The Non-Technical Founder’s Guide to Validating Your App Before Building It

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With so many apps on the market, it’s never been easier for small startups to launch their own. Whether you have a great idea or not, just about anyone can create an app and make money off of it. However, building the perfect app is no easy feat. That’s why this blog post will focus on how to validate your app before you build it by testing out your assumptions with simple low-cost experiments that don’t require technical know-how!

Validate Your App Idea

Before you hire a designer or developer you must take the time to validate your app idea. You don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars building an app only to find out later that nobody wants your app. Validation is the process of testing your app idea to see if it has a market and whether people would use it.

The first step in validation is changing your mindset from developing an app to designing experiments that will test out or validate assumptions about what might make for a successful app. You should then take time researching preexisting apps, identifying their most successful features, and then replicating them in your own app.

Document the most important features In detail

Now that you have a tested idea with an audience it’s time to document the features that you want to build. You want to have enough detail for a designer or a developer to understand exactly what you need. Create one document that will live as the bible for your app.

Include the following in your document:

  • Screen layout for app
  • A list of all screens that should be included
  • Design style you want to use (flat, material) and why it’s good for this type of app.
  • The most important feature is screen layouts because every other design decisions will depend on them

Create a monetization strategy

One of the major reasons people build apps is to make money. You may not be able to monetize your app before you launch it, but that doesn’t mean you should skip this step! Instead, keep in mind what you might want to charge for in-app purchases and how you will optimize your app’s user experience from a revenue perspective.

You can use a variety of different tools that most app stores provide for developers to experiment with their pricing strategy. These are useful because they will tell you what your current users think about price points and also help validate whether or not your app has a chance at being profitable.

Here are some examples of monetization strategies

  • Free to download with in app purchases
  • Offer a free trial period followed by an upgrade option for the full version of the app
  • In app advertising
  • Sell your company’s products (e.g., digital content, physical items) inside the app

It’s also good to document your monetization strategy and tweak it based on feedback. Include the following in your document:

  • Revenue model, including how much you want to charge for each app download
  • Price points (price ranges) that could work for different demographics.
  • Your target demographic and why they would pay for your app

Build a cheap prototype

Once you’ve seen enough interest in your app idea, hire a designer to build a prototype. The prototyping phase is where the founder and designer work together to create wireframes of what they think will be successful features for an app. Sometimes customers will never see your prototype but it’s important to have to prototype to organize your app visually. It will also be

The next step in validation is taking feedback from potential users on their thoughts about the prototype. Feedback can come in the form of a survey, or by asking your friends and family.

Validate the prototype

The final step in validation is to take feedback from potential users on their thoughts about the prototype. You want them to resonate with your application. Have them test it out. Gather feedback and be sure to listen to their wants and needs.

This should be an easy stage because you’ve already looked at user’s opinions through market research and other preliminary steps like wireframing features for an app without building the app.

You may find that your idea resonates with a target audience but if not, it’s time to change course and pivot before you spend any more money on development. You then take this feedback (both positive and negative) back into consideration as you are designing your next prototype. Repeat this process until you have people trying to throw money at you.

Ken Vermeille
Ken Vermeille
The founder and CEO of Vermillion Sky. Ken Vermeille has 15 years of experience in product design and development. Creating his first website at 12 years old, he continues to build his talents by leveraging his ability to learn and implement any technology. In the past he's worked on mobile and web apps, video games, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, business model generation, and anything to keep Vermillion Sky at the cutting edge of product design and development.

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