Diary of a Design & Content Hack Day


Last week the Design and Content team decided to take a little time out of our busy week to run a hack day. Here at RSA Digital we like to use hack days for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s to create entirely new products, sometimes it’s to explore new ways of working and sometimes, like this, we use them to bring teams closer together.

We recognise that Design and Content have always been inextricably linked. They are co-dependant and so the need for cohesive working is obvious. This hack day was organised purely to develop the teams working relationships.

The brief

In this instance the brief was almost unimportant. We simply needed something to work on, at a fast pace. Because we wanted to explore working differently, we felt working on something different was valuable, so we selected the following:

A new way to sell Home Insurance, that brings neighbourhoods together.
We want to empower people to create (and run) collective cover for their community. The more homes in your collective the more cost effective it becomes. However cover/protection should not be essential to the service or product.


The day

We decided to get away from our office and use a lovely space in Brighton, made available to us by our friends at Clearleft. We gathered at 9.30 and worked until a 5pm deadline. There were no pre-planned tasks and no pre-existing roles mapped out. We jumped in, rolled our sleeves up and started hacking.

What happened

Everyone gathers in 68 Middle St, on a sunny Brighton day.

We hear the brief and ideas begin to pour out of our heads onto the whiteboard.

We gather up our ideas around ‘community’ and ‘what makes a home’. This allows us to group our concepts around user needs.

The broad concept of creating a ‘digital support network’ is agreed. Our team breaks into small groups and starts to sketch out ideas.

The group reconvenes and starts to discuss roles and what can be achieved through the day. We spilt in to 3 groups. Fran and Eiren took the role of defining the MVP and mapping out the experience. Rachel and Emma began articulating the brand by creating a visual style and tone of voice. Rob and Meghan start to work out how we build and what we produce today. Martyn is a designated “floater”.

Impromptu reviews of each others’ progress.

Meghan can no longer function without food, so Martyn and Fran go on a food run.

We regroup and revise our roles for the afternoon. Immediately build starts and we frantically start creating content.

We project our build on the shared screen and rapidly iterate, making final tweaks to refine the design.

As a group take a few minutes to review our work and share our thoughts on what has been achieved today.


Wrap up

The purpose of our day was to learn more about design and content teams working together so afterwards we took some time to review how we’d worked.

We realised that with tough deadlines and a lot to do, we’d have been more efficient if we’d identified roles for ourselves at the start of the day;   we became much more productive when we’d divided the overall tasks up!

We recognised how late in the day we started build/production work, causing some unnecessary panic, but over all we had a great day and it was heartening to see how well we all pulled together.  We’re looking forward to the next one already.