So you've come up with an idea for an application, and you believe it has the potential to be a great one that’s going to disrupt your industry. It solves a specific need and is unlike anything else that’s already on the market. App development is, by definition, not exactly something you do overnight. On the contrary, there is a lot of time and money involved, and a bad decision can result in a major waste of resources. There are numerous examples of poorly developed apps that fail due to a lack of idea validation. Before you make your app idea a reality, you should consider mapping and planning it out thoroughly.
Whether you're an experienced app developer or an eager entrepreneur bursting with the best app ideas, it's usually a smart move to obtain some outside perspective before delving into constructing a costly mobile app. While you can ask your family and friends about their opinions on your plans, there is much more you can do in order to avoid developing an underwhelming product. In this blog, we tell you all you need to know about validating your app idea, diving into some examples of good and bad ideas to give you an idea of the general dos and no-gos of idea conceptualization.
Questions that matter
Before diving headfirst into the development of your app idea, it’s important to get some facts straight by answering some essential questions. These questions involve details about your target audience, as well as the current status of the market you’re (going to be) active in. These elements are essential in order to create a solid foundation for your application.
What problems are my end-users facing?
Your end-users, or target audience, are the most important deciders in the potential success of your product. After all, they’re the ones who are going to use your app (and buy its services) on a frequent basis. Or at least, that’s the goal. In order to ensure that your product is actually adding value to your user, you need to intimately understand the problems they’re facing. By applying the principles of design thinking, you learn to step into the shoes of your users to create a better understanding of their interaction with existing products and the needs they have. By creating a solution that closes the gap of unfulfilled needs, you greatly improve the chance of launching a successful application.
How is my idea solving the problem of my users?
"How does my app idea improve people's lives?" is the most critical question to ask yourself after identifying the problem at hand. After all, it’s not worth developing an app if it does not add value to your end-users. If your app isn't one that will keep your users coming back again and again, it will be deleted and forgotten in a flash. Your app should make completing a task easier, whatever that task may be. If you can excite people to use your app on a regular basis and build a devoted user base, then you’re already well on your way to success. It doesn't matter how you intend to monetize your app; you must first get users to use it. Everything you do should be geared toward providing a fantastic user experience that keeps customers coming back for more.
Is there a market for my product?
Even if your software solves a substantial problem for a group of target consumers, if there aren't enough individual users in that group, your idea is unlikely to be commercially successful. What number of users should you be on the lookout for? Depending on the revenue model of your app and your marketing plan, the answer will vary. You won't need as many prospects if you plan to charge a $50 monthly fee for access to the app as you would if it were a $0.99 app (or one that is supported by ads).
Type a few search terms into Google that your end-users would use to find a solution to the problem your app addresses to get an idea of how big your target audience is. You can also research social media groups or forums dedicated to the problem your application solves. Examining what is currently available on the market is one of the best ways to identify whether or not a market exists for your app idea. Are there already a lot of apps on the market that do what you envisioned your app to do? If that's the case, how many people have downloaded them? Thousands? Millions? You must be able to identify a market that has promise in order to be successful. That could mean filling a void or outperforming the competition. For a better chance of success, go for a gap in the market where problems don’t have an existing solution yet.
How can I test my product before fully developing it?
After you've answered the previous questions, you should have a pretty good grasp of your target audience as well as a general estimate of its size. If you still believe your concept has value to add, it's time to develop a minimal viable product (MVP).
In the same way that a prototype isn't a fully developed product, an MVP is actually functional and a great way to test among your first users and early adopters. You can release it into the wild to see how your target audience interacts with it, while only spending time and money on developing only the most crucial features that are required to satisfy major pain points. The app will work exactly like the "real" one, but it will lack some of the longer-term functionalities you intend to add after testing out the basics.
If you don’t want to invest in developing an MVP yet, you can start out with a clickable demo, which is an interactive prototype of your app without any code behind it. While you can’t test out the product on the market, you can find a few users who fit your target audience and let them go through the interface to get an idea of the functionality of your design.
3 Bad app ideas
To give you an idea of what a badly conceptualized app idea looks like, we dive into three examples.
