Coming up with an app idea is just the beginning. But what about what comes after?
How do you know if your idea has potential to scale, or if there’s a sizable number of users who encounter the problems that you’re trying to solve?
I’ll start off with an overview of three methods you can use to validate your app idea.
I’ll then delve deep into strategies for developing for emerging markets – which are a key consideration for Android app makers due to the immense opportunities for growth that they present.
Methods for validating mobile app ideas
Startups and entrepreneurs we work with at Appster often struggle with deciding on a method for validating their app ideas. In assessing which method will work best, you’ll need to consider the following factors:
- What are you validating?
- Who’s your target audience?
- Which stakeholders are you targeting in your idea validation process?
1. Proof of concept
A proof of concept (PoC) is used to validate an idea, and show that it is operationally viable. Other aspects, like the functionality, usability or performance aren’t considered at this point in time.
The PoC provides a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer; if it’s successful, you’ll win over approval from internal stakeholders to proceed with development. Otherwise, the team won’t advance with production.
Why create a proof of concept?
- It lets you review the product or feature success before diving into development
- Allows teams to share internal knowledge
A prototype allows stakeholders to visualize how users will experience a mobile app.
It provides a preview of the design and navigation of the app, and usually includes elements like wireframes, user flows, features and product specifications.
Why create a prototype?
- Through the process of prototyping, you’ll discover and fix potential problems in the early stages of development – where it’s cheaper and easier to address these issues
- Testing out the prototype may help spark off new idea, and affirm that you’re proceeding on in the right direction in the development phase
- It allows for feedback from internal stakeholders and investors. It’s far easier for stakeholders to respond to a physical prototype (than to understand your product in abstract terms), and provide effective feedback that will help guide the next stage of the design or development process.
3. Minimum Viable Product
The minimum viable product (MVP) refers to a version of your product with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters, and garner user feedback for further development.
Unlike the PoC, the MVP doesn’t provide a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer; rather, it’s an iterative and continual process of building, measuring and learning to increase the viability of your product.
Why create an MVP?
- It lets you identify user pain points and discover how they respond to your product early on, so that you avoid investing resources in building unnecessary features
- You’ll be able to assess factors like usability, market demand and any prior assumptions your team has made about the mobile app
Building apps for emerging markets: 3 Trends you need to know
At the 2017 Google I/O Developer Conference, Google Product Manager Tal Oppenheimer gave an overview of user statistics in emerging markets.
In 2014, China had the highest number of total internet users, which summed up to about 675 million – about twice the number in the US.
2015 and 2016 saw a surge in user growth in other markets – there were 350 million total users in India in 2015. In 2016, Brazil had 139 million total users, while Nigeria had 87 million.
And while the US saw minimal user growth in 2014, India had 100 million new internet users in both 2015 and 2016. With 65 percent of its population still offline, there’s room for further growth in India – and the growth rate doesn’t look like it’ll be slowing down anytime in the near future.
A GSMA Intelligence study predicts that India will see a billion mobile subscribers by 2020. Similarly, Brazil is experiencing immense user growth, with seven individuals getting online for the first time every minute.
Keeping these statistics in mind, app developers seeking user growth will need to adopt a global perspective, and consider user trends that are prevalent in emerging markets when assessing their app ideas:
1. Utility apps are in demand
In a bid to discover which types of mobile apps were most commonly used on a day to day basis by users in its largest markets – Brazil, India and Indonesia – mobile advertising company Jana set out to track the average number of apps utilised per day by each user.
The results showed that communication and utility apps were the most widely used apps, with more than four apps being used daily.
This indicates that aside from messaging apps, these users are seeking out apps that can help them better manage their devices.
Utility apps are in demand for two main reasons:
- Budget phones, which are popular among users in emerging markets have limited functionalities, like a shortened battery life and lower storage space. Utility apps that can help conserve battery life, improve speed, block viruses and increase memory are thus essential for optimizing the performance of these devices.
- Secondly, the high costs of data in emerging countries means that these users often aren’t able to afford the data required for their smartphones to function in its full capacity. Here’s where data saving apps come in handy to enable these devices to run more efficiently.
What does this mean for app makers?
- Focus on solving local problems:
Apps that are targeted at resolving common problems that individuals in emerging markets face on a daily basis will be a hit among the next generation of smartphone users.
Google’s recently released app is an example. The data management service aims to help smartphone users in emerging markets monitor and manage data consumption on their devices.
2. Assess the feasibility of your monetization plan
“Is your monetisation strategy feasible in the new market?” is an important consideration for app makers who are assessing the viability of their app ideas in emerging markets.
While credit card payments are the norm for in-app purchases in developed markets, emerging markets like India, Vietnam, and Thailand aren’t as credit card-friendly.
India has approximately 20 million credit cards for a population of over a billion, while offline payments account for the majority of online orders (81 percent) in Vietnam. And in Thailand, 70 percent of online shoppers prefer making cash on delivery payments.
What does this mean for app makers?
- Offer alternative payment options that allow for ease of transaction:
It helps to take a leaf out of the books of Spotify. In entering Southeast Asian markets like Indonesia and the Philippines, the organization made an exception by allowing cash payments.
It also implemented other commonly used payment options, like bank transfer, ATM, payments at convenience stores and DOKU, an Indonesian mobile wallet with credit card and cash wallet features.
3. Find out all about local trends and user culture
During the “Build for Your Next Billion Users” session at the 2017 I/O conference, Mariya Moeva, Developer Programs Engineer at Google highlights a key aspect about user onboarding in emerging markets:
“A lot of these users are coming online in a completely different context, so you shouldn’t expect that the product you have right now, with the UI and flow and the graphics, will fit their needs.”
She further elaborates:
“A lot of users are coming online for the first time on their phone. They don’t have a lot of experience with the desktop. A lot of them have never used email and they have different cultural expectations or color preferences.”
What does this mean for app makers?
- Invest in researching on local trends and user culture:
“What devices are they using? How do they feel about existing functions or user interfaces? Are there local UI patterns that are unique to a specific market? What are commonly used features among users in a particular market?” are important questions you need to consider when assessing your app idea.
Here’s an example of how culture affects the type of app features that individuals utilize: geolocation is a feature that’s widely used in China, as it’s not uncommon for users to connect through mobile apps with strangers in their immediate surroundings.
Mobile apps like Momo, which are created to connect users to individuals living around in the neighborhood, as well as to events held nearby have garnered more than 60 million monthly active users.
UX design is also impacted by cultural differences.
For example, the Chinese users view mobile apps as an ecosystem – think WeChat – rather than as an independent product.
As such, the ‘discover’ button, which typically opens up navigation links or additional functions, is instead used to indicate unessential fun features that would pique the curiosity of Chinese users.
Therefore, it’s critical that you dig deep to find out all about how users in emerging markets react to, and utilize features on mobile apps in order to create apps that are well received.