Armstrong International had a trade show scheduled and they needed some promotional materials. One of the goals was to create something memorable and engaging for the technicians that would be attending.
We brainstormed a training manual disguised as a video game. I was part of the digital team heading the project and I was the sole developer tasked with building it out. It was a six week engagement and two weeks had passed before any code was written.
Armstrong had a few wish list items. They knew they were getting a website, we collaborated on the content, and we had a few design mockups, but something didn’t sit right with me. We were just building another website, how engaging can a website be when walking a trade show floor? It was possible, but it would be an uphill batlle. It became clear, we had more questions when we should have had answers.
Despite working in a WordPress agency, I had been looking into new technologies. I always made time to see what’s on the horizon, tech wise. I was taking a ReactJS bootcamp and found a lot of value. It finally came up during a brainstorming session. Why not create a web app instead of our traditional WordPress sites for this project.
Before committing to building with ReactJS, I spun up a Headless WordPress app with ReactJS just to be sure shipping a production app was feasible. It took less than a day to complete and my confidence grew. I pitched the idea, a single-page app (SPA), with an offline mode–stakeholders were happy. It made sense to move forward with a brand new tech stack. We were going to pack the app with modern features. Real time analytics, offline capability, user registrations, the list just grew.
Breaking down big problems
Because I was the only developer in-house that knew anything about React, I was the sole developer on the project. I hadn’t even mastered using React yet, but like every web problem I’d had before, I went in breaking down the big problem into tiny, manageable problems.
And so I spent 4 weeks building the app. I learned how to register and authenticate users with ReactJS. I learned that SPAs are fantastic at component switching without needing to load a new page. I learned how to implement Google’s Firebase to manage user info, registration, and used Firestore’s real time database to track specifically when a user has completed the game and how quickly they progressed through.
The Brain / armstrongdoesitagain.com was completed well before the deadline so we added more features. We used original music that I had composed for each game level. There are fun animations throughout the game as well. Armstrong was impressed and it was so much of a success that they extended the competition so more users could win prizes. They gained valuable insight into their users and our agency picked up a new technology to offer our clients.