Thought so, but maybe if you’re a developer you’ve also come across something pretty similar: Programmers Block.
I submit that, with the exception of spaghetti code, that there’s nothing worse than the little flashing cursor in your editor window showing a blank code window.
Inspiration is something that programmers need just as much as writers and it’s often just as elusive to programmers as to writers when they have writers block.
I don’t care what anyone says, there is an inherent creativity required to be a programmer and when the inspiration well runs dry it can be torturous.
WordPress currently has over 22,000 plugins – and that’s just in the official WordPress plugin directory.
I suspect that the number is probably closer to 30,000 when you take into account all the premium plugins out there and bits of code that end up on Github and never go anywhere else after that.. (yes, guilty as charged).
This means that just about anything that you can think of off the top of your head has probably already thought of before. It’s any wonder we work ourselves into a corner when trying to think of new plugin ideas.
Well kids, get your delicious bookmarklet primed… here’s your surefire list to get you out of that rut and back onto the coding bandwagon.
The Official “Help Me, I’m Stuck” Guide to WordPress Plugin Developer Inspiration
(Yes we know, it’s pretty niche, but you can use this for other scenarios too!)
1. Scratch Your Own Itch
The first place I always look when the inspiration well runs dry is to my own problems.
Being a business owner and owner of multiple websites I certainly have a few things on my list that irritate me about WordPress.
Think about your situation and see if there are any immediate ideas that come to mind to make your life easier.
Your ideas might not be entirely new, but you might uncover a way to do something better than everyone else has.
When I was developing a review website I went in search of an affiliate link management tool. The offering at the time was pretty slim and I didn’t like the way the existing tools on the market worked.
It’s been on the market for a couple of years now and it’s something that came out of me scratching my own itch.
2. Survey Your Audience
Do you own a blog? Have a mailing list? A group of friends that you can ask?
This is like an extension of point 1 – ask your friends, readers and whoever you can if they have any particular problems that are bothering them with WordPress at the moment.
It’s a great way to get unbiased feedback, then you can take the ideas garnered, filter out the crap ones and do some more searching on the ones you choose.
You might even be able to help a few people in the process.
verb – to complain, especially chronically.
Do you like a winge? I know I do. When I find something that I think could be improved the first thing I do is complain loudly about it.. usually to the cat because I work from home… But still!
Well there’s actually an outlet for people like me to go and kvetch, it’s called Kvetch (funnily enough) and it’s on WordPress.org’s Extend area.
If you visit Kvetch on WordPress.org you can refresh the page over and over to see people complaining about WordPress and it’s features.
It’s a fantastic place to see people’s anonymous gripes and you know what they say*, a gripe is just a problem that doesn’t have a solution yet, so you should definitely find some inspiration here.
* actually, I just made that up
4. Canvas WordPress Idea Suggestions Area
The other place that WordPress provides is their ideas forum.
You can see a list of all the latest ideas suggested by people for improving WordPress along with a list of popular ideas.
There’s some real gems here, and it’s great because the person posting is usually suggesting a solution rather than just identifying a problem.
I like to troll the latest ideas before other people cotton onto them. It’s a great place to not only find painful problems, but to canvas solutions that you can directly translate into code.
5. WordPress Forums
Have you ever helped out in the WordPress.org forums?
A lot of developers hide behind their code editors and don’t actively participate in the community which is a huge shame. There’s a lot that can be gained from volunteering a bit of your time in the forums…
I try to do it whenever I can, which probably isn’t enough, but I do occasionally go on sprees of helping people in a bind.
The bonus? It’s just happens to be a great place to find ideas for plugins too.
When you’re pitching in and helping out this fantastic community of ours keep an eye out for any problems that could be solved with a new plugin.
You’ll not only feel good for volunteering a bit of your time, but you might even come away with some ideas.
Ideas for clever plugins are everywhere, if you know where to look.
So next time that little cursor is blinking at you and you’ve been staring at a blank editor for 15 minutes bust out this blog post and go through the above suggestions.
I’m certain you’ll find something worth investigating.