Where to start when you have an app idea that’s not related to an existing business.
The process of creating a perfect app starts with an original idea, a eureka moment that comes out of the blue or the sudden realisation when doing a job that there's a better way of doing this. When that idea comes, write it down, study it and play the what-if game… what if it could do this, what if this happens, what if that doesn’t happen.
Consider the points below as the starting point for creating the perfect app.
What problem is your app solving?
Every successful app is solving a problem. It’s either solving a problem that no one else has thought to solve, or it’s solving a problem in a new and innovative way that is better than the other available solutions. Better in this context can include faster, cheaper or easier.
The problem may be how to perform a specific function that a user wishes to undertake such as pay for some shopping. Or an entertaining way for users to escape from their real-world problems for a few minutes with a mentally engaging game.
Start with what problem your app is solving.
Do your research
It's common for people who have an idea for an app to immediately think it’s totally original when it may not be the case. There are so many apps out there already. There’s a real chance that someone else has not only had the same idea but have developed it and it’s out in the marketplace.
Proper research is required to ensure that your idea is truly original, or if similar apps already exist that there is room in the marketplace for your app. It may be that the existing apps are restricted to a specific audience or geographic region and there is an untapped market that you can inhabit. It may be that your app has a unique selling point that makes it stand out from the others. It may be that your app is sufficiently faster, cheaper or easier to use than what’s in the marketplace.
Know your market
To be successful there has to be a market for the idea. It’s no use solving a problem that no one else needs, or wants, solving. Finding the right niche for your app is the first step in the process. You need to understand who else has the same problem, where they are and what value they would place on having the problem solved.
It may be that you have a very narrow niche in a specific geographic location, but if the market consists of a few large corporations who would willingly pay a large fee to have this problem solved then that is a profitable market. At the other extreme, your idea may appeal to every young person across the planet who may only be able to pay a small amount, but by their sheer large numbers of potential users could deliver a huge market.
Researching your market involves identifying potential users, how you could reach out to them, how and why they would use your app, what they could afford to pay, what alternative apps could they choose instead of using your app. Gather statistics, look at the competition, study the market. The best app ever made will fail if no one wants it, can afford it or even just doesn’t know it exists.
Do a SWOT analysis
It's important not to get too carried away with implementing your idea before you fully understand all aspects of it. Carry out a critical analysis to make sure the idea is fully-formed, that there are no gaps that need to be filled, no unnecessary complications that will consume time and money needlessly, that your idea will actually work and work well.
Look at the strengths that it has, list all the benefits that it offers and ask yourself is that enough to persuade users to get on board with your idea.
Look at its weaknesses, be honest with yourself or get an honest opinion from someone who isn’t emotionally invested in your idea. Can the weaknesses be eliminated, or are there options available to counter them? Do the strengths outweigh the weaknesses enough to tip the balance in the right direction?
Look at the opportunities, list all the potential markets for the app, the ways in which it can be used, how it could evolve and enhance. Think about how it could be developed further, how it could solve different problems, what other benefits could it deliver.
Look at the threats, what could go wrong, how competitors may react, how new apps could usurp your success. Knowing the threats means you can think about countering them before they materialise.
The success of apps comes down to how good its features are, how well it works, how well it's marketed, how much users want it and obviously, how committed you are to making it a success. Developing and marketing any app must be treated as a business rather than a hobby if it is to be successful.
Document your idea
Once you have your idea for an app fully formed, it’s time to express it in a way that can be shared with an app developer and/or investors. You need to be clear on what you are looking for from your app; what the app should do, how you think it should look, how you would like to interact with it. They don’t need to be fully formed at this stage, they are the starting point in the discussions between you and the developer.
They bound what the developer needs to think about and focus the discussions to the key areas that allow the developer to turn your idea into something tangible. The clearer the objectives of the app the easier the discussion will be.