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Become Development Ready: What To Do Before You Begin App Development

by Eban Escott, Aug 30, 2017

We sit back and marvel at services like Uber and Facebook. At their core they're very simple concepts that have successfully identified a societal need. But they didn't just start existing one day. There's a process each idea should progress through (regardless of how informal it may be) before it even gets to the development stage.

1. Develop a Business Model

This is the first and most important step on your journey. It details your high level plan for the application. You'll need to identify your target market and how your app will make money. Will you charge a download fee? Is selling advertising space your main source of revenue? Will you invest heavily before monetising? This will shape your development journey - apps that build a user base before monetising will likely require outside investment.
A template has been developed to simplify the completion of your business model. Alexander Ostewalder created a business model canvas. It's a visual chart where you describe your products value proposition, infrastructure, customers and finances. By populating the canvas (pictured below), you have a platform that can be used to shape future business decisions.

2. Validate Your Idea

This step ensures that you have a product people will use. It can be difficult to get an accurate gauge of user interest before the product is available. If you can talk to your target market (through surveys/interviews) and they agree they would actually use your app in the way you intended, then it has been validated. Other methods include using Google's Keyword Planner to determine the number of people searching terms that correlate with your product offering. Alternatively, you could utilise crowd funding platforms to seek user interest and even subsidise the startup costs.

3. Market Research

Market research is the step every entrepreneur fears. What if my awesome idea already exists? At times people won't even look because they're scared of what they'll find. If an identical offering already exists in the market it's better to find out at step 3 than at step 8 after you've already sunk thousands of dollars into the project. If something similar (but not identical) exists than you can begin formulating your unique value proposition. Researching the market is pretty self explanatory. You can begin by searching the Apple and Google Play app stores. A general Google search of the industry may also help discover competitors.

4. Define Your Unique Value Proposition

This is a short statement that describes how you solve your users' needs and what distinguishes you from the competition. Ideally, you want a unique product that's easy to explain. This unique value proposition will shape your messaging. It's interesting to look at how Uber's UVP and messaging has changed since its release in 2010. Initially, it was marketed as UberCab - ‘everyone's private driver.'
Originally it distinguished its offering from a regular cab service by positioning itself as a luxurious, personalised option at a fraction of the cost of a limousine.
Over time the company's messaging has changed. It's broadened its unique value proposition because of the apps popularity. Uber doesn't need to describe itself as a ride sharing service or private car service because people already know. Its messaging is simpler and broader; ‘get there.' So your UVP can change over time but ensure that at day one it explains your product and its unique value.

5. Set Your User Goals