How do you know whether your app has legs? We asked some some tech startups who've 'been there, done that' for their advice.

If you're building an app, it's important to test it at every stage of developmemt to see whether it works. We've talked to Club members and various startups to find out how they put their apps through their paces. Here are the four main factors you should consider.

How should you talk to people to see whether the concept works?

Ask friends and family anonymously: Friends and family are mostly going to be positive if you ask them what they think. Not only is it easier, but try telling someone you love to their face that their idea is rubbish.

They might find it easier to say what they really think if it's anonymous. Try the classic online survey tool Surveymonkey or try these challengers SurveyNuts. They are extremely friendly and their interface seems easy to use and more stylish than average.

Micro-test your idea: Build a home page, run a small ad campaign and track how many people try and buy your product. A short guide to micro-testing.

Do it the Lean Startup way: Develop a minimum viable product. Have a look at the principles here. For example, if you're considering an online store, try getting and delivering your product rather than spending time coding a framework. You can then talk to your customers and see whether it works and what exactly they want.

See if anyone will pre-order: Not just useful for raising money, crowdfunding can be the ultimate test of whether a business is viable or not. This is perhaps the most time-consuming and risky strategy.


How should you map out the design before building?

Make your paper prototypes digital: Popapp is worth looking at.  Create a sitemap: See if your website will produce the user journey you want it to.

Turn sketches and designs interactive: Club member David at sports app Dohyo (which lets you bet on sports results with friends and other football fans) recommends Marvelapp. Turn paper designs into interactive web, iPhone, iPad, Android and Apple Watch prototypes and mockups

Test different designs using Facebook: Set up ads and see which ones perform better.


Once built, how do you see whether your app works?

Keep it simple: Get three friends to test your app and have a series of questions to ask them.

A/B test your website or app: Good suggestions include Optimizely (and SurveyNuts recommend VWO, which also features free heat maps).

Video your testers: You can use Usertesting ($) or, for free, you can ask them to video their own screen themselves, using Screenomatic.

Do it online: Distribute beta versions, collect live crash reports, get feedback from users, recruit new testers, and analyse test coverage using Hockeyapp

A powerful analytic tool: Mixpanel was recommended by David at Dohyo. 


How do you make sure your app works on all devices?

Check it on different browsers: Make sure your website or app performs well on any type of browser or device. Have a look at Browserstack.

Make sure it's good on Google: Mobile responsiveness is now vital for search rankings. Makes sure you know the latest goings-on at Google Webmasters