By Jenn Schiffer

May 20, 2021

Coding for the weekend, a q+a with Sunday Sites creator John Bengtsson

Around a year ago, I had come across a number of super clever, little apps on Glitch that appeared to be from some kind of hackathon. I assumed it was from a one-off event, but then it kept happening! I found that they were coming from a small community of creative coders working off of prompts from a project called Sunday Sites, led by a graphic designer and web enthusiast from Sweden, John Bengtsson. After spending hours looking at all of the past submissions, I reached out to John to learn more about this really inspiring and surprising community and project.

Jenn: What is Sunday Sites and how/why did it get its start?

John: Sunday Sites is a community built around creating hand coded websites in a playful manner, and it welcomes people from all skill groups to join. Around once a month, I send out a newsletter with an invitation to a so called “session” that I organize over video chat. In these sessions (always on Sundays), we create websites for two hours, using only HTML and CSS, and then spend the next hour or so talking about our creations. Each session is guided by an “instruction,” a prompt which I often keep pretty vague, just to help with generating ideas. The sites are then showcased on, which functions as the hub of the project.

Sunday Sites started as my graduation project in January last year (I graduated Beckmans College of Design last spring and am now working at a design agency in Stockholm). For a very long time I’d been fascinated by early internet art and the way that relatively simple tools were used to explore new ways of interaction. Other themes I was interested in were collective creativity, online identity and internet culture in general. I combined my points of interest with inspiration from (by Laurel Schwulst and Elliott Cost) and Ritklubben (a graduation project by Beckmans alumnus Emelinn Heikkinen) and started forming ideas for what would become Sunday Sites.

*~dingbatday, a Sunday Sites submission *by @lina.reidarsdotter.kallstrom

What is it about Glitch that made you choose it as the recommended platform for hosting projects from these sessions?

First of all because it’s so easy to use. One of the goals of the project is to sort of democratize creative coding, and to show how easy it is nowadays to build yourself a home on the web. Glitch is a really good tool for that as you don’t need to know how to upload anything to a server, mess around with DNS records or think about which text editor to get. It’s also great for making websites come to life fast, as everything updates in real-time, so it’s easy to share your site after the two hours of coding is over, or if you want someone’s opinion on something during the session.

What were your expectations when you scheduled the first session, and what was the outcome?

The first few sessions were only joined by me and some friends from school, and I hoped for maybe two or three other people to join after a while so I could continue organizing a few sessions over the summer. However, early on I posted a link to the project to, and that link then had a life of its own on other platforms on the web, which lead to an unexpected increase in newsletter subscribers. So, after realizing that people seemed to like the initiative, I set up plans for making it happen at least once a month, and since then it has grown slowly but steadily.

It’s been over a year since the first session. How has the project changed, if at all, since then?

In some ways it hasn’t changed at all – the structure of the project is still very much the same. At the same time, as more people join and bring their energy into the project, it has started to feel more and more alive. If anything, the format just has become more distilled as time has passed and I’ve removed unnecessary components to be able to focus more on the act of making websites together.

I love how discrete and simple the prompts are! Where/who do they come from and what do you think makes a great creative coding prompt?

I often start with a vague idea of a website I want to make or a theme I want to explore, and then I write down the most important aspect of my idea so it can be interpreted in different ways. I think a good prompt needs to be concrete enough to guide the participants through the start of the process, but at the same time it should be open-ended enough for them to pick it up and turn into something of their own.

The tone of my prompts is loosely based on Fluxus poetry, like Yoko Ono’s “Grapefruit,” where actions with varying levels of absurdity are described in a very dry and precise way. They often act as scripts for surreal performance pieces, and I thought that would be a good fit for a project about making artistic websites.

What are some of your favorite submissions so far?

*Hover over John’s own app ~colorfulplant for some beautiful movement!

Are there any trends (content, code or aesthetic) that you’ve seen with submissions over the past year?

The marquee tag turns up every now and then, and most of the sites use standard web-safe fonts, but other than that I can’t really think of any strong trends among the sites. That would probably be easier to spot for someone with an outside perspective.

What do you plan to build next?

I’ve had plans for a long time to build a website for everything that doesn’t fit on my portfolio site – like code experiments, writings and more abstract kinds of design. I’m excited to start working on that when I have the time. I also have some super secret plans on how to expand the Sunday Sites project a bit, and I wish to make those plans reality soon as well.

Shouts out to John, as well as the Sunday Sites community! To find out when the next Sunday Sites session is, subscribe to the Sunday Sites newsletter. And if you build or see an app on Glitch that you want us to feature, let us know! Email [email protected] or tweet @glitch. 😎

*The project featured in this post’s header image is of Sunday Sites submission, ~day-friend, by @fishthursdays.