How To Come Up With A Good App Idea?


App Builder Appy Pie, December 20: The world and business of apps is blooming, and this seems to be as good a time as any to jump in!

  • Pokemon Go spearheaded to the top of the graphs and made $1 billion in revenues in 2016.
  • The Candy Crush team – (King) swept in big time returns and assets after they were acquired by Blizzard for almost around $6 billion.
  • Recently Snap went public and garnered a market capitalization of $33 billion. Apple coughed up an implausible $50 billion in 2016 to their developers. This amount created an enviable record as it matched up the total amount that has been paid to developers in all the App Store’s years of existence put together.
  • Uber – the ever-popular transportation app is valued at more than $60 billion.

These headlines in the news are probably why the most commonly repeated phrases today may be “I have an idea for an app!”. However, while headlines like these are splattered all across the media, what doesn’t make the headlines is the sheer numbers that do not make the cut and end up failing. You and I would like to hit the “Idea Jackpot” sometime soon that can be converted into a profitable app. But is it that simple? Or is it that improbable? Most of the ideas we come across as “new” are inspired from something that already exists or from the acknowledgement of a problem that needs a solution. A look at the future trends, some research of existing apps, and brainstorming might help you get started. However, there is a lot of value in planning ahead while coming up with an awesome idea of an app that would feature brightly among the big players?

 

1. Don’t Start With The Money Factor Looming Large On Your Mind

It is natural for the factor of money, funding, or investment to loom large in your head while starting out with even the ideation of an app. It is wise to completely stop thinking about money matters when you do not even have an idea yet to begin with! It is important also to not think about generating money from your app. There are a great number of apps that have been built with the sole intent of providing a service or entertainment. The idea of your app does not need to lean heavily towards monetization. Your first concern needs to be about creating an awesome app and wash away all the concerns about any of the money related aspects. The first and foremost thought should be about thinking up an idea that will attract a good number of users. Even if you are planning for a startup, investors will only show interest when you have a solid idea and a proof of concept to back it up.

2. Find Your Inspiration In Apps That Already Exist.

One of the most effective ways to get your brain juices flowing is exploring the numerous apps that already exist. Like we mentioned earlier that most of the “new” comes from the “old”. Take a long, deep look at the popular apps and try to understand their underlying concept. It is a good idea to emulate their concepts and there’s no shame in it! We are not unaware of the way two of the biggest channels of social media – Facebook and Twitter find inspiration in each other, intermittently. You might not want to clone a popular app, but there is nothing wrong in borrowing their concept and find a novel interpretation for it. For example, Uber has a very basic concept – getting what you want quickly, on demand. This concept may be applied to various industrial segments, in different markets, for drastically different results.

3. Spend Time Brainstorming.

Brainstorming together, or alone has in past proved to be greatly effective. There is no need to focus on coming up with brilliant, fabulous, or perfect ideas for app in one of these sessions. The idea here is to simply put all your attention on the process of brainstorming, it is only natural that a lot of ideas that seem promising will emerge from these sessions. Put your head and heart into it and promise yourself to come up with a minimum of 25 new ideas every day. This might seem like a big challenge as you start doing it, but gradually, as you start getting the hang of it, the task will seem less daunting. There will come a point where you will begin looking forward to it and start including other people to your “idea den”.

From hereon you might even begin encountering another challenge, to be able to zero in on one idea, because there will be many more that you would be churning out on a daily basis. At this point we suggest picking the one idea that comes across as the simplest and the quickest to come up with an MVP version of.

This process is different for everyone, while some prefer to do it all through the day and doing their everyday tasks, while other have found setting aside a timeslot everyday at the same time more efficient. As you are jotting all your ideas down every day, it might strike you that there is a better way to chronicle it and if you can figure out a more effective way to do the same, you might have a bankable idea at your hand!

4. Look For Loopholes And Identify The Problem Areas

A new design is more often than not, a solution to a problem that people like you and me face in our everyday lives. Most of the apps are built on the same principle. The problems and their context may vary widely from fashion, to communication, organization, or one of the million other fields. Finding a problem that needs to be addressed is a good place to start when fishing for an app idea. You might have at some point of time looked for an app, and didn’t find it – there’s an idea! Discuss with friends and family, look up things online, find other sources and it will help you identify these problem areas. Look for the gaps that have not been filled or addressed yet. Explore different app stores and you would see some great ideas on under-performing apps, you might be the one to be able to hone it to perfection.

5. Turn To Social Media

Almost everyone who is anyone is on some kind of a social media channel these days. These channels are rich resource pool to study the ongoing trends and the aspirations of the modern-day consumer. There is a good number of people who express a whole lot on the social media, whether it is to vent out, or to express their unfulfilled desires. There is a high probability to come across a horde of problems that you may be able to convert into some great ideas. There are multiple tools that you can use to measure and analyze the current buzz on the social media. A good place to begin with these tools is to conduct a keyword search of phrases around wishes and expectations, or imaginations for the forthcoming future.

6. Develop A Long-Term Vision

Indulge yourself in the world of make-believe. Spare a little thought about where the future lies and immerse yourself in it. Some of the great app ideas have emerged when people became innovative and were able to think ahead of the times. Facebook or Uber are as big as they are today, because they could come up with an idea that was essentially “the future” of things that already existed. Immerse yourself in the near future, imagine what it would be like, and then work backwards to come up with ideas that would make a difference.

There would be times when you come with ideas, that at first glance might seem inconsequential, or ideas that might not be relevant in the current times. The real challenge is to move on from these doubts and understand that new concepts are often like that. If you sit on it for too long, you might be a little too late and someone else might identify the potential in that idea, use it build an app of their own and turn into a phenomenon themselves, leaving you behind to just play catch-up!

