💡 Where to Find Inspiration for Building Your Next App

The first steps before turning your ideas into code.

💡 Where to Find Inspiration for Building Your Next App

Whenever I’m trying to think of an idea to build a new application or website and I get stumped on what to do, there’s one phrase that always comes to mind:

There’s nothing new under the Sun 🌞

For me, this phrase is a timeless reminder that in our world of constant creativity and innovation, originality is often about putting a fresh spin on existing concepts.

This is especially true when it comes to coding and software development.

For new developers and experienced developers alike, there are times when we need that little spark of inspiration to trigger ideas for our next projects.

Whether these projects are just for fun, building up your portfolio or starting a business, anything you do is all part of your programming learning journey.

So some good thought processes will go a long way!

I was once asked on Twitter, “Where do I get ideas to build new apps from?”, and after thinking about it for a moment, I realised I had loads of insights to share.

So, I’d like to share this with you now in this article and explore where and how you can find inspiration for your coding projects.

Let’s get inspired!

Exploring Different Types of Applications

Before you start thinking of the subject matter of your project, you’ll probably want to decide on what type of project to build.

The three main things you’ll likely be considering are: Software Applications, Websites or Mobile Apps.

Your knowledge of programming will likely be a big factor in deciding which one of these to go for.

For example, for website development, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the trinity of necessary languages to know.

Whereas, for mobile app development, you may need to know Swift or Objective-C for iOS and Java or Kotlin for Android. (Of course, there are other things such as React Native also).

As well as all that, understanding databases and knowing how to work with APIs may also be necessary. As databases can store the data your app or website will use, while APIs can allow different software applications to communicate and work with each other in your project.

If you’re still learning, however, you may decide to pick up some unfamiliar technologies and build something whilst you learn.

Let’s take a deeper look at the differences between the types of things you can build to help you decide where to get started:

💻 Software Applications

In this case, I’m referring to the programs that can be downloaded and installed on your computer.

These apps are typically more powerful and complex than their web or mobile counterparts and capable of performing a wide range of tasks.

They're designed to use the full power of your computer's hardware, which allows them to handle heavy-duty tasks like video editing, 3D modelling, and complex data analysis.

If you're looking to solve big problems and aren't afraid of a challenge, developing a software app might be the choice for you.

🌐 Websites

With websites, on the other hand, as they are accessed through a web browser, they don't require any downloading or installation.

They can be viewed on any device with an internet connection.

Websites can range from simple, static pages that provide information to dynamic, interactive platforms like social media sites or e-commerce stores.

The beauty of web development is its accessibility - anyone with a computer and an internet connection can build a website, making it a great starting point for new developers.

📱 Mobile Apps

Last but not least, we have mobile apps. The apps you download from the App Store or Google Play onto your smartphone or tablet.

Mobile apps are designed with a focus on user experience, taking advantage of the unique features of mobile devices like touch screens, GPS, and accelerometers.

They can be games, productivity tools, social media platforms - pretty much anything you like!

As you may know, mobile app development is a booming field, with a huge potential audience and the opportunity to create something that people carry with them wherever they go.

Each of these types of applications comes with their own opportunities and challenges.

And as a developer, understanding these differences can help you decide which path to take and where to focus your learning efforts.

But no matter which types you choose, remember that the best kind of app or website is one that solves a problem or fulfils a need.

That's where creativity and inspiration come into play, which brings us to our next point…

How to Find Inspiration

Okay, so we've explored the different types of applications, now comes the fun part - finding inspiration for your first project.

But how do you start?
How do you come up with an idea that's not only exciting but also viable?

Firstly, a great starting point for any project is to identify a problem that needs solving.

This could be something that you've personally experienced or a problem that you've observed others struggling with.

The best ideas often come from our own frustrations.

If you've ever found yourself thinking, "I wish there was an app for that," then you're on the right track.

Start by answering one of two questions:

Does it solve a problem for you?

A good place to start is to think about any problems you have that could be solved.

Think of yourself as your first user or customer.

Developing a solution for a problem you personally experience can be incredibly rewarding and ensures a built-in user base - people just like you.

For example, do you struggle to keep your notes organised when learning to code? Then how about making your own note-taking/task management app?

Or perhaps you love to cook but don’t have anywhere to keep your recipes. Then you could make a personalised online recipe book.

