Magnifying the Bootcamp Research Experience
ℹ The coding bootcamp ultimatum.
📅️ Monday - November 10, 2014
⏰ 12 min read ∙ 2381 words
The Coding Bootcamp Ultimatum
Okay, so on my search for the perfect coding bootcamp (I’m just going to refer to it as CB) last year and now again this year, I used/am using several different websites.
So today we’ll be looking at each of these compare/finder websites for CBs by analyzing the prominent Hack Reactor bootcamp on each website.
For each of these sites, I’ll be annotating the design interface directly with my personal critiques (if I have any to give) just because there’s always room for improvement, and you know, why not? Green annotations = good , red = bad (typical).
The 3 criteria I’m judging these sites are as follows:
- UI (User Interface)
- UX (User Experience)
- High-quality content and reviews
I think these key 3 criteria are the minimal requirements each great CB website ought to aspire for. Mind you, this is just for the overall web site, this isn’t for the CBs themselves, where different criteria would obviously apply like teacher quality, ROI, brand, peers, and so forth.
When I’m searching for a CB, It should be easy, I shouldn’t be wondering how to do a specific task because of the design, and it should give me enough high quality background of the bootcamp. This is so that the user feels like they don’t have to do any extra work when it comes to planning where they’re gonna change the rest of their lives for the next few months.
I mean, it’s a pretty big decision, y’all! ;)
Recap - The Big 5
in alphabetical order
and a big woo-hoo 🎉 for other resources!
This is the page for HackReactor on Bootcamper.
Bootcamper was founded by Aleksandr M., who according to his Twitter, is “a self-proclaimed code-penguin because monkeys are too cliché” 😆 . Bootcamper wants their website to be the “one-stop resource for all things bootcamps” and “wants to make it easier for everyone to find, learn about, compare and share experiences”.
- minimal design makes for more fun
- plenty of reviews in the comment section
- using the Disqus platform was a great idea!
- makes use of other features
- twitter timeline
- login option
- there’s not really an incentive to create an account and login with it
- not much clarification as to what I’d be getting
- very little information provided
- besides the basic overview and typical stats on the left or right sidebar, there isn’t much going on
- no other resources provided
- although they do intend to release a blog soon…
📝 THE VERDICT: 3.5⁄5
This is the page for HackReactor on Bootcamps.in.
This website was founded roughly 2 years ago, some time after November 2012, which is when the founder, Dmitri, unfortunately did not get accepted to App Academy. Dmitri then came up with the idea to create Bootcamps.in so that potential students can compare programming schools side-by-side.
- tons of info
- a general overview is given of the bootcamp along with a quick glance of the education, assistance, contact, and review specifics
- plenty of filters for you to choose from
- language focus, job placement/assistance, location, country, price, length, and class size are offered as possible filters to assist your search
- comment section at the very bottom is nice
- these are always a nice addition to any website and it utilizes the Disqus interface so even better
- constantly updated
- there’s always a new bootcamp popping up
- ugly UI
- in all honestly, it’s really not the prettiest website out there
- for one thing, it’s a little difficult to maneuver with the table for information about HackReactor being so long
- too much information
- most hopefuls would benefit more from some clear necessary information on the Bootcamps.in website and some useful links for that information on the main bootcamp website rather than a whole slew of numbers and data that are provided
- lots of filters but they don’t help
- it is nice when code camps are filtered in so many ways by cost, focus, location, and so on but it’s not really nice when they’re not filtered in a way that helps you get the most out of it
- with this website, you can only select one of these options so literally just one location, one focus, one cost and so on and that’s how it’s determined
📝 THE VERDICT: 2⁄5
This is the page for HackReactor on Course Report.
💡About Course Report
CourseReport is a relatively new CB finder that was founded just last year in 2013 by some alumni from LivingSocial. This website features reviews, application tips, founder/student interviews, and resources to help the hopeful bootcamp participants choose the bootcamp that’s right for them.
- well designed
- very minimal straightforward kind of layout that doesn’t feel cluttered
- reviews, founder spotlight, student spotlight
- these are extremely informative for anyone who really wants a more inside look into the school and its culture (if there’s one present)
- it seems these are really what makes the backbone of the website too and is always better than just give out the basic stats on each coding bootcamp
- all the relevant links are right in front of you
- right under the logo of the coding bootcamp along with specific facts that tells you whether or not the bootcamp offers job assistance, housing, visa assistance, and so on
- can really narrow your search down
- you can use all the filters they offer at the same time to narrow your search down for the ideal bootcamp
- minimal design, but it’s also kinda annoying
- when it comes to their latest news for each school as well as their reviews they have them both in 1 column
- this doesn’t allow for space and makes the idea of scrolling down and down to look at either seem tedious
- it would be ideal then (personally speaking) if they split these up so that the reviews were presented on the left side right under the vital information that showed the stars each reviewer gave and then an option to show the full review like with what they did with the “School Details”, “More Information”, and “Courses” section
- fewer filters for searching
- location, price, focus, and type (in person or online) are the only filters offered
📝 THE VERDICT: 4⁄5
This is the page for HackReactor on the Thinkful Bootcamp Finder.
💡About Thinkful Bootcamp Finder
Thinkful Bootcamp Finder branches off of Thinkful, a company founded 2 years in 2012 that has become an increasingly popular online learning for those who want to learn how to become a web developer but don’t want to move or pay LOTS of that cash to do so.
- different kinds of information provided
- no other website offers a chance to look at “Student Projects” or some of the actual “Hiring Partners” for the bootcamp, which is pretty neat!
