There was never a dull moment at this past weekend’s iPhoneDevCamp—not when we had to pitch an idea, recruit a team, and develop a functional iPhone app in less than 48 hours! But when I stepped off the stage after presenting the first native demo of Foodspotting to a crowd of 500-some participants, I couldn’t have been happier with how far our team had come! And thanks to the three intrepid developers who volunteered to take the idea I brought to iPhoneDevCamp and make it tangible and presentable, Foodspotting won Best Social App in the Hackathon.
So how do you build an iPhone app in 48 hours? There were over 75 entries in the Hackathon, so I’m sure there are many smart ways to go about it. (I’d love to hear about other teams’ processes if you’re reading!) But here are some things that helped our team do “good design faster” this weekend:
We started with an experience vision.
Admittedly, we did not conceive of and design the app this weekend—I’ve been putting my UX strategy and design skills towards Foodspotting for several months now. Although I’d never developed anything, having a well-rehearsed elevator pitch and a smoke-and-mirrors vision prototype made it easy to get others on-board, ramped up and developing.
We did very little.
As Jason Fried puts it, “Build half a product, not a half-ass product.” We knew we needed to narrow the vision for Foodspotting down to the simplest thing that could be of value. At its essence, Foodspotting is about taking and finding food photos. So that’s what our team focused on.
We worked side-by-side.
As a design consultant, I rarely get the chance to sit side-by-side with the people who are implementing the designs. So looking over the developers’ shoulders and being able to hand off data and artwork as needed was one of the best parts about iPhoneDevCamp. I gained insight into how developers think and a new appreciation of the complexities of doing “simple” things in Objective-C.
We asked for help.
One of the best things about iPhoneDevCamp was the culture of openness and sharing (reinforced by the blue raffle tickets that organizers handed out to everyone demonstrating these values). Whenever the developers hit a snag, we asked for help using the open mic, and “Helpers showed up faster than you can say ‘911’” (as my teammate Peter put it).
We set up the problem before presenting our solution.
In the last half hour before our 3-minute presentation on Sunday afternoon, one of these helpful people, Eric, offered a tip: Prepare a slide deck, because, “Everyone forgets to establish the problem before showing off their solution.” I quickly dug into my design strategy toolkit and pulled out a problem statement, an elevator pitch, some positioning charts, and some vision sketches. I was so thankful for this tip! In just three minutes, even with a half-finished demo (even with our narrow scope, there was a lot we couldn’t do), people got it.
So that’s how we were able to do “good design faster” at iPhoneDevCamp 3. But for whatever reasons you might find yourself under the gun, I hope some of these approaches can help you make the most of it!