Apps are a tool, not the Solution

Students, design an experience as a solution, not an app.

At the start of 2016 I started studying a dual degree of Design and I.T which seemed to fit me pretty well. Going to the classes with both the Design and I.T sides of my degree there was a scary similarity: every student designed apps.

When we were told to create an “innovative” solution to the drop out rate in design courses, almost every single team presented a similar app that would “engage first year students” in some way. Needless to say, the panel of judges was unimpressed and teams that chose more tactile approaches as a solution were rewarded for their creativity.

Sure, they seem trendy and it’s easy to say that a bunch of students will download an app and use it. That’s bullshit because most people generally use three apps regularly.

The deeper problem here is that it seems a lot of teenagers entering University have come to the belief that all problems need to be solved with apps. Not enough of them are focusing on the entire experience to solve the problem they’re given.

This is largely because of the explosion of mobile applications since 2009, students are conditioned to think that apps do solve problems. And, to a certain extent they do, but most teenagers are conditioned to believe that apps make fucking money.

Creating more dynamic teams with creative designers (not just graphic and web designers but the ones that do weird shit like packaging design and product design) is one solution to this. Another could be to educate students on the entire process of a solution; on-boarding and all the “how’s” especially.

If you’re a college or university student I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and if there is a similar situation in other countries or university's.

I’m on Twitter @awoldes, check out my current project at makethatstartup.com