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How to Carry Out an App Validation in 2023: Main Approaches With Tips

Table of contents
Why Is App Validation Important? What Are the Main App Validation Criteria? How Carry Out an App Validation Quickly and Effectively? How to Validate an App Idea: In-Detail Steps What Are Main App Idea Validation Frameworks? App Validation: Devlight Approach What Are the Most Common Mistakes Owners Make During the App Validation Process? Validate an App Idea and Create Your Mobile App With Devlight App Validation: Summary

Business development is always associated with certain risks. App validation helps to reduce and prevent many of them. It gives you tangible instruments that can be used to iterate changes when applied to the development process. Despite half of the startups failing in the first year due to a lack of product demand, you can avoid their misfortune by testing the project idea and creating an MVP. So, this article will teach you what validation is and how to carry it out.

Why Is App Validation Important?

To create a successful startup, you need a passion for the idea, ambition, and a measure of realism. Idea validation in the startup ecosystem means testing and checking the viability of a business. This process aims to prove or disprove the hypothesis that the market needs a particular product and the audience is ready to pay for it. This stage is highly important because it lets you: 

  • understand the market. Study the current situation in the industry, and perhaps you will see a clear vector of what the product should be;
  • reduce the risk of losing resources. Testing an idea and launching an MVP is the cheapest way to test the viability of a business.

What Are the Main App Validation Criteria?

There are four main criteria you can use for idea validation. Making the correct forecast in the context of these indicators significantly increases a startup’s success chances.

Feasibility: Is It Possible to Built?

Any startup idea needs to be carefully checked before you invest real money into it. How to validate an app idea? Start by analyzing how much will the solution cost. Who tried to solve the same problem before you, and how is their startup doing? Is there any OpenSource solution or its prototype, and what is wrong with it?

Viability: Can You Grow a Sustainable Business Out of It?

Founders who made their fortunes from their companies put great effort into creating products tightly interrelated with business mechanisms that satisfy customers and ensure stable revenue. App validation aims to find connection points between an innovative idea that aims to change the world and a pragmatic aspect of monetizing it. Turning crazy ideas into reality sounds romantic, but a startup owner is an entrepreneur and should think and act like an entrepreneur. 

Desirability: Do People Need Your Service or Product?

If your product idea has no market value and people don’t want or need it, it won’t sell. Researching desirability will specifically tell you whether your product is a want or a need. For example:

  • You need to get to work which you can do by walking, taking public transport, driving, carpooling, etc.
  • You want a car to get to work because it offers convenience and maybe more luxury than public transport.
  • A need is something your customers cannot live without, while a want is often a more desirable option for fulfilling that need. Both check the box for desirability, but a product that fulfills someone’s need is far more valuable than something a user wants or thinks “it would be nice to have.”

Market idea validation always relies on interviews with potential buyers of your product. You can also conduct a survey among experts, analysts in your industry, employees, consultants, etc.

Integrity/Ethics: Does The App Positively Impact the Environment and Society?

How to validate an app idea ethics? It implies a certain attitude towards consumers. This is a high quality of goods and services and introducing various sustainability practices. Sustainability is an essential part of social and environmental responsibility in business today and it is a necessary step toward preserving our planet for future generations.

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How Carry Out an App Validation Quickly and Effectively?

Even before creating the MVP, we advise you to launch advertisements on a simple landing page. The page should have a brief description of the product and a “Buy Now” button. How to validate an app idea then? You can make many options for landing pages, varying the price and the essence of the offer.

It will help you collect statistics to start developing a prototype. This approach, called “Ask first, then do,” is widely used by the followers of the lean startup methodology.  Leaners also often use The Validation Board to test ideas — a free product that is a lined board, each part of which is an important element of a successful startup idea.

Another tip on how to validate an app idea for free lies in carrying out user interviews. First, carefully complete the description of the concept of your future product and go to the nearest coffee shop. Sit down at a table in a conspicuous place and put a sign next to you that says, “I will treat you to coffee for 10 minutes of your time. P.S. It’s important for me to know what you think of my idea.”

In 2-3 hours, you will be able to communicate with at least 5 people. Tell them about your idea and identify whether they like or dislike it. Would such a product help them cope better with solving certain problems or not? Are they willing to pay for such a solution? 5-10 quality responses will help you identify patterns in people’s responses and help you understand your idea’s viability.

How to Validate an App Idea: In-Detail Steps

For a startup to become successful, it must be flexible, ready to adapt, and able to change to users’ real needs. But for this, you must conduct a validation of the product.

For a preliminary analysis of the product, market, and consumers, you may need a team of specialists from different fields: managers, engineers, designers, and financial analysts. Thanks to them, studying the subject area as accurately as possible from different angles will be possible. The steps below describe the app validation steps in detail.

