Crafting Your App: 8 Discovery Steps for Decision-Making

Eloisa Docton
Eloisa DoctonWednesday, May 22, 2024
Crafting Your App: 8 Discovery Steps for Decision-Making

According to Google AI, the average app building cost is between $50,000 and $1.5M.

Naturally, this depends on the type of app it is, the features needed, and the additional services that are required for the app to work.

Money is definite, and we understand that. This is why planning for your app is important. The best way to plan for your app is by research and discovery exercises. With these exercises, we can discover opportunities, pitfalls, and—when necessary—pivoting to other solutions.

Why discovery and research?

Imagine inheriting a sizable sum from a long-lost wealthy relative. You have options: invest, pay debts, travel, educate your child, or, perhaps, finally develop that app you've long wanted. Take, for example, an app to help you focus on shopping goals at Target.

While you and I might find it useful, do all Target shoppers share this need? Some view Target as a therapeutic escape; an app might disrupt this. Imagine investing your inheritance in the app, only to find limited usage or widespread dissatisfaction. To prevent this, research is key. It reveals diverse user needs, allowing you to tailor the app for success.

How to perform your own discovery

While experts can provide invaluable insights into your investment, there's no substitute for conducting your own discovery. At Echobind, we offer numerous options to guide you, but starting with your own research is key. It provides clarity on your vision and accelerates your understanding of the problem you aim to solve.

DYI Discovery Step 1: Make a list

The Who: Start by considering the obvious users—like you and me—but also think about whether everyone in your extended network, including family and friends, would use it. What about other shoppers you see at Target? Are there certain types of people who might not use it, like those who dislike using phones or despise shopping altogether? Ensure your plan accounts for these potential users; their data will be invaluable later.

The Why: You likely have a good grasp of why you would use the app, but considering other potential users can uncover additional reasons for its utility. For instance, while you and I seek focus at Target, others may struggle elsewhere, like at Best Buy. Understanding these diverse needs can inform feature enhancements or potential pivots, revealing new opportunities. If half your users need it at Target and the other half prefer it for grocery or electronics shopping, you've struck gold.

The How: Consider how users would interact with the app. While smartphones are the primary platform, think about compatibility with tablets or desktops. Not all devices have constant data connectivity, and not all apps work seamlessly on every phone or in areas with poor reception. Understanding these technical requirements is crucial, especially if users need the app in-store where signal strength may vary. Ensuring optimal functionality regardless of device or location is key to user satisfaction.

DYI Discovery Step 2: Make sense of the list

Now that you've gathered this data, it's time to define your problem and determine your solution.

1. Who would use it? People who shop, not just at Target. Focusing solely on Target shoppers could overlook opportunities with those facing similar challenges elsewhere (as shown by our 50% example).

2. Why would people use it? Because many tend to overspend at their favorite stores, and your app could offer budgeting assistance.

3. How would people use it? Given that shoppers are often on the go, a mobile app would likely be the most practical solution.

DYI Discovery Step 3: Digging deeper

You've pinpointed who, why, and how the app will be used. Now, to ensure it caters effectively to all shoppers, aids in budget adherence, and is mobile-centric, we need more insight into these three aspects:

  • Demographics: Understanding the user demographics will inform visual design and language choices within the app.

  • Socioeconomic status: Grasping the financial circumstances of users will elucidate the true problem being addressed.

  • Operating systems: Identifying the predominant operating systems (iOS or Android) among users will guide technological decisions. Is the user base primarily iPhone or Android users? Would focusing on one OS alienate too many potential users? This knowledge is crucial in determining the appropriate technology to employ.

DYI Discovery Step 4: Tracing steps

What are the steps users will take to use the app?

