How to Validate Your App Idea

How to Validate Your App Idea

Before you invest thousands of dollars into a new venture, you need to make sure your idea is worth it. Here’s the simplest way to do just that.

1. Make a Fake Website

It is hard to create a real app, but quite easy to make a fake one. Seek out a designer than can make realistic mockups like this one, and slap that on a website.

Give your whole pitch – what the app is for, what value you’re bringing to the world, and the backstory.

The most prominent feature of your website should be a “Download” or “Buy Now” button. This is the button that we will need to gather metrics on. We want to know how many people click it. A simple way to do this is to install Google Analytics on your site and link out to a separate page when the visitor clicks Buy or Download. Make sure your button is the only way to get to that page. In Google Analytics you’ll be able to see how many hits that page receives.

This Download page is a good place to explain that the app does not yet exist, but is under development. You should then give the visitor an option to provide their email to be notified when your app is ready. I’d use Mailchimp for this. Subscriptions start free and come with a sleek, one-line email signup form.

Landing Page Suggestions:

If you’re building this site yourself, there are a lot of great websites that can get you up and going quickly.

  1. MailChimp – their services go way beyond email marketing. You can make a landing page for your subscriber list and point your custom domain to it. It definitely gets the job done.
  2. ConvertKit – In my experience, ConvertKit is even more robust than Mailchimp, but it has no free tier. Just a free trial.
  3. Cardd – ( – The free package has the basics. If you need Pro features, though, it’s very cheap. (most premium plan is $8/mo).
  4. Wix – these guys have been around for a while. They’ve got an easy-to-use free web builder that anyone can use to whip up a simple site.

Get Real Traffic

Once you have a basic site that can track traffic and clicks, it’s time to get strangers on your website.

For the record, this step the most powerful aspect of the validation process. The goal is to attract individuals who are completely unbiased consumers. They will judge your app on the same criteria they make all other buying and downloading decisions.

Here’s a couple free ways to do this.

  1. Post your “fake” website to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Be sure to pretend the app is not yours, though. You want your friends to respond without bias. If you really want to spread your project, get a few friends in on the plan and have them share it as well.
  2. Get active on relevant online forums. Whatever your app does, it is likely that Reddit has a community that will enjoy it. Be respectful of rules, though. Reddit and other sites have strict “no advertising” rules. You’ll need to be creative to avoid these. Leave hints about your app and trust that people will ask for the link. Don’t discredit this idea: Posting to Reddit made a noticeable impact on my app downloads.

And a couple paid ways:

  1. Pay for Google AdWords. This can be costly, but it might just be the most straightforward test. Sign up for an AdWords account and get seen on relevant searches. This will help you capture visitors already looking for apps like yours. If you’ve never used AdWords, though, I’d hire someone to help you. An unsuccessful campaign might just prove you’re bad at advertising – not that your idea is bad.
  2. Pay for Facebook Ads. You can reach millions of people in just a few moments by putting together a compelling ad. Once again, I would hire a professional for this. If nobody clicks your ad, that really may say nothing about your app – just that your ad or campaign targeting is missing the mark.

3. Analyze the Results

This approach to validating your idea tests two things:

  1. The quality of the idea itself.
  2. Your personal ability to reach your market.

If you gather traction with ease during the validation process, it is a great sign that you’ve nailed both of these points. That’s a great sign.

If the app were real at this stage, you could personally move the needle by getting active in guerrilla marketing and finding the right marketers to expand your efforts.

If you didn’t really gather much traction or get many clicks on your Buy Now or Download buttons, it means one of these two points are off. You’ve got some exploring to do.


Build a website for your not-yet-existent app, include a fake “Buy Now” button, and see if any site visitors will click it. This is the ultimate test of your idea: letting strangers speak with their dollars.

Next Steps

Do you have an idea you’re trying to validate right now?

Perhaps you’re in mid-development without having tested your idea like this?

Reach out if you have any questions. I’d love to help out.