Category Digital, Inspiration
For those of us who have fully integrated their mobile phone into our daily lives, app ideas are born on a nearly daily basis. You will often find yourself walking down the street thinking of an iPhone app that would help make your life easier, or finding a business opportunity that would be perfect for mobile. Our minds are filled with pipe dreams of “somebody should really make this, if only I had the time.”
Better yet, you actually work in the mobile/web industry and have the ability to bring these iPhone app development projects to life. You now not only have three times as many ideas of your own than the average person, but you are also being presented with ideas from friends and family.
So what’s the best way to vet all of these iPhone app ideas?
A successful iPhone app development project takes a lot of components to make it go right (a.k.a., make money); the most important ones are obvious but often overlooked – a good business plan and a good marketing plan. You should always start with those for any business you are serious about and mobile applications are no different. However, your early app ideas don’t have to be subject to this criteria when you are coming up with them on the fly. So if you want to skip the hard parts and focus on some of the more fun aspects of vetting your mobile app idea, the following is our quick-and-dirty guide to brainstorming an iPhone app. If your idea still holds weight against this list, then it’s time to take a look at putting together the business and marketing plan.
Here we go….
Is your mobile app idea unique and interesting?
Do a bit of research; find out what other apps are out there. If others are already in the space or you don’t have a current business to support the backbone of the idea, it’s probably not worth pursuing. If there isn’t competition, maybe there is a reason for it. Is this something that people would actually find useful? Ask some friends to make sure you aren’t the only one starting a Yoshi collection (Yes, I am starting one).
Is your app idea sticky and engaging?
Even if it’s interesting, you still need something to keep people coming back. Keeping your user engaged creates value, either because they continue spending or because they keep talking about your app. Your app needs to have serious longevity for a user (think 6 months plus) to build your userbase – which is one reason games are really difficult applications to make successful (unless you are Angry Birds).
Does your application tell a story or have a personality?
No, not like a literal story, but does it have an underlying message that the user can engage with? Some app ideas are simply not going to be able to pull this off, but if you can make it work, it will help a lot. Personality can be achieved through the mobile application’s interface, the text you use to talk to the user and, of course, the name of the application.
Is there a sensible free-to-paid transition point?
It’s in your best interest to have a free version of your app (unless you have an established brand to piggy-back off of). So, assuming you are going to also charge for your app, where is the line drawn in terms of what is free and what you have to pay to use? Is the user incented to make that jump? We’re entering the “business plan” area we talked about avoiding at this point, but its something that should be considered very early on for any iPhone app development idea.
Is your app prime for sharing in social media?
The great thing about mobile app users and social media users is that they are often the same person! So, if your app provides a service to the user that can then be shared on social media, then you are exposing your product to other mobile app users – likely with common interests. Don’t overlook the power of this recommendation; do whatever you can to build a truly compelling reason to share your product on the web.
Is your mobile app idea interesting to the industry?
Other than a substantial marketing budget, there is no better way to get the word out about your app than the media. Don’t make the mistake of thinking of the media as the major news outlets – the thousands of tech bloggers out there are your target. Getting even the smallest blogs to write about your product can have a spider effect all the way up the media chain if your product has the right appeal & touches the right chord.
Also, don’t underestimate the importance of impressing the folks at Apple – if you make an app that resonates with the staff, your likelihood of being featured (there are LOTS of ways to be featured) goes up.
Does your app work well in short spurts?
Don’t forget your users are on their phone – and have lives outside of them. Your user should be able to accomplish something of value within your app in very short intervals and be able to pick back up where they left off when necessary. If your app requires more engagement than this, make sure that the user is getting the value out of that time to ensure they come back to do it again.
Does your app play nice with location?
Your users are on the go – how can you leverage this for your app? Try to find creative ways to integrate your user’s location into what they are doing within your app. Don’t force it, because it’s not a requirement, but if you can find a way to make it work, it can have a big impact on the users engagement level with your app.
If you can build a sense of community within your app , the effect can be massive. By letting your users connect with other friends who use the application, their engagement and willingness to share their accomplishments on social media go up considerably. Find creative ways to build a community within your app if it makes sense. Thinking creatively, even an alarm clock app has the potential for a community.
Hopefully your idea fares well against these questions. If, after this brainstorm, your idea still holds water, now you should determine the budget– which needs to include the app build and an ongoing marketing plan.
What are some great apps that you’ve either created or seen that really meet the above criteria?
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