Keeping your Design mind New AF (and Fresh)

On Saturday, February 25, I attended a day long UX hackathon for NYC Open Records and it was amazing!

This particular hackathon was geared specifically toward UX Designers to help NYC OpenRecords create a more usable site for requesting or searching a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) records.

Upon arrival, I ran into a former student who said she attended the hackathon because I had encouraged the class to do Hackathons to build their portfolios and to keep their design mind new and fresh.

This is a glance at the day

  • Breakfast/Intros
  • Join assigned teams
  • Work on one of three scanrios
  • Lunch
  • User testing
  • Put together presentation/prototype
  • Presentation
  • Awards ceremony

We were assigned teams and I was partnered with a UX Engineer and a UX Designer with a computer science background. We started by introducing ourselves and then we got to work on ideation.

Employers from the NYC OpenRecords department were there to answer our questions ranging from technical to logistical. We were also given access to user testers who were able to test the existing site and our prototypes.

It was an awesome experience to learn about an area of government that was interested in getting the UX perspective for their OpenRecords website.

It’s easy to fall into patterns and do the same things over and over when designing. We learn by doing and doing becomes a habit and habits can turn into the mind being on auto pilot. Being on autopilot can cause creation of a the same old designs done before.

Learning new things rewires our brains and can make us better at our day to day jobs. Less autopilot and more original thought.

Hackathons are great for experienced designers and those new to design. In part because you work on projects that you don’t normally work on. They encourage collaboration and you may work with people you have never worked with before.

My team was amazing and we were able to go through the design thinking process. We were happy with the idea we came up with and grateful we had the opportunity to work with each other.

The other 10 teams did an amazing job on their presentations and the winners came up with some innovative ideas using the existing technology.

Although my team did not win any of the awards. I felt like a winner from all the people I got to meet that day and the new things that I learned.

All of the attendees of the event received a certification of recognition from Mayor Bill de Blasio.

I encourage experienced designers and new designers to participate in Hackathons to keep your design mind new AF (and Fresh).