Designers, have you ever attended a hackday? Do it.

Last weekend, I attended a hack day for the first time. Although I had many opportunities to attend one before, I never did. Hack days are usually referred as an event for developers or “geeks” so I always thought designers wouldn’t be very useful there. Just when my colleague, a developer, (thanks, Kevin) told me that they really could do with some designers there, I considered going to one.

The hack day I attended was the NHS Hack Day Oxford. It was really well organised and I had much fun. In fact, the day was much more fun and relaxing than I thought a hack day would be.

So I’ll list here why I liked it and why I think other designers will like it too:

It’s a relaxing atmosphere
Basically, you do what you like. If you want to do design, you do it. If you want to explore some tools and techniques you never have time to, this is the time you can do it. If you want to improve some development skills, you’ll have lots of people who can help you out. Different from your day-to-day job, there is no pressure. It’s all up to you and how far you want to go.

Passionate (and happy) developers
Developers who love what they do means they will do their best to make an idea they believe in work. It’s always a pleasure to work with people like that.

You’ll work closely and collaboratively with developers
It’s been said more and more how important it is to get designers and developers working together since the beginning of a web project. At hack days, you’ll have this opportunity. You’ll understand technical restrictions, discuss alternative solutions and, together, come up with a viable creative solution.

At the end, your project works!
This is the most exciting part. You end up with a product that actually works and that you can share and people can use. The results of a hack day usually mean you’ll be helping the community.

Plus, a nice free lunch!
Hack days organisers and sponsors treat attendees very well. There is usually a nice lunch, cakes and coffee.

I’ll definitely attend a hack day again (White October, where I work, hosts a few) and I recommend designers having a go. You’ll enjoy it!