The concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) comes from learnings in the book titled The Lean Startup and the movement that stemmed from the book’s success. The concept insists on the value of learning while still developing new products. By definition, the MVP is the first iteration of a product that can allow the development team to gather sufficient validated learning about customers with the least effort. It is a stripped-down version of a product that is testable in the market.
Describing an MVP?
When many potential entrepreneurs describe new ideas, they use existing products as a reference. For instance, one might say they want to build an IKEA, but for something else. Or Uber, but for something else. While this may help to visualize it to the person listening, such a description is not very helpful to the developer the entrepreneur intends to hire.
Coming up with a detailed enough MVP requires certain boxes to be ticked. First, it must be very clear the minimum features one intends to give customers. An MVP is not just a collection of features without utility for users. An MVP must be capable of solving an existing problem for users. In addition, the promoter of the MVP must know which features they can give up without sacrificing utility. Lastly, the promoter of the MVP must list down what questions they seek to answer by testing the MVP in the market. Is it the business case? Is it the utility for users? Scalability of the idea?
Import Questions to Ask
While still deciding on what to include in your MVP, some other questions may also arise. Building an MVP is a resource-consuming process. You may need to question whether the MVP is necessary at all. The developers are only supposed to build what you ask them to. Your input and supervisory skills are important in delivering the product. If you cannot make the time commitment, you may be better off shelving the MVP altogether.
Another important consideration is whether you need an app or an MVP. This may be determined by both the resources available and expected user behavior. A mobile app is more expensive to build and promote, especially when you want to build native apps for iOS and Android platforms. The stores (Apple and Google) may also charge a fee or take a percentage of revenue from the app. In other cases, a web app may be preferred if users are expected to be mostly on their computers. Browsers are becoming more powerful and the user experience of web apps may be just as smooth as a mobile app.
Therefore, you may find it better sometimes to give up building a mobile app for a web app instead.
Why Build an MVP?
A common question is why it is prudent to build an MVP instead of going all out to build a fully-kitted product and launch it. Several reasons.
Most app development projects face resource constraints both in terms of time and finances. Whether an entrepreneur is doing all the technical work themselves or hiring a team, they need to make the most of their resources. A bulk of the resources should only go to building features with the most impact on the product. The MVP embraces the Pareto principle.
Further, by starting out with an MVP, it becomes possible to validate the business idea. Based on the feedback, the business may decide to continue with the business idea as it is, or pivot to something different. This greatly reduces the business risk involved.
What’s the Value of Feedback?
User feedback is the essence of building an MVP. As stated, you must know beforehand what the MVP is meant to communicate to the development team. There are two types of feedback: quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative feedback comes from customer surveys and comments on social media and on app stores. Quantitative data is collected passively as users interact with your product. You may collect data such as downloads, usage times, pages visited, bounce rates, and so on.
Feedback is essential in determining the roadmap for a product. There must be a concrete plan to collect, analyze, and act on user feedback. App development should be seen as an ongoing process of producing better iterations of the MVP.
How Do You Determine the Success of the MVP?
Objective feedback should be the yardstick for determining the success of the MVP. Sometimes there is dissonance between what people say and how they interact with the product. Therefore, some features that were popular during the research phase may prove unpopular in the MVP. Quantitative data, therefore, is the best way to determine whether to build upon, fix or scrap features from the MVP.
What are Some Common Mistakes Businesses Make with their MVPs?
Perhaps the most common problem in building MVPs is the failure to properly limit the scope of the project. The resultant problem is that the project depletes available resources while the product is still not ready for the market. This is why product managers need to have project management skills to ensure that the development process does not veer off track.
Next, there may be a lack of proper structures to incorporate user feedback. It’s important to bring on board the thoughts of intended users by showing them mock-ups of the finished product and explaining how it solves their problems. Most projects have early adopters who have an existing problem and are willing to pay for a solution. These should be your target and the MVP should attempt to solve their problem. Their input is invaluable.
Lastly, the lack of enough testing is a big problem. While rushing to get the product into the market, the development team must conduct thorough functionality, usability, security, and robustness checks on the product. Putting out an unstable product will result in a negative impression of the product, which inhibits prospects of future growth.
What are Some Recommended Best Practices when Building an MVP?
These practices are common with MVPs that end up as commercially successful products.
First, the development teams have a deep commitment to fulfilling the customers’ needs. The entire process is customer-centric. The features in the MVP must a result of customer research and so will be those features added later on.
Next, it’s important to have the plan to market the MVP before and after it reaches the market. For niche products, you may find ways to get enthusiast groups talking about the product. Landing pages help a product gain visibility through search engines. You could also reach out to influencers and thought leaders in your industry to have the product reviewed.
Examples of MVPs
There are numerous great examples of big apps that started out as simple MVPs. When Twitter started in 2006, it was a simple website where people posted messages (micro-blog/tweets) and followed other people. Now, it’s possible to post videos, voice notes, and even hold live events (Twitter Spaces). The platform is continually adding features and trying out different interfaces.
Spotify began as a desktop app that allowed users to stream music. They used ads to generate revenue but also gave users the option of paying for an ad-free experience. Spotify has grown steadily by adding more features and content to become a multi-billion dollar company and an important stakeholder in the music streaming industry.
Let Us Build your MVP
If your company is looking to build a new product, you must decide on the most important features for the MVP. This will help to focus your efforts and get the product into the market quickly to get user feedback. The right app development partner makes the development journey smoother. For a world-class app development experience, reach out to us at NS804. We have delivered hundreds of applications to businesses in multiple industries. Talk to us about your MVP today.