Menu Close

How to Come Up with an App Idea

How to find a great app idea and determine if it’s worth pursuing

Though seeing your app’s name up in lights on a Times Square billboard may not be the typical endgame of an app in the app store, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create a unique idea that will become a hit. Check out these tips below to see how you can unearth that next big idea!

Discover a problem and/or find a market

The app market is huge, both financially and in terms of apps/downloads. As of this year, there are a combined 5 Billion apps across the Apple and Android app stores and with 268 Billion downloads, apps are on track to generate $77 Billion in revenue in 2017. So, what does this mean for you? It means that there is a wide open world of unique, differentiated apps that cater to a wide audience. This means that there is a huge margin for success for your app idea, which all starts by discovering a problem and/or finding a market

Discovering a problem is sometimes like stubbing your toe on your bed frame in that oftentimes, it just happens randomly. BUT, that doesn’t mean you can’t give the big idea generate AKA your brain, a little push. The first step is looking around you. What kinds of things do people do in their everyday lives? What actions or services are involved in those activities and where is there possibly room for improvement. Or, look at it a different way what service, activity, or action seems to frustrate or complicate daily life?

  • Is it waiting for public transportation and not knowing when the next arriving bus or train is arriving?
  • Is it getting home from a 12 hour workday and opening your fridge with no idea how to make a great dinner with what you see?

The point is, is that if you think hard enough and observe how people and yourself go through your day-to-day routine, you’ll quickly discover that there is unlimited room for improvement and many of these solutions can be implemented in an app!

Similarly, finding a market, is all about identifying if you have an audience in the first place. This is does not exclude tips about identifying a problem, but rather, it is encouraging you to view things in a different perspective. In fact, it is very possible and likely, that a great app idea you may generate will both solve a problem and cater to a large market. However, if you have trouble first identifying a problem that your app could solve, think about the different markets of apps and activities already out there. Look into the different categories in the app stores to get some ideas too and you’ll soon discover that there are all types of people interested in all types of categories. Then, when you think you’ve found a category or audience that you think would make a good candidate, you can then circle back to see how you might solve a problem that would cater to this audience.

Research the space! Is there competition?

Out of the 5+ Million apps currently on both app stores, you would be surprised by how many apps are very similar to each other. In fact, there are tons of apps, particularly in the game category, that often mirror other games exactly with the exception of a few color changes here and there. The reasoning behind this is because the app market is so large and there are so many people downloading apps that even similar apps can garner attention and downloads. However, if you only copy and app that has already been copied before OR if you try to copy an app that already has a huge following but little competition (i.e. Instagram or Facebook), you are likely to experience difficulty in getting an audience.

So, the best course of action is to do some simple research to determine if your idea exists in the app stores already. Search in the different categories where you think an app similar to your idea might reside and you’ll quickly discover if there is anything similar out there on the market. If then during your research, you discover an app similar to yours, DON’T PANIC! While you might think this is the end of the line for you app idea, this actually might be an opportunity to discover how you can make your app better than the current idea. This doesn’t mean you should copy ideas from someone else’s app, but you should look into how you can make your app unique and more successful, which leads to the final tip of this article.

Make it unique-cater to your niche and add your own personal flair

Some of the most successful apps on the market didn’t become successful without investing in unique features or design, which means that it is more important than ever to make sure your idea stands out. Now, we’re not necessarily talking flashing lights and big bold letters, but by thinking up creative ways to structure your app from its features to its design, you can do wonders for how your app will be perceived by its target audience. If you can, look at apps in the category that your app might reside in. What makes some of them successful and why? Is it their color? Their layout? What can you do to make your own idea stand out on its own?

Put another way, think about marketability. How can you structure your app so that people see it as something new and exciting? This doesn’t mean that you have to have your app’s name, logo, and color scheme down pat, but you SHOULD start thinking about ways you can expand your app’s purpose so that it keeps catering to its audience.

All in all, the app market is projected to grow by 270% by 2020, which means that apps are certainly here to stay. Use these tips to help generate your own unique idea and you’ll soon discover that you too can be a successful app entrepreneur.