Sunday, April 10, 2016

How To Get an Idea For an App

There are two common problems in software development, lack of knowledge and lack of ideas.

For today's post let's consider the second one.

Lack Of Ideas

Suppose you have, decent skill in software development, so what other you need to start developing software? Right, the Idea (and IDE of course). 

So where do you find them? This question is often the main struggle for many software developers.

Common Pattern

Look at apps on your smartphone. What is common between all of them?

Yes, they are all some way useful, not productive, though, but useful.

An app should be useful

It's surprising how many devs don't understand that.

Every app is useful in its own way. Some app lets you manage your personal finances, some helps you with time management, there are a bunch of apps that let you stay connected with friend and family (e-mail/messenger apps), and some of them help you avoid boredom (I still have Flappy Bird installed for the emergency case).

So most of the apps (not only mobile) out there solve some problem. So if you are a programmer you already familiar with problem-solving, but what about problem-finding?


Basically, you need to find someone's pain to relieve it. You should be like psychotherapist when you're in search of an idea.

Many developers try to solve their own problems and make similar apps one after another. Think of it, how many software developers out there that have same problems as you? Let me help you, MILLIONS. We all have common problems in living and likely some of us already came up with a solution. So please, don't make another to-do list.

But what the other thing you can do, you can ask. The answer to this question can freak you out, especially if you're introvert (like me).

Just go out and make friends!

Yes, it's that easy, but not for a software developer. Actually, it's kinda struggling for computer worms like us. But you know what? When you get use to it you'll even like it! Yes, you definitely will, because homo sapience is a social species, so it's in your nature.

Every person you meet will be some way unique and will have interests that differ from yours and problems that differ from yours. So that's your source of ideas  - people.

Actually, it's even better to find some group of people with same interests because to solve a problem you need an accurate description of it. You can't really come up with a solution if someone just telling you that one's feeling discomfort. You need to know what is the root of evil. So the more people you know with the same problem, the more information you can gather about it.

This is kind of groups I'm talking about:
  • Photographers
  • Artists
  • Poets
  • Musicians
  • Language groups
  • Any kind of professionals (even software devs, but only if you'll seek for a problem that isn't solved yet)
This list can be really long, but I think you've got the idea.

So when you have some group of people you should find out what causing pain to them and how do they fighting with this pain to provide yourself with some ready solutions that you can just automate.

And start to solve their problems, because this is what programmers do. But before starting development process find out if someone else already solved it and how maybe you have the better approach.

PulsePoint is a great example of this kind of apps. It solves the problem of people who are suffering cardiac arrests and can actually save a life, isn't it useful?

How To Win Friends

There is a plenty of content on this topic: books, podcasts, YouTube videos, blog posts. So I think it's better to give you a reference to best of them than trying to fit everything in one blog post section.

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie - one of the best books on the topic, I encourage you to read it several times.
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic by Stephen R. Covey -  this one will give you another point of view on your live and people you meet.
  • Simple Programmer Blog - blog providing soft skills especially for software developers, founded by John Sonmez, this guy is the reason why I started to blog.
  • Also, check out his book Soft Skills: The software developer's life manual you'll find a huge amount of useful information in this book (even if you are not a software developer).


This is not the only way to find an idea and not the easy one, though, because people will not tell you ready-to-develop idea, in most cases they even don't know what they want and your job is to find it out. But eventually, it's a fun process and you'll meet many great and interesting people.

See you next week, peace!

P.S. I personally think that if you're just starting out idea does not matter, just try to implement something that can be barely useful. With that approach, you find your feet rapidly.


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