  • Find a Problem That Is Worthy of Being Solved

List the pool of issues relevant to society that need to be addressed here and now. Regardless of whether you have competitors, focus on what qualities of the product will be appreciated by users. Write down a list of features and benefits that will qualitatively distinguish the company from peers.

  • Identify Pain Points

A pain point can be defined as a specific problem that your client is facing, either potential or current, that causes them “pain” in all interactions between different touchpoints.

Finding customer pain points affects both your sales strategy and your marketing strategy. The sales team identifies the client’s pain points to adapt the product to user needs and presents the service as a suitable solution. Marketers want to understand these pain points to effectively and attractively advertise/present their solutions.

  • Do Market Research and Confirm There Are Enough Potential Users

After you identify the pain points, seek users who potentially face them often enough to fall for your idea. To do this, describe the profile of a potential client. Do not try to cover the entire market at once. Imagine who exactly is the ideal client. Further, as the startup scales, you will be able to reach a wider audience.

  • Conduct Keyword Research

Any idea is a set of hypotheses, such as “taxi users are more willing to use a mobile app than a phone service” or “students want to share thoughts in a short format of 140 characters.” Google keywords and bits of such ideas to measure the temperature in this market niche. Check industry platforms and resources, relevant forum threads, or questions on Reddit. So that you can find indirect evidence of a business problem and keywords further related to it.

  • Analyze the Competitors

Competitive analysis is the process of studying competitors. What exactly to analyze depends on the business objectives. This can be an analysis of a trade offer, pricing, assortment, customer relations, profits, turnover, loyalty programs, distribution channels, and advertising. Learning from the experience of other entrepreneurs during idea validation helps you avoid their mistakes and use only successful solutions. 

  • Set Validation Goals

The main goal of validation is to get proof that the market needs a certain product. Form a minimum list of clear and measurable goals that you would like to achieve before the end of the study, for example

  1. Positive feedback about the future project from 50+ potential clients.
  2. 5-10 successful meetings and presentations.
  3. 1-5 successful product MVP pre-sales.
  • Conduct Surveys

During this step, you may create a  future project web page with a form for collecting information about interested users, conduct a large-scale mailing of a questionnaire, or create an MVP product. As a result, you need to collect feedback from potential consumers. It can be direct feedback or expectations from a future product. After finishing work on the study, you need to make an important decision and decide whether it will be profitable to continue working on a startup. 

  • Develop the USP of Your Future Product

This is a phrase that refers to the unique characteristics of a product or service. USP addresses representatives of the target audience and explains how the product of this company differs from competitors and what its benefit is. That is, it answers the question: “Why should I buy this and why should I buy from them?” USP is done once and for a long time, often for the entire life of the brand. Its main characteristics are

  1. Message uniqueness.
  2. Product importance explanation.
  3. Difference from competitors defined.
  • Create User Personas

A persona is a description of a fictitious user of a product with the sum of their basic needs, characteristics, and goals. Focusing on an individual or a small audience segment increases empathy for the users the team is designing. We are all human beings and are more interested in concrete examples than abstractions and generalizations. This helps to focus on creating a product that will really solve people’s problems.

  • Create a Customer Journey Map 

Customers are the company’s main profit source, so it is necessary to understand their needs. The Customer Journey Map for app validation is developed on the basis of research and analytics, so it allows you to understand the audience and the psychology of consumer behavior (fears, motives, and customer expectations). A CJM solves the next tasks:

  1. Implementation of a client-centric approach and, as a result, increased customer loyalty.
  2. Ensuring omnichannel interaction — offline (shops, points of issue, courier service, advertising) and online (online store, applications, mailing lists, and SMS).
  3. Creating a continuous user experience — preventing “dead ends” when interacting with the project and motivating movement in the required direction.
  • Conduct User Interviews 

The interview is an important generative method in UX research. Generative methods (interviews or focus groups) create knowledge, while evaluative methods (usability testing) test hypotheses. When the interview is done well, we can find out:

  1. What the user thinks about the product in general.
  2. Their views on other similar products.
  3. Their models of thinking.
  4. Their experience.

This knowledge helps us create products and services that will solve real user problems, not those we invented. 

  • Create a Landing Page

A landing page is a website that talks about a product, service, or event. Usually, a landing page offers the client one thing, and the main purpose of such a short site is to collect views and visits to track the product’s reaction. How to validate an app idea via a landing page?

  1. Determine the purpose of the landing page. Do you need to collect a certain number of email addresses or get pre-orders? 
  2. Understand who your target audience is. Creating a landing page is a good way to determine your business’s real clients and focus on a specific segment.
  3. State your product’s idea as clearly as possible. 
  • Create Mobile App Prototype

Think of application prototypes as the first draft of your idea. It only shows basic functionality and is used to get early feedback before you move on to the next phase of development. The purpose of prototyping is to ensure that the final design meets all technical requirements and is easy to use.  The apps that will come in handy are: Moqups, Proto, UXPin, Figma, and InVision Studio.

  • Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

MVP is an app version that includes the minimum possible, verified set of functions used to model the product’s behavior in real-life conditions. It aims to

  1. Make sure potential users need your product.
  2. Receive a better target audience definition.
  3. Collect feedback, assess the need for improvements, and correctly prioritize them.
  4. Understand the optimal direction for further development after various iterations.
  5. Attract the first users of the product and start monetizing it.
  6. Reduce development time and cost by filtering out unnecessary functionality at the product development stage.
  • Conduct User Testing

When we create a product, we can only assume its users’ needs. It is impossible to predict exactly where inconveniences will arise and what will remain incomprehensible. That is why user tests are so necessary for QA. They show how users interact with the product and their challenges. Four user test rules are

  1. Prepare scripts for testing.
  2. Prepare the “proper” users who are interested in testing and belong to your target audience.
  3. Conduct the data carefully. 
  4. Analyze the results correctly. 
  • Upload Your App’s Rough Version on Review Sites

The rating directly affects the “attractiveness” of the application. Half of the users won’t download an app with a rating of fewer than 4 stars. More than 80% — with a score smaller than three. Moreover, the assessment also affects the reputation of the brand as a whole. 55% of users begin to be wary or negative about a well-known company if the rating of its application does not reach three stars. And vice versa — 71% admit that 4- or 5-star ratings incline them to a positive attitude.

  • Promote Your App

How to validate an app idea via promotion? Communicate with potential customers in the applications they have already installed — place ads and surveys. Categorize the target audience by interests, choosing exactly those applications that are in demand among them. And put your banners there. Such opportunities are provided, for example, by Google AdWords.

Select the resources where your target audience spends time and publish a series of guest posts about your app’s benefits. Give interviews and record podcasts. Make a video about your app and promote it on YouTube. Be active on social networks.

  • Processing the Feedback

Listening to your users is the best way to improve their experience and actively engage your audience members. Feedback processing means that you

  1. Find bugs and fix them.
  2. Understand user intent.
  3. Identify the most important user tasks and focus on their improvement.

What Are Main App Idea Validation Frameworks?

All your ideas are your assumptions. Many startup teams naively believe that all the internal debate and personal opinions of each of the team members can grow into an indisputable fact. Whereas in fact, all these are just extensive hypotheses that still need to be tested in the real world. Devlight focuses on the idea validation models.

Lean Startup

In his “The Lean Startup” book, successful entrepreneur Eric Rice described how to test the viability of ideas. Idea validation aims to determine whether your customers are willing to pay for the product. As described above, Rice presents landing pages as one of the simplest yet truly effective ways to validate a project idea. Collect data, test hypotheses, and after working with statistics, only then proceed to develop an MVP. 

Customer Development

CustDev is a study of customer needs through special in-depth interviews to understand how much the product will be in demand. If we talk about specific tasks, then CustDev helps:

  • Create an accurate portrait of the client;
  • Identify the needs of the audience;
  • Adapt the product to the needs of the market;
  • Make a product that customers will pay for.

The team’s vision may not meet the market’s needs, so sometimes, the product has to be changed during the research. It helps not build a business on guesswork but directly ask customers what they need. Therefore, the work flows according to the scheme:

Identify Need → Develop Product

Design Thinking

Design thinking is an app validation method and process of solving specific problems that help to understand the user, comprehend their problem, and find alternative solutions. 

Herbert Simon formulated the idea of ​​design thinking in 1969 in his book “The Sciences of the Artificial.” In some companies, such as Google, design thinking becomes a paradigm and even an ideology where teams of researchers and developers use this method to come up with and test new ideas based on three principles:

  • Empathy: the ability to put yourself in the place of another person, to understand their feelings and emotions;
  • Universal thinking: the ability to cover the problem both in general and in all possible details;
  • Experimentation: the willingness to try, fail, and try again.

App Validation: Devlight Approach

Whatever area of ​​business you are in, you are most likely limited in both time and resources. Therefore, it makes no sense to drown in details, which in the end, may not matter at all. Devlight is interested in making the most out of the app validation process, so we carry it out in a few logical steps:

Trend Canvas

Trend Canvas is an easy-to-use forecasting builder. The trend canvas model we use for idea validation consists of two asymmetric parts: analyze and apply. Each of them is divided into several blocks, designed to find answers to certain questions during foresight sessions and leading to the maximum unpacking of trends.

Marketing Competetive Research

Competitor research is an ongoing process. The essence of a competitive analysis is always to know where the market is moving, what competitors are doing, and how the interests of the audience are changing. The results of competitor analysis are packaged into a working document and presented to the company’s top managers. This single file can affect advertising campaigns, communication strategy, and brand positioning. 

