I did a Design Hackathon. Here are my tips for other newbies

Hayley Smith
2 min readDec 14, 2020


Twitter screenshot from UX Result’s account from a challenge winner. Their hard work paid off
UX Result’s tweet from a challenge winner

Last weekend I did a hackathon with a few friends from my Flatiron design bootcamp. Our school emails out events and this one through UX result caught our attention. If you’re not familiar with hackathons they are basically events where you are working in teams to solve some sort of prompted problem over a given period of time. They can be coding hackathons, design hackathons, etc.

This was the first time for everyone on my team. There are a few things I wish I would’ve known going in.

1. Read all of the info

All of the challenges, Q&As, submission info, etc. Read it all and learn it all. You do not want any surprises you could have better prepared for while you are working under pressure.

2. Follow a process

Even if time is short, you should still follow some sort of framework to get the end result. In this instance, we still needed to utilize design thinking and empathize with our users to come up with solutions that can be tested and improved.

Judges also are looking for this in presentations. A team that had a clear process and executed on their goals will be in a much better position than one that threw a lot together.

3. Choose teams wisely

You will be working under pressure. Choose people that you get along with and can work with. It’s a waste of everyone’s time if you spend any of it arguing or working through cooperation issues Luckily my team was fantastic and we were able to split up the work, use our strengths, and come up with something we are proud of.

4. Schedule ahead of time as much as you can

This is kind of going back to the tip about following a process. We were not expecting to conduct usability tests the day-of (also read the Q&A) so we had to reach out last-minute to some friends. We lucked out because we knew a lot of people that fit our persona and didn’t have weekend plans. In the future, I would have planned this much more in advance.

5. Take breaks

Our only breaks from 10:00 AM-8:15 PM were 15 minutes at lunch and five minutes prior to recording our presentation. We made the decision to power through, but in hindsight, more breaks would have been nice. I’m a fan of the two-minute dance break to get active and refresh blood flow roughly every hour. Take more frequent breaks if you can, it’ll only help your product and keep the ideas flowing.



Hayley Smith

UX Designer, Pure Barre Instructor, plant lover.