Eric Bell (ericthebell) talked at InfoCamp 2013 about Hackthons and why they are awesome! Eric Bell is a designer, formerly Seattle-based, currently lives in SF and attends hackathons. During his talk, he showed us some of his team projects at hackathons.
A typical hackathon is a weekend of work, has an attendance of primarily developers. It’s sometimes sponsored by a company interested in promoting their platform or by a local makers chapter. Sometimes there’s a theme, rules and prizes. The work over the weekend sometimes leads to a real product, but other times it’s a great exercise in developing something in a short time.
The reasons to attend one include working with new things, developing new skills, encountering new people and networking with potential employers, and exploring the challenges of a project with tight time restraints. For a user experience designer especially, it helps one evaluate and execute minimal necessary process. Tasks like personas, scoping the problem, sketching, prototyping, front end design (CSS), taskflows and story boards and mock ups are always needing to be done and often there’s a dearth of UXers to do those things. Often developers skip over a lot of these tasks in favor of doing what they do best: developing. It’s important for UXers to communicate their value to a team. Hackathons are great opportunities to get really good at explaining your trade– it seems everyone has a different concept as to what designers do and that’s because it’s a huge umbrella term for all of these roles.
Get involved in a hackthon:
Hackathon IO – Organize & Discover Hackathons – Hackathon.IO.
search “hack” at Eventbrite.