- also has student reviews and the technologies you’ll learn at the bootcamp
- very minimal design
- no clutter, much love
- information is up to date and relevant
- all the programs coincide with what the bootcamp was actually offering, and all the information they did provide is relevant
- very minimal information
- at least in terms of student reviews, very few were shown and no link was provided to direct to more so there wasn’t much I could go off of there
- student reviews or reviews in general are vital for these kind of websites because they provide perspective to hopefuls - but unfortunately the best in depth reviews I could find of some of these bootcamps are all located on friggin’ Quora which is fine, but they need to be shared with others too
- only 2 filters
- by topic and city (individually, not simultaneously)
- otherwise, it’s just a long scrolling down of squares representing bootcamps with you trying to find one that appeals to you
- very few bootcamps
- there’s roughly ~200 legitimate coding bootcamps out there globally (give or take), but they only preview about ~50 of the more well known ones
📝 THE VERDICT: 3⁄5
This is the page for HackReactor on Switchup.
An alumnus of Launch Academy in Boston, Jonathan Lau created Switchup, which aims to ease the process of anybody researching or looking to switch their careers into tech through a coding bootcamp by providing admissions information, scholarships, financing, and mentorship.
- really differentiates itself from the competition
- they offer a career quiz to help get you started (apparently I’d be great as someone in back-end - hehe)!
- they (like Course Report) offers spotlight of founders and student along with the latest news pertaining to whichever relevant bootcamp
- thewebsite design is sooo sexy
- pictures of actual people - holy crap - are on each coding bootcamp’s representative square on the website along with extra hover information
- this actually makes scrolling down fun even if you’re just browsing!
- allthe bootcamps in the world (huzzaaah!)
- they offer roughly ~170 bootcamps, in a very clean and productive manner, which is more than what I can say for the other websites
- filters really work out
- for the subjects or focus on each bootcamp, a lot of options are offered along with many others under the other filters of location, price, and ratings
- all the filters can be used at once to speed up that search and get to researching!
- notall bootcamps have information updated
- for the bootcamps that lack information/content, there is a picture of a latte and a laptop, which is fine, but there should still be some kind of picture that sets it apart from the rest of the lattes
- by topic and city (individually, not simultaneously)
- how all the filters actually work
- that location filter
- in all honesty, it might be better to enforce some kind of zip code and mile radius because the cities selection is a little tedious
- that price filter
- to somebody in high places, one of these \$ might mean \$10,000 so I’m not a big fan of the simple \$, \$\$, \$\$\$, and so on unless there’s some background provided
- that ratings filter
- okay, so why would anybody want to search for a 1-star or 2-star rated bootcamp again, just for funsies?
- it’s understandable that it’s there given that it correlates with the student reviews but…
- limitedinformation for each bootcamp
- besides the stunning student review section and a basic overview of what the bootcamp has to offer (which is a similarity between all the websites), there’s not much else going on
📝 THE VERDICT: 4.5⁄5
📡 Other Resources
- rates accelerators, tech-related books, software, accelerators, venture capitalists, development schools (aka coding bootcamps), etc. based on reviews
- has a leaderboard for the top “Development Schools”
- according to Techendo, HackReactor is number one
- …however, this is only based on 10 positive reviews, so still needs some more data
- “The Definitive Guide To Choosing a Bootcamp” - theFirehoseProject
- theFirehouseProject itself is a new immersive online apprenticeship targeted to those who want to become a full-stack web developer
- so the bootcamp guide they offer is not an actual comparison/review site but rather serves as one of the first full guides dedicated to just researching and choosing the right coding bootcamp
- needless to say, you should definitely give it a go if you’re a newb to the whole CB scene, because this guide steps you through everything you need to know
- Some CBs have it where you can quickly apply directly through their sites, others have more interactive applications & pre-work through coding challenges like with MakerSquare, HackReactor, Flatiron, Fullstack, etc., and still others might use hack_app, which is an application portal dedicated to making it easy for users to research and apply to CBs.
- So far, it only has 28 schools participating, but it has a great UI/UX so if you really want a swift and easy app process, I’d go with hack_app.
- Code2040 - Playbook
- This is great not just for minorities interested in tech, but just for anyone who wants a really great layout of what’s recommend before applying and interviewing for a software development internship. This sort of logic applies for competitive coding bootcamps as well, so get out there! :) The founder of the organization, Tristan Walker, is also friggin’ awesome.
- Resources the CBs Provide
- Bootcamps who are really passionate about their goal tend to offer a serious admissions pre-interview/code challenge/preponlineworkthatcan be accessed by anyone interested. Some of these are really great because they really give you a look into what kindofmaterialyououghtto be learning first hand and straight away. So here are a few of those in no particular order to get ya started (mind you, for some of these, you may have to sign up):
- Fullstack Academy - Interview Prep
- MakerSquare - Prep Work
- Hack Reactor - Prepare for the Admissions Challenge
- App Academy - Prep Work
- Flatiron - Prework
- General Assembly - Dash
- Launch Academy - Codecabuary
- Code Fellows - Git Book
- And of course you can’t go wrong with your more typical, well-known resources for learning how to love
General Tip: Quora usually has a ton of useful answers for this very question too… why does Quora have to be so awesome, geez. 😏
To Note… 📄
I think a great idea when it comes to student reviews for each bootcamp is being able to produce some sort of web crawler that scans Yelp, Quora, Google+, among other popular rating sites and putting it all into one place for everyone to look at. As long as the UI/UX end up meshing well together, that would prove to be really beneficial. For the time being though, we have to stick with reviews (some replicas) being scattered through the web for each individual bootcamp.
Thanks @fvcproductions for including our Guide to Choosing a Coding Bootcamp in our awesome post http://t.co/XADls2F1RW - @FirehoseProject