October 10, 2018

I found a problem to solve. How do I find the best solution?

Surveyed students at college resulted on the need of an app to -Help balance Study/Spare time-.

Plus some pain points: "can't see friends and family, being late with homework", and interests: "friends, cinema and cooking".

EDIT: About 20% are willing to pay a small monthly fee (but is still unclear for what kind of product)

What is the best design process to finish with an amazing and useful app?


  1. 4

    Hi Gabriel.

    The world is full of problems to solve. First you need to decide whether you want this to be a business or a good cause. Just because something is a problem, doesn't mean people are willing to pay for it ("not my problem" attitude where they expect someone else to pay for the solution. E.g. the city is dirty, but nobody wants to pickup garbage themselves; it's the city's job to pay for cleanup).

    You've taken the first step and talked to your ideal customers, identified the pain points, and came up with a thesis: students want better study/spare time balance.

    The next step is to research what people presently use to solve this problem, and whether this problem is something people are willing to pay to make it go away.

    When your picture is more complete, you can formulate your value proposition based on what people actually want, which will make it easier to acquire customers (value prop needs to be exactly what people want to hear; it's really hard to sell a solution to a problem they don't know exists).

    The biggest "gotcha" here is to leave your options open. Don't jump to conclusions that an app is what will solve this problem the best. There are different business models (product/app, service, platform, marketplace, etc.) with their own pros and cons and once you understand the landscape better, you can decide which model would provide better results.

    I'd be happy to help you with the next steps.

    1. 2

      Understanding how people is currently dealing with this problem will be really useful. Thank you.

      I see, so I will keep my "developer mode" in pause until I really understand my target.

  2. 3

    I find this to be a very difficult question to answer, for me solving problems has became second nature and a part of my day to day as a software developer, it's something i've been working on for years and I don't know if it can be simplified into a design process.

    All I can really say is make an app that solves the problem in a way people are willing to pay for

    I think the problem that you're starting with is a hard one and needs to be narrowed down a bit; Help balance Study/spare time is so open ended that an app might not even be the best solution

    1. 1

      Thank you! I will start narrowing the problem to something more specific to understand exactly what "balance Study/Spare time" means to them

  3. 2

    You have a hypothesis. Awesome! Now, design a quick experiment to either validate or invalidate it.

    Here's how:

    1. sketch out (pen and paper) one potential solution. For instance, maybe it has two modes that represent study time and spare time.

    2. take your sketch out, and show it to your ideal users

    3. ask them what they think the app is, and what problem it solves

    4. ask them if / how much they'd be willing to pay for it

    5. go back home, rinse...and repeat!

    You might end up finding that the solution you design isn't what your users want. Or maybe it is something they want, but they aren't willing / able to pay for it. Or maybe they would pay for it, but not enough to make it worth your while.

    Either way, you'll start taking hypotheses and assumptions into actual validated learnings. And from there, you can keep refining your idea.

    Hope this helps!

    Jonathan

  4. 2

    I think the problem is too broad. Have you tried to pick the most promising (you can ask the students what they think would be the most important) and try to create a solution for this one specifically? For instance, "being late with homework". why? I think more specific is better to create solutions (and more fun). Of course, you could explore other avenues afterwards.

    1. 1

      Thank you. Good point!

      I will need to interview some people to find out

  5. 2

    I would pay a lot of money for this- unfortunately I have little faith an app can solve my underlying human nature.

    These students would be much better served by reading books like "Deep Work" by Cal Newport.

    1. 1

      Interesting, there is a general idea that Apps can/might not solve the problem.

      I wonder if is a signal that applications loose their power, and what is the new problem solving "thing".

      I understand that people don't install apps anymore, but What is replacing them?