So you’ve got a great idea for the next app that is going to change the world. It’s time to get started developing the app right? Wrong! Far too often as app developers we start building apps with a target market of one - us!
Before you start investing time, money, and effort into developing an app that others may or may not use you need to spend the time upfront to validate your idea. Idea validation will help you focus your efforts on the apps that people want to use and proper idea validation will increase your chances of creating a successful app.
How do you go about validating your app idea? It’s not overly complicated and we’re here to guide you through the steps that you need to account for when trying to validate your idea.
The first step you should take is researching your app idea to see if other apps like this exist. Generate a list of keywords that you would use to describe your idea and start searching the internet for similar apps. Start by searching traditional search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo using the keywords that you thought of. Take note of the apps and websites that appear around the topic and analyze their strengths and weaknesses.
In addition to using traditional search engines, take a look at the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store to discover which apps exist that are similar to your idea. Analyze the app reviews to see what these apps do well and look for negative reviews to identify opportunities for improvement that you can capitalize on.
Another platform to conduct research is Facebook Groups. Look for groups organized around topics relevant to your idea and see if the members of the group are discussing problems that your app idea can solve. Interacting with the group will help you start building an audience and focus group that can provide insight into your idea and what potential customers would be interested in.
Family & Friends
After you’ve conducted your research you’ve taken the first step in deciding if the idea is worth pursuing. If you notice tons of competition with high quality apps you may be entering a saturated market and should move on to a different idea unless you have a specific competitive advantage.
However, if you notice a gap in the market you may want to move your idea forward. If so, your next step will be discussing the idea with family and friends to get their honest feedback. Family and friends are great resources but they may not offer critical feedback because they want to encourage you to pursue your idea.
You can overcome this by asking pointed questions to get the feedback you need. Instead of asking questions like ‘do you think this app is a good idea?’ ask more specific questions like:
- Would you use an app like this? How come?
- Why wouldn’t you use an app like this?
- Do you use a similar app already?
Depending on your idea it may better to ask for feedback in person or on the phone rather than using social media. You can judge body language and get much more information by talking about the idea over a cup of coffee rather than over email.
Build a Website
So your family and friends love the idea and have given you some feedback to improve the idea. Now can I start building my app? Nope - not yet! Before developing your app you should build a landing page that you can use to market your app to potential customers that will use it when it is developed. This website can be basic but should include a few key pieces of information:
- Your elevator pitch - describe your app in a few words or sentences that would get your target market excited to learn more and really want your app when it’s ready
- Email address collection form - encourage visitors to give you their email address so that you can contact them when the app is ready and get their feedback throughout the development process. Providing early access and insights into the work in progress will help build an engaged community that can evangelize your idea. Services like mailchimp.com can provide you an easy way to store the email addresses on your site.
- Basic screenshots - if you are comfortable with Photoshop or other graphic design software create some early mockups showing what the app will look like when developed. If you are not a Photoshop whiz, now feel free to start creating your app project. Work on creating the basic user interface and take a screenshots or two to include in your landing page. A picture is worth a thousand words and showing an early screenshot will help your target customers buy into your vision.
Services like AppBlast.io can be used to create your landing page website at this stage in the app validation process. There’s not much value in purchasing web hosting and writing HTML code when tools already exist to develop professional landing pages in hours, not days or weeks. Take advantage of services like this when you’re still working to validate your idea.
Share Your Website
Now you want to share your idea with your target customers and have them provide feedback on the idea and see who is actually interested in the app. If you have an established email list that’s a great head start and you can send them an email telling them about the new website and getting their reaction.
However, when you are just starting out you may not have an email list already established and you will have to gain visibility in other ways. There are free options like posting your app to applicable subreddits, sharing on social media, and contacting owners of blogs and websites related to your idea. You’ll be sure to get feedback through these channels but it can require quite a bit of time and effort searching for the correct blogs and the contact information for the site owners. Just be sure not to sound spammy while contacting these folks and you will get honest feedback.
There are also paid options that you can use to get exposure for your idea early in the process. Sites like betalist.com offer affordable options to expose your app to a wide audience of early adopters that may be in your target market. You can also pay for advertising on sites like Google, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter and target keywords and users related to your app.
Across all of these options be sure to focus on collecting the email address of visitors to your site so you can engage with them throughout the full app development process and let them know when the app launches. Their feedback in these early stages will help you build the app that the market wants and not necessarily the app that you want. Throughout this process be open to the feedback provided to you and you will have a much more successful app when you launch than you would have had if you didn’t do basic app validation.
If you’re interested in more information like this be sure to visit 716-labs.com where we’re building tools to help you throughout the app validation process. We even have an email list for you to join to get the latest news on the development of our new idea validation service - startupapp.info!