“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo(French Poet)
As an entrepreneur, corporate executive, a dreamer, thinker, doer or a problem solver, plenty of ideas come and go, but some ideas connect inherently, and the ones that connect inherently always stay deep inside our minds. We always get an urge or itch to convert that idea into a mobile application or a website. But oftentimes our ideas just remain as ideas and die a death of anonymity. In this post we will try to answer this question which is ‘How to convert an idea into a mobile application or website?’. This post covers a 10 point strategy which can effectively help us convert our idea into a mobile application or website. Without further ado, let us read through the 10 points:
1 – Is your idea a business or just an idea?
One of the key points to address when you are planning to convert your idea into a mobile application or website is “Is my idea just an idea or there is a genuine business possibility around it?”
For eg: In the early days of mobile application and website development a presence in the app-store used to be good, but today the cost, complexity and efforts involved in building a mobile application or a website is significantly high. A good strategy as a digital entrepreneur is to spend some time preparing a business model canvas or a business plan for your idea. If your idea needs a mobile application or a website and it is a ‘must have’ option, then you have hit the chord right and it would make sense to design and develop a mobile application or website around your business idea.
While trying to answer, whether your idea actually needs a mobile application or a website try answering with below mentioned responses:
- My business must have a mobile application or a website because..
- My business should have a mobile application or a website, but..
- My business could have a mobile application or a website, at a time when..
If the answer is ‘must have’, then it makes sense to have a mobile application or a website for your idea, but if the answer is ‘should have’ or ‘could have’, then it is good to evaluate other options, till the time you get ‘must have’ as a concrete response.
2 – What problem will my mobile application or website solve?
“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.” Robert Schuller
A well defined problem is a great start. If you are clear as to what the problem is, solutions can be worked out with lots of focus and clarity. While trying to convert your idea into a mobile application or a website pay special attention to the problem that you are trying to solve. Use below mentioned points to get a clarity on the problem definition:
- Are other people also experiencing what I am defining as a problem?
- Is the problem being solved by others, if yes, how are they solving it?
- Does this problem have a mobile application or website based solution or is it being solved offline only?
- Are people paying for the solutions to the problem which I am thinking about?
- What will happen if this problem is not solved?
- Are there any earlier attempts done to solve this problem, if yes how did they solve this problem?
- How will my idea act as the most preferred solution to this problem?
By answering the above questions you will get a lot of clarity and will be in a great position to design your idea as a solution to a given problem.
3 – How big is the addressable market size?
Knowing your addressable market size is extremely important. While analyzing the market size for your idea, pay close attention to what is present in the market and how it is impacting the intended users. Check the count of application downloads of similar applications which you are thinking to build on various app-stores. Check the ranking of the websites on ranking sites and similar site tools which can give you good data about the addressable market.
If you are building something new which is not directly there in the digital market, check how addressable the offline market is. For eg: a bread and breakfast booking website when it was being planned for design and development, evaluated size of the temporary housing market offline along with the market size of the travel industry, this gave a good idea on the addressable market size.
Few things to keep in mind while exploring the addressable market size:
- Similar mobile applications and websites and their share of downloads, customer reviews, feedbacks, pricing strategies
- If it is a website – similar website ranking or online traffic generated by the site
- Close analysis of which operating system of the mobile world is popular in the addressable market is it Android, iOS or any other mobile operating system
- Check which is the most popular browser of your addressable market
4 – Who is my target audience?
Having a general idea about your target audience is good but having a complete understanding of your target audience is great. Avoid defining your target audience vaguely like, my target group is in the age of 18 to 35 years and they are urban male. 18 to 35 is a broad range, a male of 18 would have different requirements, needs and wants compared to a male of 35. The more specific you are, the better your chances of solving problems for your users. Try to do a focus user study with the target audience. Observe what are the likes and dislikes of your target group. How does the problem impact their day to day life, try to understand what other applications and websites they use. Observe, observe, observe, the more you observe and make notes about your target audience, higher will be your chances of converting your idea into a great mobile application or website.
5 – What about monetization?
There is no free meal. As a wannabe digital entrepreneur you would agree with me building a product needs a clear monetization and pricing strategy. You need to explore some of the popular and not so popular monetization strategies. You need to plan as to how you would charge your mobile application or website users for the services you are planning to offer. Consider following points when you are thinking about monetization for your mobile application or website:
- Would the mobile application or website have subscriptions?
- Will there be In app purchases?
- Do you wish to monetize via ads?
- Are you looking for a sponsorship model?
- Would it involve paid memberships?
Be clear in your monetization strategy. As shared earlier it costs to build, launch and maintain a mobile application or a website, if you do not have a clear monetization strategy it may be difficult for your digital product to survive. Focus on pricing as well, pricing may depend on various factors like marketing costs, design and development costs, infrastructure costs. Apart from these there would be some hidden costs as well, try to get an understanding of all these costs and come up with a pricing strategy which provides value to your users.
6 – Key features of the mobile application/website?
