Make the most of what you’re working with
During a hackathon, time and resources are often limited, so be sure to develop a clear idea of what you’ll be presenting at the end of the session. With this in mind, consider what’s achievable; will a simple video demo or set of sketches do the trick? Or are you able to build and code an example of a feature in that time?
Also – and we know this might seem obvious – do ask yourself if the idea is actually realistic, ideally at your ‘Refine the idea’ stage. Check in with team members who possess relevant skill sets to see how you might bring something to life.
A weird idea might be your best idea
Remember, no idea is a bad idea, especially during the ideation phase of a hackathon. One point that was emphasised throughout the day was that your solution doesn’t necessarily have to be a serious, game-changing product to be used every day. Instead, the group were encouraged to embrace ideas that might also be used just for a day for two, which created space for more abstract concepts.
After watching the presentations, it was some of the funnier, weirder ideas that really stuck in our minds and made us want to try them for ourselves. And while this urge doesn’t always equate with a successful solution, it definitely reflects its potential to attract attention and traction.
Testing and feedback = stronger solutions
As any UX or service designer will tell you, the key to a strong product is thorough user research, testing and feedback, so do make sure this is factored in to your making time. A good way to approach this is to try and create something usable as early as you can (which might include producing a simple mock-up or designing the user journey) and go through the motions of using it, to see where it needs attention.
Testing things in this way also means embracing mistakes and bumps in the process – and the earlier you can do this, the better. As Creative Lab’s creative lead David Bruno shared, “We spend months trying to get it right, and get so many things wrong… Just keep going.”