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Posted on August 7, 2017
We all do it. Come up against a problem or an irksome task and think 'I should make an app to do that' (or at least, I wish I knew how to). But how to decide which of the hundreds of awesome, sure-to-succeed ideas should you really pursue. There's a couple of important boxes to tick first.
When I had kids I always dreamed of them learning te reo Māori, and ideally being in bilingual classrooms, and that wish came true at our local Primary. It was Day 1 at the new school, when Brilliant Idea Number 135 hit me - an app to help teach te reo Māori language, aimed at (you guessed it) Primary aged children.
The first thing you should do is find out if anyone else thinks its a problem that needs solving too.
Turns out that the teachers agreed with me - Yes! they cried, we would love an app to help us teach the pronunciation of the letters and words.
The next thing I would recommend (and this is not what I did but I'll explain why later), is:
Do some Market Validation.
During Startup Weekend Wellington this year, I learnt a valuable lesson. Just because you think the idea rocks, doesn't mean Joe Bloggs is going to want to pay for it, let alone use it. You MUST go and ask people. And not just people who like you, such as your Granny, who will tell you it's the best thing since sliced bread. Go ask the local dairy owner, and randoms on the street.
OK, so you've got some feedback to encourage you to carry on.
The sooner you can get a basic working prototype out to the users, the better.
With my idea, Kōrero Mai was born in Enspiral Dev Academy, during a whirl-wind 5 days development frenzy. A team of 4 spent 12 hour days creating a really great app. It had a way for teachers to log-in and it automatically recorded student progress. It was amazing! Turns out when the real users, the teachers, tried it out they didn't really prioritise the fancy progress tracker. It was a 'nice-to-have'. Big learning there - don't assume to know what will be most useful to your users.
We were on a tight time-frame, so Market Validation got chucked to the curb. But don't you do that. Doing it will save you time and potentially a lot of money.
So my next version of the app was stripped down to the basics. It's simple. It has one or two main functions, and it's going to be a solid product to start with. That's the other thing:
Start small, start simple and then just put it out there.
If you try and tweak a product until it's perfect, you'll never launch it.
Here are my two Kōrero Mai versions.
I think there is one other thing that helped with the decision whether or not to develop this app, and it's the most important for me:
I'm interested in this app succeeding! It's an important issue for me, to contribute towards the survival of te reo Māori. This helps me to stay motivated - app development can be long and difficult. But if you love what you are doing, you will be able to manage the hard times.
So before you jump on board the app band-wagon, think about doing a bit of work and research - but once you have, and are keen to give it a go, get in touch. I'd love to help your Brilliant App Idea come alive.
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