What’s the Big Idea?
Explicitly define the one-point vision for your app
What does your app stand for? What’s it really all about? Before you start designing or coding anything you need to know the purpose of your product — the vision. Think big. Why does it exist? What makes it different than other similar products?
This vision will guide your decisions and keep you on a consistent path. Whenever there’s a sticking point, ask, “Are we staying true to the vision?”
Your vision should be brief too. A sentence should be enough to get the idea across. Here’s the vision for each of our products:
- Basecamp: Project management is communication
- Backpack: Bring life’s loose ends together
- Campfire: Group chat over IM sucks
- Ta-da List: Competing with a post-it note
- Writeboard: Word is overkill
With Basecamp, for example, the vision was “Project management is communication. We felt strongly that effective communication on a project leads to collective ownership, involvement, investment, and momentum. It gets everyone on the same page working toward a common goal. We knew if Basecamp could accomplish this, everything else would fall in line.
This vision led us to keep Basecamp as open and transparent as possible. Instead of limiting communication to within a firm, we gave clients access too. We thought less about permissions and more about encouraging all participants to take part. The vision is why we skipped charts, graphs, tables, reports, stats, and spreadsheets and instead focused on communication priorities like messages, comments, to-do lists, and sharing files. Make the big decision about your vision upfront and all your future little decisions become much easier.
Andy Hunt and I once wrote a debit card transaction switch. A major requirement was that the user of a debit card shouldn’t have the same transaction applied to their account twice. In other words, no matter what sort of failure mode might happen, the error should be on the side of not processing a transaction rather than processing a duplicate transaction.
So, we wrote it on our shared whiteboard in big letters: Err in favor of users.
It joined about half-a-dozen other maxims. Jointly, these guided all those tricky decisions you make while building something complex. Together, these laws gave our application strong internal coherence and great external consistency.
—Dave Thomas, The Pragmatic Programmers
Organizations need guideposts. They need an outline; employees need to know each day when they wake up why they’re going to work. This outline should be short and sweet, and all encompassing: Why do you exist? What motivates you? I call this a mantra — a three or four-word description of why you exist.
—Guy Kawasaki, author (from Make Mantra)
» 37signals Book
“We need to think in terms of our cultural products. What do we culturally produce? Music, dance, art, jokes in a word Entertainment(“Music is about symbols and ultimately it is through symbols that you evoke behaviour from people -Dr.A.Wilson“
Brainstormed Ideas, so far:
- Social Networking Educational website.
- Create a site like Ticketmaster. This idea will hopefully help in terms of distribution networks. Have you guys ever heard of tiki-tix? this site is an example: http://www.bass.net.au/ . We can get artists(not just music) to sell their tickets via our web application, so users can book an event in advance. This helps fund the site without a single donate button
- Create a site like Airbnb. Anyway the premise of the site is that when travelling users can go stay in other users homes for free i.e., sleep on the couch or spare room, that way they avoid expensive hotel, motel or hostel fees. We could incorporate something in that order too (bear in mind these are total strangers who meet online).
- A local directory of black owned business i.e., in your area … plumbers, carpenters, architects, software developers, daycares etc.
Brainstormed Features, so far:
Access and Code of Conduct:
- Badges and Ideology criteria.
- Jobs board for jobs in different countries.
- Current affairs blog.
- Competitions to keep people engaged.
- A visual way, to get people to understand the philosophy of the site (not just book recommendations).
- A safe way for people to trade goods.
- A business education section.
- Monetization through selling t-shirts, sponsorship and
- An investment club.
- A Quora-like page, where users can ask questions.
- Lottery created by teaming up with a business partner. The prizes can be a monthly trip\money\property…
- Afrikan centered psychologists to have live\recorded video workshops on coping skills, conflict resolution, critical thinking, dealing with ‘law’ enforcement and such (I guess this kinda encroaches on the territory of the podcasts) but I think, having this sort of thing would be beneficial. Also have you all heard of hulu http://www.hulu.com/ is another way to go.
- Music catalog of all the music we as a people have ever produced, Have it up for download. May be hosted outside the jurisdiction of Europe, America etc. Then we offer it up for download, for free to members.
- Online games … chess, Go, monopoly (An Afrikan version– I was gonna make this myself, but reverse the premise, i.e, one/two/three players start off rich, and the others must form a coalition to depose,stop or neutralize him/her)
»» Those of you who have any further suggestions, fill in the Ideas Form Sheet (» Ideas Form Sheet) and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will help you and others to think more about the viability of your idea.
Week 2 >>