As COVID-19 hits the nation, we’re currently embracing the ‘new normal’ by taking our part as citizens to adopt #DiRumahAja and #JagaJarak regulation to lessen the spread of the virus in Indonesia. However, we at Somia CX wonder how we can help the community to fight COVID-19 with design while still staying safe at home?

So on 3–5 April 2020, we gathered 51 designers from all around Indonesia to participate in an online design hackathon: Masker Kain Untuk Semua (Mask for All).

Picture of the design hackathon participants and Somia and Staf Khusus Presiden (SKP) Team

The design hackathon was created to support Masker Kain untuk Semua movement initiated by Staf Khusus Presiden Gugus Muda. The movement will complement #DirumahAja and #JagaJarak regulation advised by the Indonesian Government. Masker Kain untuk Semua aims to encourage all Indonesian to make and use cloth masks if they have to be out in the public setting. The use of cloth masks is recommended to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and address the lack of supply of surgical masks, which must be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical responders who are fighting the virus on the front line. Therefore, the objective of the hackathon is to get inspiration of ideas from participants to develop the movement further. We also wanted to understand the different local perspective from different parts of Indonesia when it comes to COVID-19.

The team at Somia had less than 4 days to plan the online design hackathon. The planning process was practically a sprint! As the event was fully hosted online, we were mindful that we should outline a clear instruction and guide the participants to go through the end-to-end design process. There’s no formula to create a successful online design hackathon, but let me take you through the preparation process that the team went through to set up the online design hackathon (bear in mind that few steps were done simultaneously):

1. Create an event invitation and call for participation

The team created a poster about the design hackathon and posted it on Somia’s social media account. We also included the background, frequently asked questions and schedules so participants could know the event details before signing up. Afterwards, participants just need to sign up via google form.

poster carousel

Poster carousel for design hackathon: Masker Kain untuk Semua

Much to our surprise, almost 70 people signed up even though we only opened the registration for less than 2 days. Ranging from designers, researchers and university students, we had diverse participants who are based in different cities such as Jakarta, Bandung, Pekanbaru, Bengkulu and even… Melbourne!

2. Prepare base research and frame the design challenge

The team created an info kit that includes relevant information needed for the participant before the first briefing. This is very important to set the context of the design hackathon. The info kit includes information about the event, design hackathon objective, studies about cloth mask effectiveness. The team also brainstormed and included a service journey that outlines possible journeys of relevant stakeholders as part of the Masker Kain untuk Semua movement.

The info kit includes design challenges and service blueprint that we created to list down different stakeholders and possible user journeys. Click here to access the initial service journey

From the service journey, Somia and SKP team identified 4 key areas and reframed it as design challenges which participants can choose to solve:

  • How might we get people to make their own cloth mask voluntarily?
  • How might we distribute the cloth mask effectively and ensure its maximum impact especially to regions and people that needed it the most?
  • How might we sustain the habit for people to constantly use, clean and store their cloth mask the right way, especially when they have to go outside their home?
  • How might we convince people that a cloth mask is effective enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 despite the abundance of misinformation that is spreading?

The info kit was sent before the first check-in to the participants’ e-mail.

3. Decide on communication methods and set schedules for the event

Platforms we used:

Slack (for team and committee communication channel)

Google slides (for briefing)

Zoom (for check-in call)

Setting a fixed schedule is very important to make sure that all participants are on the same stage of the design process when the hackathon is running. We decided to do two online check-ins every day with the participants. The first check-in was to greet the participants and brief them with the overall schedule of the event. Afterwards, each check-in was used to guide the participants on each stage of the design process: research, ideation, to final prototype development.

The design hackathon schedule covers all the design process

On each check-in session, we prepared google slides where participants can dump their current findings. We also asked a few participating teams to share their findings during the check-in call. Since we limit the check-in call to 30 minutes, we encouraged participants to give feedback on each other’s findings and ideas by commenting on the google slide to keep the conversation going.

Each participating team has their own slides and all participants can see and give feedback to each other by leaving comments on their slide

4. Lay down the ground rules and manage participant’s expectation of the event

Manage the participants’ expectation early on the design hackathon to avoid misunderstanding or disappointment. For instance, the team informed that there were no mentors assigned for the participants and we encouraged all participants to self-manage and show up on time to the check-in call and final submission deadline.

To comply with #DiRumahAja regulation, the team also reminded participants to be creative and resourceful on how to collect data and test their prototype remotely. Few participants used Instagram surveys and questions as tools to collect respondents, while others also used online collaborative tools to compile their findings and present their prototype. The event was the perfect opportunity for everyone to experiment with different tools that they might not even consider using before.

presentation via zoom

Participants explored different ways to collect data, brainstorming and prototype testing. We reposted their efforts on Somia CX’s instagram account

Due to the big number of participants, we asked participants to only ask questions on slack so everyone could see the answers and questions. We created a separate slack channel for different needs such as Q&A and resource sharing.

We invited all the participants to Masker Kain Untuk Semua slack channel

The result?

The event was a success!

Throughout the event, we looked at different users: from targeting general citizens to specific target markets such as mom or e-hailing riders. Solutions that were proposed also range from service flow, digital to a tangible product.

The event ended with a 5 minutes presentation from each participating team on Zoom and a video submission that recap their ideas.

Presentation via Zoom. Many participants experiment with different formats to present: from taking us through their Miro board, sketching, etc.

At the end of the design hackathon, I was very inspired by everyone’s creativity and determination to help the community. It was truly a humbling experience and it shows that being at home does not stop us from collaborating together and creating an impactful solution.

Check out the final ideas here:

Ibu Serbu:

Kotak Cinta:

Gerakan 1000 Penjahit:

Pahlawan Masker:

Ronda Keliling:

Team Sehat Selalu:


Kurir Handal:


Pejuang Olshop:

From here, the team will be prioritising the ideas generated by participants and the Somia team will support SKP to implement the strategy through service prototyping and iterating further from there. Once again, we would like to thank all the design hackathon participants for coming up with these valuable ideas.

Name of participants who joined the online design hackathon: Masker Kain Untuk Semua until the end of the session

Quick Reflection

While the online design hackathon was a fruitful session, I am reflecting on what we could do to improve the online design hackathon. Perhaps if I could redo the event, I would give the participants more time to polish and present their prototype during the Zoom presentation and eliminate the video submission requirement at the end, so each team can discuss and get more feedback from everyone. I realise that we need to find the balance between managing a big group of participants yet still facilitating the two-way conversation to generate a more lively atmosphere within a remote environment. However, it was indeed an interesting weekend because I got to hear inspiring ideas and connect with different people from all over Indonesia. Who knows we might be able to host a meet-up in real life soon when this pandemic is over 😀

In the meantime, let’s stay healthy and keep creating #DirumahAja!

Note: this project was done on a pro-bono basis as part of our contribution to cope with COVID-19 pandemic.