Until a certain point in the life-cycle of an idea your focus is to test and measure. In the broadest sense of things you’re testing if your idea has value, this is most commonly measured by users. However, in order to get users you must first define, design, and build your product. This is the course many ideas take, however all of these steps are not required to get at least some sense of measure on the value of your idea.
Building a product often takes a large amount of time and capital. The minimum viable product can take from 1 to 6 months to build, and if you’re not technical you need to convince someone to partner or spend the capital for this. There are alternatives to this such as wireframes and user focus groups… this is often a great one that helps you flush out how your product would actually function. The steps here are to take a basic notebook, wireframe your product, and get feedback.
There’s been a lot documented on wireframes, so we’ll just give you some places to start below:
However, for testing your product there’s many various philosophies and approaches. A favorite of ours is in personal casual user feedback, but in particular from strangers. A fun and easy way to do this is spend an afternoon at starbucks. As people are walking up to buy their cup of coffee, offer to pay in exchange for 5 minutes of their time. For around $30 you can get an hour worth of feedback from a random sampling of people.
This will give you some good feedback from individuals if they see the value in your product. You also get the opportunity to get specific feedback on the flow/structure of your application. The next big step and one people often struggle with is defining how many people actually like their idea and how big their market is. You can look at this a lot of ways, but most of those take a lot of time and effort. The quickest and simplest is to spend around $200 and actually test to see how many people would come to your application if prompted. This also tells you how much you might have to spend to acquire users. And, while there’s many user acquisition channels and many other cheaper ones this method will at least give you some metric to start with.
The two key places that many have found success are running test ad campaigns in Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. There’s a few key steps to this process, the first is determining the potential size of your market. By visiting: https://adwords.google.com/o/Targeting/Explorer?__u=1000000000&__c=1000000000&ideaRequestType=KEYWORD_IDEAS#search.none
You can enter various keywords that would describe your market. This will tell you how many users search for something like your product. This leads into your next area of how you want to begin testing if you’re able to market to them.
For both facebook and google you can set around a $15-$20 budget per day, link to a coming soon splash page, and measure how large your market might be. For this you’ll want to ensure google analytics is setup on your site, and experiment with targeting to know how to minimize your total cost.
With all of the above tools to test out a market you should have an idea before you even begin building on whether users have interest in your product or not.