Note: This article is part of the How to win a Hackathon series.
When competing in a hackathon there are some sacrifices you make compared to when you are creating a product under normal conditions. One major difference is that the product must appeal to the judges and the target audience (if there is public voting). It’s important in a judge-driven situation to understand what the judges will be looking for specifically. Are there categories that you will be evaluated on? What are they looking for in each category?
If the rules of the hackathon don’t explicitly define what you will be judged on, contact the organizers and ask for further explanation. You may also want to ask if they would share that same detailed direction with the judges so you are all on the same page. If the competition is judging you on “completeness” for example, what does completeness mean to them? Does it mean everything that you says works indeed does, or, does it mean the judge can’t think of anything else you could have made the app do? It’s very important in a hackathon to be so explicit with the judging rules that there is no room for personal interpretation. If you as a participant aren’t confident that the rules have made it clear, contact the organizers and work with them to ensure everything is laid out as clearly as possible.
While it’s important to create a great service according to your team’s vision, you may want to focus on elements and deliverables that particularly address the items the judges will be looking for since you’ve chosen to compete in the hackathon. I suggest, that as part of your written plan, you describe what you will do to address each category you’ll be judged against and spend time as a team addressing those challenges.