How To Find and Validate Your App Idea: Step-By-Step Guide

April 4, 2022
Updated:
April 4, 2022
5 min

Tatsiana Kerimova

CEO & Co-founder

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Despite the high competition in the app market, there are lots of customer pains that need solving. You can find an awesome app idea and transform the traditional market, leaving all major business players far behind. Taking into account that the global app market is growing at a blistering pace, you’ll definitely find a niche to occupy. 

With the ever-growing mobile app revenues, the industry attracts hundreds of startup entrepreneurs. According to Statista, worldwide mobile app revenue will reach $935.2 billion by 2023. 

Source: Statista

It’s always easy to get fooled by the feeling that your app idea is unique and that your winning product will revolutionize the market. However, 42% of startups fail because of a lack of market need for their apps, services, or products.  

Before stepping into app development, you need to test your app idea and see how viable it is. Here are three what-questions that you need to answer:

  • What business problems or customer pains does your app solve?
  • What are your competitors and their weak points?
  • What is your target audience?

When there is no market need for your app, app development will be a waste of resources. At ODG, idea validation has always been an essential part of the software development process. Today we’re going to shed more light on how to validate an app idea. 

How To Come Up With A Great App Idea

To begin with, you need to find a great app idea. There are plenty of ways to do this. Some app entrepreneurs can get ideas out of nowhere, while the other half spend days and nights analyzing the market, its trends, and customer needs. 

Probably the best way to come up with app ideas is to identify a specific problem or need and build an app solution to that particular problem. Once you identify a challenge, it’s easier to find an approach and build a thriving app. 

Every app starts with an app idea and a problem to solve. Here are some examples of problem statements and top app ideas:

I Can’t Wake Up!

Problem: Snoozing the alarm and getting up late

Solution: I Can’t Wake Up makes snoozing the alarm a more complicated task than just hitting the snooze button. Users need to complete one of eight tasks, like rewriting a text, doing a maths sum, finding a word pair, etc. 

Tab

Problem: Splitting a bill at a bar or cafe

Solution: Friends can easily split a bill by taking a picture. Tab will read it. When the users select  the food and drinks they ordered, Tab will calculate the cost, tip, and tax for each person. 

Waze

Problem: Traffic jams 

Solution: Waze tracks traffic jams, collecting users’ feedback in real-time. With Waze, users have a greater chance of bypassing traffic jams and getting from point A to point B much faster. 

Having a problem in mind isn’t the only way to generate a good app idea. You can poll your friends, employees, or potential customers and get dozens of problems you can try to solve with a custom mobile app. 

Browsing the app store can also provide valuable insights into the market and top-selling apps. The top-grossing charts show what apps are in high demand and what users really need right now. When you know what niche you are going to revolutionize, search it in the App Store (for example, traveling, lifestyle, fitness, banking, etc). 

Shifting your focus can also help and bring you some great app ideas. Grab a coffee and take a walk around the neighborhood. Observe the world around you. There are hundreds of problems waiting to become app ideas just around the corner. Think about the problems you encounter during the walk. Just become more attentive, and you’ll discover what to improve with your next app. 

Why Is It Important To Validate App Ideas?

Validating your app idea is your next step before jumping onto the software development bandwagon. It’s a crucial stage and you should not skip it. This can help you understand whether your app idea is worth investing your time, money, and energy into. Here are some crucial tips to help you assess the viability of your app idea:

Research the market

Market research helps you determine the viability of your app idea. It involves gathering and analyzing information on a bunch of aspects, such as target audience, competitors, and market needs. 

While validating your app idea, you need to pay attention to your competitors and pinpoint their strong and weak points. The more you know about the market, the better app you can develop. 

Even if you can’t access the apps or services of your competitors, you can always visit their Help Center sections. There you can find many explanatory videos, app screenshots, and guides that will help you understand the app’s functionality.

Find your market fit

While analyzing your app’s market fit, you discover how its features and monetization model will resonate with your target market. Here you can create a spreadsheet matrix with all your features. Then you should create the same matrix for your major competitors. Don’t forget to include a business model column in your matrix. 

Once the matrix is ready, you can ask your friends or target users to rank which app they are most likely to use. The matrix will help you analyze how your app idea stacks up against the  competition and if it will win over users. 

Create proto personas

Proto personas contain the best guesses of stakeholders or teams about who their users will be and what they may need. Basically, the process doesn’t involve research. It’s based on the intuition of team members involved. 

