It’s an “aha” moment. Out of a “daydream” or a conversation has come an idea for the perfect app. You just know it’s a “winner.” Now to get it developed and to market! “Whoa, partner,” as John Wayne said in many a movie.
The road to a large pile of app flops is paved with idea people who jumped into development without thinking things through. And they wasted a lot of time and money. Don’t let this be you. Be passionate about your idea, but take the time to “validate” it before you invest your blood, sweat, tears, and money. Here are the three critical steps to take.
1. Do the Research on Your Target Market
If you cannot define exactly who you are creating the app for, you are in trouble. You are not developing this app for yourself. It is for a body of consumers who will find it appealing and who see it as filling a need they have.
Gamers have a need for new games that challenge their skills. Vegan foodies have a need for recipes and restaurant locations. What need are you filling and how many people out there have this need?
Research will allow you to take an objective look at your idea to determine if there really is a market out there.
Get a general understanding of your target market. If you are considering an app that matches wines with meals, you can assume that your audience is comprised of people who like wine and who entertain regularly, and/or who want to know the best wine to order when dining out. If your app is going to give vacationers information about child-friendly destinations and attractions in major cities, then you audience is parents of young children anywhere in the country who have enough money to plan family vacations.
More Specific Understanding: Here, you will need to dig deeper into the research in order to identify actual numbers in your audience demographic. You have two options here. You can hire a market research company to do the research for you (costs a pretty penny) or you can take the time to do the research yourself (and save buckets of money). Here are a few places to go.
- Google Adwords/Google Trends: Here, you can search what people are searching for online, and how frequently those searches occur, using keywords that are specific to your idea. If there is a rising trend in searches, you may have hit upon something.
- Statistia: Here you can search for statistics on trends in the market. If you see an increase in wine consumption, this will be important for your “best wines” app.
- Reddit is an often overlooked site for research. You can find answers to specific questions regarding the potential popularity of your app idea. Pose your question and see what pops up.
- Surveys: There are multiple ways to do this. You can reach out to specific targets and just ask them if they would use an app that you are considering. You can place some Facebook ads that link to a simple landing page you have developed. Then describe the app (in a compelling way, of course) an offer it free, having visitors sign up on a waiting list.
If you really want to do a personalized test, pick a member of your target audience, and provide the service personally that your app will provide. Get that person’s response and feedback.
This only works with some app ideas, but if it will work for yours, try it.
2. Research Your Competition
You need to know your competition before you invest in your idea. By solid research, you can perhaps identify a gap in what is offered that you can fill with your app.
- Start by searching for apps in the app store and then downloading those that seem to be most relevant.
- What features are really good and what features might be missing?
- Read customer reviews to determine how you can improve on the apps already out there. (look at the negative ones – this will give you some ideas)
- Is the app seamless in loading and navigation?
- Is the app available for iPhone and Android devices?
- There are some tools that will make your research easier: Try App Data or App Trace for starters.
- See if you can find review of the apps
- Make a list of the strengths and weaknesses of competing apps. How can you capitalize on those weaknesses with your app?
3. Create an MVP
If, after all of your research, you have determined that your app could really be a “go,” then your next step is to create an MVP – an app with just a few of the features that you intend to include and being to test it.
- Solicit members of your target audience. If you had responses from your Facebook ads, choose some of those interested parties. If not, use targets that you find from networks and relationships. Your cousin might know someone; you may have met someone in a networking group who loves wines and entertains often. This is not as objective as strangers, but if you can convince these testers to be honest, you may have some good feedback to work with.
- Submit you MVP to a few app reviewers, such as Pre Apps or Launchsky. When you receive the reviews, you have a more objective assessment and can tweak accordingly. Plus, if the reviews are good, this becomes a good marketing tactic to use with our full launch.
If, after taking these three steps, your app idea is still looking like a “winner,” you are ready to hire a developer and put some serious money into your venture.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
Read next: The Benefits & Drawbacks of SEO over PPC