My Waterloo Idea


My Waterloo Idea was a bit of a social and technical experiment.

Inspired by the success of My Starbucks Idea, I wanted to see if I could create a similar site, where students could share ideas about how to improve the University of Waterloo.


My Waterloo Idea was a social networking site where members of the University of Waterloo community could submit their ideas about how to improve life on campus.

Visitors could then rank, comment-on and connect with one another in hopes that their ideas would someday make the campus a better place.


WordPressCleanHome ThemePostHasteWP-PostRatingsAdminimizeAdd Local AvatarWP-PageNavi

The Concept:

I knew I wouldn’t have very much time to develop the site – just 1-2 weeks part-time – so I made every effort to strip the functionality down to just the ‘bare essentials’.

I focussed on providing users with the ability to share ideas (without entering a back-end administration panel), comment and vote for their favourite submissions.


Design & Development:

Early in the project, I decided that I would use WordPress as a base for the site.

It already had many of the functions that I was looking for and I knew that, with a few custom tweaks and plugins, it could handle the functionality I was after.

Since this was a quick project, instead of creating a custom theme, I used Bryan Helmig’s CleanHome Theme as a base for the design and made small changes to support the features I was adding.


Submitting Ideas:

By default, WordPress only allows users to post from the back-end administration area.

I used Jon Smajda’s Posthaste plugin to extend this functionality to the front-end and added a few tweaks of my own to simplify things for users.



To enable voting and the ‘Top Rated’ and ‘Most Popular’ ideas sections, I used Lester Chan’s WP-PostRatings plugin.

For the sake of time, I kept the installation fairly vanilla, but it certainly would have benefited from some customization and integration with the theme .



In the short time that the site was active – just over a month – it was surprisingly successful.

Users submitted 27 ideas61 comments and 144 votes.

It had 228 unique visitors, served up almost 2000 page views and the average browsing time was almost 4 minutes.