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6 Important Steps in the Research Process

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Doing Proper Research

You’ve finally had that great idea. You’ve been pondering the idea for some time now. It just seemed to pop in your head out of nowhere, but you’re not one to succumb to indulgence. You’ve taken your time to think it through. With millions of ideas out there, you have to be careful. After weeks or months of thinking about it and you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a great idea. Virtually, no one’s thought of this. You can’t believe it, so many ideas, yet, no one has thought of this. You’ve asked all your friends and family if it’s a good idea. They agree.

You’re all set.

You start looking into mobile app development, website development, prototyping companies. You start figuring out how this thing’s gonna work. You spend hours going through your thoughts on the design. You still can’t believe no one has thought of this. You think of every conceivable way people would go through the pages and what features would be the most beneficial to make this an app that an everyday person is going to want to keep using over and over again. You finally set meetings with the companies that you had decided on. The meetings go well. You’re full of excitement.

Then a bomb gets dropped.

This great idea has already been made.

Oh no. All that time. All that energy. Where do you go from here?

Believe me when I say, this is not that uncommon of an experience. Don’t worry, you’re not the first nor will you be the last person to ever have this experience. What you can be is one of the people that doesn’t fall victim to this again (trust me, it definitely can happen more than once).

It may seem like such a simple concept but it is often overlooked. Research, research, research. This is the backbone behind any great idea. Unless you’re talking about a completely revolutionary technology that you know without a shadow of a doubt exists, then you better get on top of it. This comes from experience. We have seen far too many people come in with great ideas only to realize later on that they didn’t do enough research. Mind you, it depends where you look. It could possibly you don’t have a skill set that is catered towards research.

Luckily for you, I’m gonna go over the specifics of doing great research so that you never run into this problem again.

Google Search

Probably the most known one on the list. You’d be surprised how underutilized this actually is. The reason for that is because there’s actually a trick to using Google Search properly. It all depends on your phrasing.
Think about it. How many different results come up for the exact phrase you put in. Potentially, hundreds of millions. The reason for this is that over the all the time that Google has dominated searches on the internet, people have been working in ways to bring their results to the top for specific search terms. That means that out of those millions of results, there’s a significant amount of results that are planned to cater to that search term that you’ve typed in…meaning…the results are skewed. Don’t get me wrong, Google does it’s best to bring you what you’re looking for but it can only do this to a limited degree being that your query is ran as a literal string with a little bit of interpretation from RankBrain.
When you do sit down to do your research on any new idea, I would recommend a week to two weeks of research. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean constantly searching but we have a tendency as humans to be locked into a certain process of thought when we focus. The recommendation to take one to two weeks is more the idea of giving yourself time to cool down after not having anything turn up, then possibly get into a different state of mind to look up new search terms.

One step you definitely want to take to protect yourself of crossing any wires is looking up patents. Imagine going through the entire process of creating your idea and completely designing it out only to find out that someone has locked down the process and is legally protected to own that process. Albeit, the process of getting a patent when it comes to technology requires a more intricate process and generally it’s hard to protect a complete idea but why not avoid consequences if possible.
It’s not as hard as you may think. Here’s two great resources to help you look for your idea:

Google Patents

United States Patent and Trademark Office

Patent Reviews

Apple App Store & Google Play Store

These two start out with a simple decision; what kind of app you are going to build? To help you out, I’ll explain the difference a little bit.
Web App – If you’ve ever had the chance to look through Google’s many, many apps then you’ve seen a web app. Think of Google Play Music, Google Play Movies, Google Adwords, Google Analytics, etc. The idea behind a web app is that all the features of a program are featured on a website instead of an app you can download on your phone or tablet. These can work in conjunction with native apps by sharing the same data and similar functionalities but they work exclusively in a browser. Web apps do not relate to the Apple App Store nor the Google Play Store, but it is good to know the distinction when coming up with your idea so you cover all avenues.
Native App – This is the other kind of app, the one you typically download from either of the app stores. These are apps that are built specifically for an operating system, i.e. iOS or Android. Where as web apps can be pulled up in a browser on any type of device, native apps are limited to the device they were built for. This means that you essentially have to build two different types of apps, one for Android and one for iOS. Unfortunately there are two different languages that each takes to build apps on so it is double the work (Android – Kotlin/JavaScript & iOS – Swift).
It is important to know the difference between all these things being that you don’t want to limit your research to just the internet. For the proper amount of research since web apps, iOS, and Android are all different, you’re going to want to make sure the when looking for your idea you look everywhere you can. Google it first (results for native apps while sometimes come up on there or potentially articles about them), then afterwards check through The Google Play Store and The Apple App Store (no particular order just as long as you go through both).

Since I’ve seen this so many times before in professional and personal settings, all I can hope is that the gravity of this article really sets in. I can’t stress enough how important it is to your own time and developers’ time to do the proper amount of research. Don’t go crazy thinking every idea has been thought of already, then you’ll never get anything accomplished but make sure you spend a good deal of time trying to figure out (in different ways) if your idea has been created or not.

One side to consider too is that even if an idea has been made already and you’ve found it through ample research, is yours different in the sense that it offers something unique or is it an upgraded version of what’s already out there? There’s nothing wrong with going through with something and having competition. If anything, it’s healthier that way because it will fuel your innovative side and give you the energy to keep improving your great idea.

It comes down to the old business adage, “What are you offering that’s different?”

Please don’t deprive the world of your amazing idea because there’s something already there. Do your research and keep moving forward if you still think it’s a great idea. Bring on the competition. No one goes into business thinking that they won’t have competition, so why should you think any differently?