If you have an app idea, you need to test if it will actually be accepted by your core audience. This is called app validation. It’s a way to find out whether the app idea is able to get the kind of traction you want. You certainly don’t want all the hard labor and monetary investment that you put into your app to go to waste. While there is no guarantee of how popular your app will be, there are ways to test its viability to the public by carrying out some simple but effective exercises.
Why validate your app idea?
There are around 50,000 new apps added to the Apple App Store every single month. Validation is required in order to find out whether your app will resonate with your audience. Nearly £40,000 to £500,000 is spent on building any given app. As a result, validation is incredibly important to make sure you don’t overspend and blow out your resources before you’ve proven how effective your app can be.
Let’s look at the steps you can take to validate your app idea. It’s important to do these in order where we’ll be looking outside of the app stores (Apple App Store and Google Play Store) and inside of the app stores.
Step 1. Search outside app stores
First, you want to look outside the app stores for validation for your app. Start by looking for startups on platforms like Wellfound and check daily posts on Product Hunt for the latest ideas and trends coming out. This will allow you to gauge what the most popular ideas are and whether your app can fit in.
In addition, follow the news and various reports about what is being funded. Look at angel investors, hedge funds, funding organisations, and reports from various newspapers about the newest ideas being funded around the world. VCs and accelerators, as well as, startup leaders share their thoughts on websites, social media handles, blogs, etc, about what their next business ventures are and what they’re looking to fund. The same type of information can be taken from investor portfolio pages.
If your app idea is similar to those trending, being funded, or in the same industry, then that’s a great start and shows there is some validation in your idea.
Step 2. Analyse existing apps
The next step is where we look in the app stores to identify apps specifically, rather than general business ideas, that are similar to yours and see how they are doing:
Find out if your competitors are in the top download charts.
If they’re in the top grossing charts and are consistently ranking very high, find out where they’re featuring and how much their apps are earning. If they have a consistent rank, that is proof that the apps are valid and solid ideas. Use ASO tools like AppTweak or Data.ai for this.
Find out if your competitors have funding.
Have they raised funding? How did they raise funding? Fundraising means that investors think the app idea is a good one. Use the platform CrunchBase for finding out whether they have raised funding.
Find out how big the company is.
Find out how many employees work at the offices of the app company. Even if the company hasn’t publicly raised much capital, seeing if they have multiple people working there shows there must have been some sort of private funding that is enabling them to hire people. This is a sign that the company’s idea is valuable and worth investing in. Use LinkedIn for looking at a company size.
Find out if your competitors are in the charts.
If your competitors are featuring in the top download charts, have acquired funding and are growing, it’s a clear sign there is value in your app idea that is worth pursuing.
Step 3. Check keywords
Next, come up with some keywords for your app idea, those that describe your app idea and then search for their popularity. Once you have these keywords:
Identify the search popularity and search volume of the keywords.
The higher the search popularity number, the more popular are those keywords and the app ideas. This means that your idea is valid as a moneymaker. The ASO tools previously mentioned like AppTweak and Data.io are great for this.
Find out how many searches with your keywords occur per month.
More than a few hundred searches can mean that the audience for your app is significant and the ones that are interested are also enthusiasts. Use a tool like Adwords Google Keyword Planner for this.
Bare in mind though that if your idea is very niche, a small number of monthly searchers may emerge. In this case, it’s not plausible to think that your idea is bad or unpopular per se, but that it may need a little bit of marketing in order to gauge a larger audience. Whether you’re ready to pour in that much capital to get a return or not is another matter entirely.
Step 4. Get into the minds of users
At this point, you’ve done some fairly technical work. The next step is to ask for feedback from potential users on whether the app idea is one that could work. Don’t worry about someone stealing your idea. Remember, execution is everything. There are various forums and social platforms that you can use for this, but here’s the one that has consistently delivered results:
Reddit is one of the most popular websites on the internet. According to the Alexa Rankings, it is the 21st most popular site on the internet. It’s a platform organised into various small bubbles in which people comment and share their views on different things. These communities are extremely active and due to the upvote and downvote system, they allow for the most useful information to bubble up and find its way to you.
Due to its popularity, how active the community is, and the many different things people can comment and share their views on, it’s an incredibly powerful resource for you to use in helping validate your app idea. You can do a number of things with it but here’s two ways we would use it:
Using Reddit: Part 1
The first thing I would use it for is to search and read up on the problem your app is solving. This, of course, is for those of you who are creating an app that’s solving a problem. Search it and see if it’s an actual problem that loads of people either nationwide or worldwide are experiencing. If they are, great! This is a huge step in validation for your idea.
Using Reddit: Part 2
The second thing to do is search your app competitors on the platform. Use this access to an incredibly diverse and active community to find out what’s missing in current app solutions or even, what’s great about them. This information can allow you to formulate a strategy on how to apply those to your app and therefore validate it further.
Step 5. Ask for feedback from potential users
Finally, with all of the information you have so far, the most simplest and powerful step to take next is to ask for feedback from potential users. Does this idea solve the problem? Would this be an app you would use? Are these features sufficient to satisfy the first adopters of the app?
This is priceless information. You’re physically asking your audience if this is an app they would use. If they say no, would you still build it? Maybe not. This is an incredibly powerful step to take and it’s so simple, yet it astounds me how many times people do not do this step. Ask your potential audience — would you use this app? Now, the way we have advised clients to do this is to do two things.
Get quantitative data
First, create a survey online with questions linked to validating your app idea as seen above e.g. Would you use it? Does this solve the problem? Would you pay monthly for it? Get this survey sent out to as many people who are in your target audience. This could be friends, friends of friends, colleagues, people from your Reddit search, people you may have found at local networking events, meet ups and more. This gives you quantitative data.
Get quanlitative data
Next, get a group together, around 5–10 people, of your ideal target audience and focus group them. Pitch them your app idea and ask them for their complete and honest feedback. Go through everything you possibly can with them, from the problem the app is solving to the features of the app. After pitching your app, ask for their feedback using open-ended questions. Unlike closed-ended questions which require a simple “yes” or “no”, open-ended questions require more thought and provide you with rich sources of information that you can use to help validate your app idea. This is qualitative data.
Both sources of quantitative and qualitative data are extremely powerful to validate your app idea, and really help in shaping major elements of your app as well in pitches it to investors.
Validating your app idea takes time and a number of steps but ask any app founder and the majority will tell you how crucial it is to the process. Your audience are everything to your app, and it’ll be them who are the ones helping you to save time and resources knowing whether to build your app or not. Always remember that even if you do all of the steps above and you get amazing results, there is no guarantee of how popular your app will be until you build it. But it’s the starting point for every new successful app.
If you’re interested in learning more about app development or looking to get started on your app, visit digiruu.com/get-started