I want to build an app.

And I am going to build it in public documenting my thoughts, ideas, failures, and successes here on this blog.

In this first article I am starting my app development journey with a difficult question: “What to build?”.

What to build?

The question seems simple, right? But the moment you think you have an answer, the question comes up again and again: what to build?

I have the idea of building an app for climbers. The future of the climber’s guidebook. One that helps to protect the ecosystem of climbing crags and to raise awareness for the nature.

Ok, but where should I start? By asking “what to build?”, I inevitably have to ask “what to build first?”. And that is a tricky one to answer…

Finding out what potential future customers want before starting is half the battle. And not doing it, may come at the price of building the wrong product.

User Interviews

So I did some research and found out that UX-Designers have some very good methods for doing research: one of those are User Interviews.
In a user interview you sit down with someone you think will benefit from your idea and ask them a series of questions to understand their problems and needs, related to your product idea.
The important part is to not steer the interviewed in a direction you think would be beneficial. Go at it with an open mind and as a lot of “Why” questions. Take a look at this great article to learn more about user interviews.

Here are some actual questions I asked, always following up with a why to truly understand the answer and reasoning behind it.

  • How are you searching for climbing areas today? What is your process? Can you think out loud, while going through it?
  • What really annoys you during the process? Why?
  • Why are you climbing?

I am still in the process of conducting interviews and will share some insights once I have enough data.

When to build?

You don’t have to quit your job to start working on an idea. If commit one to two hours per day to your idea you will soon have your first prototype ready. 2 Hours * 7 Days * 4 Weeks = 56 Hours Thats more than a full 40 hour work week in a single month. Instead of watching Netflix work on your dream. Two hours sounds too much to get started? I thought so too, then I heard about …

The One Minute Rule

There is a psychological trick used in habit building.

Commit one minute per day to your project. But do it every single day.

At some days you might not have the time or lack motivation and only do the one minute, but on other days you keep going and the hour goes by before you notice it. Consistency makes progress, not perfection.

I personally try to commit at least 30 minutes to my project every day after waking up. All in all I find it amazing to see the progress by simply putting in a little bit of work every day.

Setting The Right Goal

Good goals keep us motivated and help to track progress. On the otherhand bad goals can easily demotivate and cause procrastination.

What is a Good Goal?

A good goal is one that is specific, actionable, and achievable. The goal should make you want to start right away not being dependant on external factors.

Don’t: Reach 100 downloads on the app store.
Do: Publish anything on the app store.

Here is a great video talking about beating procrastination and defining actual reachable goals.

I hope this post helped you to start working on your own project. What are you working on? How do you set goals and find out what to build next? Let me know in the comments!