Articulating your app idea
Following an interesting recent conversation, I thought I’d write a post especially for those of us who have a great app idea, want to find out more about how to develop it and get it to market, and yet want to make sure that their app idea stays protected.
These are just some thoughts which might help you to share your idea with others while ensuring your confidentiality is protected.
A: Flesh out the idea on paper
- None of the answers need to be super long, but the more specific they are, the more easily you’ll be able to explain your idea to others. Answer the following questions:
- Who is the target audience for the app? If the answer is everyone, try to think about who would the app most appeal to first? Is it for consumers or for businesses. If it’s for consumers, which demographic (age, gender, occupation/hobbies etc) are most likely to use it first?
- What does the app do? Firstly in a broader sense… is it a game, or business app, an eCommerce app etc? What category would it fit into in the App Store? Next… is there a short phrase you can use to describe the key benefits of the app in a simple way (e.g. ‘my app helps people find their lost cats’ or similar.
- How does the app help the target audience? What is the primary need it addresses?
- What are the use cases for the app? How would people typically interact with it? Where would they be (in an office, at home, out on the town, on a bus etc) when they interact with the app?
- If possible find some reference points for the app. Maybe some part of it is similar to something that already exists- have examples of where there are similarities to existing apps. This will help you focus on what is inspiring your app, and also which parts of your app are different and innovative.
- Create some basic screens for the main pages in the app. You can use powerpoint/keynote/google presentation for this, or a wireframing tool like balsamiq or axure, or even just plain old paper. Focus on the screens that make your app different, since this may be what gets people excited about your app.
B: Prepare to communicate the idea
- Have a short version of the idea ready, that might help you find the right people to talk to about it and let’s you have a comfortable conversation with people without going into too much detail. This might be just a few words which don’t give your idea away but do help communicate the basic area you are working in… e.g ‘I’m working on a sports app for kids’ etc. There’s no need to go into more detail than that… you can say ‘It’s a work in progress right now, as soon as it’s ready I’d love to give you an update’ or similar. Let their imagination go wild…
- Have a more detailed document ready with the fleshed out information from A. above. You might need this as a minimum to articulate your ideas to designers and developers. If you want, many developers will be ok to sign a confidentiality agreement in advanced of discussing your project. This will give you some intellectual property rights over the documents you created and usually helps to protect the intellectual property rights of the designer/developer as well, which is a good thing.
- Build up a trust with your partners for software development, sales and marketing so that the conversation around the idea can flow more openly.
- As you get more confident with your idea, you will be able to talk to more people about it. The sooner this happens the better, as you will gain a lot of valuable insights from being able to talk to your target audience about your idea.
Good luck and may the force be with you!