By this time you would have done a great deal of refining and freezing on your idea from the perspective of business potential, problem definition, addressable market size and the target audience for your mobile application or website. With this data in hand, it is time to plan about the features which would be part of your mobile application or website. A good technique while preparing for the features is to use ‘card-sorting’. You would have plenty of features in the application the sum experience of which will result in solving the problem for the intended users. It is extremely important for you to sort the features and give them priority and put them under the bucket of:
- Must have
- Should have
- Could have
It’s good to start lean, in your first release focus on designing and developing the features which are ‘must have’, ‘should have’ and ‘could have’ could be planned as part of next phases. Capture and put all the features and their priority in a simple Google sheet or XL sheet so that you do not miss anything and have clarity on the various phases you would need in your mobile application or website design and development.
7 – Create the high level wireframes?
Now with card sorting done and clarity on the features. Spend time preparing high-level wireframes for your mobile-application or website. If you are comfortable with online tools, there are lots of great tools like Miro/Invision/Figma/Sketch which can help you get started with wireframe creation. If you are not comfortable with software tools, a simple technique of sticky notes of size 76 mm x 127 mm works great for mobile application wirframes. Sketch your wireframes and try to get high level visualisation of the flow for your application or website.
8 – What will it cost to build the mobile application or website?
With the feature clarity and high level wireframes in hand, now it is the time to take it to the next level and start engaging with mobile application development companies and agencies to get a quote for your dream idea. While engaging with any development company or agency please give thorough details on what you are looking for, the more details you give a better and realistic proposal is what you will get.
Share the business idea, wireframes and other details you have prepared with the mobile application or website development team, if required do sign a mutual NDA. Discuss various options on technology, various engagement models that a mobile application development company or agency offers. Do talk to a few agencies which gives you a fair amount of idea on the pricing and approach you can consider while converting your idea into a mobile application or website.
Explore the past work done by the app development company, understand their process and knowledge they can share on mobile application and website design and development. Finding a mobile application or website design and development company for an entrepreneur is like finding a Co-founder, it’s good to spend some time with the team who is going to design and develop your idea.
9 – Action time – It’s time to design and develop your idea into a mobile application or website
With the costing in hand and clarity in mind, it is time to get started on seeing your idea come to life. A good strategy before jumping into mobile application or website development is to focus on getting the UX and UI experience right. Align and agree on commercials which are only for the UX and UI activity. Do not be in a rush to jump directly into development. Phase out the design and development activity. Engage in design first. Discuss and align on the user story document, work together on detailed user-flows, get the Mood Board done for your product, check the visual design for your product and conclude with a tappable prototype or mock for your mobile application or website. It would be good to revisit the costs at this point of time and align with the development team so that there is no disconnect as some scope creep and feature changes could happen at the end of the design phase.
During development if you are doing Backend API development and Frontend together there could be some delays as both the processes in parallel can go through multiple iterations. Backend development ideally if cracked and done before frontend development works great. Have weekly sync up with the development company and follow a milestone driven plan of design and development. Align and agree on the plan and keep a track of the plan. Avoid making changes on the fly during development. Unless and until there is a major macro environment change resulting in major impact for the development, avoid sudden changes.
Work on the plan as per the user stories and stick to it. Test the build(your mobile application or website) with an agreed and aligned internal testing policy with the development team. Things could break when they are in development, do not panic, take it as part of the process. Ask the development team to keep sharing incremental development builds so that you test only for the incremental development done. Give feedback and report bugs only for the development work done, avoid giving feedback and reporting bugs which are not part of the incremental development. Have analytics and tracking implemented, which will help you once the mobile application or website is live.
10 – Launching the mobile application or website and post launch
Based on your acceptance testing and signoff, launch the mobile application or website in the respective application store or on the world wide web. If you are launching a mobile application pay attention to App Store Optimization(ASO), consult a marketing specialist who understands mobile app marketing and get ideas on how you can increase the visibility of your mobile application in various application stores. Pay attention to the store graphics, which you need to add in the respective app stores, good looking store graphics create great branding for your application.
If you have a budget for social media marketing do engage in the same. Social media marketing does help in a wider reach and installations. Reach out to bloggers and influencers who can write a review about your mobile application or web-site. Influencer marketing works great and can help you in getting initial product champions.
Analytics tools implemented will help you understand how users are using your application or website. Look for various data points in the analytics tool dashboard to understand average session times, highest engaging screen, bounce rate of the website or the mobile app, daily user engagement, app-store users reviews and feedback, website reviews on various social media channels.
Integrate a Slack BoT for responding to feedback and reviews. Based on the data analysis and feedback from the users, improve the app and publish updated versions. Avoid very frequent updates. Have a release cycle planned for enhancements and improvements. The role of design and development does not end with launch, it is an active engagement post launch as well. Be prepared for additional funds and efforts once your mobile application or website is launched.
With the information and points addressed in this post you would have a fair idea on how to convert your idea into a mobile application or website. If you believe that there is a potential business you can build around your idea with a mobile application or website you should go for it. At BiCSoM we will be happy to partner with you and answer your queries on mobile applications and website design and development. If you have any questions on how to convert your idea into a mobile application or a website, do drop us an email at [email protected].