A competitor is anyone whose app solves a similar or the same problem as your own.
It is important that your app is a little different to what is already available. Go onto the app store and search for apps that are similar to your ideas. This is called carrying out basic competitor research. For example, if your app is designed to help dog walkers, start by searching ‘apps for dog walkers’ and see what comes up.
Remember that if there are lots of competitors, you could still find a gap in the market and add a unique perspective.
If you have time, carry out some more detailed competitor research using some of the websites below to find out as much as you can about your competitors. The more information you can find out, the better!
Gives a close description of company’s aims
List of main competitors
Sums of money raised by company
Traffic analytics in terms of unique user visit and total number of individual sessions
Tells you how many people viewed the webpage on a mobile phone and how many viewed it on a computer screen.
Tells you how often people are viewing the site
Gives you information like the gender, age and income of people viewing the page
A list of other sites, which users are also likely to visit
Important – All the Data is from the USA only
Google Play app rankings
iOS (iPhone or iPad) free and paid app downloads
List recently successful apps on Facebook
Researching your audience
Users will play a massive part in shaping your app. Have a think about what you can learn about your target users through carrying out research on the internet.
For example, if you are working on a mobile app for blind people in the UK. How many blind people are there in the UK? Would you exclude people under/over a certain age? If your dream is to improve people’s lives, it is important to consider how many of those people you can reach. Do blind people need a special kind of phone - will they be able to access your app, or will friends download it to help them communicate?
Accessing this kind of information can be tricky. It is often useful to start with government statistics and or charities, for example Royal National Institute for the Blind that collect high level information and data about certain groups.
The aim is not to know everything about the group you are targeting, but to increase your understanding of how they will interact and access your app.
With the information that you have gathered so far, start to draw up a profile for what your target user might be like.
Another useful way to gather information is to create an online survey. Use Google Forms, Wufoo, Survey Monkey or a similar program to create a survey. Write three questions that allow users to tell you if they like your app, or if they don’t feel your app solves their problem. When you have created your survey, share it with people who you think might be interested in using your app. You could do this by:
Emailing it directly to people you know (and asking them to share it with other people they think might be interested, also known as ‘snowballing’)
Asking your friends and family to fill in your survey and pass it onto other relevant communities.
Question: Also known as MVP, what is the first simple version of your app known as?
The first simple version of your app is also known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and is typically completed after the first important steps have been followed.
When building a new app, developers will often focus on building the most essential features first. This means that they do not waste time and money building lots of extra features that they think (but are not sure), users will like. This way, they can provide users with a sample app of the most important features, get early feedback and update it later with other features that users actually want.
Imagine if you knew that people would download an app that helped them to track how far they had walked in a day. The minimum viable product would just trace people’s steps. However, if you included a section about the health benefits of walking then you have created more than a minimum viable product.
In the example above, the app has to be able track how many steps a person walks. It may also track if a person is getting fitter when doing lots of walking, but this is not essential.
Ask an expert
Throughout the Apps for Good course, educators connect with our community of Expert volunteers – technology professionals and entrepreneurs who help bring the real world to the classroom for the students. Experts mentor the student teams in one-hour sessions via videoconference or in person. They help the students to progress or pivot their ideas and provide inspiration and motivation. Experts also give teachers a hand in tackling the more challenging areas of the course and making computing education more relevant to industry.
During this hour, students will take turns speaking to one of our Apps for Good Experts, via Google Hangout or Skype. Experts can tell you quickly what other apps are out there for your community or that solve your problem. They will also be able to suggest what you need to think about when taking your ideas forward.