1. Business websites
Do you ever download apps that simply provide you with information about what they can do for you? No me neither. We download apps to use them and interact with them, and by simply providing the information you won’t be able to add practical value to your customers. Someone uses an application if that app offers a solution to a problem of this user. So generally, a website focuses on the supply of information, while an app targets the user's demand.
If you're making an app for your business, it's important to know why that app needs to be created. Is that to tell the world what kind of services or products you offer? Or is that to solve a common problem among users? If you only want to provide information about your services, an application is not the best way to go. Instead, create a simple website on which you describe your services, and only invest in app development if you intend to create a product that customers can use on a frequent basis to solve specific problems they’re facing.
2. Complex mobile games
How long do generally have a game app installed on your phone? Are you still playing Wordfeud with your grandma every day? Or are you still a loyal fan of Angry Birds, after all these years? If yes, then you are quite an exception. Gaming apps generally have an extremely short lifespan. Sure, some games become a major hype, and everyone is talking about them and playing it almost obsessively. And yet such a game app usually makes a major drop in usage after a short time. The sheer amount of downloads the app had during the hype is never coming back. For that reason alone, it is not a smart idea to develop a game app and expect it to generate immense profit for years to come.
All the successful game apps that fly by on your app store are developed by large companies that are dedicated to making game apps. They are experts in their market. Behind the massively popular Pokémon Go are major developers like Niantic and the publisher Nintendo. Candy Crush is made by King, who has already made over 200 mobile games. These are companies with enormous budgets, experience and manpower to develop game apps. So, it doesn’t make much sense for entrepreneurs or small businesses to build a very complex gaming app.
However, you can instead consider developing a more approachable way of gaming, rather than complex high-intensity games that require a lot of time from the users. Smaller-scale games that focus on a very specific arcade segment, puzzle or card game, such as Sudoku or Solitaire, are not only easier and cheaper to make, they also lower the threshold for people to download and play every once in a while when they have a few minutes to spare. So, stay away from the big players for now and try to find out how you can improve smaller gaming apps available on the market.
3. Too many features
No matter the potential of your app’s main functionalities, the more extra features you add, the more complex your app will become and the further it probably ends up from its main purpose. More features also mean more investment. It’s much better to focus your budget on solving a few problems very well than solving a lot of problems in a mediocre way. Besides, a feature-packed application can also have a negative impact on the engagement between your users and the app. Imagine it: if you open an app and immediately get overwhelmed by the many buttons, menus, and other features, you’re probably not keen on trying everything out. Rather, you quit the app, uninstall it, and look for something similar but more straightforward.
3 Good app ideas
Now we have a pretty good idea of what not to develop, let’s have a look at app ideas with a much higher potential for success.
1. Let the audience decide
Knowing what your target audience needs often forms the core of your app idea. Give your users the leading role in your application. With that starting point, you've come a long way. The best way to find out what a good app idea looks like is by just straight up asking your target audience. Create surveys and dive into forums your target users are active. Introduce your idea and let them call the shots on the most essential functionalities. This feedback will give you a great perspective on where to go regarding the main features of your app, and you already create a sense of awareness among your target audience.
2. Gamified features
While developing a high-intensity, fully interactive, mobile game probably isn’t the best idea for an app, you can definitely think of creating an app with gamified features. By gamifying certain features in your application, you can greatly increase the engagement between your app and your users. This usually works great for educational purposes, since it stimulates users to keep learning by challenging them to completing levels and battling amongst their peers on leaderboards.
3. Follow the latest technologies
Technologies are advancing at a rapid pace, faster than ever before. And one way to at least somewhat ensure a successful product is by following the latest trends in technologies. Of course, you should still first consider the needs of your end-users, but you can greatly increase your competitive advantage by implementing technologies, such as VR and AI, that haven’t saturated the market yet. This will trigger people to at least try out your app and hopefully stick around if the app turns out to actually solve their problem.
Need a hand?
Do you need help in conceptualizing your idea into a more tangible product? Or do you already have a concrete idea but are you still searching for a developer to help you get from A to B? Fill out the contact form on our website and obtain a free consultation session in which we get to know each other better and start our journey towards the development of your very own groundbreaking application.