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Impact48; A New Style of Hack Weekend

17th April 2013 by Caitlin Hardie | News & Events

Last weekend saw a team of developers, designers, company directors and product managers come together to take part in the first ever Impact48 Hack weekend. Yard Digital was one of the sponsors of the event alongside Ezone Software and the Bonham Hotel, providing space for the team to meet on the Saturday and the Sunday of the event. I was also happy to be involved in the general organisation of the event, helping the team with some social media and also general planning, although this was harder than it sounds because we had no idea what would happen!

What is Impact48?

Impact48 weekends bring together a charity (with an opportunity or problem, but lacking resources), a sponsor (with the resources and desire to have positive impact) and a team of volunteers (with the skills and energy to create something with impact in 48 hours). Barry O’Kane, founder of Impact48 and one of the owners of Ezone Software, puts the reason for impact48 rather succinctly.

“An Impact48 weekend is all about creating something that is complete and real; something the charity can take advantage of immediately. Small and complete is beautiful in our eyes and real, measurable impact is what we stand for.“

The Charity – Music in Hospitals Scotland

I’d not heard of Music in Hospitals Scotland before getting involved in Impact48. Throughout the weekend, however, I couldn’t help but be absolutely blown away by the passion and dedication of the guys I met. MIHS provides live music concerts in healthcare establishments all over Scotland  Last year they provided over 1600, each costing £247. They make a huge difference to people of all ages, in pediatric wards, through to care homes. One thing that they are very passionate about is that the music is suited specifically to the ward they’re performing in, and that the standard of the performances is incredibly high.

The weekend

On Friday evening the volunteers, the charity and several invited guests met to speak about what the charity needed and see what we could come up with to solve those problems. The ideas flew about and we came up with some really interesting ideas, all centred around bringing a younger generation of supporters to the MIHS website. I won’t go into details but some of the ideas were awesome, exploring the emotive journey of music, using local bands to stimulate discussion, as well as some really excellent fundraising strategies.

The main thing that the charity did very well was stick to their guns with what was within their design parameters. Eventually we managed to settle on some solid ideas and all went home to prepare for Saturday.


Taking advantage of the Yard Digital Event Space the team met at 10am (joined at 10:30 by me after my morning cycle) and started work. We were working on:

  • A basic SEO audit of their website

  • A widget to show the number of concerts taking place each day alongside their fundraising efforts ticking up to the magic number of £247 (the cost of each concert)

  • Some design and UI changes to help visitors to the website get where they need to be

  • A widget that uses favourite YouTube videos to help generate usable content for the charity, as well as engage with new, and younger, visitors.

The day passed far too quickly but was incredibly good fun. Some amazing work was done by all the volunteers. Shout outs to developers Vladimir, developer Chelsey from the indomitable Attacats, Sarah and Jonathan who own Creative State, Ruaraidh from Tick Tock Media and Iain and Barry from Ezone.


Sunday I was cycling for most of the day but the focus was on getting things finished.

We were working purely on a developer site because all changes had to be agreed before being implemented, so we were able to really go to town on design changes… so long as we could qualify them.

At 5:30 it was time to be judged. Luckily all but one of the things we’d done and changed were accepted, and the one thing that was put on hold was mainly because it needed a little further thought on how it might be deployed (our YouTube tool). Over the next few weeks Ezone will implement the changes, then provide ongoing support. I will be doing some analytics work with them and continuing to help out where I can on some of the social side of things.

Real Impact?

This weekend was really amazing. I felt I really got to know the charity incredibly well, and that the things I could teach them were both useful, and gratefully received. I guess in the digital sector we often forget how all the little tips and tricks we use day to day, could be invaluable to someone who is desperately trying to fit in social media, content writing and a million other roles all in one day.

I felt that we have made some real impact on Music in Hospitals Scotland, and also I feel that the weekend taught me a lot about collaborative working, the importance of project boundaries, and finally it showed me how much a small team, working passionately without distraction, can achieve in a small amount of time.

If you’d like to find out more about the weekend, don’t hesitate to contact Alex on Twitter.


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