Hackathon Thoughts

Hello world!

This past weekend I participated in another hackathon where I got to do cool designer things in a short period of time. (Thank you to years of architecture school teaching me how to procrastinate and churn out a crazy amount of deliverables last minute!) It's seriously exhilarating and I love it. The momentum inspires me to create.


I love making things. I love designing things. And since I don't get the chance to regularly create and design products, hackathons are where I get to contribute new, fresh, fun ideas.

Design is design is design. And I love solving problems through design. Design shapes the way people live, interact with one another, and be a part of this world. I love coming up with ideas and showing people how a piece of technology can impact their lives.


I also love visual communication. When you show someone something and demonstrate how they can use it, they want it. I know my fellow visual learners out there. I know y'all tune out people who can't stop yapping your ear off.

One of the special parts of this hackathon in particular was Ryan Foland's pitching workshop. He talked about our projects from a presentation perspective, and it helped me remember the most important part of design - and that is the problem.

1. State the problem in one sentence and make people care. (People are selfish, and if they don't care about the problem, they won't be interested in your solution.)

2. Then offer the solution in one sentence. Explain what you plan to do, not how. So many engineers get caught up on new technologies and demonstrating how their engineering skills can do amazing things. But if that technology or skill doesn't directly correlate to solving a problem, none of it matters.

3. Lastly, make sure you narrow in on a target market. If your product is for "anyone" or "everyone", it's for no one. Do research, state the facts, and don't give the audience any reason to doubt the truth of what you're stating.


So many young engineers and designers want to show off their skills. At hackathons I've been a part of, dozens of apps are created and pitched. A mobile marketplace for bitcoin trading, a machine learning texting app for 911 emergencies, or an AI filter for fake news. We are so eager to design we forget to stop and ask ourselves "does it already exist?" or "does this intrude upon an established career industry" or simply "what's the point of this?"

Personally I've experienced this phenomenon in more ways than one. In architecture school, a lot of students/aspiring architects just wanted to make cool things and show off their innovative ideas. But they're not practical; they don't solve problems. Good design stems from understanding the problem and solving it for other people.

Good design is more than just looking good; it's being good.

This AngelHack hackathon was another amazing experience where I got to be a part of a product team that developed, researched, designed, and did it all. Check out this project in my portfolio:

I can't wait to delve deeper into the real world of digital product design. And also reflect upon desgin once in a while, because that's just as important.