App ideas come easily.
A friend’s rant about the lack of good vegan catering services. Your sub-par experience at the post office. A product you’ve tried and got really disappointed with.
It seems easy to re-imagine a better way to do many things, especially when it comes to mobile experience.
However, having a “killer” app idea doesn’t mean that you are going to succeed.
But you are going to succeed, when you have refined, validated and shaped your app idea into a viable product concept.
We have previously spoken about the different types of minimal viable products you can create and the costs involved for each type.
Granted, building a simple mobile app MVP and giving it a good roadshow is the best strategy to test your idea for viability. Yet, it’s not the only good options for startups.
In this guide, we’ll break down how to validate an app idea using different approaches and examples.
How To Develop an App Idea That Stands a Chance
As Linus Pauling promptly noted: “The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away”
A piece of cake, right? ☺
Ok, irony aside. Your app idea validation is hugely important. Here are a few strategies to help you narrow down all your mobile app ideas to the single best one.
Why Are You Making This?
If you are not 100 billion percent sure why you want to make an app in the first place…you probably don’t need to build it.
Seriously, what is the goal of your app?
- Do you want to make a business out of it and earn some revenues?
- Do you need one to reach to new audience segments and expand your customer base?
- Want to boost current customer engagement/loyalty?
- Become the next big unicorn startup, sell it and live happily ever after?
First, figure out your exact app goal.
Then move on to the next step.
Ask The 5 Whys To Figure Out The Problem Your Product Will Solve
Your custom product should solve a very real, very popular and very pressing problem if you want to become an industry leader.
At this point, you should start scrutinizing your target market and your competition to assess the current state of affairs.
Yet, before you dig your head into the mobile app market research, you need to formulate a very precise problem statement.
And the 5 Whys approach will help you peel off all perceived layers of the symptoms and uncover the actual root of the problem. Taiichi Ohno, one of the inventors of the Toyota Production System, developed this approach.
Here’s an example to illustrate the concept.
Problem: Our mobile website visitors do not make a purchase.
- Why mobile visitors do not finalize the order?
– Because they bounce off during the checkout process.
- Why do they bounce off during checkout?
– Because we don’t have a well-optimized mobile process and too many forms to fill.
- Why don’t have a good funnel then?
– Because no one knows how to create one for mobile.
- Why don’t we ask a UX designer to look into that?
– Because we don’t have one in-house.
- Why haven’t we hired one yet?!
– Obviously, because no one cared about mobile sales up till this day.
Sometimes you need to act as an inquisitive 5-year-old to dig into the real cause of the problem. Now you know the exact problem and can effectively solve it.
Now, that was just part of the deal.
The next important step is to conduct actual problem interviews with your target audience to get a better understanding of what your target audience really wants versus what you think they want:
by Project Cartoon.
So, before you move on to the next step, do take the time to survey at least some customers. Here’s a great list of customer development questions created by Mike Fishbein to help you come up with viable niche market ideas.
Create a Predictive Persona Profile
You know that everyone is into developing customer personas these days – a detailed user profile summarizing every bit of data you have on them – age, income, education, occupation, whether they are iOS/Android users etc.
Sure, having one is important.
But you can take one step further and develop a predictive personal profile – the kind of persona who potentially wants to become your customer.
Here’s how Laura Klein from Invision defines those:
“A predictive persona is a tool that allows you to validate whether you can accurately identify somebody who will become a customer. If you can create a predictive persona, it means you truly know not just what your users are like, but the exact factors that make it likely that a person will become and remain a happy customer.”
Predictive personas help you to nail down the exact things people want your product to have. These profiles include the actual needs and goals, which cause a person to consider using your product in the first place.
So how do you test your business app ideas with predictive personas?
- Step 1: Find and recruit at least 10 people who fit into your “likely customer” mold.
- Step 1a: If you can’t recruit those ten people, you may need to think of some better ideas to make an app.
- Step 2: Try to sell your product to them. And no, don’t just let them use it, but actively deploy all the marketing tactics in your arsenal for converting them into customers. That can include – getting their credit card data, consent to start a free trial or using your app for 14 days and so on.
If you managed to convert the majority of your participants, congrats! Your profile is accurate enough. If not, well you may be having hard times selling your product on a larger scale.
After all, if somebody who already knows how great your product is, doesn’t take action, what are your chances with a landing/app page or Facebook ad?
Create a Simple Product Prototype
Product prototypes can take various shapes:
- Wireframe – a black and white drawn “skeleton” of your app and the key screens/features.
- Product mockup – an interactive replica of your final product, which isn’t powered up with the backend (yet).
- Demo/explainer videos.
- Landing page with product screenshots and descriptions.
Now, let’s test your idea for simplicity. People may feel excited about your product during a personalized pitch but may get puzzled when actually seeing it.
Hence, approach some peeps and show them your product prototype without giving any additional explanations. Watch their reaction and questions. Can they immediately understand what this app does and how to use it? Does it seem intuitive? Does it “wow” them?
If you hear a “no” to one of the above, you may need to work on your UX/UI design further.
If going “personal” isn’t your thing, you can find product testers online and record their interactions with your prototype for further analysis. That’s what we often do when testing our product ideas at Alty.
Should I Build a Mobile App MVP?
If you have gathered enough data and audience feedback, yes, the next logical step for startups is to create an app MVP before going all in. Established businesses may want to skip this step and opt for a full-feature product as long as they have validated their new app ideas with existing users and predictive personas.
The cost to develop a mobile MVP will depend on the number of features you plan to implement. The best route is to stick to 1-3 key product features. Even giants like Foursquare and Instagram got started just like this.
If you choose to partner with Alty for the project, our team will help you refine and test-drive your app product idea and mold it into a marketable solution. Want to chat about that? Use the contact form below!