After organizing several hackathons this year it was finally time for me to actually participate in one. I love competitions but I was a bit nervous, not gonna lie. This specific hackathon is called East Sweden Hack and it’s about using open data to create something awesome in 20 hours. This is what my team came up with:
Our goal was to activate youths and support local businesses by using the engaging power of social media. We ended up building a web app called Gå 2.0 (gå = walk in Swedish). GÅ 2.0 motivate kids to give up the tv or computer for a while and instead go outside.
How to do that?
The first thing our team did was to have a 2ish hour long Q&A with Anton’s parents over dinner. They happen to be super users of the app Turf. Turf is somewhat similar to what we wanted to build. It was a great opportunity to clarify what Anton’s parents liked, did not like and missed in the Turf app. This became a great starting point for us to innovate further.
The first thing we did during the hack was to take an hour to sketch individually.
We then merged the sketches into views we could all agree on. By doing this we were on the same page on where we wanted to end up after the 20 hours of hacking. An agile post it approach was used to get work done.
This is the sketched landing page:
This is the landing page we ended up with:
Ok, that’s great but how does the app work?
By walking from one location to another you receive points. There are 2 different use cases. Either you know where you’re going and type it in (similar manner to Google maps). GÅ 2.0 will then tell you how many points you get for walking that distance. The second use case is if you just want to earn extra points by exploring. GÅ 2.0 use the phone’s GPS to find where you are and then fetch locations from Linköping Kommun. Locations can be anything from parks to restaurants or sport arenas. You get suggested walks to locations near you. The amount of points you get increase with increased distance to the location.
We all agreed that the opportunity to dig into either of those two use cases should be presented on the home page off the app.
Two concurrent competitions are going on in the app at the same time. One between you and your friends. One between your school class and other school classes in the region. By doing this we allow everyone to compete and it can hopefully strengthen relationships within school classes. After some discussion we came to the conclusion that some sort of top list would be the best way to express this.
To top it of your points can also be traded against a free coffee, lunch or similar at local businesses around town. By adding this feature the app becomes more attractive to the users (people love free stuff) and also opens up for a way to monetize through selling deals to the local businesses.
It wouldn’t be much of a social app without a profile page, right?
This is just a few screens from the final app but they help to show how we managed to build something that felt like a complete product in only 20 hours. There is a fairly consistent design across views, clear user flows, a business idea connected to it and technical depth. In order to get this far we had to make some critical decisions. What functionality should we chose to implement? What views shows the core use cases? What parts should we still include but in a static way? When we couldn’t agree or were uncertain we did rapid user testing by sending the link to mothers, siblings, cousins and friends on Facebook. We straightened out a lot of question marks in terms of clarity by doing this.
We didn’t know it was going to take us all the way but it did. I’m actually super proud of very what we built and unrealistically PSYCHED about going to San Francisco in February (which was the first price).
To wrap this up it just amazes me how incredibly cool it is to be able to concretize your creativity and ideas. It’s an extremely powerful feeling. I hope you don’t read this thinking you need to be freaking Steve Wozniak (the engineering brain behind Apple’s break through) to participate in this type of things? There were teams that did far more advanced technical solutions than us. But we had programming wizards, touches of cognitive science, designers, front end lovers, project management capabilities, quick user testing, dared to ask for help and a great foundation for discussion (the sketches). As long as you have the right mindset and are open to learning new things – just to go for it.
Thanks you East Sweden Hack for a superb event.
Thank you team GÅ 2.0 for being absolutely kick ass.
PS1. Photo credit to crelle.se for the images
PS2. Our final presentation and a demo video of the app can be found here
PS3. I got the honor to talk about equality in the IT industry at the opening ceremony for the hack. Terrifying to get up on stage but great practice and to some extent also a lot of fun. It’s available on Vimeo if you want to have a look.