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Mobile Ideas and Where to Find Them

Mobile app ideas are a curious commodity. Some seem destined for glory before they’re even executed. Others take time to mature and need refinement the whole way through the development process.

· Mobile Zone

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The ideas themselves can come from a number of places. For some developers, ideas fall from the sky like apples dropping from a tree. For others, it takes a keen eye to see solutions where others see only problems.

But what if you can’t wait for gravity to kick in? Do you have the skills and time but a lack of direction? Check out these tips for coming up with original mobile app ideas in minutes.

1. Solution-Based App Ideas

One of the best ways to come up with mobile app ideas is to create a solution for a problem people face in their everyday lives.

First, you need to identify a problem that you experience on a regular basis. Can you think of a solution to make this problem less prominent? If you can, then you might be at the root of a new app idea. Can this solution be achieved with an app? If the answer is yes, then there’s a good chance you’re on to something. The last thing you should ask yourself is; do other people have the same problem too? If the answer to this is also yes, then you have a solid idea for a new app.

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This is a common approach for creating new apps and businesses in general. It works well because it encourages you to look at things in simple terms. It’s much easier to fix a basic problem than to come up with a complex and completely new idea. And if you understand the problem yourself, then you’re in a good position to fix it.

Canvsly is a great example of this technique. The app was created by Amit Murumkar. He realized that there wasn’t enough space on his refrigerator for all of his child’s artwork. Some of it had to be removed over time to make space for new paintings and drawings. But he didn’t have a good way to save the old artwork.

He also felt sad that his own artwork was never saved. Then he thought about all the other parents that must have a similar issue. He found a problem he was having, realized that other people had the same problem and created a solution. You can read the full Canvsly story here.

The key to this technique is to be aware of pain-points in your life or the lives of your friends and family. If you or someone you know encounters the same issue on a regular basis with no solution in sight, then you can be the one to fix it.

2. Improve an Existing Mobile App Idea

Sometimes a product or service comes into our lives and seems to fix a problem we all have. But what if it doesn’t provide a complete solution or you can see a way to make it better? Then it might be time to reinvent the wheel and improve an existing idea.

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Many app developers have gained positive results with this technique over the last few years. Whether it’s taking an app and giving it a better UI or creating a lite version of an essential app, developers always seem to find a way to improve things. And you don’t need to confine yourself to the technological world either. Even traditional businesses are now being improved by app developers.

Uber is a great example of this. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp took a simple idea like the taxi, improved the service for end-users with their mobile app, and now own a company worth over $60 billion. Their success speaks for itself at this point. They didn’t have to invent anything new or convince people to do something they hadn’t done before. They simply provided people with a more streamlined service that gets them from A to B.

Improving an existing idea is difficult but it has its advantages. A major advantage of this technique is that it’s easy for people to adopt. If you can explain your app by saying “It’s xyz, but better!”, users will have an immediate picture of what your app can do. And once users see that you’ve improved an idea in a genuine way, it’s hard for them to go back to doing things the old way.

3. Mobile App Market Research

Have you taken a look at the top 100 apps lately? If you’re good at noticing trends or predicting what’s going to be popular in a few months, then market research is a great way to find inspiration.

Market research involves gathering info on what products or services people want now and trying to come up with ideas that they will want in the future. It’s a simple concept but it can be difficult to put into practice. Your assessment of what the market will demand in the future needs to be accurate. App developers are quite lucky, however — you have empirical charts for both the major app stores to show you what’s popular all around the world.

Your research can be a lot less complicated than analyzing worldwide app downloads. Brian Wong came up with Kiip after doing some market research in the most basic way possible. While traveling onboard a plane, he checked the device screens of other passengers to see what they were doing. He noticed that everyone was using their devices to play mobile games. All the passengers were highly engaged, but Wong noticed that on-screen ads were of little value to users.

He decided that mobile gamers should be able to earn real life rewards for their engagement, and so Kiip was born.

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Wong’s market research focused on a small cross-section of mobile users but he was able to identify a trend nonetheless. Your own market research can be as simple as asking 5 friends what they use their phone for most or a poll on your favorite social media site. The important thing is to gather solid information from reliable sources.