  1. Get to the store
  2. Fire up the app
  3. See shopping list

Wait ... how will this shopping list get there? Let’s try this again:

  1. Create a shopping list
  2. Get to the store
  3. Fire up the app
  4. See the shopping list
  5. See the items in the list highlighted in the map

Wait ... how will the app know what store you’re in? How will it know the store carries all of the products? Let’s try this one more time:

  1. Create a shopping list
  2. Connected to a store
  3. Output any items not sold there, let you know
  4. Get to the store
  5. Make sure your phone knows your location
  6. Fire up the app
  7. See the shopping list
  8. See the items in the list highlighted in the map

Easily, going through this exercise a couple more times will provide even more discovery. We quickly went from 3 steps to 8, in the same exercise.

DYI Discovery Step 5: The Problem

Now, with the insights we've gathered, the problem becomes clear:

The Problem: People consistently overspend at their preferred stores, leading to detrimental effects on their budget.

DYI Discovery Step 6: The Answer

An app that allows for you to enter your shopping list, match it with the items at the specific store, and maps the store out for you to stay on target ... not just at Target!

DYI Discovery Step 7: Wait, does this already exists?

Even if you haven't encountered a similar app, conducting a quick competitive analysis is crucial to ensure there aren't existing solutions addressing the same problem.

In today's landscape, it's likely you'll find numerous similar apps. Therefore, it's essential to thoroughly assess each one, listing their features, comparing their strengths and weaknesses, evaluating their performance, reading reviews, and even testing them firsthand.

This comprehensive analysis provides a deeper understanding of your competition, potentially inspiring additional features or services you may wish to offer, either immediately or in the future.

DYI Discovery Step 8: Most Lovable Product

So far, we've identified who, how, and why people would use the app, and we've expanded its scope to include any store, not just Target. After examining competitors and validating ideas through research, it's time to assess our needs and budget. Here's what we believe is necessary:

  • A mobile app compatible with both Android and iOS
  • Shopping list storage capability
  • Access to store inventory
  • Store map integration
  • Directions to item locations within the store

Considering these requirements, let's explore the technologies:

  • Building with React ensures compatibility with both operating systems.
  • Data storage is necessary for maintaining shopping lists.
  • Accessing store inventory would involve collaboration with stores and may introduce security complexities.
  • Store map integration may require reverse engineering existing solutions or exploring alternatives.
  • Locating products within the store could utilize similar methods as store map integration.

Upon reflection, the need to connect to store inventory stands out. Do we truly require this? Could we find an alternative? Removing this requirement may impact the user experience, but let's reconsider:

  • Users can still visit the store and find available items without additional connections.
  • The only potential drawback is the need to visit another store to complete their shopping.

With this reassessment, we can refine our app's requirements and better align them with our budget and goals.

So, what’s the product?

We've made significant progress! Here's a summary of the essentials we've identified to ensure the app's usability:

  • A mobile app developed using React (a development code that allows for the same app to work on either phone without the need to build 2 apps)
  • Data storage functionality for saving shopping lists
  • Location services integration to determine the user's current store
  • Connection to the store's internal mapping system for item location

Even without additional connections, users can still visit the store and locate available items. The only potential inconvenience is the possibility of needing to visit another store to complete their shopping.

Next Steps: Validation + Further Analysis

Now that we've established a solid foundation for the idea, it's time to review whether additional research is necessary and transition into validation.

Further research may involve examining existing store apps, such as Target's, to determine if they already offer features like saving shopping lists and displaying store maps. If they do, it might prompt us to consider another pivot.

This leads us to validation. If everything seems aligned with the app idea, a second round of research could involve building a prototype and testing it with various potential users. By recording their impressions, we can gather valuable feedback to refine and improve the app.

In the end, we are constantly researching

Staying ahead of the curve is key. Even as the app is developed and utilized, it's crucial to maintain focus on the factors considered from the outset. Success hinges on continuous attention to users, competitors, and emerging trends.

Alternatively, partnering with a company like Echobind can handle this for you, ensuring your app remains competitive and aligned with evolving market dynamics.

Eloisa is a senior designer at Echobind. Work with her and the rest of the team by simply emailing us at anytime.

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