UX Design Hackathon

UX Design Hackaton

This past Friday February 20th my friend Luke, Iris and I attended a UX Design Hackathon hosted by General Assembly and Oxfam. It was a great experience (if stressful and fast paced, leaving me in that fun exhausted-yet-wired state the rest of the day haha) and I finally feel like I have a bit of a grasp on the real life day-to-day activities of a UX Designer. It’s such a buzz word these days, despite being a real job that’s in high demand (they’ve kind of just created the term for it, apparently), but for awhile I couldn’t really understand what exactly they did everyday. I knew the concept and purpose, but I never really understand a job until I see it in action.

Wikipedia says that User experience design (UXD or UED) is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product.

So in very basic terms…make the product work for the users in the best way. Defining the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW, and figuring out optimal ways to approach the problem with an improved solution.

Still don’t get it? Here’s some links I sent my parents when they didn’t get it either:



Oh and a video 🙂 If you have no time to read things.



So on to the day, shall we? It was 9am to 5pm (well…6pm in the end). From 9am to 10am it was intros, late ppl coming in, explanation and a little UX Design process presi. Then we formed teams and were off like dogs after a postman when they told us there was a prize for the winning team (Oxfam promo fair trade chocolate and $1000 towards the UX Design Immersive course at GA).


In those links above, they reference that everyone can learn the basics of UX and everyone is even already a little bit of a UX Designer. You take your own experiences and apply them to the problem. So for instance, the website we were meant to design was for Oxfam’s big poster competition on Gender Equality. A main user of the site was creatives or Graphic Designers, like myself. I have entered such competitions before (remember The Talent Calendar?), and thus know the general process, and what I would change about it if I could. So we could say that perhaps I was our test subject. Many other groups went around and asked designers from other groups questions or asked them to test their ideas out. Everyone was asking me, so I just…asked myself I guess. So perhaps my team (Team K.I.S.S.) skipped out on the user testing (in future, I will make sure to make time for that…oops), but otherwise I felt that we created a decent user flow and solution.

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After we discussed the users, their needs/wants, behaviours and key visits to the site, we designed their flow or what they would encounter from start to finish. That all took a few hours.


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Once we had the flow we liked, we were told to try to simplify that down further into the most basic user journey possible, THEN use that to move on to wireframing our webpages. We concluded that the main (graphic design) user starts at AWARENESS of the competition, MOTIVATION to go to the page to gain KNOWLEDGE about Oxfam and the contest, which leads to taking ACTION to enter and then ending with SHARING the contest and their entry with social media etc. From the Sharing step, it goes full circle again, with new users becoming aware and taking the journey themselves.


From there, we designed wireframes for our design user pages, and created a presentation for the end of day deadline.

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Our whole team got up to present, but I was voted to do most of the talking as I’m pretty ok with public speaking (hello four years of yelling at bootcamp classes). I’m also always surprised at just HOW much I look like my sister sometimes (Thanks Luke for the photo)…


After presentations from 8 teams, we had a drink or two while we relaxed and waited for the judges (who also asked questions during our presentations, which I liked as it makes you think of things you hadn’t considered) to tally the scores. In the end, my team didn’t win (kind of ok with it, as I would have liked the $1000 scholarship but be crushed because I didn’t have the other $9000 for the course) BUT we got an honourable mention along with one other team for specific things we had touched on. So, let’s all just say my team came in second, yes? I’m good with second 😉

Because I love when friends do stuff with me, lookie Iris and Luke killing it in their presentations 🙂

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All in all, an enlightening, educational and exhausting yet exhilarating day. So glad I stayed up until 2:30am the night before to finish all my Friday work in order to attend. As I mentioned, I do feel that I have more of an idea about what a UX designer would do on the average day and the process as a whole. It’s more about common sense and logical thinking than aesthetics (although those matter, of course, but the logic comes first). And just as I was pondering what to do with this newfound skillset that I should explore (take an online course, take a few, think of a project to do for a portfolio piece), I was offered the opportunity to do a website project that I believe needs a UX approach to start it off. So I’m going to take it slow, do my research, think it all through, and see how I go 🙂

Watch for that project coming up in my portfolio. Maybe I’ll even start a new section (like I don’t have enough already, eh?). Thanks for reading! Any comments, feel free to chat it out below!

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