Is My Idea for a Digital Product Any Good?

You think you have something that would make a great new digital product, but naturally, you have some doubts about whether you should move forward. It’s a major investment of time, energy, and money. It would be nice to be right.

Well, we have good news for you.

There is a structured, systematic, and reliable way to get insight into how successful a digital product will be in the market based on your experience and expertise. Using this method to validate your digital product idea first provides clarity and confidence around if and how you should proceed.

Get Clarity Before Taking on Any Development Costs

If you’re creating an entirely new digital product, it’s a lot like a startup. Roughly 90 percent of startups fail, and 40 percent of those failures are for one reason: No one wanted what they were making.

It might be that the product was solving a problem, but not enough people cared deeply about the problem being solved. As a result, those start-ups and their products failed because being unique or effective still didn’t answer the most important question: Will people buy the product and use it?

Getting clarity around this question before undertaking any development work on your digital product is the first step toward determining whether to proceed. If you don’t make that determination, you risk wasting an enormous amount of money and time.

You may know your customers well, but there are reliable methods for discovering whether your digital product idea will appeal to them and meet a specific demand.

You Need to Understand Behaviors Instead of Gathering Opinions

Most people ask for an opinion about their product idea. But opinions are notoriously unreliable. What people say they will do and what they will actually do are often extremely different.

If you ask someone if they like your product idea or would expect to use it, their response is clouded by their vision of their ideal self. For example, if you ask an individual whether they would use an exercise app, their ideal self says, “Absolutely!” However, their real-world behavior reveals they’re going to sit on the couch and watch Netflix.

Behavioral research looks at what people have done and are doing as a predictor of what they will likely do in the future. Behavioral research allows you to understand if your future customers have the potential to buy and use a new product to address the problems you are targeting.

Understanding behaviors often doesn’t involve asking for an opinion at all. For example, suppose a company was considering a product for use on a factory floor. In this case, it’s far more valuable to observe and document worker behavior on the floor instead of asking whether they would use a product. You observe their actions rather than solicit their opinions.

Additionally, studying user behavior provides more quantifiable information and puts it in a broader context. What is this product addressing? Is it solving a business problem? How much pain is that problem presenting?

Knowing how a user is likely to behave is a powerful determinant of whether your product is worth pursuing.

Identify the Needs That Your Product Is Addressing

Most products fail because they successfully solve a need that isn’t important. The best products target needs that people strongly want to be addressed and that are unmet or under-met by existing solutions.

So how do you determine if your product addresses problems people truly want to solve? What questions need answering? The next step is secondary research or “market scanning,” which includes asking:

  • What are people looking to accomplish that’s related to my product?
  • What are competitors already offering in this space?
  • Are those competitors addressing the central problem or something adjacent?
  • Are people using a hacking solution to address their problem, and is it working?
  • What is the size of the potential market?

While these are just a sampling of the questions to ask, the answers paint a clearer picture of whether your idea is worth pursuing or where you might adapt or refine your idea.

Look at Your Idea in the Context of “Switch Moments”

To understand whether your product idea has merit, you must drill in on the switch moments — when users are dropping one solution in favor of another.

Switch moments are the catalysts for making a new decision, buying a new product, or trying something new. Every switch moment has forces working for and against a change: including your current experience, the promise of a better future, the anxiety of change, and the comfort of everyday habits.

Look at the context of how people are solving their needs today–including paid solutions, free solutions, DIY hacks, and non-analogous competitors–to understand the switch moments likely to be at play when introducing your product to future prospects.

An Objective Expert Provides Perspective

Does the following description sound like you? You have valuable expertise to share with the people you serve but little to no experience developing a digital product. You’re also not sure how to objectively evaluate whether your idea will work or how you might nurture a kernel of an idea into a valuable product.

Can you get enough distance from your idea to have an honest, objective perspective that will determine if what you’re considering has value?

If you’re particularly excited about your product idea and have been thinking about it for a while, passion can cloud your judgment. It’s helpful to hear from an outsider.

A truly objective process gathers insight from future prospects to understand their needs and current behaviors. When paired with an outside expert’s objective view of the market, this provides absolute clarity and direction if you decide to pursue the development of your digital product.

Your Digital Product Idea Is Too Important to Guess at Its Success

It’s natural to be suspicious when asking software development experts what you should do. You may see a development firm as motivated to build products and more likely to sign off on a potentially bad idea as a result.

We don’t see value in that approach—for you or us. We want your product to succeed as much as you do. Which is why we invest time and effort at the beginning of every client engagement to pressure test your idea with objective, measurable, and proven research strategies.

If you want to learn how Highland can take your idea from concept to validation to creation and launch, we’d love to hear from you.

Download “The Essential Guide to Launching a Digital Product for Experts & Expert Firms”

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