Feature Set & Concept Validation
Chapter 1 of 3
Do you have the next billion-dollar app idea? A lot of people think they do but having a great idea is just the start. There are a lot of steps involved in bringing that idea to life. Before reaching out to designers, developers or even investors there are a few things you need to do. In this three-part guide, we’ll break down some of these essential steps for you to help get you started.
Create a feature set
Defining the functionalities of your app is the first crucial step in flushing out your concept. You want to create a platform that connects User A and User B, two untapped demographics? Great, but that’s not enough.
Can users sign in using Facebook? Will they be able to message each other? Search for other friends? Write down everything that comes to mind. This can be as simple as a list of bullet points or as complicated as drawing out wireframes. The more detail that you can provide, the easier it will be for others to understand your overall concept. Just make sure everything is broken down in a way that’s easy to understand. Feature sets are one of the first things you’ll need before approaching potential partners, development shops or investors. Here are a few questions to help get you started:
· What problem does your app solve?
· What is the overall purpose of the app?
· What are the main things the user can do with the app?
When writing down your features, it’s important to always keep your initial idea in mind. Everything you list should support your main concept otherwise you run the risk of diluting the concept. Getting too feature heavy is another common mistake many people make with their initial feature sets. Keep it simple and think of the “must haves” for your app.
Identify your customers or users
Once you have an initial feature set, you’ll want to define a target audience. Potential users can be broken down a number of ways including age, gender, location, industry, profession and more. You can use this information to help streamline the feature set you’ve developed. Going after an older age demographic? Perhaps social integration and in-app messaging aren’t necessary functionalities.
Knowing your target audience will help you refine and dictate things such as features, branding, color palate, platform (iOS, Android, Web), pricing, etc. The more information you have on your customer, the easier it will be to reverse engineer the perfect app.
Identifying your target audience will also play a key role down the line when defining your user experience. Understanding your audiences’ behaviors, thought patterns and desires all have an impact on the overall infrastructure and layout of the app.
Validate your vision and get some feedback
Before you move further, now would be a good time to validate your concept. Getting feedback on the work you’ve already done at an earlier stage allows you to easily pivot and update your concept. You can do this a number of different ways.
Share your feature set
You know what they say, “sharing is caring.” Sharing your potential feature set with people is a quick and easy way to see if your concept has any clout. By talking through your initial ideas you’ll immediately be able to see whether the features you’ve identified make sense, specific use cases for your app, if people will even use your app, etc.
Create a survey
For a slightly more formalized approach you can create a survey that can easily be sent out to your target audience and personal network. It can be as simple as sharing your feature set to gather candid feedback or a little more involved, where you identify specific questions that reveal more insight on your initial concept and target audience.
Create a prototype or landing page
For the ambitious, you can go that extra mile and build out a basic prototype. This route requires a little more legwork and basic knowledge of the UX/UI/wireframing process. With the extra effort, however, not only can you validate your concept and feature set, but also additional feedback that reveals insight into your user, their behavior, expectations for your app and functionalities they want to see. These early will all play a huge role when developing the user experience of the app.
Here are some tools to help you out:
Invision allows you to create a basic clickable interface for users to interact with, which is great to gain some initial feedback. It’s a tool that many design and development shops use for user testing but is something that anyone can use.
Survey Monkey allows you to create a basic survey, which you can then email to your network and see the results from their dashboard.
Unbounce is known as a tool for marketing but can also be used to create a basic landing page for your idea. This can be used to capture emails from potential users to gain their feedback.
Marvel is an easy to use web app that allows you design, prototype and collaborate all from one dashboard. Its dropbox integration also makes updating existing prototypes a cinch.
Short for "Prototyping on Paper," this free app easily allows you to hand sketch wireframes, photograph them on your phone and stitch them together using hotspots. It's as basic as they come but a powerful tool to quickly flush out ideas and build a rough prototype.
The information you gather in these initial steps can help prove whether you are headed in the right direction or if you need to step back and re-evaluate. Ready to keep pushing forward? Read on to Chapter 2: developing an MVP.