Kevin Coleman needed “Something Good” as much as anyone when the idea for a new app came to him.
Burnout in the volatile world of contract-based web development had begun to blister his own sense of value.
After his last job ended in September 2018, the graphic designer-turned-developer found a way to channel his technological acumen — one of the best things to come from his previous two positions in custom web applications and integrations and leading a global team on WordPress core and Google plugins — to combat his discouragement, which was one of the worst.
Then he created Something Good, an app meant to focus on changing the world, one achievable and positive step at a time.
At first, the idea allowed him to explore native development, which involves software programs that run on specific devices and platforms. So if it wasn’t hugely successful, he still got the benefit of experience. But the bigger picture is even better.
Launched late last January the app provides users a randomly generated and inherently good task to perform and mark off each day.
The tasks are simple, achievable and accessible — three criteria by which Coleman, a 2009 Walla Walla University graduate and Walla Walla resident, vets the ideas. “Say something nice” is one task. “Send someone a handwritten letter” and “throw away some trash you find” are others.
The app provides a way to mark the deed as having been done, giving users a sense of completion as good works chalk up.
About 130 different ideas for good things are currently loaded into the app’s database. Ideas have come through Coleman, as well as suggestions from others. Since its launch, about 600 people worldwide have downloaded the app.
Albeit small tasks, Coleman said the purpose is bigger than it may seem. The interactions with people and our surroundings that come from it make users more conscientious of their mission of good.
“It makes you recognize that you did a good thing, which is self-affirming,” Coleman said. “Even if people are checking it off and not doing it, it’s changing the world because it’s changing cognitive dissonance.”
Being free makes it that much more “good.”
It’s also a bit of an anomaly. Even free apps typically have a monetization strategy, such as in-app ads or in-app purchases. But that would defeat Coleman’s philosophy behind Something Good.
“I will plan to never make money on this app,” he said. It is, in fact, a good deed.
From this, though, he’s conceptualized potential app ideas that could be moneymakers. But he’s waiting to work on those while he focuses on Something Good, as well as his paid work in contract design and web development through Kevin Coleman Design. (He also teaches evening classes at Walla Walla University.)
He believes more work remains to achieve a more complete version of the app. Maybe a setting screen that customizes the time of day when good things happen and ways to grow its presence.
“I don’t want to just make something and abandon it,” he said.
Coleman is tickled by the ways in which he hears of the app’s use. He’s gotten feedback from teachers who take the concept and then write out the random instruction on the chalk board for their students to complete.
“It’s getting used in ways I didn’t even think of,” he marveled.
“One of the least-expected but best surprises I’ve had since starting was a realization about the target demographic of the app,” Coleman shared in the back story on his Web page. “Initially I thought to target pretty much anyone with this app — and, indeed, anyone can use it — but I realized part way in that there’s also a very important demographic that this app targets: those struggling with depression.”
For those who battle depression, finding a reason to get out of bed sometimes feels like a herculean task. Finding the point in even small things feels impossible.
“Because Something Good encourages people to reach the low bar of one good thing (even a very small thing), it aims directly to help people who may not see any reason to do anything,” the story online explains. “It even gives them an answer (however small) to the question ‘what have I even done to merit existing?’”