6 steps to validate your idea without code and (almost) free

You have that idea. The one you keep toying with over and over again in your mind. Some moments you get a little adrenaline rush thinking about it and how good it could be. Then later in the day the polar opposite will kick in, why do I even waste time thinking about this? There is only one way to know which feeling is correct, validation.

Steve Jobs was renown for his ‘reality distortion field’, an incredible skill of persuading those around him with charisma and persistence to his way of thinking. I have found that I do that with myself, with my ideas. The idea strikes. I process it through the the basic mental filters, do I have a little bit of knowledge about the topic? Can I put this together? Then I write down my thoughts and the logic onto paper (usually with the Lean Canvas). If at this stage it is making some sense then I must admit I start to persuade myself that it is a really great idea. I can see this in the real world. I can imagine people using it and being happy. And the riches!

But then I come back to the real world and realise, from my learnings of the Lean Startup, that I need to leave this dreamland and start connecting with potential customers. This is how I validated an idea without coding and the only only expense being a domain name…

1. Sign up/log in to Bubble (they have a free 30 day trial!)

If you haven’t used Bubble yet then there is a little learning curve. It is nowhere near as significant as learning to code but does take a little getting to know. They have great tutorials, an active forum (where your question has probably already been answered) and a well stocked referencing guide. It will be worth the time invested.

Bubble Homepage

2. Create a decent landing page.

Using Joel at Buffer’s method, put together a simple, not unattractive landing page. On this page, provide the main details of your product or service (this will help focus the mind on the details of your idea). Next create a link on this landing page to a pricing page, however this will go to a different page on purpose. On the page that was supposed to have prices and plans, write a notice suggesting your website and service/product isn’t ready yet but if the visitor leaves their email then they’ll be reminded of your product when it is ready. Joel at Buffers example in the link above is great (copy that!).

This won’t take long if you avoid getting hung up on the minor irrelevant details. Find a decent font and stick with it (don’t spend hours selected the perfect one, this can come once your idea is validated). Find license free pictures (Stocksnap is my go to). The hardest part of this stage I found was putting the key features/benefits of the product into words. When it is an idea in my head I understand it but communicating it really crystalises the idea.

Now you’re ready to launch your landing page! Bubble has easy instructions on how to do this. The only expense you incur to validate your idea is to launch this landing page because you’ll need a domain name (Namecheap is my go to).

This was Joel’s example (source)…

The Buffer landing page

3. Get traffic

This is the bit that will take the most time and a require a little bit of creativity. You have landing page with a good description of your product, now you need people to view it.

For this stage, a useful question to consider is where would your potential customers congregate online? What interests do they share? What do they have in common?

Social media is great. Forums and Quora are also useful. It depends on the product or service. I tend to find Twitter is a very useful place to start. It is a place where people follow their interests (something they have in common), talk about their interests/problems and can be interacted with.

My idea had a relatively small market so they were not too difficult to find. I searched my way to a support group for the type of people who would be interested in my service. I then used the follow & like method. Follow accounts which may be suitable and like a tweet or two. This will pop up in their notifications and hopefully they’ll check your profile out.

4. Speak to those that sign up

If someone submits their email to a relatively basic, unknown website then they must be pretty interested in the product and be feeling the pain you’re looking to solve. This step requires reaching out to those that sign up. I only had two but for me that was sufficient. I sent a polite email thanking them for signing up, introducing myself and asked them a few questions. What did they think of the product? What made them sign up? Request a little explanation of their problem. Not everyone will reply but some will. I do like those occasional emails I get from Founders who personally email seeking customer feedback. It is a rare occasion that a sender is a person genuinely interested in what I have to say.

I use Google Apps for Work’s free trail to get a email address for the domain name you purchased (for that professional touch).

5. Assess their feedback

I can’t give much guidance on this part. Was the feedback generally positive or negative? Have you uncovered the solution to a pain point that your potential customer has? I’ll leave this to your intuition.

My desk was farm from this organised

6. Stop or Go?

Go! If you have concluded that it is worth continuing to build the idea then another useful little feature of Bubble is deployment versions. You can continue to work on your website through their builder without affecting the live version (the landing page). So you can add the features that will build towards your MVP whilst still connecting with potential future customers for their feedback. You could also gradually add more pages (about, contact, pricing, etc) to flesh out your website and give it a bit more authority. Now it is time to start executing!

Stop! Sorry to hear it hasn’t worked out for you. It is probably worth taking a little bit of time and reflecting on what you have learned and maybe what you’d do differently next time. Nonetheless, I bet you have another idea or two up your sleeve.

Good luck and I’d love to hear of what you have built and learned.

Thanks for reading. I’d love for you to check WithoutCode here.