The competition in the mobile market is intense. App validation is one way to see if your idea stands a chance and is worth the investment.
People increasingly depend on mobile apps to solve their everyday problems. And according to Statista, the number of mobile app downloads is expected to grow. There’s no end to people’s desires, so it’s probably safe to say that app stores won’t stop expanding in the near future.
So you want to be a part of all the action. You’ve got an idea to implement, too. What next?
After you’ve come up with an idea for an app you believe people will invest in and have found a development team to create it, your project manager will lead you through an idea validation stage.
What exactly is app idea validation? Why do you need to do it? Actually, do you need to do it?
Validation is an action taken to prove that something is, well, valid: worthy of something, be that time, money, or effort.
Sure, you know that your app idea is valid — after all, you’ve come up with it, so it has meaning for you and maybe for a number of your friends and family members. It’s a great idea, isn’t it? Why would you need to validate it further? More specifically, why would you need to validate the idea and not the app itself?
The answer is quite simple.
While you can skip validation, going through with it adds some level of insurance that your investment doesn’t go to waste.
In software development, app validation is one of the most crucial parts of each project because there’s more to it than what the dictionary says: validation ensures that the idea has a potential for bringing profit.
Stages and strategies to validate your app idea
Validation is one of the first steps you’ll take with your team of developers. This process helps you answer questions that are vital when you need to make decisions throughout the mobile app development process.
Idea validation starts with answering a set of questions to create a kind of business plan for the project.
Who are your potential customers?
You aren’t just dumping thousands of dollars to make an app for yourself, are you? You’ll need people to download your app and interact with it. And targeting the wrong users is one of the main reasons startups, especially mobile ones, fail.
You need to find your audience, divide it into segments, and analyze each segment. The more details you can come up with for your typical user, the easier it will be to create an app that will meet the needs of your audience and find the right marketing strategy to make money. Your early adopters will become your primary source of information on what you’re doing right and wrong.
What problem does your app solve for your customers?
At the heart of every popular app is a problem that users want to solve. Messengers help us keep in touch with family and friends, streaming apps and mobile games offer entertainment on the go; we even manage our finances and plan our days with apps. If your app doesn’t solve a problem, no one will want it.
Now, you probably had a problem in mind when you came up with your app idea; these things don’t just come out of nowhere. There was a pain that you or someone you know had and you decided to find a way to relieve it. That’s great. Now you need to check whether other people feel the same pain.
One of the best ways to evaluate your app idea is market validation — ask your audience for some feedback. Nowadays, you have at your disposal a number of options besides face-to-face interviews to ask people all over the world what they think. Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Reddit, Google surveys — you can collect more data than you could imagine without leaving your desk.
What’s your solution to the problem?
Working out your solution is not an easy task. To catch the eye of customers and lure them to your offer, your solution needs to be better than those of your competitors.
During the app validation process, conduct market research for apps, find your biggest competitors, and analyze their offers. Create a matrix of features you plan to add to your app and compare it to the matrices of competitors’ apps.
Create a value proposition that will turn users to you. Your app should offer something unique or should perform better or be cheaper: there should be something that will benefit your customers. If you have nothing to set you apart from the crowd, why would people choose you? They won’t.
After researching the competition, turn back to feedback from potential users. Ask them whether they’re ready to pay for the solution you’ve come up with. If your idea is marketable, you can proceed.
Not everything will go smoothly, of course. However, don’t disregard negative feedback It can teach you heaps about what to do to make your app better than any existing solutions.
What are your app’s strengths and weaknesses?
SWOT analysis — analyzing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — is essential for app validation.
When you start thinking about how to find and validate app ideas, you need to know your own business to a T. Without understanding your weaknesses, it will be hard to evaluate and eliminate possible threats, while knowing your strengths will help you find the perfect niche to expand into.
How are you planning to get revenue?
The cost of mobile app development is high, and you’ll need investment. Unless you have ample funding from elsewhere (for example, if your app is only a small part of your business), you’ll need to get revenue from it.
There are several ways to monetize mobile apps.
- In-app purchases are often used in games. Users can buy extra lives, skills, and rare items.
- eCommerce apps sell physical products to consumers.
- The freemium model offers users a number of features for free but charges for additional features.
- In-app advertising lets you sell ad space in your app; it’s often combined with the freemium model, and users can pay to get rid of ads.
- Subscription-based apps are similar to freemium, but users typically pay for the content; most media and streaming services, like Netflix and The New York Times, offer subscriptions.
- With paid downloads, users pay to download and install your app; more popular on the iOS App Store than on the Google Play Store, this model requires a significant market presence and user trust to work properly.
There are ways to combine these models — for example, in-app ads work quite nicely with just about any other model save paid downloads. Or you can settle for a single model. Which monetization model is best for your company? You can learn this through competitor research, by evaluating your target audience, and by conducting SWOT analysis.
What metrics are you planning to use?
You can measure the performance of your app in many ways. All kinds of metrics exist today. There’s no ultimate key performance indicator you can track to ensure profitability. Except maybe the star ratings in the app stores.
Different sources list different KPIs as the most important, but you’ll have to choose yourself after some research and discussion with a business analyst (your own or an analyst at your mobile app development company). Depending on the type of app you’re developing, your revenue model, and your target audience, the recommended metrics will differ.
Among universally acknowledged metrics are:
- User satisfaction
- Session length
- Average revenue per user
- Hours of use per month
- App opens
- Number of active users
- Retention rate
Once you’ve learned how to evaluate your app idea and you’ve gone through with it, you’ll have a general picture of how to approach the project. This is when it’s time to create a mind map.
Most software development companies practice an agile methodology or the narrower lean methodology. Both of these systems make use of mind mapping since it makes team collaboration easier. Agile is based on collaboration at all stages of development.
Mind mapping is the second to last step of the app idea validation process; it’s a result of sorts.
Mind mapping will help you and your team make sense of all the information available, direct your development, and roughly break down the stages of development into iterations.
With a mind map, you’ll have a history of changes and will always be able to check where every change originated. It also provides an organized visualization of the development process, which can push your brainstorming sessions to a new level and help you come up with better ways to implement features, speed up the development process by cutting less valuable parts, and so on.
The best thing about mind mapping is that it’s flexible and can be adjusted on the go to fit what’s needed and remove what’s excess. After all, when the actual coding and design begins, changes will come running seemingly out of nowhere.
Minimum Viable Product
Finally, we arrive at the last step in the app idea validation process: developing a minimum viable product (MVP). An MVP is a product with the bare minimum of features necessary to test your idea. It’s not yet a complete product with all the bells and whistles you would want. It’s just the core of your app: functional, usable, and with a semblance of the future design, but nothing more. Therefore, it requires way less money and time to develop.
MVPs usually lack in quality and are quite bare overall, but they do what they’re created to do. That is, they evaluate your app idea on the actual market and let you receive valuable feedback to see whether your idea, after all the research, is actually popular among customers.
In agile, validation is never finished completely, since the methodology itself is based on sprints, partial launches, and constant upgrades. Changes will come one after another during the following stages, too. However, knowing beforehand whether your idea is valid makes a huge difference for your investments.
That is, it has the potential to save you the cost of developing an unmarketable app, which is a lot of money.
Validation is a necessary but also tedious part of software creation, and it can be a challenge to manage it on your own. At Mind Studios, our team of specialists can teach you how to validate your app idea and guide you through the whole process. If you have any questions, drop us a line. We’ll be happy to answer any questions.