This lesson can help you earn maximum points in these lines of the judging rubric: "Potential Impact on Direct and Indirect Users" and "Competitor Analysis". It can also help with "Evidence of Important and Meaningful Problem".
In this lesson, you will...
- Learn about who your target market is
- Interview your target market to learn more about them
- Decide how to react to user research findings to improve your idea
- Research your competitors to learn how to stand out from them
- Decide how to react to competitor research findings to improve your idea
Now that you have an idea for your app, you probably want to get started building it right away. But wait! Before you get started you have a little more work to do. Just because you think something is a great idea, it doesn’t necessarily mean that other people will think it is or that they will want to use it.
When creating a business, your goal is to get as many people as possible to use your app. Before you spend a lot of time and effort building your app, you will need to make sure that people will actually use it once it is ready.
This lesson will walk you through different ways of gathering information about your target market, or the people who will use your app. You will also gather information about your competitors, or the people or companies making things similar to your app. Using this information, you’ll be able to adjust your app idea so that more people will use it and you’ll be even more successful. Here are some of the questions that you will be able to answer by the end of this lesson:
- Will people use my app if I build it?
- Are there enough people who will use my app to justify building it?
- Will my app solve the problem I think it will?
- What can I change about my idea to better meet my target market’s needs?
You are saving yourself a lot of time by figuring out this information before you start building your app! You can continue to do more market research as you build, too, if you want a really strong product.
The first thing you will do is figure out who your target market is. Your target market is the people who will use your app. So how do you figure out who your target market is? You can start by thinking about who is affected by the problem you identified. Maybe you are solving a problem for teenage girls, elderly people, parents or someone else in your community.
If you are getting stuck, review your work from Ideation Lesson 1 about who your community is.
Next, you will do some research. Research is gathering information about something. In this lesson, you will learn about two types of research: user research and competitor analysis.
- User research is learning from your target market, or the people who will use your app, to help you understand their wants and needs. A user is someone who will use your app. Figuring out this information will help you create an app that people want to use.
- Competitor analysis is gathering information about your competitors. Competitors are people or companies making things similar to your app. By gathering information about your competitors, you can look for ways to stand out from them so that people will want to use your app instead of something else.
In order to do user research, you can interview people who you think will use your app. To perform an interview, you will ask a potential user a series of questions either in-person or over the phone. You can also ask them over email, but it helps to hear their voice and their reaction to your questions.
There are different types of questions that you should ask.
- Questions about the problem you want to solve. This will help you figure out if your target market has the problem you think they have. You could also interview experts in your community to understand the problem. For example, if your app is about clean water, you could interview a local environment official or an NGO who studies this issue.
- Questions about the app you want to create. These questions will help you understand if someone will use your app and if your app is able to solve the problem you are trying to address.
Here are a few examples of questions you can use for each type of interview:
Gathering answers to these questions will help you make sure that you are creating the best app possible. After each interview you should ask yourself, “How can I change my ideas based on what I just learned?’
Surveys allow you to ask a lot of people questions at the same time. Surveys will help you gather more data quickly, and you will be able to learn a lot from the results. In addition to your interviews, you should also use surveys to get information.
You can give paper or online surveys. If you want to use paper surveys, it might be helpful to give it out to a large group, such as a classroom or to everyone who enters your school library. If you want to give out your survey online, here are two popular websites to use:
- Google Forms - easy to use; you can create your own questions, but limited types of questions
- Survey Monkey - very popular, some features you’ll need to pay for
So what do you ask in a survey? This will be similar to what you ask in an interview. You should ask questions about both the problem and the solution. However, since you will give the survey out to a lot of people, you want to make sure that their answers are easy to understand. Instead of using open-ended questions in which each person has to write an answer, you should try to use multiple choice questions, or scale questions. This will save time for the people taking the survey and will be easier for you to analyze. You should try to get at least 15 responses to your survey.
Multiple choice questions have a set of answers that a person can pick from. Here are some examples:
- How often do you find yourself stressed out?
- Always, Sometimes, Never
- Have you ever taken a selfie?
- Yes or No
Scale questions ask the person to answer a question using a number, where the numbers mean something. Usually you tell the person what the lowest number means and what the highest number means. The person can then pick any number in between from highest to lowest to answer the question.
- On a scale from 1-10, how happy are you at your job?
- 1 = Extremely Unhappy, 10 = Extremely Happy
- On a scale from 1-5, how often do you exercise?
- 1 = Never, 5 = Every day
Here are two example surveys:
Once you get the results back from a survey you need to figure out what they mean and how they can help you. Did most people say they would be interested in your app? What was the most common answer to the different questions? Here’s an example of how to analyze survey results:
Once you have your survey results, you can turn the information into an infographic. There are many online tools (try searching “How to create an infographic” or “easiest free infographic tools”) that can help you create infographics or you can always use Google Charts in a Google Slide!
Competitor Analysis will help you understand what type of companies already exist that are solving the same problem you are. You want your target market to use your app instead of using something else. In order to get them to use your app, you will have to make sure that you are better than what already exists out there. Remember that your competitor might not be an app or it might not even use technology!
Here are some examples of apps and their competitors:
|Kindle App||Books, Libraries, Other e-reading apps, magazines|
|Uber||Regular cab service, bus, public transport, bike sharing|
|Google chat, FB messenger, emails, letters|
By looking for these companies and studying them, you will be able to figure out how to make your app better. Here are some questions that you can answer with your competitor analysis:
- How does your competitor’s product work?
- What problem does it solve?
- What is special about what your competitors offer?
- How can you stand out from your competitors?
- Who is the target market for this product?
- What can you learn from this product?
- What is your competitor missing that you could include in your app?
- What isn't working for your competitor?
Are you ready to make your app idea better? Complete the activities below!
Print the worksheets to get started!
If you do not have access to a printer you can also use blank sheets of paper or follow along with the worksheet online.
Activity: User Research Interviews, User Research Surveys, and Competitor Research
Use the worksheet above for this activity. Click through the tabs below to find the steps for each section.
What you will do:
- Interview at least three people who you think are in the target market for your app. You can use the worksheet to get started. Interviewing more people is better.
- Add more questions in addition to those in the worksheet . Think about what you want to learn from your potential users.
- When you are done, reflect on what you have learned. What will you change about your app idea?
Tip: For even more meaningful feedback, talk to more than three people and re-interview after you start creating your app as well. You probably will have different questions you want to ask, for example about features you are thinking of including.
Activity: Business Plan Preparation
[Senior Division Only]
What You Will Need:
- Place to record your ideas that you can save and use again. You'll need this for the next Ideation lesson and when you write your full Business Plan
- Computer or pen and paper
What you will do:
Synthesize the information you have gathered with your market research. The Market Analysis section of your Business plan includes:
- The sketch of your target users.
- Description of the market: Who are the key competitors?
- How you think your mobile app will perform and why?
- Competitor analysis: a detailed evaluation, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.
Tip: You’ll probably want to talk about how your ideas or app changed in response to your user and competitor research. You can choose where it fits better for your team: in the Business Plan or the Pitch Video.
Remember to save this information for use in the next lesson and to use it in your Business Plan.
Congratulations on doing your competitor and user research. Remember that it is okay to change your idea and that you should change your idea based on what you’ve learned. As you develop your app, you should do more competitor and user research. You should make sure that you are always asking the people who will use your app what they think and that you are always looking for ways to stand out from your competitors.
- How will you change your idea based on what you learned from your users?
- How will you stand out from your competitors?