Every successful app begins with an initial concept, but before the concept can transform into an actual product, it must first undergo a critical assessment known as Ideation. An Ideation session involves a full evaluation of the application concept, intended features, and code to determine whether or not the app idea is viable, meaning if it should actually be built from a business perspective. Ideation is important because it allows business analysts and developers to pinpoint and address any potential issues with the app, such as business risks or a tech or design challenge, before initiating the development process, thus reducing additional complications and related costs down the line.
However, these are just a few of the many benefits of Ideation. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Ideation phase and why Ideation is important not only to the app development process but to your business operations as a whole so you can build a robust application that is representative of your brand and caters to your target audience.
What Is Ideation and What Happens During the Ideation Phase?
If you are trying to build a new application, you may have come across the term “Ideation” and may be wondering why is Ideation important? Ideation plays a significant role in the app development process, but it also offers additional benefits for businesses that we’ll address further on in this post. First, let’s break down the concept of Ideation and what happens during this crucial phase.
If you are still a bit confused as to what Ideation is, a good way to understand the concept is to break it down to its root components. The explanation as to what Ideation is and why it’s important can be found in the word itself. Ideation encompasses all the research, creative planning, and testing needed in order for an idea to become an actualization. The word itself is the result of combining the phrase ‘idea generation.’
The process begins with a thorough review of the app idea and the components it will need in order to see if the application can feasibly be created. If the initial review determines that the app concept as it currently stands cannot be built, the next step is to refine the concept or explore alternative solutions that will allow the application to be built.
In essence, Ideation allows companies to save time and money by tackling key issues with the app concept right away instead of down the road when the app is already in development (which can delay the launch of the app), or worse, after launch when the issues are even harder and more costly to correct.
Unique Benefits of the Ideation Process for Companies
Coming up with an app concept is no small feat. Businesses tend to be set in their ways and often find it difficult to even consider other methodologies. However, in order to build a viable and successful application, it’s important to learn how to “think outside the box”. Ideation can help you accomplish this.
By challenging companies to explore alternative business models and more innovative solutions, the Ideation process can ultimately lead to improvements in the products and services they provide as well as the way in which they interact with customers.
Ideation is important because it can help you:
- Discover and resolve potential problems with your software early on so you don’t waste time, resources, or funds to fix issues when you are further along in the app development process or after the app has launched;
- Learn more about your company’s business models and the type of message you want to convey about your brand through your app;
- Get to know your target audience in depth so that you can better understand their pain points and address their unique needs in your application;
- Determine whether you should rethink your current marketing approach or app concept to provide a more personalized User Experience (UX).
Now that we’ve covered the benefits that make Ideation an important part of the app development process, let’s take a look at some of the different kinds of Ideation techniques that are available.
Popular Ideation Techniques
Ideation is not only an integral part of the app development process, it is also a key aspect of the design thinking process, a customer-centric, interactive approach to problem solving that focuses on defining your target audience, understanding what the target audience is looking for, and designing an app around their needs to resolve their pain points.
Whether you have a single idea or several app concepts that you’d like to see come to fruition, it’s vital to understand that rarely do apps get built or become successful without the creative and knowledgeable input of experienced designers and developers. Don’t think of your app development company as just the people you hire to build your app. Instead, think of them as your team members or partners; a group of creative thinkers ready to collaborate with you during Ideation and help you finetune your ideas so your app idea can successfully become a reality.
That being said, there are several different kinds of Ideation methods you can use to review your app concept and strategize additional solutions. Let’s explore them further so you can determine the Ideation technique that’s best for you.
Brainstorming is a classic Ideation technique and one of the most useful to date. It is an open-sharing method through which companies and their app development partners can get inspired to generate ideas, reveal potential roadblocks with different concepts, and explore alternative solutions.
The purpose of a brainstorming session is to obtain a wide array of ideas for the app as well to outline all the different issues that each app concept might pose during the development process. Teams should come in with an open mind and bounce ideas off each other without feeling pressure to finalize their plan right then and there.
As noted earlier, companies can become very comfortable or even fixated on their business models, which can be counterproductive to the Ideation phase and the app development process as a whole. To maximize the power of brainstorming, it’s important to involve a small but diverse group of people in the process who can bring a variety of unique strategies to the table. That way, your ideas won’t be limited to or hindered by a single opinion or an outdated business methodology.
For many, visualizing a concept is the best way for them to work through the creative process. Having a visual representation of their app in terms of design, navigation, and other features turns an otherwise intangible idea into a physical one. If you are a visual person, then storyboarding may be the ideal Ideation technique for you.
Storyboarding allows teams to create a visual story of their application and how it will provide the solutions that their target audiences are searching for. During this Ideation method, companies and their app design and development team can create illustrations of the customer journey, different scenarios regarding how they might interact with the app, and even ways in which the app can be scaled to match changes in the company’s products and services or future consumer trends. Product discovery tools like Interaction can help teams capture user research and input early feedback directly into storyboards to further refine ideas before development begins.
Many find it easier to begin the process by identifying a problem statement, such as a particular customer need that the app should address, but a storyboard can address multiple concepts as well. Design platforms like Adobe XD, Figma, or Sketch provide all the tools needed to create a storyboard, many of which are free.
Similar to a storyboard, a mind map allows teams to create a visual representation of their ideas. However, unlike with storyboarding, mind mapping isn’t as focused on the whole story as it is on outlining a hierarchy of components and the way each singular component interacts with and contributes to the whole (aka the app in its entirety).
Think of mind mapping as more of a rough sketch of the app’s functionalities and their end goal (initial issue and solution) as opposed to a complete customer journey, which highlights everything that can happen in between as well. In this sense, mind mapping is a great Ideation tool for teams that want to quickly identify and eliminate superfluous app features.
Conceptualizing a viable app is one of the most challenging business problems that companies can face. These are just a few of many different Ideation models you can test out. Remember, you’re not limited to a single technique. If one method doesn’t work for your team members, try another until you find the one that accommodates your individual creative processes and enables you to collaborate effectively.
How Ideation Can Save Your App: What to Do if Your App Isn’t Viable
For every app that hits the market, thousands more never make it past the initial concept. If during the Ideation phase you find out that your app idea isn’t viable, you may feel tempted to go back to the drawing board or give up altogether. Although the realization that an app idea won’t work is one of the most challenging business problems that a company can face, it’s important to not allow those frustrations to cloud your creativity.
While there are times when an app idea may simply just not work for various reasons, like the concept being too broad and irrelevant to your target audience, the good news is that most initial app concepts can be successfully modified. This is perhaps the biggest reason as to why Ideation is important.
In sum, Ideation allows you to gain a clearer picture of what went wrong with your initial app concept and what NOT to do the next time around. Your app development team can help you figure out if your application wasn’t focused enough on your customers’ needs or if it was targeting the wrong audience altogether so you can concentrate on providing the right kinds of solutions. You’ll also learn more about your brand and perhaps even improve your business objectives as a result.
The more you understand about your company and your target audience, the better equipped you’ll be to create an application that resonates with both. Ideation is the bridge that gets you there.