CommunityEmpowered by Code: an Interview with Lee Crockford

As an advocate for social change, mental health, the arts and education, freelancer and non-profit organizer Lee Crockford had experience with multitasking taking on new challenges. He also had ideas he wanted to take online but didn’t have the financial resources to hire a web designer or developer. So instead, Lee decided to empower himself and learn to code. After struggling to learn from a mishmash of resources, Lee committed to learning on Treehouse as a pragmatic and cost-effective way of learning web design.

Since adding coding to his skill set, Lee has been able to build over a dozen websites for his non-profits, as well as launching side projects Future Postbox and Best Day / Worst Day. He uses each new project to apply, practice and expand his knowledge and is constantly finding new ways to utilize his technical abilities. Next up, Lee wants to dive into mobile development and expand some of his websites into apps.

We asked Lee to share his experience learning to code, building his first projects and his plans for the future.

Lee crockford


What first drew you to the tech industry, in particular, web development?

To be honest, the reason I first took an interest in coding was due to a lack of money. I freelance and run several non-profit organizations. Many years ago when starting them all up, I didn’t have the funds to outsource or hire someone to create the necessary websites. So my initial interest in web development was a necessity, but over the years I’ve grown to love the challenge of coding.

What motivated you to learn to code with Treehouse?

After years of cobbling together tidbits of information from a mishmash of disparate forums and tutorials, Treehouse seemed like a really pragmatic and cost-effective way of learning a comprehensive base understanding. I think the first month of learning through Treehouse mainly consisted of me saying  “Oooh if only I’d known that earlier!”

Treehouse seemed like a really pragmatic and cost-effective way of learning a comprehensive base understanding.

You recently completed an awesome side project called Future Postbox. Tell us a little background on the project and your experience building it.

A few years ago I was involved in a training program that ended in everyone having to write a physical letter to themselves that the organization would then post back to us a year later. I loved the concept and thought it would work well in an electronic environment. However, Creating a web version would require a lot more knowledge that just HTML and CSS; it would also require PHP & JavaScript. So, I primarily used Future Postbox as a side project, learning environment and testing ground to experiment with user experience and coding. It has undergone 3 major rebuilds – each of which has been built from the ground up with a different look and feel and fundamentally different framework. As Treehouse brings out new courses, I often go back and tweak or recode sections of the website to be more user-friendly, to create additional functionality or to simplify messy code.

What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?

It’s incredibly empowering to be able to set up a fully functioning, adaptive website from scratch for any business, campaign event or side project that comes along. I’d say I’ve created a good dozen websites for various endeavors. There’s also a huge financial value to being able to code for yourself – I have literally saved thousands in outsourced web development costs.

It’s incredibly empowering to be able to set up a fully functioning, adaptive website from scratch for any business, campaign event or side project that comes along.

What are your plans for the future?

Long-term I’d like to develop Future Postbox into an app for mobile devices. There is a lot of superlative functionality and features that a dedicated mobile app could provide the user instead a website. I imagine this will be a slow-burning project as mobile app development is a whole other ballgame of programming compared to HTML, CSS, PHP & JavaScript.

What most excites you about the future of the tech industry?

What excites me most about the tech industry is how open-source it is. If you have an internet connection, then there’s virtually nothing holding you back from becoming a master in any technical skill, whether it’s HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc.  

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with students who are just starting out?
Prototyping is key. Start with the basics and experiment from there. Internalizing and understanding code doesn’t happen overnight, so I’ve found it really important to continually come back, refresh and reiterate the work you do.

Ready to learn the skills you need to become an empowered developer and begin your success story? Check out the Treehouse Techdegree Program and start your free trial today.

3 Responses to “Empowered by Code: an Interview with Lee Crockford”

  1. What a great article! Very informative and easy to understand. I loved it!
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Eugene Chia on July 20, 2016 at 7:20 pm said:

    Thank you for this inspiring post! I have been in the IT industry for the past 15 years, working with servers and desktops.

    I have always been intimidated by coding since my younger days. I was once told by a friend of mine “Remind me you are not cut out for programming.” However, I noticed I have always been a late bloomer. So I’m determined to get deep into programming.

    Since I joined Treehouse less than a week ago, I realised how much I have picked up in a matter of hours. I am able to re-educate myself on the concepts I learnt back in 1997 and I sincerely hope I can learn as much as I can (I have ADD and I can get off-track at times).

    I hope to follow Lee’s footsteps and build something in the future.

    Thank you once again for this inspiring interview!

    • Faye Bridge on July 25, 2016 at 5:45 am said:

      Hi Eugene! We really appreciate you sharing your experience with us and are so happy to have you as part of the Treehouse community. Keep up the great work and let us know how you’re getting along. 🙂

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