Customer Journey Map

Customer Journey is not a sales funnel because it is wider. It takes into account not only the stages that the user must go through before buying but also the habits, tasks, lifestyle, “pains,” and fears of the client and helps to:

  • create a continuous user experience with the product;
  • better solve the problems of the audience, close their “pains” with the help of the product;
  • simplify the start of work with the product, reduce the number of objections during the sale;
  • increase customer loyalty;
  • collect ideas for further development, draw up an action plan.

Value Proposition Canvas

VPC, when used for idea validation, is a diagram showing the key benefits of a product and the factors that influence its choice by the user. The value proposition canvas includes the following sections:

  • Products and services — a list of products offered to the user;
  • Pain relievers — characteristics of the product that will help solve the user’s problems. 
  • Gain creators — opportunities to improve a customer’s life who uses a product with distinctive features.

Testing the Value Proposition on Respondents

It is important to find out how potential customers today solve the problem that your product is going to solve and whether they are satisfied with the solution that exists on the market. Offer them a new one and collect feedback using the methods we described above.

Creating+Testing High-Fidelity Wireframes and Low-Fidelity Prototypes

In the case of app validation, we are talking about well-designed wireframes and prototypes, often clickable, that help you catch all errors in the scripts before submitting mockups to development. Figma turns your images into a full-fledged prototype — with working buttons, scrolling, and switches. That is, at a level sufficient for a general understanding of the layout of the screens and transfer to the designer, who will already prepare the final design, which will go into development.

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What Are the Most Common Mistakes Owners Make During the App Validation Process?

Testing the idea is about failing but not giving up. Apart from the unforeseen circumstances that no one can predict, you will probably face some widely spread idea validation mistakes:

  • Believing assumptions to be the truth.

Never rely solely on your gut feeling or talent to create hypotheses. Carry out many types of research and analyses before you consider the idea to be worth implementing into life. Put real people under the test and ensure your product has potential customers.

  • Not understanding your customers’ perspective

Interview as many not connected to you personally people as possible. Create a statistical sample of people of different sexes, ages, and professions, if the product allows, or narrow down the group of interviewees while still keeping it diversified. Don’t miss the importance of researching the opinions of real buyers.

  • Validating a product instead of the idea

Don’t validate a single-purpose product, but tell the idea behind it. Explain to anyone who expresses interest in your project the vast spectrum of the features it owns. Let them see wider and expand your vision as such. Don’t test a product before the idea. Make the idea a solid base for the product. 

  • Not testing competitor’s products/service

Keep an eye on other market players. If you let them grow bigger and faster, it will then take your product many years to reach the same level. Creating a product without having any experience using similar already existing services is a one-way ticket to a disaster. 

There are a number of other app validation factors that can affect a startup, including some that are out of your control: economic crises, the political situation, and the actions of competitors. However, it is often enough for an entrepreneur to evaluate the main indicators to understand that a startup has a high chance of becoming a successful business.

Validate an App Idea and Create Your Mobile App With Devlight 

Idea validation helps startup teams get the information they need to make decisions and take action. But don’t hang around the idea validation stage for too long. It is enough for you to identify 70-80% of the problems and form a common understanding of the needs of the market. In the end, you cannot forecast everything, and the pursuit of the mythical 100% will only take away such valuable time and resources from you.

Otherwise, your desire to do a good idea validation will quickly turn into procrastination when you just keep postponing the implementation of your idea, explaining this by the need to “be a little more confident in the idea’s viability.” How to validate an app idea? Reach out to Devlight as soon as you feel ready to share your thoughts. We will deal with the rest.

App Validation: Summary

Finally, our team has identified several key nuances that should not be forgotten both during the validation of the idea and after it:

  • Monetize your idea. This is an expected and logical scenario for the project’s further development. At the same time, it is good if you start pre-sales of the product already at the stage of its development.
  • Remember adaptability. Society is changing, and business must change too. Adjust the idea and the project to the realities of the world around you. Sometimes it may even be necessary to abandon hypotheses or radically change the approach to creating a product.
  • Don’t take failure close to heart. It can be difficult to abandon your hypotheses and realize that developing a product will be completely unprofitable. If the idea doesn’t pass the test, it’s better to take it as a valuable experience and move on to validating another startup.

Idea validation will help avoid sudden failure, but it will not eliminate all the problems that founders face in the project’s development process. At the same time, you will at least study the market in detail and gain invaluable experience.

How to Validate an App Idea Before MVP: FAQ

How to Come Up With an App Idea?

Brainstorming with other like-minded professionals, following the practices applied by your competitors, and analyzing your own everyday pain points are proven ways to generating app concept ideas. What is more, learning how to create an app idea is often included in app validation itself.

What Does App Idea Validation Mean?

Why Is App Idea Validation So Important?

How Does Idea Validation Look In Practice?

How Can I Build My App Idea?

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