It’s not in your best interest to throw a ton of time and money at a new mobile app idea, only to realize that there’s no product-market fit and nobody wants to download the app you spent months creating. Trying to make smart investment decisions when working on app-based businesses boils down to one thing — idea validation.
Once you’ve reached the point in your process where you’ve brainstormed a long list of ideas and narrowed down that laundry list to a short list you want to move forward with, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to validate the ideas on your short list. Throughout this article, we’re going to provide you with some insights on a) what it means to validate a mobile app idea, b) why idea validation is important, and c) some strategies that you can implement when working through the idea validation process.
Let’s dive in!
What does it mean to validate an idea and why is it important?
When you come up with a new idea, you have this picture in your mind about how it will play out, but do you know how the idea will play out in practice? The concept behind idea validation is to collect some evidence to help you figure out the extent to which your idea will work as anticipated. Without validation, an idea is simply a nice thought that lives inside your head. But as you work to validate that idea, it becomes a tangible value proposition that you can use to try to attract key stakeholders.
The idea validation process is not a one-size-fits-all model and different techniques will be required to validate different types of ideas. The validation process is something that will take place in stages over a long period of time, as you want to incrementally reduce the uncertainty surrounding how the idea will play out in practice when it ends up in the hands of your target audience. The validation process often starts in the early stages of idea development as you are still refining your idea and extends all the way through to the point where you are trying to acquire customers.
Spending some time doing idea validation helps you to decrease the risks associated with investing time and money into designing and developing an app idea down the line. Investing some time in idea validation can make it easier to deliver your product or service to the market more quickly, help you understand the true potential of your business idea, and reduce costs along the way. Throughout the ideation and business development process, you constantly want to be checking the ideas you have against your target consumers’ needs and perspectives to make sure you are working towards establishing long-term product-market fit.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Validating Your Idea
Be Honest with Yourself
One of the most important things to keep in mind throughout the app validation process is to be honest with yourself. It can sometimes be difficult to separate yourself and your personal feelings towards the idea from the objective data you’re seeing. However, to truly assess the potential of your idea, it’s important to try to be objective about your idea and the feedback you’re receiving.
Don’t turn a blind eye to what the process is telling you simply because you don’t like what you hear. Even if the app validation process leads you to abandon your idea, it’s better to learn the truth about your idea’s potential because it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. When validating your idea, don’t stop after you receive one piece of positive feedback and assume you’re good to go. Push yourself further and seek additional sources of feedback until you have a wide range of inputs to work with in assessing your idea’s true potential.
Clearly Define Success
One of the central aspects of the idea validation process is to figure out what hypothesis you want to test, how you’re going to go about testing that hypothesis, and what a successful outcome would look like. Let’s start with the first stage of the process — hypothesis development. Whenever you come up with a new idea, there is an underlying assumption that you would need to hold. Think long and hard about what that assumption is, and shape it into a hypothesis that you can set out to test throughout the idea validation process.
If it turns out that the assumption underlying your idea doesn’t hold, the solution that you were planning to develop becomes a moot point. Once you have a strong grasp on what hypothesis it is that you need to test, the next step is to think about how you’re going to design a small test to try to gather some insights to figure out whether or not your hypothesis holds. One of the most important things to think about upfront is what you will consider success to look like once you have the results of the test of your hypothesis in hand. Figure out how much validation you and your respective stakeholders feel you need in order to feel confident in moving forward to the next phase of design and development.
Involve the Right People
Interacting with people is a huge component of the idea validation process. In order to ensure that you can trust the data that you’re seeking to generate throughout the idea validation process, it’s key to make sure that you’re talking to the right set of people. Getting confirmation that your hypothesis holds is only valuable if you get that confirmation from the individuals who you believe will be your future app users.
Given this, before you set out to start validating your idea through testing your central hypothesis, you need to take a step back to try to define your target audience. Don’t worry about perfectly defining every nuance of your target audience at this stage because you’ll have the opportunity to continue to refine it as you interact with potential users throughout the design and development process. Before kicking off your initial idea validation process, think about what defines the individuals whom you envision using your app most frequently. Once you have the profile of the individual in mind, jot down key characteristics that these individuals embody. Seek these types of people out when you’re trying to interact with future potential users throughout the idea validation process. If you end up trying to validate your idea with individuals who wouldn’t actively partake in the user journey, the data you’re collecting might not be indicative of the true potential of your app idea.
Collect Data Systematically
The idea validation process is inherently iterative and can take place over a long period of time. Given that this is a lengthy process, it is critical to develop a process that allows you to systematically capture and analyze the data that you are collecting throughout the process of testing your core hypothesis. This can help you to make sure that you’re consistently putting checks in place to evaluate what you’re learning against what you set out to test in the first place.
Without building a systematic data capture and analysis component into the idea validation process, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle of the process itself. While the process requires you to use different data collection methods to capture insights along the way, the ultimate goal is to aggregate and analyze those insights to draw a conclusion around whether or not your hypothesis was supported through your data validation efforts. Therefore, it is important to establish a streamlined process to help you organize your data early on in the idea validation process so that you have as comprehensive a picture as possible when you’re trying to make a data-driven decision about how you want to move forward.
Learn from Others
Luckily you’re not the first to work through the process of validating a new product idea. So there’s no need to reinvent the wheel! Instead, talk to other people you know who have started similar ventures and ask them how they went about validating their idea. Focus on learning from those around you to give you alternative perspectives about how to work through the idea validation process.
Once you track down a few people who have worked through this process before, consider asking them some of the following questions:
- How did you form your initial hypothesis?
- Once you developed that hypothesis, how did you go about testing it?
- How did you find potential users to talk to in an effort to validate your idea?
- How did you track data along the way?
- What was your ultimate measure of success?
- How did you decide whether or not to move forward with your idea based upon the data you collected throughout the idea validation process?
Need Some Support?
We know you’re eager to dive right into bringing your product idea to life. But this doesn’t mean that you should cut corners and skip the much needed idea validation stage. If you do, it will come back to bite you in the long run. While the tips and tricks we outlined in the article can be a helpful starting point to kickstart your idea validation journey, we understand if you don’t want to go at it alone.
Idea validation can be tricky to get right and it’s such a critical step to make sure you’re pouring your future resource investment into an idea worth your time and money that will actually solve your user’s problem. Reach out to our team of experts if you’d like some help in validating your idea and working to bring it to life.
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