I’m always looking for ways to become a better app developer. I follow other developers’ blogs, watch tutorials, and read countless development articles. I didn’t know that my son’s LEGO could also teach me some valuable lessons!
In the last year we have really encouraged Master L to play with LEGO. We have bought some of the ‘City’ LEGO sets for him such as the Fire Truck and he has really loved putting these together. They have been a great introduction to ‘big boy’ LEGO as well as to following instructions and he loves role playing with them once they are finished.
Recently however we decided it would be good for him to use his imagination a bit more so we bought him the LEGO Creative Tower; 1600 Lego blocks!
We also bought some large base plates and attached them to the top of his toy storage cabinet so that he had a dedicated space at the perfect height to build his magnificent creations.
I have spent quite a bit of time with Master L playing with his new LEGO set and building some magnificent creations together. During this time, I haven’t spent as much time on developing the next Cheg and Boomer app that I should have, however I have been reminded of several things during this time that I believe will make me a better developer:
1) Creative ideas – Sitting down and playing LEGO with Master L has given me an insight into his creativity thought process. It has been really interesting to watch him sort through the bucket of 1600 pieces, select the piece he wants and start building something from nothing. To see him start his creation and then have that idea change into something else entirely has been fascinating. Although I certainly prefer to plan my app elements a bit more than this to avoid unnecessary extra work, seeing his style has encouraged me to brainstorm all of my ideas no matter how small they might seem to be and see what they might lead to.
2) Instructions – When playing with the LEGO sets that Master L has, it gave me an insight into how he follows instructions. The sets have clear pictures which are consistent on each page. He knows exactly what piece he needs next and where it needs to go by following the diagram. This has helped me to think differently when building the help screens and instructions with my apps. Sounds obvious but it has been a reminder for me that developing apps for kids means you have to ensure that they know how to use it. It’s no point writing the instructions so that you and I can follow it.
3) Remember to Keep it Simple – One of the reasons LEGO is so loved around the world is that it couldn’t be more simple or easy to use. You can just pick it up and create whatever you like. This has been the biggest reminder for me; remembering that my apps should be easy to use and doesn’t need to be complex to be enjoyed.
4) Remember the Fun – When you are in the depths of the development phase making sure that every line is correct in your drawings or that the shadows of certain objects look right, you can easily forget about the fun element. Playing LEGO with Master L, I have seen his face light up when he gets a new idea and light up again when the idea comes to life in front of him. This has been such a good reminder for me – when I get bogged down in the detail of the development phase it’s so important to remember the fun!
They are a bit of a hazard to bare feet but otherwise LEGO has been a fantastic addition to our household not only to Master L’s imagination but also to mine.