Taking into account that proto personas aren’t built with research, they need to be updated as soon as you get more information about your target audience. 

What wins do proto personas bring?
  • Help you understand your target users better
  • Keep the team on the same page 
  • Humanize your research 
  • Create a reference point
  • Poll your target audience

There are plenty of free ways to collect users’ feedback even without an app developed. Post a poll on your favorite social network and tell people that you need their opinion. Don’t forget about Reddit, where you can post questions in relevant subreddits and get plenty of users' feedback. 

Think over a customer journey map

While building a product, you need to understand how many steps it takes for a user to complete a purchase. The map captures every step a user will take while using your product. It offers a better understanding of how a user will navigate your app. Sometimes, it may be completely different from your initial assumptions. 

Create and test digital or paper prototypes

You can test your app idea even without a developed app solution. Instead of developing an MVP, you can take advantage of paper or digital prototypes to test user and design flows. With such prototypes, you can collect immediate feedback and improve your product. 

Analyze feedback

In addition to app idea testing, you can collect a massive amount of user feedback. While developing an app, you need to ensure that you have properly interpreted all the collected data. What do your target customers need? Can your app satisfy their needs? Thanks to the research and users’ feedback, you have already found answers to these questions.

Make a decision and raise funds

Once you have validated your app idea, it’s time to make some decisions. If your app idea isn’t viable enough, you need to pivot away from your initial idea or come up with some new ideas. 

If your app idea is feasible, then it’s time to think about the funding and development team. You may need to define all the tech specs and prepare a pitch deck to impress your investors. 

Shift to the Right Direction

Few businesses become successful exactly as they were first envisioned. There are too many variables that are impossible to forecast. Shifting the direction of an app is probably one of the hardest decisions a startup owner can make. It’s an effective way to not scrap what you’ve built. In fact, pivoting is a widely accepted business strategy to turn near-failure into a massive success. Here are some examples of companies that have pivoted and become successes: 

Cherry Labs 

Cherry Labs started as an AI-enabled system to monitor seniors at home. The system was used to analyze their routines and send an alert when there was a potential problem or emergency. Though the idea was new on the market, it didn’t get enough traction. 

Then the company slightly shifted its focus and presented a Cherry Home solution for senior assisted care facilities. The main goal of the solution was to alert caregivers to any abnormalities like stumbles, trips, cries, falls, etc. Unfortunately, this time the product didn’t find its place in the sun either. 

But its founders didn’t give up and tried to find another road to success. They decided to transform their system into a tool for advanced video analytics. The platform takes advantage of AI and ML algorithms to turn complex human behaviors into actionable data. Once the data is collected, it’s used to train the Cherry Labs system and fine-tune its real-time alert management. The system can send an alert about any unusual activity, such as  “not wearing a hard hat” or “missed an assembly step,” resulting in improved safety and increased business efficiency. 

Netflix 

Today, Netflix is an online streaming platform where you can watch a wide range of movies, series, and shows, as well as original Netflix series. The service has active users all over the world. But a few years back, Netflix was delivering DVDs to mailboxes.

The company also added streaming services and started production of its own TV series gradually. As soon as the DVD player became a thing of the past, Netflix saw the changing market and adapted. 

Instagram 

Instagram wasn't initially envisioned as a platform for sharing personal photos. It started out as Burbn. The goal of the platform was to allow users to check-in at their favorite spots and share photos of them. In fact, it was a test case for its co-founder, Kevin Systrom, to learn to code. 

Then its founders decided to pivot to a photo-sharing app. Unfortunately, this is the moment when most startups fail. Since there were too many apps like Burbn on the market, Systrom and Krieger decided to shift direction. 

They carefully studied the photo market and found out what killer features Instagram should have. The founders stripped the app of all features except photos, comments, and likes. Soon after launch, Instagram became the number one app, with over a million users. 

Wrapping Up

App idea validation is a crucial part of the software development process. It shows whether your app will be a success before you invest your effort, time, and money into building it. At ODG, we advise you not to skip this. Use our article as your guide when coming up with the idea for your app startup. 

While setting up your business, get ready to see and forecast possible market changes. Pivoting doesn’t mean you’re losing. It stands for future success and adaptability. That’s of great importance, especially in our ever-changing world.

As an experienced company working with many startup clients, we are ready to determine the viability of your app idea, test it, and help choose the development team. Contact us today.

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