Last week the Happier team took one day to stop our normal work and
each work on Happier-related projects we chose. We called it “Hack
Day,” some others call it a “Hackathon”, and it’s becoming a fairly
well-known practice among software companies in recent years.
Facebook, for instance, has a dedicated page to their Hackathons
along with links to successful projects, lessons learned, and more.
The idea is to pick projects that might not be the highest priority
for the company, but scratch an itch for Happier staff, whether they
are software developers or not. The projects should be completed in
that day, not carried over into future work, so they tend to be
smaller, bite-size items. Hopefully we pick things that users also
want and enjoy 🙂
So what did I do?
1) Our Happiers upload wonderful pictures with their moments, and I’dlove to see the full, original-size photo when I click on it. I enhanced our web site so that if you’re viewing a single moment and click on its image, it will expand to show the full version in a “lightbox”-style display. This is only available on desktop / laptop web, not small mobile device, for now, since those don’t have the screen real estate anyway.
2) My second project was a little more inward-focused. I was curious to see if we can spot trends in Happiers who are active users for a (little) while, and then stop using the app. I wrote a script that looks in our database to spot users who created a number of moments over a number of days, then didn’t create more than another number of moments since.
The results were interesting. We haven’t used them for much yet, but I
hope in the future we can improve both the detection element, and then
the follow-up element, to see why these users are leaving, and whether
we can (re)engage them to keep them Happier.
3) My third project was specifically for Google, to get user pages
properly indexed (for users with public accounts). I improved an existing script
to let Google know about these pages, and Google has been dutifully
indexing the pages since. In the process, I fixed a bug or two in how
Google sees those pages.
I had a blast during hack day. We turn off our phones, email, and
chat, so we can focus and be productive. The office always has great
energy, but this day was particularly fun for me. I hope we make it a
Thanks for listening, Happiers! If you have ideas for small “hack day”
projects that would make a big difference for you, please let us know.