With market research, developers have the opportunity to create apps with a large group of people in mind. It allows you to see how similar ideas have worked or why apps based on good ideas failed before. It’s a powerful tool and allows you to come up with app ideas from an informed perspective.

Even if you’ve already begun working on an idea, it’s a good idea to do your market research. It would be redundant to create an app from scratch if a similar app had just failed to make it in the app stores. Here are some tools that can help you get the inside track on mobile market research.

4. Keep a Notebook

Some people find it easy to come up with ideas for mobile apps. But having too many ideas can lead to more problems than having no ideas at all. If you find yourself being overwhelmed with ideas, your best bet is to start keeping a notebook or journal.

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Notebooks are a great tool for organizing ideas but it’s also been shown that writing down ideas helps you to remember them better as well. If you’re the type of person that has 100 ideas a day, keeping track of everything in your head can be difficult. When you consider that you’ll need to prioritize these ideas at some point, it becomes obvious that keeping a notebook is your best option.

Many of history’s great thinkers and inventors kept notebooks, the most famous being Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci’s notebooks have been described as artwork themselves. They contain designs for futuristic machinery, mathematical equations, and his personal thoughts. It’s clear that they were a way for Da Vinci to keep track of his ideas. If it worked for one of the greatest geniuses of all time, then surely it can help you come up with an app idea.

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And if you’re still short of ideas, you’ll be glad to hear that keeping a notebook has been shown to increase your creativity. It does this by giving you a place to communicate and process complex ideas in an effective manner. You can use a notebook to keep track of your development progress, diet or just write down everyday events. It also gives you the ability to look back at ideas or events and gain a fresh insight about them long after they occurred.

While this may not be the most instantly gratifying technique on the list, it’s proven to be effective over time. If you’ve never been able to keep up a notebook in the past, check out this guide for getting started.

5. Brainstorm Like a Pro!

Brainstorming has a bad reputation in certain circles because when done incorrectly, it can be a big waste of time. Get it right, though, and you’ll surprise even yourself with the ideas you can come up with. Here are a few quick tips to improve your brainstorming session!

Use a Visual Prompt

When brainstorming, it’s a good idea to keep a certain topic in mind. This helps you to create ideas within a certain context. A visual prompt is an effective way to frame the context you’re trying to work in. Even having a photo of an object can be a useful anchor for your ideas.

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Think of the Worst Ideas Possible

This technique may seem novel at first, but there’s a clear method to this approach. You start off by trying to think of the worst ideas imaginable. Write them all down and then you need to try and turn these terrible ideas into good ideas. It’s a basic approach, and you may not always turn the bad ideas into good ones. But if you come up with one good idea then you’ll have had a productive brainstorming session.

Challenge Your Assumptions

One of the problems we all face when coming up with ideas is that we work within our own set of assumptions. You can only begin to think outside the box when you challenge these assumptions head on.

To start off with, think about the kind of app you want to make. Then ask yourself, why you want to make this type of app, why will it be successful, and why you’re the person to make it. This type of brainstorming helps you to scrutinize potential ideas and discover stumbling blocks before you encounter them in real life. And by imagining these stumbling blocks, you can consider ways to overcome them or avoid them completely with a different mobile app idea.

6. Mobile App Ideas Online

If you’re feeling completely bereft of ideas, there are thousands of ideas for mobile apps online. It might seem crazy for people to give away their ideas like that, but some people just want to see their problem solved. These ideas may need to be taken with a pinch of salt but they offer a great jumping off point for your own ideas. Check out these links to see some mobile app ideas and get your own mind racing.

Although these ideas vary in quality or plausibility, just reading through them is a great way to start coming up with your own app ideas. You can also check out this app idea generator:

The Mobile Zone is brought to you in partnership with Strongloop and IBM.  Visually compose APIs with easy-to-use tooling. Learn how IBM API Connect provides near-universal access to data and services both on-premises and in the cloud.


Published at DZone with permission of Michael Organ. See the original article here.

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