8 ideas for your first web app

January 8th, 2017

Recently I wrote an article about why you should build a tiny React app first. It’s a great exercise for a developer of any skill level.

I also suggested that the app be unique. This way you avoid falling into the trap of copy/pasting, and the skills that you learn stick to your brain.

The only catch: it can be tough to come up with a tiny, but unique, idea. You might be stuck wondering:

What app should I build while learning React?

That’s why I came up with a few for you. These ideas are deliberately left a bit vague. Pick your favorite, then fill in the details yourself to make the app truly your own.

8 tiny app ideas

Without further ado, here is the list:

1. Dictionary app

For simplicity, keep all the words in memory. You can find a dictionary .json file at adambom/dictionary.

2. Grocery list app

Basically like a TODO list app, but you don’t need the option of checking off each item since you’ll buy everything at once. From there you could add support for item quantities, or a feature to save past lists. Use localStorage to avoid needing a server.

3. Personal budget tool

Download your transactions from your bank (probably as CSV) and convert them to JSON. Then write an app that lets you search/sort/filter them.

4. Tic tac toe game

Simple games make great first apps. Don’t worry about networking - just make it so both players play from the same computer.

5. Basic calendar app

Build an app that allows you to browse the calendar. Add dates that you find interesting - celebrity birthdays, foreign holidays, or whatever.

Make an app that displays pictures of family members or chronicles a recent vacation. This one is great practice - so many sites have image galleries (e.g. Yelp, Facebook, Pinterest).

7. Recipe search app

Type up your recipes into JSON format, then build an app that allows you to search them. For extra credit, make it so you can enter what ingredients you have and it will show you which recipes you can make.

8. Hangman game

If you’re not familiar with Hangman - it’s a game where the players try to guess a word. If you use a random word from the dictionary then you won't know the word and you can play by yourself.

What now?

I hope you see the value in building your own small app - and I hope this list helps you get started.

If you want example apps with code, then read the next article in the series.

If you are ready to build your first app, but you want exact steps, then check out my ebook: Your First React App.