I have an idea for an app, but is it any good?
By Hans Lambert Pedersen
How to know if your app idea is good: From user motivation to value and risk, assess whether your potential app concept offers true value and can turn a profit.
App inventions present an incredible opportunity for businesses to grow and add value.
Whether you’re planning to take on the might of Pokemon Go $1bn gaming app or create a value-led solution for your customers, it’s important to evaluate your idea first.
We always talk about the useful apps, but never the 40,000 apps rejected by the App Store every week.
The key to success and to avoid wasting value budget and resources is to thoroughly assess your app idea, starting with the points in this article.
The history of app creation
The beauty of app creation is it’s still a relatively young industry. Some argue the first app appeared way back in 1997 with Nokia’s Snake game. But the true app revolution didn’t start to pick up pace until the smartphone age after the Millennium.
Interestingly, a young Steve Jobs first envisioned a basic form of the App Store back in 1983. He imagined a place where software could be purchased over phone lines.
Fast forward to the launch of the Apple iPod and iTunes store in 2001. It was a gateway into new and exciting possibilities.
The Apple iTunes store was the catalyst to the eventual unveiling of the iPhone in June 2007 and the App Store one year later.
To put things into context, the original Apple App Store launched with just 500 apps. Nowadays, the Apple Store has 1.96 million apps and the Google Play Store currently holds 2.87 million.
So, despite app development being a relatively young industry, it’s already rife with competition. This is where a bit of smarter planning comes in.
How to know if your app idea is good?
So, you want to know if your app idea is good beyond pure excitement. Excitement is a good sign, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Remember, what’s a good app idea in our heads needs to transform onto a digital platform and function effectively. It also needs to turn a profit.
For your app idea to be a hit, it needs to follow the rule of utility. The time for initial questioning starts now. Let the fate of your app idea be revealed.
I’m sure people who win the lottery check their numbers are correct a few times before accepting it’s true. Take this same “too good to be true” approach with your app idea.
We require a tough interrogation process where your app must prove its innocence as being genuinely good.
- “Why is your app idea so good?”
- “What value does it bring to the user?”
- “What change are you trying to make in the everyday life of the user?”
Another key to the success of this interrogation is to dig deep and get to the why.
What your app idea is and how it works is easy to answer. But the why is what will separate your app from the rest. Why should your app exist? Now, that’s the question.
If you can answer this crucial question with conviction, we’d recommend you lead with this answer and let it encompass your overall app identity, message and purpose.
So, your app idea has survived the initial questioning. Good. The next stage is recognising the user motivation.
Remember, just because app development is the thing to do, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Many things are logical and we should do them every day, but we fail with motivation.
For example, "I should exercise regularly" or "I should eat more vegetables." But, you know, sometimes I just lack motivation.
Whether you’ve created an incredible solution to an everyday problem or an awesome form of entertainment, it’s no good if you can’t persuade people to try it out.
It’s time to ask what motivations you can provide your user:
- Extrinsic user motivation – Can you encourage your user to achieve goals by receiving awards?
- Intrinsic user motivation – Can you appeal to the user’s internal values and beliefs?
As an app creator, you must be motivated to improve the lives of your users. Motivating your user is about understanding them. Ask yourself:
- How is your app adding value to your user?
- Is your user motivated to use your app every day?
Knowledge is power. Understand what motivates your user and you can channel this value through your app idea.
Although apps come in various styles with contrasting purposes that appeal to different values, they all share one thing in common – connection.
Ask yourself, what connection is your app forming for your user, and how strong is it?
WhatsApp connects friends, families and businesses. It keeps people in touch and works entirely on the fundamental basis of human connection.
However, Candy Crush works in a whole other realm of connection. As a game, it allows you to escape reality through entertainment, connecting you to a fictional world of competition, achievements, and stimulation.
Apps have the power to connect you internally with your private emotions or externally with your friends. Apps can also do both these things, all at once.
Whether it’s connecting you with information, entertainment, imagination, or human interaction, your app's success depends on its power to connect.
So, if your app idea is good, its ability to connect needs to be strong, whatever the form of connection.
Every app idea comes with a risk. No matter how many boxes get ticked, sometimes it won’t work. To evaluate the extent of risk, consider using the following pyramid.
- Useful – At the foundation of the pyramid is user motivation. Your app idea must be useful by adding value to your user and improving their daily lives. Does it solve a problem? Is it useful every day?
- Usable – At the centre, we have usability. This aspect is about understanding how well your app will function and how easy it operates. For example, an app might be perfectly useful in theory but too complicated to use.
- Used – The last and most vital aspect at the point of the pyramid is whether it’s used.
Used is more complicated and needs more explanation because a product may be useful and usable but fail to be used.
What? I know, right. Stay with me, guys!
So, if something is to be used, it relies on other external factors contributing to its success or failure. For example, remember Segway?
Yeah, that personal two-wheel vehicle that launched in 2001. Well, it was both useful and usable but failed to meet the expectation of sales anticipated.
When it was released, the people at Segway failed to ensure the product was legal to use in public areas. Not checking legal regulations as an external factor contributing to whether your app becomes used will ultimately define its success or failure.
So, check external factors in your desired society or communities where you wish your app to land, such as the law, environmental impact, meaning of content, etc.
Answering the ultimate question of whether people will become users by using your app is almost impossible. Once again, it all goes back to user motivation, value, and connection, all playing alongside external factors in society.
You could say, “a tricky balancing act”.
Essentially, with every new app idea comes a risk of failure. No app idea is guaranteed to succeed with so many factors involved in the process and finish.
Remember to research and be honest with yourself.
Transform your app idea into a reality
Knowing if an app is set for success requires far too many components to consider in just one blog. There are various other methods to consider, such as market surveys and ‘pretotyping’ data to validate your ideas.
It’s also vital to understand the differences between a prototype, MVP and MLP, or you could end up wasting a lot of valuable time and money.
The best solution is to work with a proven company. If you know what you want to achieve with your app idea, we can help you build an app people love.
If you’re interested to see our previous work, check out our recent case studies. Or to ask any questions, contact us today.