Super Happy Weekend Fun Time

Or as Iron Yard alumni call it: Hackathon.

The official title of this past weekends homework is quite simply, “Group Project.” However, it did not take long for all the students to begin coming up with their more elaborate, perhaps appropriate names:

“My Brain is Fried Weekend”

“They Trapped Us Marathon”

“Save Me Now Extravaganza”

But my personal favorite may be “Super Happy Fun Weekend.” This is most likely because it conveys both truth and sarcasm. Yes we were not exactly thrilled to be spending our entire weekend on campus hacking away. But truth be told, there were fun times as well. Going out to lunch, taking a break in the afternoon to play a card game, or laughing about finally figuring out why the code was broken all contributed to this fun.

But like all things there were important lessons learned as well. This project, I have learned in retrospect, was all about coding together as a team. This made the design aspect of the project more difficult. It’s easier when the only person you have to convince is yourself. It’s a whole different animal when you have to persuade a team to trust you on your idea(s). Yet, I remained confident in my plans. Without outwardly voicing it, I did my best to silently persuade my team to, “Trust me.”

But that wasn’t the only challenge I faced.

Looking at the page in its entirety, once I have completed MVP, provides me a chance to go back and make corrections and improvements. By the time the JavaScript was working the way it needed to and I had finally completed the initial completion on designs I mocked-up, I did not have much time to sit and think about what would make the page look better.

Indeed, the page looked incomplete to me when we presented it. A professional site would have looked much better. Right before we presented it dawned on me what could make the site better:

I need a more pronounced header in the whitespace!

But by that point, there were only 15 minutes or so on the timer. The site would have to remain as it sat, and be shown to everyone else none the less, no matter what I thought of how it looked. Not to mention that more improvements and corrections were going to have to be done before the site was anywhere near where I thought it should look. Yup, 15 minutes isn’t enough time.

So what’s the lesson? I can’t wait for me to finish the MVP for other ideas to come to the surface. I need to look at sketches and mock-ups and sketches long-before, and start deciphering what elements are missing or need to be tweaked.

I also need to ask for more feedback and heed advice during the whole process. At this point it’s becoming clear to me that one can never ask for too much feedback. Having another pair of eyes definitely opens more doors for improvement. Want proof? A classmate had given me advice earlier in the weekend. What did he tell me? Put a more pronounced header in the site. Ugh, I had that advice staring me right in the face and didn’t pay enough attention to it.

So don’t just ask for advice. Listen. At least try it even if you don’t think it’s going to work.

Lessons learned. And maybe next time I will not only have fun, but come away with a more complete, professional looking design.