Got an idea for an app but not sure what to do next?
We see this every week, and we love partnering with passionate people to bring their ideas to life. Over the last few years, we've picked up a few great tips for how to take your dream from 'Idea' to 'Product' to 'Business'. If that sounds like what you want to do, read on.
Last January one of our esteemed designers, Dave, penned this blog article where he discussed the merits of launching a website - or bike - as an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), as opposed to building every bell and whistle of functionality for launch.
12 months on, this is still how we advise many of our clients to approach their digital projects, particularly in relation to app development. In our experience, this has proven to be the smartest approach. Let me explain why: Your app may not be used as you intended.
When Facebook launched in February 2004, its functionality was… uh… simple to say the least.
Initially launched as a small social network for undergraduates, it quickly grew to enable anyone with a valid email address to become a member. Facebook's complexity and functionality have continued to grow beyond Mark Zuckerberg's original expectations and it now bears very little resemblance to the initial release.
Tip #1: Decide on the simplest version possible of your app to launch (the MVP) and plan phased releases of additional functionality.
According to Dropbox CEO and founder Drew Houston, deciding on an MVP (i.e. Minimum Viable Product) and launching it was a critical step in turning Dropbox into the world-renowned file storage and sharing platform that it is today.
His approach was to put something in users' hands and get real feedback ASAP. In his view, waiting to launch a "perfect" product and relying on focus groups for market research would not have enabled him to learn as much about his market as real users.
Additional notes here:
- Starting small means you won't break your budget before you know it's worth the investment
- A basic version of your long-term vision for the product is a quick win - you can build on this momentum.
- You can tinker with aspects of your business model, marketing funnel etc. while you're building your MVP. This will help when it comes time to start attracting customers.
Tip #2: User testing is the best way to learn about your market.
Once you have a MVP (or even just a prototype, design, or sketch), you should test it with users. Don't bother showing it to your friends and family - they like you, and don't want to crush your spirit. Try and show it to people who you think will be your key users, and get pure feedback.
The market does not care about you, it cares about having its problems solved efficiently - so getting raw, unfiltered feedback from users is the best way to build a great product beyond deployment of your MVP. If you can attract users out in the wild to sign up to your service and genuinely use it, and provide avenues for them to give you feedback (like a chatbot or simple support inbox), this is the gold standard of user testing.
If you are pre-launch, it's a good idea to test and record Users while they use your app. You'll discover pain points popping up during tasks that you think are extremely simple, and it'll allow you to optimise these user experiences and deliver a much better product.
Note: you can read this article about defining true business problems to make sure you're on the right track as early as possible.
Tip #3: Develop a marketing campaign to launch your app and commit resources to continue that campaign well after the launch date.
Internal instant messaging service Slack grew from a $0 to US$1 billion company in two years. You don’t get that kind of growth without some marketing know-how.
It launched with an impressive public relations campaign and followed that up with continuous audience engagement on social networks. Using a hook at launch – like a celebrity endorsement, a clear USP (Unique Selling Point), well-respected user or prestigious investor – and encouraging social media interaction will help your app gain traction amongst users.
While Slack's hyper-growth immediately after launch is the stuff of legend, there are plenty of things they did (and still do) which has continued and accelerated their growth. Check out this article for more information.
In summary, don't assume that if you build it, they will come.
If you're unsure about how to turn your idea into an MVP, get in touch.
Our highly technical & experienced team have refined a process to not only deliver you with an MVP, but analyse every aspect of your project to maximise user adoption and gain feedback. Our MVP workshops are designed to enable us to work collaboratively with you and build a phased release plan to ensure we incorporate user feedback.