7. Think About Adding Value To The Smartphone

An app is meant to be used on a smartphone and the smartphone is a device that has made a special place in our lives. The number of smartphone users today has crossed 2.3 billion and it is projected to cross 2.5 billion in the coming year. This should give you, an app developer some great food for thought and a ripe arena to explore. An app that enhances the user experience on a smartphone has a greater chance of acceptance among the users. This can be done in two ways, one – work on the existing features and improve them and two – add on features that are missed on it. Spare a thought to think about how the smartphone can be turned into another device, let’s say a scanner, or even a guitar!

8. Intense Research

This should in fact be at the top of the list, but there is no way to emphasize more heavily than saying that if the research done is not enough, then you are probably spearheaded to failure. In our excitement about coming up with an idea and maybe shortlisting a few, there are times when one tends to skip over building a strong foundation of research. It is important to do intense homework on the field of a particular app to gain as much information as you can. A strong research would help you understand and monitor the market that you plan to launch your app in, the projected and possible risks, and the most suited marketing strategy, in addition to other critical information.

It is true that most of the app ideas probably already exist, which might deter you from moving ahead with the concept that you might have chosen. But it is important to remember that there would always be a competition that you would have to face, no matter which field you venture in. this competition might actually prove to be quite a heathy thing for you altogether! At this stage, it is important to understand and think about honing your idea into something that has an edge over what is already available in the market as competition.

While venturing out in the market, understand the nitty-gritties of each and every aspect of the market, and that is possible only through sound research. However, you must also consider the future prospects of the market. A market that is burgeoning today might not remain so for a long time.

9. Devise A Solution To The Identified Problems

In our everyday lives, it is quite common for all of us at some point of time to feel that this task can be made easier. The apps that deal with these everyday problems or make our lives easier are the ones that are most likely to do well. A simple app that helps you remind of little things that you keep forgetting otherwise goes a long way to simplify your day and helps you relax in the knowledge that you are not going to miss it this time.

What are the common problems that you, your friends or your immediate family face regularly, little things that wind you up and give you a headache? Think about these, list these out, and devise an idea to solve these problems through an app. If you can think of a simple way to solve an everyday problem, you might have a hit in your hands!

10. Think About Turning Mundane To Engaging

The world is becoming more health conscious and sticking to a regular workout schedule might be one of the toughest things to do. It might simply because it is dull and mundane. The results of a good workout are seen in long term and the motivation to continue the workout for let’s say a month might diminish as days pass by. The myriad fitness apps have changed the way we workout as it helps us track our progress real time, helps us keep a check on what we are eating through food diaries and gives us a sense of accomplishments as the short-term effects are visible too. What these apps do is give a sense of purpose to an activity that is quite mundane and make tracking a lot easier.

This approach of converting mundane to engaging can be applied to quite a few other such dull activities. What if you could create an app that made things like grocery shopping or research a fun activity!

11. Work Hard To Save People’s Time

There is not one person, who wouldn’t want some extra time on their hands and an app that can do it would surely win the users’ hearts. People are always looking for ways in which they can shrink their daily responsibilities and free up some time to engage in things that are dearer to them. There are apps like Summly that have taken on the tedious tasks and freed up the human-time for other constructive engagements like maybe spending time with the family, going out for a jog, or other such aspirational activities. It is probably the time saving advantage that made apps like Summly a big hit! Consider all those activities that busy you up for long intervals and think about ways in which an app would help you free up that time.

12. Identify & Acknowledge Bad Ideas

In the process of coming up with good ideas, it is important that you identify all the bad ideas and stay away from that track. Take care not to get carried away and try keeping the scope of your app idea centered around a realistic view of the technology that exists. Try and get a basic understanding of the processes that go into making an app.

At the outset, it would be wise not to start with being way too ambitious. Focus on making something that is grounded, is original, and not the “new Uber”.

13. Take Little Breaks To Distance Yourself From The Problem

Sometimes taking a break to distance yourself from the problem does wonders to open you up to new ideas. Don’t get so close to the process that you lose sight of the big picture. Step out of your office or home, go for a lazy stroll, finish your weekly chores, go for a jog or walk your dog. In short do something you would do normally on a given day. In doing so, observe what is going on around you. How are people interacting with the space around them? What can be done differently for a greater efficiency? How would you do it differently? What makes you a little more inefficient? Asking and answering these questions might lead you to the very problem that you can and will solve with a simple yet brilliant app idea!

14. Explore The World Outside The App Stores

It is a good idea to conduct your market research on various app stores to get an idea about the apps that are popular, are doing well on the money front and are taking care of everyday problems that need some attention. However, app stores are not the only place where you can get these ideas. Go through portals like Kickstarter, research startups on Angel List, and explore the innovations on Product Hunt.

Hound Meetups & Hackathons

Keep an eye on any kind of tech or startup pitch meetups or hackathons. Go to all of them, do not discriminate at this level. Not only would you be in a crowd that has the same things on their minds as you, you would be neck deep among people brimming with ideas of their own, and are willing to share their thoughts. You might actually be inspired enough to come up with an idea of your own!

Keep A Close Eye On Who’s Getting Funded

Explore the fields or ideas that the investors seem to be interested in. Watch the investors you are interested in, and figure out what interests them. There are a lot of VCs and accelerators or other bodies that fund startups who share their interests and what they are looking for, on different channels including their websites and blogs. Another way to go about this is by going through the investor portfolio pages with a fine tooth comb and develop a map and an understanding of the companies that have gotten their attention and managed to keep it.

 

Concluding Note

Once you come up with your brilliant app idea, it’s time to register it and go ahead and find a good developer. Protect yourself with a non-disclosure agreement from everyone who you would need to discuss the idea with. There are more than 2 million apps each on the android and apple app store and someone just like you had come up with an idea for them, so why can’t you?

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