February 10, 2023
In this article, we will explain why your idea will have little to no chance to succeed without a minimum viable product (MVP). Seriously. This is no exaggeration.
When you launch a product on the market, you expect it to win the customers’ attention. It doesn’t matter whether it’s goods or services—everyone pursues success. When it comes to software, the market is as competitive as it has ever been. Since a minimum viable product, or MVP for short, significantly increases the chances for your product to win engagement from real customers, knowing how to build an MVP app is in high demand.
In a nutshell, for an MVP, you just need to create a barebones version of the product, show it to target users, clean up any problems, and most importantly, discover what features your customers truly value. Sounds easy, right? Well, building your minimum viable product carries some challenges. What are the most common mistakes? Keep reading to find out!
Generally, an MVP is the first version of your product, consisting of just the core features. According to Eric Ries, author of the Lean Startup methodology, a minimum viable product is "that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort".
One of the most common mistakes is to confuse the minimum viable product with a prototype. However, an MVP is first and foremost a real product with a basic set of features that promote its major function. The purpose of MVP is to help you conduct your market research by testing the product’s demand and deciding whether to continue its development or not, based on the audience’s reaction.
For example, let's imagine you want to develop a dating app. To create its MVP, you need to include the app’s most basic features, such as authorization, user profiles, and search functionality. Obviously, you wouldn’t need to add live video chat or gamification elements at this stage. The key lies in feature prioritization and dedicating resources to the development of essential features.
By creating an MVP, your development team can test the core features of your product, gather feedback from users, and make informed decisions about which features to prioritize for future development. This allows you to iteratively improve the product, reduce the time-to-market, and ensure that they are building something that meets the needs of their target audience. Ultimately, an MVP will help you launch the product faster, with less risk and a higher chance of success.
MVP development is a popular approach for building a product that allows you to test your ideas, assumptions, and hypotheses with minimal effort and investment. However, to build a successful MVP, the first and most crucial step is to identify your target audience and the problem you want to solve for them. This will help you create a product that resonates with your potential customers and addresses their pain points.
Before building an MVP, it's essential to research the market to understand your target audience, identify competitors, and evaluate the viability of your product. This section will cover the key steps involved in market research, including analyzing customer needs and preferences, evaluating the competitive landscape, and identifying potential market opportunities. By conducting thorough market research, you can create an MVP that meets the needs of your target audience, stands out in a crowded market, and has the potential to succeed.
Define your target audience: To create a product that people will love, you need to know who they are. Define your target audience based on demographics, behavior, and psychographics. Some common factors to consider when defining your target audience include age, gender, income, location, education, occupation, interests, hobbies, and values.
Identify the problem you want to solve for your target audience: And develop a solution that meets their needs. Conduct market research, survey your target audience, and analyze their behavior to identify their pain points. You can also look at your competitors and see what problems they are solving and how you can differentiate yourself from them.
Develop a user persona: A user persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It is based on the demographics, behavior, and psychographics of your target audience. This will help your development team understand your customers' needs, motivations, and goals, which can help you create a product that resonates with them.
Once you have identified your target audience and the problem you want to solve for them, the next step in MVP development is to define the features you need to include in your product. Here are the key steps to follow when defining your MVP features:
Determine the essential features that will solve the problem for your target audience: These are the features that will provide the most value to your users and help differentiate your product from the competition. Focus on building these features first to ensure your product meets your users' needs.
List the non-essential features that can be added later: Identify non-essential features that can be added later once you have validated your MVP with your target audience. This iterative approach will help you keep your development costs and timeline under control and allow you to focus on the most important features initially.
Prioritize the features based on their importance and urgency: Start with the features that provide the most value to your users and are critical to solving the problem. Then, move on to features that are important but not critical, and finally, to non-essential features that can be added later. Prioritizing your features will help you focus your development efforts and ensure you deliver a product that meets your users' needs.
The next step is to build a prototype. A prototype is a working model of your product that allows you to test and refine your ideas before investing in the full development. Here are the key steps to follow when building a prototype:
Choose a suitable prototyping tool: Choose a tool that best fits your needs, skills, and budget. Some popular prototyping tools include Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, InVision, and Balsamiq.
Design a basic prototype of your MVP with the essential features: Keep it simple and focused on solving the problem for your target audience. Your prototype should provide a clear and intuitive user experience and reflect the visual and functional design of your MVP.
Get feedback from your target audience and make necessary adjustments: This will help you with optimization, identifying any issues, gaps, or opportunities for improvement. Use this feedback to refine your prototype and make necessary adjustments to your MVP features, design, and user experience. Iterate this process until you have a prototype that meets your users' needs and expectations.
This is where the MVP development begins. Here are the key steps to follow when developing your MVP:
Choose a technology stack and development approach: Consider factors such as security, performance, cost, and ease of maintenance. Also, choose a development approach that best fits your team's skills, experience, and resources. Some popular development approaches include Agile, Scrum, and Waterfall.
