Revamping our Judging App for an (even more) seamless hackathon experience

Hackers at our 2019 hackathon

Spring into Action — TOHacks 2021 is approaching!

TOHacks is an Toronto-based student organization that hosts events, such as our flagship 2-day hackathon, with the purpose of educating students about revolutionary, ground-breaking technologies such as Financial Tech, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Blockchain (to name a few).

The Team —

Product Manager: Vanessa Seto
Product Designer: Aman Sharma
Back-end Developer: Dhruv Shah
Front-end Developers: Manushi Oza, Anoushka Singhal, Nurin Fazil

The Product

The Judging App was introduced last year, at TOHacks 2020, as a way to simplify the judging experience for all users involved.

  • For hackathon organizers, it serves as a way of tabulating scores to determine winners in their respective categories.
  • For hackathon participants, albeit not a direct user, this product allows for their projects to be judged in a fair, standardized way

Step 1 — Problem Discovery and Research

Last year’s verdict

To analyze where our product succeeded and fell short last year, we collected insights from user interviews with previous judges and executive members on the team. Here were some of the major findings:

A fringe stakeholder

Although participants at the hackathon will not be using this product, the success of this product directly impacts them, as it will be used to determine winners and rankings of projects. To make sure we didn’t overlook their concerns, we interviewed past hackathon participants and were given the following insights:

  • They wanted comments on their projects to help them improve for next time — something they may miss out on due to the nature of the new virtual hackathon


The key takeaways from these interview provided a foundation for us to constantly lean back on during the entire design process. Since user-centricity was our goal, we asked ourselves the following questions throughout the process:

  1. Although they are not direct users, are we addressing participants’ equity and their concerns?
  2. Can this process be automated any further to increase efficiency on the user’s end?

Step 2 — Design

With our features and problem statements laid out, we got to work on fleshing out the new user flows for each user to have a clear idea on what we wanted the experience to look like, end-to-end.

Score Sorting Design

We then got to work on our wireframes and prototypes. This year, we are implementing an all-new score sorting page for hackathon organizers to use, and therefore required some wireframes to figure out the functionality and layout.

Judge Comments:

The finalized scoring page design, complete with comments, project info and a progress bar!

Design Walkthrough!

After designing, testing, and a little more designing, we reached a high-fidelity prototype we were happy with. The new score sorting feature, the progress bar and project comments already seemed to improve the judging experience for all users.

What’s next?

We are currently in the process of developing, testing and shipping this product. Given the new score sorting table feature, as well as the ability to. view projects without a set order, we have new database and back-end requirements. As well, there have been many front end updates regarding the design, which we are currently working to implement.



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Aman Sharma

Aman Sharma

Product Designer @ TOHacks, Marketing Student at Schulich School of Business