If you're facing a particular issue, chances are, others are too.

Does it solve a problem for someone else?

Perhaps you've noticed a challenge that a specific group of people are facing.

This could be anything from a productivity issue at work to a gap in the market for a particular type of mobile game.

For example, if you have friends or colleagues who often ask for recommendations for places to eat, you could build a localised restaurant locations app.

Or perhaps there’s a mobile game you play where users complain about missing features. You can make your own version that includes those features.

If you can identify a problem for others and develop a solution, you're well on your way to creating a successful app or website.

Finding solutions to problems is often the best place to start when you are thinking about building a new project.

After all, as developers, solving problems is what we do best!

Where to Find Inspiration?

Now, let's talk about where to find inspiration.

There are many resources out there, and sometimes, the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming.

So here are a few places to start:

1) Existing Apps and Websites

Look at what's already out there.

And see if you can answer any of these questions:

  • What do you like about your favourite apps and websites?

  • What do you wish they did differently?

  • Can you think of a way to improve on an existing idea?

Like I said at the start, nothing is new, but most things can be tweaked or adapted depending on what it is.

For example, let’s look at Instagram vs. Snapchat.

Snapchat introduced the concept of "Stories" — posts that disappear after 24 hours. Instagram, then added the same feature to its platform and enhanced it with additional features like stickers, Boomerangs, and more.

Then over a short space of time, Instagram's version of Stories became more popular than Snapchat's.

No matter how big or small there are always ways existing applications and websites can be adapted to improve the user experience or offering.

2) Non-technical Things That May Need An App

Look at non-technical aspects of life that could benefit from a digital makeover.

Consider everyday services or activities that haven't yet fully embraced the potential of technology.

Think about what common, non-technical services or activities could be enhanced or simplified with an app.

A prime example of this is the transformation of traditional taxi services by Uber.

Taxis have been a staple in transportation for decades, but they were often plagued by inconveniences like the need for cash transactions and the lack of a simple booking system.

Uber revolutionised this by introducing a mobile app interface that allows users to hail a ride with a few taps, pay seamlessly through the app, and even rate their experience.

This blend of a familiar service with innovative technology has made Uber a game-changer in the industry.

3) Tech Blogs and Forums

These are like little treasure troves of inspiration.

If you dig deep enough in tech blogs you can find discussions about the latest trends, reviews of new apps and websites.

Forums are a great place too. Find ones where developers share their own projects and ideas.

Spaces like Indie Hackers and Product Hunt are full of people sharing their products which you can draw inspiration from.

They are also good places for interacting with other developers. By commenting and asking questions you can find out about different people’s pain points and think of solutions which could help them out.

4) Tech Meetups and Conferences

Nothing beats connecting with other people who share your interests.

Attend local or virtual meetups and conferences to hear about the latest developments in the tech world and meet people who can inspire and guide you.

Bouncing ideas off of people face-to-face is often more inspiring than reading stuff behind a screen.

You may even find opportunities for collaboration if that’s something you’re also interested in.

5) Brainstorming Sessions

Finally, set aside some time to just think.

This could be on your own with a notebook and a cup of coffee, or with a group of friends or colleagues.

You'd be surprised at what you can come up with when you give yourself the space to be creative.

Try using diagramming or whiteboard tools to just brainstorm your ideas, this doesn’t have to be in any particular organised way.

And if you’re having a thinking session, try to eliminate distractions, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, play some inspiring music, and just let your creative energy just flow.

Conclusion

And there you have it - my insights on finding inspiration for building your first (or any) application or website.

From looking at different types of applications to start the thinking process, to exploring various sources of inspiration, such as existing apps and websites, tech blogs, forums, meetups, and even non-technical aspects of life that could benefit from a digital touch - we’ve covered a lot of ground!

Remember, the journey of coding is one of continuous learning and exploration.

It's about solving problems, creating value, and most importantly, turning your ideas into reality.

So, keep your eyes open and your mind curious.

Every great app or website started as just an idea.

Whether you're about to build your first application or your hundredth, don’t underestimate the power of a good idea 💡

Inspiration can strike at any moment, and when it does, I’m sure you'll be ready.

From your fellow ever-growing dev,

Cherlock Code


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