The project is being launched by a group called Greater Good. The goal is to develop a new mobile app to help users navigate the CTA network. I’m quite skeptical as to the usefulness of the project, given that the CTA already has similar resources in place. It’s supposed to be a community-sourced project, allowing those who will ultimately use the app to partake in its development. It sounds appealing at first, but there are a few things that make me think twice:
First, the large crowd in attendance at the launch party was overwhelmingly 20 to 30something, white, and upper class—hardly representative of the CTA user base. Second, the amount of money they hope to raise is $125,000. I understand developing an app isn’t easy, but I can’t help but think of the other things that money could be used for… For example, many CTA stops don’t even have physical route maps and timetables. $125,000 worth of display maps might not be as sexy as a smartphone app, but it is badly needed and would benefit everyone…not just those who can afford a smartphone.
Second, while Greater Good certainly has good intentions, they never really defined the problem they are trying to solve in the first place, which seems like it would be wise to do before launching the Kickstarter campaign. That way, people know what the project actually hopes to accomplish.
Finally, a word of advice for my hypothetical app-making audience: having worked on community-sourced projects before, you will need to do everything you can to fully understand what your intended users want. This means conducting interviews with a wide variety of community members, (not just the horned rimmed glasses/black turtleneck crowd) and you’ll need to interview enough people that your sample group approaches the overall user base of the app in need and demographic. It would also be wise to set up some sort of public forum for community members to submit and discuss ideas. Yes, Facebook and Twitter can serve this purpose, but once again, not all your hopeful customers will fall into that category. This means, once again, talking to real people in person, and lots of them.
To pledge or read more, visit the project’s Kickstarter page for the project here