Develop your MVP with the prioritized features: Use your prototype and feedback to guide your development and ensure you deliver a product that meets your users' needs and expectations. Remember to keep your scope manageable and avoid feature creep, which can increase costs and delays.
Test your MVP thoroughly to identify and fix any bugs: Use automated and manual testing methods to ensure your product works as expected, meets quality standards, and delivers a great user experience. Also, consider beta testing with a small group of users to gather feedback and improve your product.
Once you have developed and tested your MVP, the next step is to launch it to the market. Here are the key steps to follow when launching your MVP:
Choose a suitable platform to launch your MVP: Consider factors such as reach, cost, competition, and user behavior. Some popular platforms for launching MVPs include app stores, web hosting services, and crowdfunding platforms.
Set up a landing page with a clear value proposition: Use high-quality visuals, compelling copy, and social proof to grab your visitors' attention and encourage them to sign up or download your MVP. Also, consider adding a call-to-action button that prompts visitors to take the desired action.
Promote your MVP through various channels, including social media, email, and paid advertising: Consider using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to reach your target audience and generate buzz. Also, consider using email marketing to nurture your leads and provide them with valuable content. Lastly, consider using paid advertising such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads to reach a broader audience and drive conversions.
Gather feedback and iterate: Use it to iterate your MVP and make necessary adjustments to your features, design, and user experience and then adopt the iterate approach and continuous improvement.
Launching your MVP is just the beginning of your product's journey. To ensure its success and growth, you need to monitor and improve it continuously. Here are the key steps to follow when monitoring and improving your MVP:
Track user engagement and behavior: Use analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Mixpanel to track your users' engagement and behavior. Monitor metrics such as user acquisition, retention, engagement, and conversion rates. Also, track user feedback and support requests to identify any issues, bugs, or user needs.
Collect feedback and analyze it: Gather feedback from your users and stakeholders through various channels, including surveys, feedback forms, user reviews, and customer support. Analyze this feedback to identify trends, patterns, and areas of improvement. Consider using sentiment analysis tools to understand your users' emotions and attitudes toward your product.
Identify areas of improvement and work on them: Based on your user data and feedback analysis, identify areas of improvement and work on them. Prioritize your improvements based on their impact, feasibility, and urgency. Consider using Agile or Lean methodologies to iterate your product quickly and efficiently.
Plan for future updates and improvements: Plan for future updates and improvements based on your product roadmap and user feedback. Consider adding new features, improving existing ones, and exploring new markets or audiences. Also, consider partnering with other companies or integrating with other platforms to expand your product's reach and value.
These five examples of MVPs show how startups can create a basic product with a few essential features to test the market, validate their business model, and gather feedback from early adopters.
Uber: Uber's MVP was a simple ride-hailing app that allowed users to hail a ride from their smartphones. The app had only two features - request a ride and pay for it. This MVP allowed Uber to test the market and validate their business model before investing in a more complex and robust product.
Instagram: The app had limited editing tools and only a few filters, but it made it easy for users to create and share visually attractive content. This MVP was highly successful, as millions of users signed up within a short time after its launch.
Snapchat: Snapchat's minimum viable product is comprised of a basic messaging app, which enabled users to send and receive photos and messages that disappeared. The app featured a limited number of functions, which involved drawing on pictures and adding captions. By creating this MVP, Snapchat could experiment with the market and affirm their product concept, prior to introducing more intricate features such as stories and filters.
Airbnb: Airbnb was a simple website that allowed users to rent out their extra room or couch to travelers looking for affordable accommodations. The payment process was handled manually. However, this MVP allowed Airbnb to validate their business model and prove that people were willing to rent out their homes to strangers.
Slack: Slack's MVP was a simple messaging app that allowed users to communicate with their team members in real time. Despite its limited features, which included channels, direct messages, and file sharing, this MVP enabled Slack to assess the market and validate their product concept before introducing more intricate functions such as integrations and customizations.
We know how to develop an MVP. We used this approach when developing our own app called Fonts Changer. It's a keyboard extension that contains a lot of cool fonts that can be used in different messaging apps and social networks.
In the beginning, our team listed all the features we wanted and then just crossed out those that didn't contribute anything to the app's main purpose: the ability to use different fonts in other apps.
Then, we chose iOS as a platform for launching the MVP, because we didn't have a lot of functions to test. We also decided to implement most of the functions on the front end. This allowed us to avoid complex connections between the back and front ends.
Now, the Fonts app is up and running! We have implemented the core features and collected feedback from the users, so now the project is functioning.
To summarize, creating an MVP is a crucial stage in product development. It helps you to learn whether your product will break into the market or fail right from the start. Your MVP provides engagement with real users who give precious feedback for further development.
When building an MVP, you should define its essential purpose and base the product's features around that. A big mistake would be to over-engineer your MVP to the point of paralysis. Another serious mistake would be to skip some basic functionality. Always keep this balance in mind when adding to your MVP's feature set.
Also, we don't recommend waiting until the “perfect time” to launch your MVP. In fact, that time will never come. Instead, the sooner you launch the MVP, the better. Otherwise, your rivals may get there first…
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