So you have an idea for an app. You have visions of it hitting the top ten lists, going global and earning you plenty of cash. You’ve been fantasising about giving up the day job and making a business out of your app idea right?
You’re excited right now, and you should be. There are some very successful apps out there and once the ball starts rolling and people spread the word, you can find success quickly. But sometimes excitement can lead to blindness to some of the limitations of the idea because you’re so optimistic about it working. So before you hand in your resignation, let’s take a step back for a second and answer some questions to help you focus and make sure the idea really has legs.
Be honest with yourself and try to remain as objective as possible when answering them. It might help to talk them through with a friend, your family or your partner too.
About your motivation and commitment
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much better is this idea from your previous ideas?
2. Think back to the last app idea you were excited about, what were the reasons that stopped you from following through with it?
3. Are any of those reasons valid with your new idea?
4. Some app ideas take a while to realise. If you were to just focus on this app for the next 18 months will it hold your attention? Will you still be excited about it then?
About your app idea and its potential
We all have ideas for a new app or a new business but commitment and courage are what turns an idea into reality. But just making the idea happen doesn’t mean it will be successful. The idea has to be a good one and has to offer something of value to the people who will use it.
5. Do some research, how many other examples can you find of similar apps. How different is yours? Realistically what do you need to do to make yours even better?
6. If no-one else is doing it, why do you think that is? Is there a good reason why other people or companies haven’t taken advantage of a similar idea?
7. What problem does your app solve? How big a problem is it? How do people currently resolve this problem?
8. Be as specific as possible, who would use your idea? Why would they use it? When would they use it?
9. Why would they use your app instead of what’s already available to them?
10. How would they know to use your app over current alternatives?
Making sure your idea is not just another one in a sea of similar ideas is critical to success. If there are already lots of people doing something similar, yours has to stand out and offer something better or different. You also have to be sure that people will use it over their existing choices and even more important, will be aware of your app as an option. Be really honest with yourself here, if you can’t get past these questions you could end up wasting time on a bad idea, instead of starting again with an even better one.
Practical considerations to creating your app
Ok, so if you’ve got this far and you’re still going strong, now you just need to get a bit more practical on how you’ll fulfil your idea
11. What resources will you need to make your idea happen? People, equipment, skills and so on.
12. Are these resources within your reach? Can you overcome the obstacles to find these resources?
13. How much money will it take for you to gain access to all these resources? How will you raise this money?
14. Imagine your idea is now complete. Working backwards, what were the major steps involved in getting there?
15. How much time will each of these stages take you? How will you find the time among your other commitments?
This last set of questions was designed to help you get a grip of the realistic and practical aspects of turning your ideas into reality. You’ll need a clear project plan and a clear vision to get there, especially if you’ll be bringing others in to help you create the app.
Most app ideas end up staying in someone’s head or notebooks, and rarely get past the kind of questions and thinking set out above. Coming up with an idea is the easy part. Making it happen takes far more time and effort than some people realise. But, if the idea is good enough and your passion is strong enough, you might just find that you’re at the beginning of a very rewarding and exciting journey. Good luck!
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About Damian Rees
Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees