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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
You've got it. Identify some people who you think are in your target market.
Describe the application and ask them questions. Those questions will lead to more questions and input for your idea.
Use screen mock-ups to help non-technical people get a sense of how the application might work.
The most helpful and enthusiastic interviewees will probably possibly make good beta testers.
Monday, April 06, 2015
>Describe the application and ask them questions.
In my experience, that tends to lead them too much and ends up getting the answer you wanted.
Monday, April 06, 2015
I have developed professional contacts over the years and know prominent people in my industry who are customers.
Sometimes I have new apps that, when they are in early prototype stage, I'll discuss them with hand selected people who are ultra early adopters. If they are interested, I send them a prototype. Often the feedback initially is "how do I get this to work", which leads to changes in the basic approach and UI. Once they get past that, I find if they regularly use the program for a real world problem. In the cases where they do I have a viable product, and they continue to send feedback about things they get stuck on, which I then smooth out. This process can take a few years, and ensures that version 1 will be good. The problem with not doing that is if you have a bad paradigm in version 1 you'll be stuck with it forever since people will learn the bad paradigm and then not wish to switch to a new one in version 2. I spare the general public from that by working more intensely with a small group of alpha testers.
You're on the right track but perhaps starting from the wrong end.
By the way you've phrased your question it sounds like you've already conceptualised an app (solution) and you're now looking for the problem to wedge it in to.
Remember, the question precludes the answer.
Rather than asking prospects if they would use an app like this (they may not even know they have a problem) you should be looking for their pain points. What do they find frustrating trying to fulfil their job? What's a major PITA they wish *someone* would fix? So the first port of call is gaining an appreciation for what they do, how they do it and what issues they face.
I assume you have an industry in mind? You could start by industry specific forums (even if you have to join them). Read a *lot* of posts. What are the common themes?
Another resource is trade magazines. Flick through a year's worth of several publications and you'll gain a better understanding of the issues they face.
If there's no-one in your circle of contacts who works in the field you're investigating, then post some questions on the forums you've been reading. Ask them straight out what their major pains are and what an ideal solution would look like (from a business perspective not a technical one). You may even find some respondents willing to become beta testers in exchange for free copies of the software.
Don't be afraid to ask, what may appear to be stupid questions. The more you dig, the more you'll uncover.
All the best -
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