It happens to us all, sometimes in the shower and sometimes driving, lighting strikes with a resembling, “I have an idea for an app that will make a million dollars!”. As the idea matures and grows into a breathing living world of it’s own, you get more and more exited but at the same time a nagging question, quiet at first but now begins to scream for attention. How do I take this great app idea and make it into reality?
Before you start developing or trying to sell an app idea, it will need to be validated. Developing an app can cost anywhere from a hundreds to thousands of dollars and can be very time-consuming. Any idea sounds like a million dollars until it’s vested by fire through proper market research and the ever important constructive criticism of your family & friends.
Below are 5 simple common sense steps to take before you try to sell an app idea or develop it.
Step 1: Write It Down! Keep Brainstorming
The very first thing that you will need to do is to write everything down. Document every minute detail and function. The first couple minutes that an idea is birthed is the most important of it’s lifetime.
I used to carry a simple recorder in my pocket for ideas that would come to me, which would allow me to verbally document it so when I got home I could play it back and write it all down. Now that we all have smart phones it’s even easier with dictation apps
Step 2: Draw Your App Idea
The next step is to validate your great app idea through a visual drawing. This should be a quick sketch of how this app would look and feel. Just start drawing! Once you have the bits and pieces on paper, redraw the app in its final form.
I like to use a wire-frame tool like Balsamiq mockups to quickly wire frame an idea into something I can visually process.
Below is a sketch I did a while back for a score keeper app :
What will the UI look like? What about the end user experience (UX)? Take some time and draw it out, visualize the app, how it will work and different functions. This step will help you flesh out many operational issues.
While the brainstorming step is the most fun, this step will help you determine for yourself if this is something that will work or not. Some ideas sound great in our heads but look very different when drawn out.
Step 3: Show Your Family & Friends
This is probably the hardest step. It is not easy to bare this cool new app idea to constructive criticism, because in our head it’s already perfect.
This is your chance to take your app idea out of the box and start to let other minds process it. Is it really a good idea? Would it be useful? Would someone actually buy it? What could make it even better?
Your family and friends voices will be the most honest opinion you will be able to get about your app idea, including your own.
Step 4. Determining Which App Market to Target
This step involves deciding which app store markets to target.
Right now there are three main juggernauts playing in the app arena.
1. iOS App Store.
- First launched in 2008; focuses on apps for iOS devices.
- App approval process is rigorous and full of headaches, but ensures only quality apps make it to the market (ideally).
- Development is done using Xcode, written in Objective C and or Swift.
- It costs $100 a year to for a development license.
2. Google Play.
- Launched shortly after the iOS AppStore, Google Play focuses solely on apps for the Android market.
- App approval process is simple, which means the market is flooded with a lot of low quality apps.
- Development is done through Eclipse or Android Studio, written in Java.
- Development is free!
3. Amazon Appstore.
- Launched in 2011, this store focus on Android apps for their Kindle devices only.
- App approval is a little more complicated than Google Play’s.
- Development is very similar to standard Android development.
Determining which market to develop for will depend on personal preferences. iOS App Store apps on average make more money than the others, but the development process is a headache. Android markets are flooded with low quality apps which give a great opportunity to stand apart.
If you do end up with a million dollar app idea, most likely you will end up porting your app across several different platforms. My opinion is to start with one market (Google Play) to test the waters. Then move on from there.
Step 5. Determining App Market Potential
This is the make or break of all great app ideas. You may have the greatest app idea in the world but if the market is saturated and there is not enough of a demand then you’re going to be wasting your time.
The law of supply and demand can be applied here, you ideally are going to want to find app ideas with high demand and low supply.
There are four market analysis qualifiers to help measure your app idea’s market potential:
- Demand. This measures whether there is a market or not for this app idea. Are people searching for this type of app but not finding it? Is there a need?
- Supply. This tells us how saturated the existing market is for this app idea. How many other similar apps are there already?
- Competition. How hard is it to rank in the top ten of a store search? Much like websites and SEO, optimizing an app to rank high in an app store search is very important. If you have a million dollar app idea but cannot break into the top ten because it’s too competitive you may have lost already.
- Potential Value. This is your return on investment (ROI). Developing an app can be expensive and time-consuming. You will want to make sure your efforts will have a return on your investment of time and money.
App Market Research Example
Thank fully there are tools that help us calculate the market potential for an app idea. The App Market Analyzer comes with a keyword research tool that can do this grunt work for us.
As an example, lets validate the idea of a Facebook type app. Open up AMA and click on the Keyword Research tool.
Type in “Facebook” and click enter. The App Market Analyzer will run all the logarithmic calculations needed to determine the current market potential for this keyword.
When the calculations are finished we are shown the current top ten competitors for this app idea along with the metrics for Supply, Demand, Competitiveness and ROI.
As we can see, the metrics for Supply, Demand and Competitiveness are all high. The ROI score is 10. We want that score to be as close to 30 as possible. From this data we can see that the market for a new Facebook apps is almost impossible to break into.
Lets try another keyword. Enter the keyword “peanut brittle” and click enter.
Supply and Competition are LOW, which is good. But the demand is also low and ideally we would want this to be at least medium or higher. There is potential here but not a lot.
If the market is saturated (high supply) and shows high demand, do some competitive research and see if there is a way your app can be innovated enough to outshine the current ranking apps.
AMA can help with this through the App Insights tool. This tool allows us an inside peek into what makes a competitor app tick. We can view description keyword breakdowns, keyword rankings and view customer sentiment analysis.
Start Development or Sell the App Idea
If you have run your great app idea through the gauntlet of constructive criticism and market research and passed, then it’s time to take your app to the next level. Now you can either think about selling your app idea or start the development process to bring it into reality.
The next time you are struck with the “I have an idea for an app” bug, you will know exactly the steps to take to help validate and then conduct some simple market research to make sure your app idea will work.
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