Our team was coming up with ideas for our project when the discussion took a twist and we started talking about something quite pervasive in the workplace: unconscious bias. We wanted to tackle this issue and think of a natural, intuitive, and useful way to do it. This led us to focus on the ideation process, where many small voices with great ideas get drowned out by larger voices with poor ideas. Iterating on the idea to make it intuitive and useful to managers and teams (we talked to a lot of mentors -- user research!), we finally came up with Ideaback.

What it does

The web app allows teams to anonymously introduce ideas to an overall idea map, where they can link dependent ideas together and then subsequently "vote" on ideas to give them weight. After collaborating on this app for just a short while, patterns and insights begin to emerge as the group collectively inputs their ideas and feedback. Prominent ideas grow larger in size, linked ideas are grouped by colour, and interdependent ideas increase in size together.

How we built it

We used HTML/CSS with JavaScript to build the front-end interface and Node.js with Express.js to build the back end. Collaboration is enabled using, and we have an Ubuntu server running on Linode.

Challenges we ran into

Overall, the entire project was challenging as it was the first time for many of us working with Node, Express, and Arbor, as well as the first time we've ever deployed a web app to a server. Some specific difficulties we ran into:

  • collaboration: the real-time inputs of ideas and updating the interface for all users was challenging to execute, but we learned how to use to help make this easier.
  • new languages: JS was fairly new for all of us programming and using Express caused us to have to duplicate and shift around many files, breaking some of our pre-existing links.
  • servers: we tried deploying the app to several cloud systems, like Heroku and Meteor but they had dependencies that we didn't build into our code. In the end, Jeff at Linode was very helpful at 5AM and we were able to set up a Linux server.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Definitely that the web app looks great and actually has almost all of the functionalities that we had aimed to create! More importantly, we're proud of how well our team worked together to solve problems and help each other learn.

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