My First Hackathon

André Lindo
My First Hackathon

The last few weeks were busy. On top of my regular 9–5,

  • I participated in my first UX hackathon,
  • I attended San Francisco Design Week,
  • I attended the Adobe U99 Conference,
  • I peeked into Primer 2020 conference,
  • I attended Remote Career Summit
  • And I planted two trees.

Like I said, busy.

Attending my first hackathon made me extremely nervous. I did not know what to expect. The organizers randomly chose the teams, and I was new to the UX Wizards of the South Bay slack group. All my research and training came down to this. Could I make it as a UX designer? I used this as a gauging stick to see if I can put what I’ve learned into practice.

I sat nervously as the organizers explained the challenge and what was expected of each team. Then, they revealed our teams.

  • Courtney Moreno, a freelance Product Designer (Our team lead)
  • Kingsley Ehiogu, a UX writer in San Jose
  • Umesh Krishnamurthy, a university student and a UX researcher

Our team was well balanced with skills. Courtney was the only one with actual product design experience. The rest of us were new to the process.

This was the project brief:

More than one-in-three American labor force participants (35%) are Millennials, making them the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. The past year has seen a 60% increase in the millennial generation relocating abroad. 9 in every 10 graduates would consider moving abroad for work. In light of the current events, global pandemic is also making companies rethink their working policies. As employees around the world are adjusting to working remotely, some people begin reconsidering living in high-density cities, where both rent and the cost of living is extremely high. The focus for this challenge is to design a product helping people relocate to a new city or country. You can approach this problem from a standpoint of any of the two scenarios listed above.

We tackled this head-on with our kick-off meeting. We introduced ourselves and our skills. We chose Courtney as the leader since she had the most experience, and we got busy.

First, we discussed how we communicate (slack), how we capture meeting notes (Notion), where we design the product (Figma), and when we would meet every day.

The ideation stage was where things got interesting. It was simple to solve; we figured out our problem statement, but what was our solution? How do we stand out? We built HMW questions and took an extra day to go deeper. We did user research to find out what people thought about relocating because of remote work. I did my first research interview over zoom. It was a bit scary at first, but you get used to talking to people. I tried to make it a conversation and be personable with the interviewee.

After that, we compiled our findings and refined our HMW questions. We then created an affinity map to really hone down what the real problem statement was. We also created 2 persona’s from this process.

Employed Remote Workers who have decided to reallocate their money towards funding trips while they work remotely instead of paying for a high-cost living situation are overwhelmed about determining the best fit location and struggle to find the necessary resources and guidance to get started.

Employed Remote Workers who have decided to find an affordable permanent residence instead of paying for a temporary high-cost living situation are overwhelmed about determining the best fit location and struggle to find the necessary resources and guidance to get started.

Once we got through the affinity map and created the personas, we discussed task flow and how the user would flow through our website. There was a lot of discussion about what to do after the onboarding screen. What stream would be the best idea? What about other personas? For the sake of time, we stuck to the 2 personas and had 2 paths. Initially, we had three routes.

Then I was tasked with creating a design system. This was a bit difficult because there weren’t many websites or products that were similar to ours, and the close ones had very bold colours. So I started to think about the user’s pain points, how they felt and what Pindrop was trying to accomplish. Pindrop wanted the user to feel at home, calm and at ease. I played around with a few different hues of blue. I then used a colour wheel and took some colours that complement the blue and created the primary and secondary colours. There, I took the most used colours and added a 60% white tint to them so that it was versatile. I then started to create the styles of the button and found a few fonts with the same attributes that we wanted our user to feel. We chose Sofia Pro because of its versatility, legibility, and readability features.

Once the task flow and the design systems were done, we started on our wireframes. It was the first time I worked with Figma, and it was a bit of a learning curve. Courtney ended up making beautiful wireframes, and we used them as the base of our work. We came together with our sketches and wireframes, took the best ideas from us, and added it to Courtney’s wireframe. I was then tasked to design a high fidelity mockup.

I got us a head start with the mockup, and we came together as a team to complete it. King worked on the content strategy, Umesh worked on our presentation, and Courtney worked out the details for user testing. We were finally done Sunday afternoon. We sent out the prototype to be tested and received over 60 respondents. While that went on, we practiced our presentation over and over.

Watch our presentation here:

Overall, I think we came up with a solid strategy and an excellent foundation for this idea. Because of that, our piers voted us the top team, and we won the competition!

Key things I learned:

- I learned that I need more work understanding UX research and how to implement findings in my design

- I learned I need to get a better grasp at the design process and learn more activities to get to a solution

- I learned I need to slow down and not jump ahead to solutions… each step is important

- I learned that I’m actually good at visual design, and that’s something I will focus on improving.

- Mainly, I learned that I can be a product designer and I’m not wasting my time :)