This article will discuss a sweet topic that helps you increase your winning rate through hackathons and coding (project-based) challenges. It's not technical nor documentary but using the tips described in this article would help you create and design unique projects for the hackathons.
In the last six months, I participated in two hackathons and won 3000$ in total for two different submissions (projects).
PasteMe - Paste Codes From Your Terminal
Hey - Your AI-powered Pair Programming Friend
In both the projects that I submitted for the competitions, I tried my best in terms of development, maintenance, and presentation. If you keep all these three terms in mind, you will nail it.
Thinking of development as the phases you pass to finish up your project. Make sure you use the right conventions, best practices, system design, and architecture for your software product. Once you got your codes working, attempt to refactor them.
This term is somehow related to development. If you've had a healthy development and shipment process, you'd likely be good to go for maintenance. Writing programs is easy but making them maintainable is completely a different process. Always leave room for further developments.
This is probably the most important term in the case of a hackathon. When it comes to presentation, always think of a way you could showcase your project clearly and precisely. If you're working on a short intro video, make sure to present the whole point of your project. Showcase the problem first, then your project as the rescue!
Being straight to the point would help your project to get viral and well-known. There are different things you could do in this phase.
Write an easy-to-understand article and README for your project.
Choose a theme for your project if possible.
Make a motion graphic about your project.
Make a short introduction video working with your project.
As you can see, I used to obtain a galaxy-like theme for PasteMe. All Octocat images on the website are wearing spacesuits. Its logo itself reminds me of Alian's spaceships and whenever I open the website, I feel like I'm not on Earth anymore but in another dimension.
Always make use of fiction in your presentation. It makes the audience more curious about the next thing you're going to talk about. As an example, I wrote the following sub-title in PasteMe.
Legends believe that this project is developed from space..!! Let's see..
Once a person sees such a title, he/she becomes a little curious about the article. "It must be something to do with space and galaxy or stuff through this project.." he/she thinks. Once they open your article, it's time to get their attention via making an Agreement meaning you talk about shared struggles, concerns, and problems they've felt through their lives. Let them know that you've been hurt by those problems as well but enough is enough. Your introduction sections should start sad and painful but end epically and proudly just like there's something about to happen in the next sections. Something game-changer.
Think of something useful. Something that literally solves a concern. I personally, try making something handy for myself. It had been a few months since I'd been struggling with showing my code snippets to my friends but in a better fancy way. That was the starting point of PasteMe. In case I made Hey, I needed some sort of an in-line ChatGPT prompt when I'm working through CLIs and command-line shells. I needed them, so I made them in my way.
Having a network means standing in the frontline with hundreds of people supporting your work. You can always rely on them and ask them for their valuable feedback on your projects, ideas, and movements. Always present your work to them. If you're working on a project as a submission for a hackathon, let them know your progress and ask them for improvements, feature requests, and reviews first. Almost tens of features and modifications I made over on my projects were due to the feedback I received from my connections on LinkedIn so value them and think of having a network with people with similar interests and career experiences.
In conclusion, always make sure to work on something that's worthy. Blast on the stage with the presentation you've got about your project. Showcase all aspects of your idea as we went through all its steps during this article.