MVP is an increasingly popular practice in the world of software development. It’s a very reliable and cost-efficient way to evaluate a software idea in real market conditions with very little risk for the product owner. So if you have a novel concept for an application, it’s totally worth a shot.
We have compiled an easy-to-follow guide for those that wish to get their foot in the door with an innovative app. Whether you have a development team of your own or are interested in hiring an MVP development company, this guide should come in handy when developing an MVP of any type.
What is an MVP?
MVP stands for “Minimum Viable Product”, meaning a solution that possesses only the very core features of an application. It serves as a fast and quantitative market test, and is the most viable way of launching a product quickly.
When an MVP is made available to users, the owners can see their actual response and adapt the solution accordingly – or scrap the idea completely if it turns out to not work at all. Since making an MVP is many times cheaper than developing a fully-fledged solution, the latter option is a lot less painful.
What’s the difference between an MVP, a POC, and a prototype?
Though some people confuse them, an MVP should not be mixed up with either a proof of concept (POC) or a prototype.
An MVP’s main goal is to attract first users from an open pool, gather feedback, and start monetising the solution. A POC, however, serves to test if the idea is feasible on a technical level and to attract first investors. Prototypes are also quite different, as their main goals are collecting feedback from a limited pool of initial users, narrowing down designs, and again, attracting more investments.
What types of MVP are there?
MVPs come in four major categories.
Wizard of Oz MVP
A Wizard of Oz MVP creates an illusion of an automated algorithm, while in reality being operated manually – not unlike the character it’s named after, who used levers and machinery to pretend he was a magical green head. For example, the Q&A service Aardvark started out with the company’s employees manually routing users’ questions to experts that could answer them, and the actual algorithm that was supposedly doing it automatically from the beginning was developed later.
Concierge MVPs do not hide their manual nature and serve as proof that there is, in fact, demand for the service you’re offering. The actual product might not even exist. Food on the Table, a service specialising in generating shopping lists based on the customer’s personal preferences, started with its owner accompanying his customers to the store, then creating and selling them specialised shopping lists all by himself.
Writing an email is a lot less effort than building even the simplest software product. You can start by emailing your idea to potential customers and seeing if they are invested. If the feedback is positive, you can proceed to developing the product. Product Hunt actually used this method, as its founder emailed his idea to a list of people; after getting a lot of positive reactions, he decided that the concept is worth investing in.
Landing page MVP
A landing page is a single webpage that describes your product, illustrates its advantages, and contains a button or link that lets users learn more about it, sign up for a mailing list, buy it, etc. Buffer (a service that schedules social media posts to times of maximum traffic) used this approach. After achieving 120 signups, the founder spoke to 50 of the people directly, getting lots of invaluable first-hand feedback.
How to implement an MVP?
An MVP is essentially a product with minimum features. While the idea sounds simple on paper, identifying what exactly those essential features are can be a challenging task. That’s why we’ve prepared a step by step guide to implementing an MVP that will hopefully make the whole endeavour easier for you and your development team.
1. Define the product
First of all, you need to clearly define your product idea. What exactly is its purpose? What problem does it help the users solve? Who is the target audience? Make sure you have concrete answers to each of these questions.
2. List product requirements
Compile a comprehensive list of all the features your product must have, think how exactly it should operate. It’s recommended that you do this with the help of specialists that have experience in developing similar products.
3. Define PPR
PPR, or Priority Product Requirements, are the base of your MVP. They are the baseline features of your application, ones without which it cannot fulfil the goals you have set up during the first step. Here you absolutely need to consult a development team, as the process of weeding out unnecessary features can turn out very confusing, difficult, and time-consuming otherwise.
4. Check for dependencies
Features are often interconnected and dependent on each other, and it’s something you need to take into account when deciding on your MVP’s functionality. Considering these dependencies will help avoid errors and conflicts later in development.
5. Start the development (if your MVP is a piece of software)
Now you’re ready to develop the product. Even though MVPs are relatively fast and easy to build, it’s still highly recommended for the product owner to remain invested in the process. Keep track of the development team’s progress, consult them, provide feedback and your own solutions to possible problems. This way you’ll ensure that the MVP will indeed be a great representation of the full product that you plan to create.
6. Launch the MVP
When the MVP is thoroughly tested and completed, it’s ready to launch – this can be done in different ways depending on the platform and the type of MVP. Don’t forget to make an announcement to attract the first users!
7. Process the feedback
The whole point of an MVP is getting valuable feedback from real users. Gather and analyse your customers’ impressions and modify the solution accordingly. Gradually, you’ll build a product that completely satisfies both your customers’ and business needs.
Building an MVP is a deceptively simple process that in reality needs a lot of thoughtful planning. Regardless of the type of MVP you’re aiming to create, the basic algorithm of defining its purpose, core features, and dependencies requires your utmost attention. Still, it remains an incredibly effective way of testing the waters and seeing how you can improve and develop your solution to satisfy a maximum number of customers, especially if you are working with an expert development team.