Side Project LitCity


Physically explore literature in your city.

For a weekend in January, I went to CODEX hackathon at MIT and joined the LitCity team. Together, we created LitCity, an app that allows book lovers to experience literature through geolocation.


Reading a book is an immersive experience that forges meaningful connections. We wanted to create a product that allows book lovers to experience books as they wander a city.


18 hours to spec, design and build meant there was very little room for research. With a team of 3 designers, I led the creation of an assumption persona: Ali the Book Nerd.

Ali the Book Nerd is an avid traveler and loves to read. He has a strong desire to dive deeper into literary experiences–to connect with characters on another level.


We created Product, Tech, Content, and Floater teams. Product managed wire-framing, design, and user experience. Tech managed implementation and development. Content managed copy, storytelling, and marketing. Floater had individuals with varied skills who helped out other teams, as needed.

I acted as a Product Manager/Product Designer and led the creation of the spec. It was important for me to make sure that all team members were within scope of the project. I also had a strong hand in crafting the user journey, wireframes, and mockups.


Time: We had 18 hours of working time to create a working product. We decided to focus on creating a barebones MVP.

Unfamiliar Team: Hackathons bring people of different skill levels together. This meant that we didn’t know how we’d work together as a team.

Scope Creep: Many team members had big visions for the app that didn’t fit within the defined scope.

Design Process

The persona guided the pencil and paper wireframes, which were shared with the team. Once approved, we created low-fidelity wireframes to be handed off to the Tech team.

Pencil and paper wireframes
Our pencil and paper wireframes

Product then created high-fidelity mockups that we went over in detail with the Tech. The collaboration was fun and allowed us to provide much needed feedback to one another.


No. 1: Specs are Important: The spec organized our team to such a level of detail that we knew exactly what to work on and for how long.

No. 2: Communication: (This is a trend in many of my projects.) Even with so many different personalities, our communication skills were top-notch. 4 check-ins throughout the hackathon allowed us to stay-up-to-date on the team’s progress

LitCity final design
Our final mockups of the LitCity app.