IXP Introduces UX Design Challenge at PatriotHacks

About the Hackathon

Informed XP had the pleasure of sponsoring the 2nd annual George Mason University PatriotHacks event, a 36-hour hackathon featuring workshops, networking events and other activities for GMU students as well as other Virginia state schools such as Virginia Commonwealth University and James Madison University. Sponsors were invited to present real-world challenges and empower students to create innovative solutions.

 PatriotHacks: Mason’s First Hackathon from GMU-TV on Vimeo.


The Challenge

As more and more connected devices become a part of daily life, it’s helpful to consider the challenges a customer may experience across the lifecycle, from product selection to ease of setup and ongoing use. Such customer journey insights allow manufacturers and providers to significantly increase product adoption and engagement. Consequently, UX practitioners rely on research to gather real data from real users to inform and improve design. 

However, compiling, analyzing and synthesizing that data can often be laborious and manual, especially when using traditional field study methods such as direct observation and contextual inquiry. Because of this, many companies still choose to skip out on important research activities. Therefore, opportunities to make this process less time-consuming and/or easier to digest could significantly benefit the UX field, as well as save companies time and money.

IXP presented students with the challenge of making UX research more efficient by developing methods to automate the information gathering and analysis processes. Specifically, students were asked to solve this problem for companies that manufacture “smart” or Internet-connected devices (for instance, Smart TV or wireless/Bluetooth speakers). To accelerate creativity, collaboration and critical thinking, IXP provided students with helpful design thinking exercises and toolkits used in real world projects… along with snacks to maximize productivity and fuel imagination!


The Winners

With over 40 teams participating and ~45 challenges to choose from, 7 teams chose the Informed XP challenge. IXP judges awarded prizes to 4 of those groups:

1st Place – Crowdsourcing user experience research

Comprehensive solution envisioning unobtrusive on-site retail and in-home data collection.

1st Place Winners

2nd Place – Capturing feedback through facial expression

Solution capturing facial expression data to interpret interest, engagement and overall emotional response to content.

3rd Place Tie – Data-mining audio/video files

Solution focused on transcribing audio and text-based data within a video into searchable, time-stamped text.

3rd Place Tie – Data-mining publicly available sources

Solution focused on scraping reviews, boards and other user-generated content (UGC) to harvest trends and insights.

Why It Matters

Every day in our work, IXP explores ways to maximize the value of UX and how to apply its principles within existing IT methodologies. Given today’s growing emphasis on digital transformation, experience in design thinking and familiarity with UX concepts will be critical for students no matter what career path they choose. Informed XP could not be more thrilled to support this community of young, brilliant minds at a local, forward-thinking public institution. In addition, IXP is building a strong connection with GMU, boasting at least one graduate of its Masters in Human Factors program, as well as the recent appointment of Tina Williams (Founder, IXP) to the GMU Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

IXP is interested in extending the value of UX for the industry and to lead the way forward in contributing to the evolution, adoption and practice of human-centered design. The design thinking materials provided to students as they “hacked” their way forward are available for download here.

Crazy Eights
Exercise to brainstorm and explore solutions

Lean Product Canvas
Jeff Gothelf’s template for creating and testing hypotheses

Sketching – a how to for rapid ideation
Intro to the why + how of sketching, along with a handy UI element reference

Mobile, desktop and tablet design sketching sheets