Here are some quick notes on coming up with ideas for projects.
Some Typical Student Projects
If you’re in a class or bootcamp with limited time, you’re probably looking to build an MVP for something useful. Always make useful things. Programmers have skills that enable them to make products and services for the benefit of the others. Build something amazing for people. Things students have done in the past include:
- A resource site for first generation college students
- An anti-obesity app for helping people make healthy food choices
- An app to minimize food waste (What’s in your refrigerator? Track expiration dates)
- Friend Finder, based on common interests like surfing
- Meet in the Middle (middle by geography… used Google Maps API)
- Information about a geographic area, community, etc. (Things to do, events, ….)
- Digest of Social Media (across many networks)
- Site to help with Wage Theft. Allows paycheck tracking, comparison with industry averages. Has a timesheet. Connections to lawyers/advocates. Community forum.
- An app for better movie recommendations
- A web app that helps users find new hobbies to pursue or check out
- A program for finding and keeping track of their workouts
- A centralized community for music discussion and promotion
- An app for students studying abroad providing itineraries and travel destinations
- A web app that centralizes and offers information about LMU’s social justice organizations
- A music quiz game
- A web app for scheduling study sessions
- Social network application for planning get-togethers, includes calendar and chat
- A text-based adventure game
- An app for connecting students to activities on campus
- A web app for helping people find service opportunities and contact their congressional representatives
- A music playlist generator
- An online escape room
- A resource and education site for the deaf and hard of hearing
- An event finder
- An online board game loosely based on Cards Against Humanity but very positive
- A travel website with lots of APIs to help plan your trip
- An app for connecting student groups
- An app supporting positive mental health
- An online Guess Who game
- A meet-in-the-middle app to help friends to connect for activities near their geographic midpoint
- An educational helping toddlers with counting
- An educational helping toddlers with visual and auditory animal recognition
- An suite of arcade games
- An app for scheduling study sessions
How do you arrive at your great idea?
Step 1: Choose an Audience
Think up some audiences you would like to serve.
Example: New moms, non-profits, student travelers, five-year olds.
Example: Five-year olds.
Step 2: Identify Needs for Your Audience
Once your audience is selected, identify ten needs for your audience.
Example: reading, drawing, spelling, singing, puzzle solving, interaction with friends, being quiet, sitting still, paying attention, eating.
Step 3: Map Needs to Projects
Just pick three needs out of the 10 you want to focus on. For each, think of a project that would address those needs.
Example: Spelling Game, Sitting Still Game, Attention Game.
Step 4: Produce Goals/Ideas for Each Project
Here is where you brainstorm with a few creative people, ideally in a room or nice patio or other outdoor setting, with ample surfaces to draw on, and perhaps with food and music.
: For the Spelling game:
- Incentives and Rewards
- Something they want to do
- Cooperate in teams
- Spell with friends
- Game: show picture, prompt to spell CAT
- Points for rewards
: For Attention Game:
- Finding things
- Remembering instructions
The Ideation Process
Once you have your project selected, you’ll make it do-able in four phases:
- Phase 1: Gather Inspiration (5 min)
- Inspire new thinking by discovering what people need.
- Phase 2: Generate Ideas (5 min)
- Push past obvious solutions to get to breakthrough ideas
- Phase 3: Make Ideas Tangible (10 min)
- Build rough prototypes to learn how to make ideas better
- Phase 4: Share Your Story (10 min)
- Craft a human story to inspire others toward action
Each of the following phases can be done by going through some short exercises. In a classroom setting, each team works at their own table for the first three phases, then for the fourth phase, works with another group.
Exercise: Gather Inspiration
Select a population (e.g., students, teachers, moms with young children)
________ is a _________ who needs (a way to) ________ because (they value) ____________________.
Exercise: Generate Ideas
Write down 2-3 possible solutions to solve the needs and challenges of your population.
No ideas is too crazy; write down every solution that comes to mind.
Exercise: Make Ideas Tangible
Pick one of your feasible ideas and flesh out how you would build this solution. Think: technology needed, time required, money needed, resources available, etc.
Exercise: Share Your Story
Craft a human story to inspire others toward action.
Pair with another group and convince them that your solution is worth building.
Say: “_____ is a _____ app which helps people ______ so that _____.”
The group being convinced should give feedback and suggestions!
You can repeat this exercise with other groups to help vet that what sounds good to you actually makes sense to the larger world.