10) Improve Existing Job Roles
Remove steps and increase efficiency of an existing job role. App examples:
- Instagram simplified retouching and sharing photos
- Twitter replaced newswire services by enabling private citizens to announce news
Can you improve function that you perform or buy regularly?
9) Focus on Problems
There’s an old saying in sales: “Find the pain, and push it.” People want to buy fixes to problems that annoy them, frustrate them, or waste their time and energy. When you find pain points, solutions are often quite obvious. App examples:
- Evernote integrated, centralized, digitized, and prioritized note taking
- Pocket makes a list of things to remember to read online
8) Examine Your Passions
Work on what excites you. This may open up new concepts, or highlight an area where you can add value. Existing apps don’t mean there’s not space for yours – in fact, they may prove the market appeal of your idea.
7) What You’re Good At / What You Know
Leverage your skills and knowledge. You may have unique knowledge, or can use your skills to address an existing problem. For example, Mint.com leverages your existing knowledge of the financial industry, and adds value from there.
6) What Already Exists
There is nothing new under the sun.
– King Solomon
An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.
– Stephen Frye
We tend to glamorize originality. If you focus on a niche, look at what already exists. There’s often room to improve it, or create meaningful variations. Why should software be any different than music?
5) Go Around the Room
Gather a small group of trusted friends and advisors, and take turns voicing an app idea. (This can be a fun drinking game, as long as you keep the pace of rounds slow.) Each person offers only one idea – no matter how crazy or outlandish – and tries to sell it to the rest of the group in a maximum of one minute. Keep going around until all ideas have been exhausted. Oh, and designate a note-taker – preferably someone who likes sobriety.
4) Mind Mapping
Draw any thought/idea/problem in the middle of your mind map. Next, dig into that thought/idea/problem and break it into other ideas, drawing them out in any direction. If anyone contributes a totally different idea, draw it on a new canvas, or in a separate area. Let the ideas flow. it doesn’t matter if the relationships aren’t correct. Your map should not be neat or pretty. It should look like all of the ideas have fallen out of your head onto paper.
3) Idea Wall
Use Post-it notes in a similar way to mind mapping. Find a space on a wall or large white board, write ideas on post-its, and stick them on. Stick similar ideas close to each other, and use the same color of Post-Its for similar ideas. You end up with idea clusters. Feel free to move ideas around, but avoid the temptation to arrange perfection. Take photos of your idea wall so you refer back to them. Number the Post-It to make it easier to refer to them.
2) Google It
Have a seed of an idea, and want to expand it? Google makes a great discovery tool. Don’t dig into details. Instead, discover related problems, ideas. Find discussion forums and blogs on your topic. Look for common themes, gripes, problems. Ask questions to kick off discussions that expose pain points.
1) Lean Ideation
Lean ideation generates ideas and proves their worth quickly, then repeats the cycle. Using an idea wall, generate 10 ideas in 10 minutes or less. Assign each idea to a team member, with a deadline to prove it. Proof criteria can include people complaining online about the problem the idea will solve, and existing similar apps. Glean the ideas that pass the test, then repeat the process until you obtain your target number of ideas.