Latest posts by Hussain Fakhruddin (see all)
It is no longer as easy to hit on a good app idea as it was even 3-4 years ago. Both iTunes as well as Google Play Store has literally hundreds of mobile apps belonging to the same category/genre – and it is nothing short of a challenge to think up a concept that is unique, and has chances to be actually transformed into an application. That’s precisely why it is important to ensure that when you actually get an idea (and hey, it can come to you at any time, at any place, when you are doing anything!), you validate it properly. In other words, you need to thoroughly check whether your idea is indeed viable, and has the legs to be transformed into a successful mobile app. Over here, we guide you on how to validate your app idea:
- Similar apps will exist – That’s at least very likely. There are 1.6 million apps in Play Store, another 1.5 million at the App Store – and chances are pretty low that your idea (which you probably consider to be really ‘unique’) hasn’t already been thought up, worked upon, and released by mobile app developers. Do not lose heart by this though. Check the apps that are similar to the one you wish to build, list down their features, and go through the user-reviews they have got. Try to find out how you can improve on the existing applications and whether there is a gap that needs to be plugged.
- Estimate search volumes – It’s all very well to come across an app idea that seems nice enough to you – but will the general public, the people who use smartphone applications regularly, be interested in it? The only way to get an objective answer to this is by estimating the expected search volume that your app would generate. There are handy tools like Google Keyword Planner, where you can type the nature of your app and/or other words related to your idea. If you find there is enough interest in your concept, hire a good app development company to work on your project. In contrast, if search volumes appear thin, it would be advisable to give that idea a miss and try thinking up another one.
- Get the opinions of others – There is no better judge of your app idea than actual people – who are likely to download and use your application. Share the broad details of your concept with people you know and trust (don’t just talk to anyone, for violation of intellectual property rights might be an issue). Attend conferences and seminars organized by local mobile app entrepreneurs, network with developers, and ask whether they feel your idea is indeed working on or not. These people have years of experience in the Android/iPhone app development industry – and they can easily identify a good app idea when they see (or hear!) one. General people, on the other hand, can tell you whether your idea seems interesting enough.
- Making apps for a niche market – When you are just starting out, it is always better to make a mobile app that has a broad target audience (a nice roleplaying game, for instance). However, it is neither impossible nor a sacrifice on revenue, if your app idea is designed to cater to a relatively small sector of the overall market (a ‘niche’ market). Medical apps for doctors, counselling apps for lawyers, fitness apps for professional sportsmen – all of these are examples of such ‘niche applications’. What you need to do in such cases is to ensure that your app idea is such that it would indeed bring in focused traffic and generate very high conversion rates. It is certainly possible to make money on mobile apps, even without a huge search volume!
- Will your app be ‘good-to-have’ or a ‘must-have’? – Always go for the latter. There is no harm in conceptualizing a fancy app idea – which, when developed and released, will be an interesting inclusion in the app stores. However, analysts and app developers agree that such ‘good-to-have’ apps often fail to motivate general smartphone users to download them. Instead, your idea should be about creating a ‘must-have’ app – an app that would solve a particular, important, regular need of users. People should be convinced that having your app on their personal devices would indeed be handy.
- Examine app store trends – This is yet another part of the app idea validation process that you cannot afford to ignore. Check the app store of your country, to find out which are the top ranking apps in terms of downloads as well as revenues. By monitoring the list of top paid apps on a regular basis, you will also get an idea on how to monetize your mobile application. On the other hand, checking the free apps (which, on average, have nearly ten times the download volume as paid apps) will familiarize you with viable methods to include in-app purchase options. If the hot trends in the app store have nothing related to the app idea you have, take the hint, and move on to another concept.
Note: Avoid working on apps that become popular all on a sudden, and lose their popularity pretty quickly too. Instead, look for sustained, consistent trends. They will be a better guide for you to decide what app idea you should work on.
- Create a Minimum Viable Product – Ideas do not generate profits, actual pieces of software do – and that too, when there exists enough demand for the same. Share your app prototype with a core group of mobile app testers, and then, make it available to actual users. Such a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) must contain the core value, or the most important component, of your app idea. Find out whether the MVP/prototype is indeed able to create a ripple among customers. If yes, you are good to move on to creating a more polished version of the app.
- Make use of social networking sites and landing pages for testing – Another easy and effective validation method that many mobile app development professionals recommend. Prepare a website/single landing page dedicated to your app idea, optimize it (hire a digital marketing agency for the purpose, if required), and monitor the number of hits the page is getting. Analyse the user-behaviour (bounce rates, average duration of stay, etc.) as well. These will give you a fair idea about whether people have indeed got hooked to your idea. Similarly, you can use channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn groups to create promotional campaigns for your application (yes, even before developers start to work on it). If there is sufficient interest, consider starting a paid Adwords or Facebook ad campaign.
- Work on one idea at a time – You have four great app ideas, so why not try validating each of them simultaneously and start working on them? Sounds cool on paper, but doing so would be a folly in reality. It is always advisable to process one app idea at a time. If you try to balance multiple ideas, chances are that you will only skim through them – and not be able/will not have the time to perform in-depth analysis of all the aspects of each idea. And, as we all know, a half-baked app idea is never worth wasting time, money, or effort on. Give your best to one app idea, and move on to another one only when you are done with the first.
- Create and upload product development videos – Put them on your landing page, on your social networking channels…anywhere where the target audience can view them. The video should clearly illustrate the rationale behind your app, the core essence of the software, and how it will be developed. Specify the platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, etc.) on which the app will be available. If your app video manages to go viral, that’s a clear pointer that you are on to a winning idea.
- Be prompt in executing your idea – Okay, so you are fairly sure that your app idea is a good one – it has the potential to be a success. There would be no point of such findings, if you do not act promptly after this. Instead of procrastinating, look on the web for mobile app companies which would be able to work on your project (don’t worry, a few minutes of search will enable you to find several such companies). Make a shortlist of 4-5 such agencies, request for free app quotes from each of them, and delegate your project to the most suitable app firm.
Note: If you are good in programming with Java or Objective-C/Swift, you can code your app yourself as well. Finding proficient mobile app designers is also a factor.
12. Write about your app – By now, you must have realized that app idea validation is all (or at least, mostly) about generating awareness about your idea and finding out what others think about it. Creating a blog is a great way to gauge such user-interest levels for free. Publish posts on a regular basis about different aspects of your app idea, and keep a tab on the readership levels and the comments that readers leave on your blog. In addition, publish press releases and classified advertisements about the features and functionalities of the mobile application you wish to make. You can also collect the email addresses of your blog readers – for more focused app marketing later on.
Be aware of the seasonal trends that result in big spikes in the download-count of certain types of apps (sports apps at the time of major sporting events, shopping apps at the time of holidays, etc.). If your app idea is related to any such event/occasion, validate and release it at the right time.
Once you are satisfied with the viability of your idea, hire a good mobile app development agency to start working on it. If your app idea is good, it should see the light of day (or should we say ‘light of app store’?) soon!