign I wanted to establish a baseline look and feel and brand for our company.”
After asking around for design help, Michael was pointed towards Crew and told us what he was looking for—a simple, clean site that would communicate what they and their business were all about.
We connected him with Seth, an absolute powerhouse designer with experience working with everyone from the NFL to Adidas, Disney, Stanford University, and Microsoft, and they got to work.
“We wanted to communicate just the breadth and depth of what we’re working on. We’ve got a ton of material. We’ve don a ton of trainings around the world—in the UK and France and all over America—and our site just didn’t really reflect any of that.”
“The old site also didn’t really convey much about who we were. In a live in-person training that’s super, super important. You need to know who these people are. What have they done? Why should I care? Why should I listen to them?”
Seth took their ideas and ran with them, crafting a beautiful and minimalist site that balances social proof and info about upcoming sessions with strong calls to action. He kept the black and white color scheme, using only a few pops of color to highlight some of the companies they’ve helped train (because who wouldn’t want to point out that they’ve been brought in-house to train employees at Yahoo, IBM, HP, Netflix, and Visa?)
“We gave Seth an idea based on our logo and said this is the kind of look that we’re going for. This is the info that we want to put on there. And then, he just took it from there. He really did a fantastic job.”
With the new site up, Michael and Ryan don’t just have a strong brand identity, but they’re also getting a lot more attention and engagement from the people that come to their site.
“We’ve put a lot more CTAs on the site—a lot more buttons, like ‘Hey, if you’re interested in this, let us know!’—and we’re getting a lot more customer feedback. We’re going to keep iterating on the site, but one of the things we’re seeing is that because there are more opportunities to click through and communicate with us, we’re getting a lot more emails coming through.”
Boost your skills with React Training
With React’s popularity looking like it won’t die down anytime soon, Michael and Ryan are busy selling out training sessions all over North America.
Want to see if they’re coming to a city near you? Check out the new React.js Training site and sign up for a training session. And if you’re looking to give your online presence a leg up, get in touch and we’ll connect you with a designer like Seth.
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