How to choose the next app to build?

Generating a list of ideas for BigCommerce apps is apparently easy, knowing which one to pick to work on is more difficult!

Time is limited and so I don’t want to pick “the wrong one”.

Here’s how I’ve prioritised our app ideas in the first instance, and which one I’m working on next…


I haven’t even started and I’ve already got fear of missing out on building the wrong app. So how on earth do I choose which apps to build?

I’m really grateful that I’ve spent time with the team, talking to clients, talking to other people in the industry. And I’m quite excited about the list of different ideas and different directions that could go in for building BigCommerce apps. Now the difficulty is ideas are a dime a dozen. Now I realize that time and resource and money is limited. What do I focus on next? And how do I go about doing that?

For years I’ve worked with merchants trying to kind of give them advice. But you know what they say, when you’re actually in their shoes, it’s much harder to choose what you spend your time on. So I wanted to share today where my thought process has gone to date.

I did a bit of research. So what I’ve found other people do. So in the product management universe, there’s the RICE matrix. Which again, you may be familiar with, but it was new to me. Where you prioritize opportunities based on:

  • Their reach – how many people was it going to affect?
  • Is this useful to everyone or just some people.
  • The impact – so those people that is going to be useful for how much of an impact is it going to make?
  • How valuable was it going to be to them?
  • And then your confidence on those two. So, if I know a space really well, I can be pretty confident that I’ve got a good understanding of the reach and impact it would have.
  • And then divide that all by the effort. So obviously, the harder things are the lower the priority.

And so that seemed really interesting. That felt like it kind of got me most of the way there, but if it felt from a business point of view, from a building an app point of view, there’s still a little bit missing. And so continuing to look around, I found another one. I think this is in a side project book that I had read a while back where it has some kind of similar, so persuasion is all around the impact, like how easy would it be to sell this to new people. But I also like the fact that it had profit potential in there. So even if it has a high impact, some things it might be high impact, but then be so commoditized that it’d be very hard to make a profit on or the costs are so large that it’s hard to make a profit on.

So I liked having, considering that, as part of the evaluation matrix And then motivation, you can be logical about what’s going to make sense but if you’re going to pick an idea that you don’t want to work on or maybe you want to pick an idea that you’re motivated for because you’ve already got some partners or some merchants that already want to work on it. And so you’re excited about it. So I felt like that was an important one to consider as well.

So I built my own version of these heuristics into a spreadsheet formula. so I can quickly rate all of the ideas that we already have.

Now, you know, I’m the boss here, so I get to choose at the end of the day what thing I want to work on next, but this was useful to find a way of comparing all the different ideas and just seeing the woods from the trees. So incorporated them all. And again, this is completely arbitrary, I’ll acknowledge. But I found a way of just if you score each idea between one and five and each of these categories

So: Reach, Impact, Profit Potential, Confidence and Motivation.

And then I doubled divided by effort or effort squared because I’m one person doing a lot here to do the marketing and the sales, talking to people as well as in the product development as well. So I want to make sure that right now, early days, I want to pick things that are on the easier side. And so that was my way right now that I’m prioritizing ideas.

And after my prefetch idea, which I explained in another video, the next idea I want to work on is merchandising. So the first step for that for me is helping merchants kind of manage which products are in which categories in their BigCommerce store

Right now it’s also very manual, sort of checkboxes assigning products. I want to be able to, merchants to be able to, create smart rules so they can say anything was on sale should be going in this category.

And that will just be maintained in the background by this app. So that this just reduces the amount of day-to-day effort that these merchandisers need to put in. And so there are lots of opportunities there. And that’s the next one I’m going to be focussing on.

Tom Robertshaw
Stay up to date with Hypa news and features