How to Refine Your App Idea When You’ve Never Built an App Before and Aren’t Sure How That Process Even Works!?

So you have a great idea for an app.

That’s awesome!

Before you can start to develop your app or hire a development agency to build your app, here are eight important things you should do and consider before beginning.

1. Determine how your app will be a solution to a problem.

Here at Something Else Labs, we constantly hear, “I have this amazing idea, and it will make so much money.”

However, when your end goal is to immediately make money, you’re putting the cart before the horse. Your real end goal should be user-centric. You need to change your focus to be user-centric instead, ensuring that your app will create compelling value for users. Only then do you stand any chance of making money.

Make sure you can easily finish this statement: “I have an idea for an app that will make it easier/more fun/etc for people to…”

Here are some examples.

  • I want to make it easier for people to get takeout from local restaurants. (Doordash, Uber Eats, etc.)
  • I want to make it more fun to motivate people to check items off their to-do lists. (See the vast majority of to-do apps already in existence on the app store).
  • I want to make video chatting with friends really delightful and enjoyable. (Snapchat)

2. Do your research.

Now that you have a core idea of what it is your app will provide to users, it’s time to see whether someone else has already created your idea.

First, consider the category your app would be in once it’s in the app store. Are you building a social app, an e-commerce app, or maybe a productivity app?

Next, search the web using some of the keywords people might use to find your app. What apps pop up? How closely do these apps meet the needs your app is designed to meet? As soon as you identify potential competitors, you can start taking stock of the features their apps have in common with yours and whether you’d be building something unique or just adding to an already saturated market.

You might then build a matrix of what features are common across your top performing competitors to see how much overlap there is with your app and identify the areas in which you can differentiate your idea enough to provide compelling value to prospective users.

While majority of ideas are taken or have been thought of, being first to market does not always mean success. If you have a direct competitor that already has launched a similar idea. You need to ask yourself, can I make a better looking app, with better functionality, that I can execute better than them.

3. Challenge your assumptions.

If you’ve already done step two and have come away confident that what you’ve got is worth exploring, you next need to find a way to verify your assumptions.

Resist the urge to rely solely on feedback from your friends and family. Instead, set up a survey that you can send out to as many people from your target audience to see what they think about it. This is called market research. Keep in mind, you don’t have to describe your idea in excruciating detail in order to get useful feedback.

4. Narrow your audience.

Trying to make an app that every single person would use? Good Luck.

Defining a more specific group of users your app will be best tailored to? Now your thinking!

Importance of User Personas in User Experience

From differences in art style and font, to varying feature requirements, knowing your app’s demographic and narrowing it down will help you succeed. This will not only save you a ton of money when marketing plans are needed, but even this will create a more effective long term strategy to grow. Let me explain.

Instagram & Pinterest – targeted 16-35 year old female, photographers, living in urban areas. They built their app and marketing strategy to appeal to their demographic, and over time they could evolve for a larger audience.

Travel apps – Should you target Retirees, Business Class Travelers, or Young Adults traveling after college. Food apps – Are you developing for Stay-At-Home Parents, College Kids, Culinary Cooks, or After Work BBQs. It doesn’t matter which answer you pick, the only wrong choice is not choosing one at all.

5. Identify your minimum viable product (MVP).

What features does your app absolutely need in order to better meet that need you identified in step 2?

If your answer is EVERYTHING, be prepared to discover that 1. Your app is going to be expensive to make, 2. Some of the features you include may never be used, and 3. Having all those features may make users overwhelmed or even grumpy that they’re there in the first place.

Instead, narrow your features down to create a minimum viable product (MVP) that will meet the need of your users by including only the most essential features at launch. In successive versions of the app you can add more features that will make the app more robust. You’ve saved money and time by not trying to do all the things at once. Additionally this is a great way to reach launch dates earlier while you continue development and testing of new concepts/features.

6. Understand that just because it is a great idea, you might not gain instant traction or popularity.

A successful launch depends on a lot of factors, and one of the biggest is visibility. Always include short- and long-term marketing expenses when you consider how much money you’ll need for your go-to-market plan. The key is to find a balance between hype for the launch, and execution so when you do launch you don’t alienate all the potential word of mouth promotion and positive reviews. It is not unheard of to launch an app on only one platform to learn a lot about how users handle your app. Then after new features come forth and the concept evolves you can expect a large hype and launch on the next platform.

7. Be realistic about funding.

A concept that has over-taken the app development world is that third party funding is really easy to come by. Unless you have relationships with angel investors who already trust you, expecting third party funding might not be realistic. Too often we hear of companies raising millions of dollars in seed funding. This is not to say that you shouldn’t feel confident in your ideas and/or your ability to attract investors. It’s just something you’ll need to work hard at. Having the right idea, preparation, and documentation in hand is the first step to getting investors to commit. Of course using an app development calculator never hurt anyone either.

8. Find the right mobile app agency to entrust with bringing your mobile app idea to life.

In selecting a design and/or development partner, there are many factors to consider. Even the best-laid plans will quickly unravel with the wrong team. If you are currently shopping for a mobile design and/or development company, I encourage you to contact us at Something Else Labs. We’re now one of the best priced high rated mobile app development companies in the Fraser Valley, and all of BC.