Testing a New Product Idea


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Now that we have our first app in the Android Market, we want to start thinking about the next app. We want to design our first full-fledged product specifically to generate an income. We’ve considered several concepts that could be turned into interesting apps, but before we make any real commitment to any of these, we want to test the concept with users first.

Knowing what to commit ourselves to next is an interesting challenge. What we don’t want to do is lay out a complete roadmap for the product before we even know that user have an interest. We also don’t want to commit to putting too much software infrastructure in place that would be specific to the product if we don’t have some validation.

This way is quite different from the traditional approach to product development, where you compile the features up front, create a prototype which is then validated internally or with a select bunch of knowledgable users. The product is mostly implemented long before a real customer will get to give feedback.

Our assumption is that we don’t know if users want our product. Therefore we don’t want to make a big investment up front before we have real user feedback. Real users are potential customers that would be willing to pay for the product or has a definite need for the product. Simply relying on our own experience and our own personal preferences is not enough.

We have some ideas on how to build a product around the concept of human quirks: we all do things we can’t explain but feel compelled to do anyhow. We think this might make for an interesting app.

As an experiment, we are going to test the first product concept by doing a contest. Users have to give their own quirks and could win an iPad as the main prize. The 500th entry will win the prize.

I’ve created a website for the product built on a WordPress blog and enabled comments for users to enter the contest. This is a very small investment in time and all the software is open-sourced and hosted on my existing hosting service.

We are going to market the contest through our personal social accounts and some online bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon. I’ll keep you posted on how well the contest works.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Photo Extremist.

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