Updated: Aug 20, 2019
There's no need to overcomplicate your ideas and strategies when it comes to making a mobile app. You may end up trying to include too many features, create a confusing customer user experience (UX), and end up with a more costly app to maintain. We're not building Swiss Army knives here, so keep it simple!
When we think about successful apps, it’s usually the most simple and easy to use apps that come to mind, like Dropbox, Uber, and even Instagram. All are quite effortless in understanding how to use it. Even Steve Jobs quoted that “Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Here's some tips from us here at Appifany on how to think of the next big app idea...
Be a creative idea machine
Taking note from best selling author James Altucher, one of the best ways to think of app ideas is to become an idea machine. Be continuously thinking of new app ideas. If you hear of a gap in a certain market, think about an app you could create to fill that gap. If a friend comes to you with an issue that isn't being solved using current apps or other resources, think of an app that they could use.
There's so many situations that arise every day that an app could be used for. It's just a matter of being creative and being an idea machine! Not all ideas are going to be great, and most aren't to be honest. But it's still an idea, and it's still getting your creative juices flowing.
Part of this is also working on your problem solving skills. If you can identify problems in markets or other areas of life, then the next step is identifying the solution. The app is the solution, so how will it address the issue or need? Again, be creative in your problem solving process. People like to be surprised and apps are no exception.
Daniel Kempe, founder of hand-curated content suggestion platform Quuu elaborates in a Forbes article: “It’s not about the search for ideas, it’s identifying problems or gaps with existing products or services. Ideas are tough to come by, at least good ones are. But problems, they’re everywhere! Almost every product or service you use on a daily basis was created to solve a problem.”
Blog articles, blog comments, forums, discussion boards and other similar resources are also a great way to interact with potential users or target audience. Take note of common problems and issues that are being discussed, and don’t hesitate to post comments or start a new thread around any questions you might have – this could spark off conversations that will shed light on problems that you weren’t previously aware of.
Watch what your competitors are doing
A competitive analysis should be carried out at several stages over the lifetime of a mobile app: during the ideation process, before significant changes are made to your app or business strategy, and at regular intervals to keep up with changes in the competitive landscape.
However, even way before app development you should be watching what your competitors are doing. The next big app idea doesn't necessarily have to be something entirely new and never seen before. It could be a 'step-up' in the service that your competitors are offering. Or it may fill a gap that your competitors are not addressing.
See what your competitors are doing right, but more importantly take note of what they're doing wrong. This may lead you to the next big app idea you were looking for.
Also pay attention to user feedback on competitor platforms. User feedback and comments are a treasure trove of information. Start poring through reviews and ratings left by users of your competitors’ apps – from app store reviews to social media comments and forum posts – to obtain a clearer idea of features and strategies that resonate with your potential users.
It may be helpful to look into competitor strategies as well. Again, look at what your competitor is doing right and more importantly what they're doing wrong. Here’s a checklist of questions to help you get started on your research process:
Which strategies have produced the best results for your competitors?
What were unsuccessful strategies implemented?
How can you improve on strategies your competitors implemented?
How can you adapt these strategies to make it work for your mobile app?
Don’t forget about indirect competitors
While your indirect competitors may not have launched a mobile app, they are still targeting a similar set of users – so it helps to pay attention to how they’re attracting your potential users with their products or services.
Here are key questions to guide you in your analysis of indirect competitors:
In what areas are their products or services similar to yours?
What are successful strategies and ideas that have helped them target and retain their users
How can these strategies be improved on?
Can you adapt these ideas or concepts to make it work for your mobile app?
Keep up to date with the latest trends
The ever-changing mobile landscape is a challenging space to navigate. App makers are up against the intense competition – a 2017 Statista study indicated that Android users were able to choose between 2.8 million apps, while the number of apps on the App Store totaled at 2.2 million. In addition, the emergence of trends like augmented reality, virtual reality and chatbots are revolutionizing the way users engage with mobile apps.
Strategies and features that are effective now may easily be rendered irrelevant in a matter of months. Generating ideas that resonate with today’s users requires a constant pursuit of keeping up with the trends.
Here are a few tools and websites you can use to stay on top of the latest developments:
App Annie: App market data and insights company producing consumer and competitive information on downloads, revenue, ratings, usage, search terms and more. App Annie’s Insights Blog and webinars are also great resources for app makers.
Priori Data: App Store intelligence company providing market data and competitive benchmarking information on the global app economy.
Trendwatching: Independent trend firm scanning the global market for promising consumer trends and insights.
Trends and mobile apps outside of your industry
Here are key takeaways you can gain from studying mobile apps across different industries:
Zappos: Zappos is known for delivering stellar customer experiences, and its mobile app is no different. App makers can learn about providing top-notch experiences through studying features like Ask Zappos, a feature that helps users find any product with just a tap of their camera, and Handover, which enables users to shop seamlessly between their Apple devices.
JetBlue: Pesky push notifications are a bane for smartphone users. Learn from JetBlue’s timely and thoughtful communication, which includes providing flight check-in reminders 24 hours before a flight is scheduled to take off, as well as notifications to let passengers review flight entertainment options in advance.
Venmo: App makers can learn from the convenience and efficiency that mobile payment apps like Venmo provides – from the way user information is saved for easy access, to how a complex process like sending out money or making purchases can be completed in a few quick taps.