Time spent away from the computer can do wonders for generating great ideas for apps. Here are 8 top tips for designers
As UX designers, we spend a lot of time with our faces glued to our screens. Crafting interactive prototypes, tweaking user interfaces, drowning in user research, procrastinating on Slack… the list goes on. But sometimes we hit a brick wall. A creative block. We need stimulation.
There’s nothing worse than firing a blank when you need to get started on a project but have no idea where to start or what to make. But, don’t worry. Even the UXers at Justinmind go through it. It’s hard to give 100% all of the time.
Let’s look at how you can generate simple app ideas, so you can kick your creative block to the curb and start creating awesome websites and mobile apps again.
Take a walk
You might be thinking: how productive is a walk? Well, quite! A study by the brains at Stanford showed that a walk — and we’re not talking some death defying hike up a mountain — can boost creativity. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, two creative powerhouses, are known to give meetings on foot.
The study didn’t discriminate either, a walk indoors or outdoors can still get those creative juices flowing. All you need to do is close your computer, get up and take a few steps and see what happens.
The study showed that on average people’s creative output increased by 60%. So next time you’re staring at a blank canvas and going nowhere fast, grab your jacket and go for a walk. Who knows, you might just think of the next million dollar app.
Mind mapping is like note-taking but on steroids. It’s a diagram that connects information together around a main subject. You can illustrate and color your mind map to make it more visually appealing and to get your creativity game on.
You might have spent many a lesson in school creating these and thinking: why? Well, now you know why – to generate awesome ideas for apps!
Since mind maps combine the power of words and imagery, you’ll find this method really powerful when it comes to remembering things.
Mind mapping basically emulates what our brain already does: joining dots together, forming connections and linking subjects through associations.
Let your ideas flow on to the paper, let the relationships form naturally and see where it takes you.
Copy and improve
Everyone knows copying is bad. But if you’re in a creative rut and need some stimulation then taking an app that you love already and trying to improve upon it can spark new ideas.
For example, say you’re a big fan of Airbnb. Great! Why not take that idea and apply it to a different sector? Like, pets? Airbnb for pets! Not the most original of ideas but you get the gist.
Failing that, why not create one of these simple app ideas for first time designers?
Hunt for collaborators
Maybe you already have a vague idea of something you want to create but you can’t get it from the fog of your mind into reality. Or, perhaps you’ve already built a hi-fi wireframe in Justinmind but you can’t get to the next step in your plan. Don’t worry – we made collaborative prototyping super easy.
Real talk: call in help! You don’t need to go at things alone and collaboration is a great way to work through ideas with a diverse range of people as well as a chance to learn from someone.
Get on some Slack channels – there’s lots related to design from startups to entrepreneur channels all the way to computer science and freelancing. There’s also CollabFinder which is full of other people just like you who need a collab buddy.
Prototype and iterate “bad ideas”
Prototyping and iterating is a useful way to not only refine your design process but can help you get closer to a winning idea.
Say you thought of an idea for an app but it doesn’t sound great. Create it anyway! Use some rough sketching UI components from our library to help you.
We tend to think that ideas are either good or bad but just look at Facebook’s history. From where it began to where it is now could only be achieved through constant iteration.
It’s the key to innovation, it removes any pressure about creating the best of something and allows you to explore different avenues and techniques. It’s the journey, not the destination, right? Every bad idea is one step closer to that million dollar idea.
Start a blog
You don’t have to be Shakespeare to write a blog. If you know how to string a sentence together, you can write. And the benefits of writing are numerous.
A writing habit can also make you happier as it acts as a stress-coping mechanism. Studies have shown that writing can improve your memory and boost your immune system.
Simply writing about what you have achieved that day or ideas you’d like to test and the methods you’d use can get your neurons moving in positive ways.
Todd Henry, found of Accidental Creative, said in Manage Your Day-to-Day, “When you give yourself frequent permission to explore the ‘adjacent possible’ with no restrictions on where it leads, you increase the likelihood of a creative breakthrough in all areas of your life and work.”
Not bad. Get writing!
Research and identify problems
This idea is like the copy-and-improve idea from earlier. Think of some of your favorite apps and websites. Carry out research of markets you’re interested in. Then creatively think of problems you want to solve or create solutions to the problems your favorite apps aren’t solving.
It helps to know what skills you have and which you don’t have when doing something like this. It’ll be difficult to solve a science related problem without any skills or knowledge of science. So, focus on where you shine and the problems you want to solve.
Learn a new skill
Good app ideas solve problems. If you’re in a creative rut, use this as an opportunity to pick up a new skill. Learning is stimulating, fun and rewarding.
Lots of famous entrepreneurs are lifelong learners. In fact, if you want to be a successful UX designer the best thing to do is emulate what successful UX designers to.
Maybe you’re really good at whipping up a slick design in Justinmind or Sketch but why not try you hand at an online mobile development course?
A class on Skillshare or Lynda could lead to a new hobby (or brand spanking new idea!) that you didn’t know you were good at.
It’s no fun when you’re stuck for ideas but with these 7 tips, you’ll soon have more ideas than you’ll know what to do with. Whether it’s playing around with our widgets in Justinmind or taking a much-needed walk, ideas will come. Sometimes the best thing to do not think too much about them.