App Idea Validation: Think Before You Build

By Ryan Vice | Posted on August 6, 2020

How To Succeed

There are millions of apps already on the market, so you may think that all the apps that can possibly be created already have been. But each year, people share countless ideas with us for custom apps they’d like us to build. They want to make the next GrubHub, Tinder or Snapchat, or maybe they just need a custom solution that compliments their current business model and practices. The point is that new apps are made every day, and for good reason. Gartner predicts that mobile apps will have the most impact on business success. If you’re considering developing a mobile app, there’s no time like the present, right?

Unfortunately, mobile apps do not subscribe to the Field of Dreams mentality – if you build it, there is no guarantee that they will come. In fact, less than 0.01% of all consumer mobile apps will become financially successful. There are also innumerable instances of mobile apps never making it out of development and into the market at all. That’s because, while a novel idea is certainly the catalyst for a mobile app, it is not the only deciding factor in success. 

Before you spend all of the time, money and resources developing an app, you should go through an idea validation process to actually make sure that your app is a good investment. With a little research you may discover any number of things. Perhaps your app won’t generate enough ROI to justify making it (after all, apps can cost $25k easy), or maybe you’ll find another app already in the app store that performs essentially the same function. Before you dedicate resources to a project you’ll never get back, we recommend that you first validate your concept. 

App Idea Validation

At first glance, it’s difficult to know if your idea is actually amazing or not. Imagine the first time anyone was pitched the idea for Uber; a ride-sharing app where people can find strangers to give them rides places? It sounds insane, but it turned out to be a very successful idea. So, no matter how crazy your idea is, you may be sitting on a proverbial gold mine. At least, that’s what app idea validation will help you determine. 

Idea validation is the process of gathering evidence through experimentation that will help you make faster, more informed and less risky decisions about your idea or concept. Even if you think you understand how your app will be received, ideas have unpredictable elements that are hard to anticipate. By going through a validation process, you’re able to expose your idea to real world situations before going through the work of building and launching an app. 

Not only will you be able to test your assumptions before you begin app development, but when it does come time to design and develop your app, the process will move forward much smoother than it would otherwise. You’ll know what features you want, what user personas you have, what your budget should be and more. 

Market Research

Conducting market research is key to effective idea validation. This process helps you gather and organize information about your target audience, user personas, your industry, market trends, what influences users to convert and what users need/want out of your app. You should also look into similar competitors or services to yourself and what decisions they have made regarding pricing. Cumulatively, all this information will help you determine how viable and successful your app would be among prospective users. 

There are several different kinds of market research. Exploratory research investigates potential problems; specific research delves into previously identified issues or opportunities. Primary research pursues firsthand information gathered from focus groups, phone calls or other direct correspondence; secondary research focuses on data and publicly available records. 

How exactly you want to go about conducting marketing research is up to you and the specific needs of your business. Generally, you should begin by defining your user personas so you can figure out who you want to engage in your research and how you plan to reach them. Then, you need to prepare your research questions. After completing primary research, you typically move to secondary research, identifying and learning about your competitors and the industry as a whole. 

Gauge Interest

Both within and outside of market research there are a few ways you can gauge the interest of users, the market and potential financial backers for your app. 

Interviews/surveys: These are typically fulfilled while conducting your market research, but you may find you want to use this tactic as you make decisions regarding certain aspects of your app idea. Obviously, make sure you’re talking to people who will actually be using your app. While it’s convenient, don’t use your friends and family as a reliable source of feedback. They’re likely to be biased and not provide you with honest, informed suggestions.

Landing page: You can test demand for your app by creating a landing page online. With a simple prompt to keep users updated or provide them with more information, you can very quickly determine how many people are searching online for an app like the one you’re proposing, how interested they are in actually using it and whether there are other existing options for them to go with.

Crowdfunding/Investors: A great way to see how enthusiastic people are about your proposed app is to see who’s willing to put their money where their mouth is. You can launch a crowdfunding campaign on sites such as Kickstarter to see if you can drum up support among potential users. You can also look into venture capital investments. They provide you funding in exchange for equity or an ownership share in your business. This means that venture capital firms focus on high-growth investments with the best opportunity for high ROI. They won’t back your app if they think it’s not a financially viable idea. 

Build an MVP

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of your app that only contains the most essential elements it needs in order to function for users. An MVP allows you to deliver a product to users as quickly as possible so that they can start using it and providing feedback on new features, bug fixes and other improvements. The goal is to validate your idea as early as possible in the development process – before you’ve spent time and resources on a bloated product full of features users don’t need – and then grow and build out your app in response to user behavior. 

Before you commit yourself to a large budget and a longer timeframe for this project, an MVP is essential to idea validation. It gives you freedom to learn and iterate as you move through development. When our clients aren’t certain of a brand new application, we always recommend beginning with building an MVP. Our lean development style allows us to quickly introduce an MVP to your users, and from there we gather feedback from stakeholders and users to continue developing exactly what your business model needs.

Vice Software wants you to get the most out of your investment in technology, whether that’s building the next Airbnb or an app for proprietary use. That’s why we encourage you to complete an app idea validation process before you start looking for a development team. 

Once you know what you want to build and who you want to build it for, we’ll be ready to talk over the details with you. Just tell us a bit about your amazing idea, and we can get a quote to you before you’ve even decided what to watch on Netflix.

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