caro's site

free ideas & prompts

Ideas are cheap, and execution is everything.

Here are some ideas and prompts for little interactive projects. I don't have the time or energy to make these, and I just want to see if anything comes of sharing these ideas that would otherwise lie fallow in my mind.

If you're looking for portfolio pieces or side projects, this list might be helpful. If something here inspires you to make something, let me know (@carolynz or and I will link to it from here.

  • Global pomodoro timer. Instead of a timer that's set by the user, everyone using this pomodoro site/app is on the same 25/5 minute intervals. During the 5-minute breaks, a global chat lets everyone interact with each other.

  • Adding friction to digital/mobile payments, so you get a better sense of how much money you're spending. Venmoing my friends $1 or $100 feels about the same to me now. Same goes for buying stuff on Amazon, or using Wechat Pay. What if instead of using a 0-9 number keypad, I had to add up pictures of dollar bills? Or even just press the "pay" button longer for bigger payments? etc.

  • Multi-screen experiences for Netflix, Zoom, etc. We already often look at two or three screens at once anyway (TV, laptop, phone, watch). How would the second screen be used? Adding another dimension to the experience? Adding more interactivity? etc. Useful prompt if you want a design portfolio project. Reference: Jackbox games, Keynote Remote, Apple Remote iOS app, Google's Lightsaber Escape Chrome experiment

  • Make Twitter or blog posts or [other content] auto-disappear after some amount of time. Only keep the stuff you want to keep. I've been thinking about this for my blog — writing whatever with default 30-day retention, and only keeping it for longer than that if enough people ask me to keep it (maybe some voting system). Yes, you could do this manually, but what would a product where this retention policy is built in by default look like? Reference: Snapchat's saved messages

  • Chrome extension where you take a new selfie and write a new bio every day, and it updates all your social account bios and photos. Basically, treating your social media bios as a status rather than an identifier. I always feel so held back by the past versions of myself that are documented and visible online, and want simple ways to feel more free to change.

  • A list of things you've said/believed that you no longer agree with. I plan on doing this regularly. As you might be able to tell by now, I love changing myself and observing that change.

  • Instagram filter where your face does the solitaire card bounce.

  • Climate activism guidance via Chrome extension. A countdown of how many days left until we reach 450ppm atmospheric CO2 + the 1 thing you can do today.

  • Snail-mail newsletter. Interactive, if possible — e.g., create chain mail and include a stamp and envelope. I've been wanting to do something like this, and bought a domain for the project so you know that, uh, I'll probably never do it. But regardless, you could try it too! Think this could be 1. a fun way to share with friends during the pandemic, 2. a fun way to think about interaction mechanics in a physical surface.

  • Default-on music playing at the start of video calls, as people join. I already do this manually, but I wish this was a Zoom/Hangouts feature.

I've got a lot more like this, I just don't remember right now. I mean, I'm writing this at 3am — I'll add more stuff soon.