8 Steps To Validate Your App Idea
People come to us and say, “I have an app idea!”. We estimate the project and, once the agreement has been signed, we dive right in. We love all client projects but we don’t delude ourselves by thinking all of them are going to succeed. Most startups fail, and, most often, they fail because the ideas behind them haven't been properly validated against the market, as opposed to because of poor product quality or poor marketing, so there's nothing we as an app development company can do about it. Nevertheless, it’s very painful to watch a product you’ve built fail. That’s why we suggest you validate your mobile app idea before you shell out tons of money, time and energy.
We’ve been working with startup stories for years. Several have made it to the market and managed to get sufficient funding. So we’ve had a chance to both see what makes some startup ideas fail and other shine. We’ve researched on what Internet suggests for app idea validation, checked it against our unique experience, and here is the guide that will help you make sure that the project won't be a boondoggle.
- Define the problem your app is aiming to solve
- Examine your target audience and see if the problem is relevant to them
You must already have it in mind, the concrete problem you’re going to solve with your mobile app. What you need to do here is clearly state the problem. Articulate it, write it down in a simple statement. Can you do this? If you can, then proceed. If not, stop right there and think again.
"The happiest and most successful people I know don’t just love what they do, they’re obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them."
Drew Houston, Dropbox co-founder
Once you’ve articulated the problem you can start figuring out for how many people this might actually represent a problem. In other words, you want to know the size of this market, understand how many people will benefit from your idea and if/what they would pay for the solution.
Some authors suggest that the problem your app is aiming to solve must be one of the top 3 problems your customers face. Otherwise, it’s not very likely that they will buy it. Time to talk to your target market.
Before you reach out to your potential customers you need to understand who might typically experience the problem. Build a basic customer profile, and make a list of 60-150 people meeting the criteria. Next, make a list of about 10 questions to find out the following:
- If they experience the problem;
- If the problem can be found among their top 3 problems;
- How they currently deal with the problem;
- How likely they are to pay for an alternative solution and how much money they would pay.
Another way to do market research on the problem is to look at people's web searches. Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are generally good enough for that.
You should by now have talked to your target market and learned how they currently solve the problem. Now you need to take a critical look at your idea and understand if it actually is going to be better than existing solutions.
If you’ve found out there are direct competitors, other apps aiming to solve the problem, this means the market exists which is the good news. But this also represents a danger because people might be too used to the dominant brand and unwilling to break the habit of using it.
If there are such competitor apps on the App Store or Google Play, you need to find out what users dislike about them, which features they’re missing and how they fail to completely solve the problem. Can your app make a difference in the market? Does it have a feature that sets it apart from competitors? If your answer is ‘yes’ then probably there’s a chance your idea is worth further research.
And don’t forget to learn from those who have tried to deliver similar solutions before you, and failed. This can help you prevent a disaster early on and help you avoid making the same mistakes.
A new product is all about one or two key features that create the core value. To rope your audience in, these features need to be articulated in clear language and written down. If you can’t easily name a single reason someone would be willing to pay for your product then this is a warning sign.
Whichever problem your app is aiming to solve, you want to make money with it. There are lots monetization opportunities such as advertising, sponsorships, partnerships, in-app purchases, and freemium model. You need to get creative about it and find a model that is the most fitting for your app. More or less, everything can be monetized, but you have to be open to changes. You will find out more on monetization opportunities in our next blog post about tools and services that help you validate your app idea.
Another useful tool to validate your app idea is a landing page. It should provide clear product description and subscription form. But remember: your goal is not to collect as many emails as possible. You want to find out how many people would actually buy your product. This is why you don’t want “get beta invite”, “sign up”, “register for updates”, “join waitlist”, “get early access”, or similar calls-to-action for your subscription form. Instead, use a “Purchase now”, or “Buy now” button. But this doesn’t mean you’re going to sell a non-existent product. The next step will be a message to the interested user that the app is still being built and they can leave their email to stay informed on the progress.
Crowdfunding isn’t just a way to raise money. Properly used, crowdfunding platforms can help you validate your app idea and get critical feedback that may hint at improvements or even suggest a pivot. However, this would require some effort in campaign marketing and public relations. The good news here, if your idea doesn’t get a good amount of attention this doesn’t necessarily equal failure. For the moment, you haven’t burned a lot of resources yet and still have a chance to take another look at your idea.
And if your app idea proves popular and promising, you have already begun establishing a brand!
This is the final stage of your app idea validation process which you can also look at as your app’s actual first steps. If you find yourself here, it means that validating the idea at previous stages has shown quite positive results.
MVP is a minimum viable product, or app prototype that only provides one or two key features to test them within the market. What is really important to note is that the main goal an MVP aims to achieve is to test a hypothesis. Your hypothesis is that people experience a certain problem and you have a solution which people are likely to pay for.
You can either build an app prototype yourself or hire developers who can do that at a comfortable price. Whatever you choose, remember that you only need one or two key features, a clear message and measurable analytics tools.
Once such a prototype is built and released on the App Store and Google Play, you need to invite complete strangers to try it. Family and friends aren’t the test subjects you need. Our loved ones often tend to be supportive of whatever initiative we might have. Unsurprisingly, their feedback would be positive, but also misleading.
We hope that this guide will be helpful for a daring entrepreneur who believes they have a great app idea and want to validate it. This is the first article in our series on how to start your own app business. Post by post, we will be taking on the subject from different perspectives. Stay with us.
List of articles in Create Your Own App series:
- 8 Steps to Validate Your App Idea
- Tools and Sources to Validate Your App Idea - Part I
- Tools and Sources to Validate Your App Idea - Part II
- How Much Will It Cost?
- How to Make Money with your App
- Do I Need a Technical Co-Founder?
- How to Get Funding For the Idea
- Finding Developers for your Startup
- Beginners Guide to Technology