Validation: Validate! Validate! Validate!

18.09.2017 |

Episode #3 of the course Bringing your app idea to life by Kara Ntumy


Welcome back for Day 3! I’d like to pick up from where we left off yesterday, continuing to flesh out your app idea. This will entail performing some preliminary market research, to ensure the app is filling a gap in the market. We will then proceed to discuss various methods of validation, which is testing and proving your idea or solution works for users before building and launching it to the public.

We will begin searching app stores and search engines to find out:

1. whether an app exactly like your app idea already exists

2. whether apps similar to your app idea exist

Try to search for different words or phrases that people would use if they were trying to solve the problem with your app. You might be lucky and find that your app idea has not been done before—if so, hooray! However, if you find an app has already been created exactly the way you envisioned yours, don’t be disheartened; this is a chance to find out what your competitor isn’t doing well (or at all), so you can improve on these aspects and make your app stand out! This might only be part one of our market research, but it also counts as validation, since the mere fact that your app idea exists and is being used by people means your idea could work.


Why Should I Validate?

As you can probably tell, validation is a crucial step; you will save a lot of time and money by testing and honing your idea on a smaller scale—no one wants to fall into the trap of making a product no one wants! The other major reason to validate is to prove that people will part with their money for your product, even if it’s a simplified or basic version of your idea. There’s no better motivation for you to keep going when users have confirmed you’re on the right path!


So, How Do I Validate My App Idea?

The first validation exercise is called a competitor analysis. To do this, you would typically make a list of all the apps you found that were similar to your idea in a spreadsheet, and note down the features they have in common, as well as the keywords they’re targeting (you can find these by searching for the app name at Sensor Tower). Add some extra columns, and track the number of reviews and common complaints for each competitor. Later, when designing and building your app, you will want to keep these reviews in mind to know what mistakes to avoid—by simply making note of them this early, you’re already honing your idea (without spending a dime yet!).

Once you have properly sized up the competition, you will have a better idea of your target market, and this makes it easier to survey a group of them using a simple survey tool like Survey Monkey—which is the second validation method. As an outcome of this survey, you will know how your target market currently solves the problem, how effective your solution would be to them, and what tweaks you need to make to your solution to have it work.

The third (and my personal favorite) validation method is the validation board. This method involves listing all the assumptions you’ve made about your idea—including the primary assumption that people will pay for it—and proceeding to run tests to prove each assumption. Be creative when thinking of an experiment for your assumptions: a landing page or Facebook Page explaining your product with a signup form; an online ad; a poster with your contacts; and so on. Once you gain a significant number of signups, count it as your validation that people would want your product. Each assumption you don’t validate means you need to redefine (or “pivot”) that part of your idea before moving on.

Now that your idea’s validated, you probably want to know how to decide which platform to build it on. Find out in tomorrow’s lesson!


Recommended reading

Using “The Validation Board” for Mobile App Developers


Recommended book

How to Build a Billion-Dollar App by George Berkowski


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