Eventornado blog Is Your Hackathon Submission Process Outdated? 7 Warning Signs

Is Your Hackathon Submission Process Outdated? 7 Warning Signs

Written by

Sabreen Swan

Content Strategist/Writer at Eventornado.

You’ve built a hackathon, shared it with the world and you’re anticipating the influx of top-notch, high-quality, unbeatable applications, only to be met with… tumbleweed.

Not fun. The truth is, creating the hackathon and sharing the hackathon is only half the battle. You need to get people to attend, and you need to attract the right people.

So, where do lots of hackathon organisers slip up during the process? Why do some hackathons attract the brightest minds, while others barely fill a (virtual) room?

It’s all in the application process. 

Typically, hackathon registration will have two types of forms:

General registration - where you might ask personal identifying information.

Idea form - where you’ll ask questions about participants’ ideas.

Some hackathon organisers choose to only use ideas forms—in this post, we’re covering both general registration forms and idea forms.

We’ve rounded up some of the reasons why a hackathon’s submission process falls short and struggles to get people registering. Let’s dive in.

7 reasons why you’re not attracting winning applicants

1. Your application form is too long

Lengthy forms that ask for too much information is an excellent way to cause an eye roll and a swift exit. 

For every question you include, ask yourself why you need that answer. 

It’s worth noting that not all participants register with an idea. Many want to join an existing team, network, share ideas etc. So important to keep the registration form as concise as possible to encourage more signups.

Keep your application forms as short as possible, without sacrificing vital details. Your future applicants will thank you for it!

2. Your forms are not inclusive

While it may seem common to ask applicants for their gender, it may not necessarily be useful or relevant to include it in your forms. 

More organisations are aiming to be more inclusive with their chosen wording. For example, asking the question “what is your gender” with only male and female as the two possible options, may alienate some applicants and cause frustration.

Unless you require information about gender demographics for inclusive purposes, consider if you even need to ask this question at all. Remember, only ask the questions that you need in order to host a great hackathon.

But if you really need to, here’s a detailed guide on how you can ask for gender in a thoughtful and more respectful way on application forms.

3. Your form is clunky or slow

Is there anything more frustrating than a clunky interface and a page that refuses to load? We’ll wager on no. 

Your application form is the first point of contact most applicants will have with you so it’s important you put your best foot forward and make a solid first impression. Slow forms and distracting visuals achieve the opposite.

Particularly for participants that already have an idea, posting it should be easy and painless. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm people with overly complicated sections and irrelevant questions. 

On Eventornado, you can add on to your form as you go along, which means you only need the very basics to get started. The more you progress, the more opportunities participants have to add to their idea, tweak things, and polish things up.

4. People can’t apply on mobile

Is the only option for people to apply to join your hackathon through desktop? If the answer’s yes, you could be unknowingly deterring top-quality participants.

On Eventornado, participants can create an account in just a few clicks, either using their social channels or through email.

As a general rule, applying by mobile phone shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes—especially if you’re only asking for the absolutely necessary details. 

Applying to join your hackathon should be fun, quick and most of all—easy.

5. Your forms look generic

Nothing deters quality applicants faster than an un-branded ghost form. 

Think of an application form as a companion to your business, and you can actually use it as a marketing tool!

Take a quick look at your forms and ask yourself:

  • Is it easy to identify the form with the organisation? (this could be a hackathon banner on top of your form)
  • Can visitors find more information about the event and organisation?
  • Is it responsive?

A great form will answer YES to all of the above.

6. You ghost applicants once they’ve applied

Once applicants hit that ‘apply’ button on your form, what happens next?

What does the signup page look like? Do applicants receive a welcome (or at the very least, acknowledgement) message? Do you send reminders in anticipation of the event?

Never leave applicants hanging after they’ve signed up. Not only does it send a bad message, but you could also be sabotaging your hackathon’s reputation. 

And if the hackathon date is some time away, the worst-case scenario is that you slip off the applicant’s radar altogether and they don’t show up. Send the follow-up message. Ask applicants to share your social post. Share a countdown and remind them of the hackathon the day before it begins.

On Eventornado, we know that smart communication is one of the most important elements of running a great hackathon.

That’s why as soon as someone signs up to a hackathon hosted on Eventornado, they’re automatically directed to a dedicated chat space, where all participants can meet each other and the organisers. 

It’s a great way for everyone to start mingling straight away, break the ice, and more importantly, start brainstorming ideas. It’s how organisers are able to keep up high-level engagement right until the event starts.

7. You’re not promoting your hackathon

Remember when we said building the hackathon is only half the battle? Well, consider promoting your hackathon to be the other half. 

It’s not enough to announce your hackathon on your website and then move along to the next task. If you want to reach more people and attract bright minds, it’s absolutely vital that people receive your enthusiasm and excitement for the hackathon.

Create a buzz around your hackathon with mini-campaigns leading up to the day. There are a few ways you can do this. Here are a few ideas:

  • Publish countdown messages on your social channels leading up to the countdown (think a week in advance) and then add this to a newsletter if you have one
  • Share stories of previous winners (if this isn’t the first hackathon), with photos and social tags. This is a great incentive for previous winners to share your post on their own channels as they proudly reflect on their achievements
  • Share judge panel bios on your social channels, and don’t forget to tag everyone 
  • Reach out to relevant publications and ask if they would be interested in sharing your hackathon announcement with their audience

Take your submission process to the next level with Eventornado 

You know the saying, “it’s not just about the destination, but it’s how you get there that matters” - who knew it was totally secretly talking about hackathons?

You create the opportunity for a great or terrible reputation from the moment you open applications to your next hackathon. And at every stage of the process, there’s a window to win over quality applicants. 

Eventornado helps hackathon organisers put their best foot forward so not only are they confident in bringing in great talent, but their reputation is getting a boost—all while generating buzz for the event.

What does your application process look like? Get in touch with us or request a free demo of the platform to get in on the action. It’s your next hackathon, with double the excitement and more applicants.


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