What I learned while rapid prototyping in a refugee camp

A couple years ago, I participated in the Global Hack for Good for REFUNITE, and got the opportunity to further develop the winning idea in a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya last month.

It was an incredible journey. I got to spend a week working with the amazing and talented RefUnite team, and was happy to help them in a small way. The goal was to test out our messaging wizard in an attempt to connect more refugees with loved ones who’ve been separated by war, famine, and disease.

For a more detailed account about the project, read about my trip on REFUNITE’s blog.

Hi, I'm Zac Halbert. I'm a digital product designer and lifelong learner living in San Francisco, California with my wife, son, and sheepdog. I currently run the Product Design & UX track at Tradecraft, where we train smart people to succeed in traction roles at high-growth startups.

I also own independent product design consultancy Scout Hawk Product Design Studio, where I help entrepreneurs turn hazy ideas into concrete digital products, and Foliotwist, a portfolio and marketing SaaS company for visual artists. I also advise a number of companies on the intersection of user experience design, product design and management, and rapid prototyping and idea validation that draws heavily from the Lean Startup philosophy.

My background is a mixture between formal graphic design and fine arts education, mixed with a long history of self-taught frontend programming skills. I began to learn HTML, CSS, and UI design at age 12 (I was a huge nerd), and got my first job as a web designer at age 15 — and have been doing it and loving it ever since. I eventually got my degree in graphic design, but have diverse interest in nearly every field that blends technical and creative work.

While I'm not very good at keeping my portfolio or blog up to date, I always love connecting with fellow designers, entrepreneurs, and developers. Here are just a few of the companies I've had the pleasure to work with.