AppBoard Tuesday – Strategies To Come Up With Great App Ideas

By | November 11, 2014
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It’s that day of the week again, folks – when you can dive into our free weekly newsletter, AppBoard Tuesday (ABT). We hope that the little tidbits of tech (and at times, not so tech!) knowledge that we share are being of help to each of you. Today, we tackle an issue that can have even the most proficient of mobile app developers stymied. They can know all the programming languages in the world – but actually zeroing in upon viable, interesting app ideas is an entirely different ball game (and no, merely being creative does not help!). Read on and find out how you can systematically look around for amazing ideas for your apps:

  1. Do not trust your gut feelings only – You might ‘feel’ that a certain type of iPhone or Android app would work. Sadly, such random hunches and gut feelings have every chance of failing. Instead, check out the top-selling charts at the stores – and find out the details of applications that have already become popular. This would give you a starter’s idea about the nature of mobile apps that have maximum chances of succeeding.
  2. Involve everyone – The more people contribute inputs for your app ideas, the better. It’s all about effective brainstorming – and if you are a professional mobile app entrepreneur, get as many of your employees as possible to provide ideas and concepts. For instance, if you are planning to make a mobile gaming app for kids, ask everyone to submit game ideas. The best ideas can come from the unlikeliest sources – so make sure you tap every resource at your disposal.
  3. Target a problem – Or a gap. Conduct customer surveys and researches (email questionnaires and social media interactions are easy tools for these) to find out about things that people want from their smartphones/tablets – but there are no apps for the same yet. Don’t waste your time on an app idea that seems captivating but is not of much practical use. In the United States, the average smartphone-owner has close to 30 apps installed, and they have little tolerance for ‘useless’ stuff.
  4. Make improvements – You might be wondering how you can possibly find an absolutely ‘new’ app idea – particularly when there are well over 1.3 million applications each, at iTunes and the Google Play Store. Don’t worry – no one has said that mobile app development requires full-blown innovation. While studying the most downloaded apps from the stores, jot down points on how you can add/improve its features. You will be, in essence, piggybacking an existing app idea (yay!), but with additional inputs and thoughts of your own.
  5. Put yourself in the customers’ shoes – The tendency to always think about download figures and revenues often prevents app developers to really understand common people’s mobile needs. Think like this: What are the things that irritate you the most about your own smartphone (don’t say ‘short battery life’ – you can’t make an app for that!)? Is it the absence of a personal finance manager? Or a smart, accurate GPS navigator? Remember, your frustrations with your phone can closely reflect those of your target buyers.
  6. Do not be ‘too unique – Selling public parking places, creating weird emojis, providing chat options based on GPS-functionality – all of these are unique app ideas, and terrible ones as well. Problems can crop up for such ‘way too different’ mobile apps on two counts: first, the chances of these apps getting rejected at the stores will remain high, and second, such overly-ambitious apps might have few takers (after they have been approved). A worldwide mobile app revolution is on and people are opening up to various types of applications – but to start off with, keep your ideas relatively conventional (not stereotypical though).
  7. Include a ‘wow’ factor – While framing the idea blueprint for your app, make it a point to have a single, specific ‘wow’ factor in your product. Apart from driving the sales/download figures, this point-of-difference would help you in arranging focused mobile app marketing campaigns. Find out how the leading apps are being promoted, and follow their cues. A trade secret over here – your ‘wow’ factor need not be something ground-breaking, it’s all about how you present it. Be a smart marketer!
  8. How complicated is your idea? – What seems a pretty straightforward app idea to you might seem weirdly complex for another person. Do a simple test – gather some of your friends/family-members, and describe your idea to them. If the listeners do not get a proper idea about your proposed app in 3-4 lines, that’s a telltale sign that you have overcomplicated things. Abandon that idea, and try to think up something simpler.
  9. The ‘do what you love’ rule still holds – Unless you are working on the project of a third-party client, you have full freedom in creating apps that offer a blend of: a) general user-requirements and b) your coding and development preferences. There is a rule-of-thumb – if you are creating a mobile app only to make big money, and are not enjoying the work per se, you will ultimately end up with a half-baked, substandard product. The biggest business visionaries, right from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, were not (at least initially) spurred on by monetary motivations only. The same should apply for Android/iPhone app development professionals. The only thing you have to ensure is that your loves are in sync with people’s app-demands.
  10. Always work with a visual layout of your idea – If you own a mobile app company, you will have whiteboards, right? Sketch out visual representations of your ideas, to get a feel of how the app (in its final form) would work. There are several mind-mapping software available as well, which serve the same purpose. In case you are working on a freelance basis, reach out for that pen and notepad every time you hit upon a new idea. The ‘look’ of your idea matters!
  11. Study interest trends online – Google Trends is your best buddy for this. Find out which topics, ideas and tech concepts are trending at any time – and try to make an app that incorporates these popular trends. Be wary of short-lived fads though. Trends would give you a clear picture of what most people are interested in – and your goal is to make apps that satisfy those interests.
  12. Start off as soon as an idea checks the above points – Procrastination hampers every business, and mobile app development is no exception to that. If you keep putting off the start of your project in the hope of coming up with a ‘better’ idea – there’s every chance that you won’t be able to start developing at any time in the near future. Don’t be too worried about failing the first time – even if that occurs, you will be able to learn from your mistakes and prepare improved applications later.

 

Do not be shy of downloading as many apps as possible (try to find as many free ones, of course!) on your device – to check out their features, UI/UX designs, navigation options, and other properties. Create a background story behind your app, which users can connect to (might be a short story about how an app idea just flashed in your head). Finding and nurturing app ideas is not something only the biggest creative geniuses can do. Even regular developers can zero in on amazing ideas.

Story Time For Kids version 3.0 screen

That’s all we have in this week’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT). Two new iOS apps – Sting and Doo’l – are set to hit the App Store pretty soon, and final-stage testings are going on. The other highlight from our company last week was the release of Version 3.0 of Story Time For Kids - the award-winning kids’ app. We have totally revamped the UI designs, and have included a few minor bug fixes. Story Time For Kids v. 3.0 is compatible with the iOS 8 platform too.

 

Time to say ‘adios’ for the week, dear readers. ABT will be back with something new and interesting next week. In the meantime, do send us suggestions and ideas on topics that you feel we should cover. Till the next time, stay totally zoned in with apps!

 

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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