Take a moment to consider the state of the World Wide Web in 1997. It was the year Amazon’s IPO took place. Internet Explorer 4 and Netscape Navigator 4 were the modern browsers of the time. Google wouldn’t exist for another year, and Facebook wouldn’t launch for another seven.
In 1997, Sona Mehring had the idea for CaringBridge when she needed to keep everyone updated when college friends JoAnn Hardegger and Darrin Swanson were going through a difficult pregnancy. Instead of making dozens of emotional and time-consuming phone calls, Sona created a website. CaringBridge launched on June 7, 1997, the day of Baby Brighid’s birth. Although her life was short, just nine days, Brighid’s legacy lives through CaringBridge which provides its services for free and operates solely on donations made by generous supporters of the service. The site became a 501(c)(3) in 2002 and you’ve likely relied on the platform to give or receive updates through cancer treatments, premature child births or other long-term health challenges. In the U.S., one in 11 people have used the service, and more than 800,000 individual sites have been created to date.
Nerdery’s partnership with CaringBridge dates back to 2007 and has progressed as the site has gone through a number of evolutions. CaringBridge engaged us most recently in 2018 to modernize the platform by rebuilding the core technology of the site. They determined that foundational changes were necessary as several of the core technologies that had been strong choices for the platform 5-10 years ago were no longer adequate for the future. On top of that there were a number of places where it was difficult to make changes at the speed the business needed to support their mission.
Our teams worked in close alignment with each other as we assessed the current infrastructure and created a roadmap for future changes. We’re in the midst of evolving the site’s architecture: progressively rebuilding the application page by page and route by route, where each piece is built and deployed independently until the entire platform is migrated. This approach allows CaringBridge to continue to provide uninterrupted service and value to its users during the ongoing development and maintenance.
The initial portions of the site that have been migrated to the service-based architecture run on cloud-native infrastructure including Kubernetes and containers. This has resulted in a DevOps-driven pipeline allowing more agility in meeting business needs. Additionally, performance for page speed is forecast to increase significantly, and the Google Lighthouse scores for accessibility and best practices will move from approximately 85 to 100 percent.
The Nerdery team (including two software engineers working with CaringBridge full time) has provided substantial in-kind donations during this platform modernization effort. Given the ambitious goals set for the digital future of CaringBridge, we’re also excited that our CEO Adrian Slobin joined the CaringBridge Board of Directors this month.
“CaringBridge supports people during momentous, stress-filled and challenging parts of life, and the connections it creates help ease others’ burdens on their journeys,” said Adrian. “Those connections and support are increasingly enabled by technology. The work our team is currently doing with CaringBridge — and the additional direction we might be able to provide at a Board level— will, I believe, help CaringBridge progress towards their vision of creating ‘A world where no one goes through a health journey alone.’”
“Nerdery has been a great partner with CaringBridge as we have started to modernize our platform to allow us to innovate faster to meet the needs of our users. We appreciate the long-term partnership and relationship,” added Mike Thyken, CaringBridge’s CTO.
Stay tuned as we share more of our work in partnership with CaringBridge as our partnership evolves!