Minimum Viable Product: Exclusive Guide from Intellisoft

When Frank Robinson coined the MVP term, who had thought it would become the “must-have” concept for many businesses involved in web and mobile development? Knowing your customers’ needs helps to survive in the market, and a minimum viable product is one of the ways to do so. This post serves an understanding of topics related to MVP, from its definition and examples to mistakes that you should avoid.

What Is MVP in Software Development?

Specifying what MVP is about in software development is necessary as many misunderstand this term. Some specialists may think of a minimum viable product as a collection of product fragments pushed out piece by piece. In fact, MVP refers to preventing the creation of goods and services that users will most probably misuse or ignore at all. It is possible thanks to the in-depth study and analysis of consumer feedback. MVP allows realizing the needs and interests of the customer. It is more than a low-quality product version.

A minimum viable product demonstrates sufficient advantages to attract and refrain early adopters. Moreover, an MVP of low quality might adversely impact the chances of an idea being adopted and becoming helpful and popular among users.

Why do you need to create an MVP? To develop a simplified version of the product that is available for use. The strategy’s main goal is to obtain feedback from users, on the basis of which it is possible to improve and develop the product. MVP allows you to find out what features potential customers expect from the product.

The first and main advantage of MVP (minimum viable product) is saving: time, money, effort. It is an opportunity to launch a project very quickly and get its first fruits. Such a launch allows you to test a new solution or hypothesis with minimal risks, as well as generate ideas for further business development. Thus, the MVP becomes a test product that helps you avoid risks.

What Is the Right Definition of a Minimum Viable Product?

MVP is a minimum viable product, a demo version of an application or a website, which helps to understand whether it is worth implementing certain features, what exactly users need, and how your customers may behave.

The term was offered by Steven Blank and Eric Ries. They came up with it to make sure that a future product will be successful. MVP is first recalled in The Lean Start-Up, a book by Ries. The author speaks of it as a new good that makes it possible to gather the max amount of validated knowledge about consumers with the min effort.

The main purpose of MVP (minimum viable product) is to reduce costs and avoid wasting time and resources on creating inefficient websites or applications. It’s not a raw product made in a hurry. It is a full-fledged product of development, with the basic concept and key functions, which allows you to make sure of the effectiveness of the chosen direction and get feedback from users. By implementing MVP, you immediately get real customer feedback and can improve the product at the development stage, reducing the possibility of errors in the future.

When having a look at every ingredient of the abbreviation, we can interpret them this way:

  • M – minimum, which means a basic set of features and functionalities.
  • V – viable, which means a value for the users to make them willing to pay for the product.
  • P – product, which means something prepared to use now.

Understanding the Role of MVP in Agile Development

Agile is pretty popular in the app development space. It perfectly suits a dynamically changing business world.

Agile assists enterprises with being flexible and quickly adapting to changes. It is possible thanks to the division into tinier parts known as iterations. The outcome of every iteration is an effective, feature-rich application that makes it possible to gather the feedback, assess it, and move forward. The process assists with:

  • Being more adaptable to modifications
  • Minimizing risks
  • Increasing the chances of creating a product of higher quality

MVP is one of the major concepts in Agile. At the former stages of app development, you can only suppose that you are aware of how to solve issues that may arise on the way to moving on with the final product.

Some of the assumptions are correct, while others are false.

The minimum viable product can help validate a company’s beliefs in the best way – through sharing a clear idea with early adopters and avoiding uninformed decisions. What exactly is a good example of MVP?

Can you consider a mobile phone an MVP?

Barely.

What would be an MVP in this case then? It would be a voice communication gadget, a predecessor of the mobile phone with a separate microphone and a handset.

Many industry giants used to apply the minimum viable product strategy. Those are Buffer, Facebook, Google, Netflix, etc.

A more specific example would be Airbnb. Did you know that this famous company was initially called Airbed & Breakfast? At first, the company developed a platform with images and descriptions of the apartments in different hotels. It offered accommodations only for the guests who arrived at a design conference in San Francisco. Nowadays, over 150,000,000 users are registered at Airbnb.

Types of MVP

We can divide MVPs into several categories or highlight just two prominent of them. To compare and contrast low-fidelity MVP and high-fidelity MVP, we have prepared a table for you below.

1. Single-Feature MVP

As a rule, this type of minimum viable product is used to test a single feature. That is, you develop one function in its most simplified form and then observe how much it will be in demand and what the reviews and feedback will be.

Such a solution does not require much effort from you, but in terms of cost and time, you need to take into account the development of at least one functionality. Subsequently, you can take this feature as the basis of a full-fledged product.

2. Pre-Order MVP

If your idea does not imply something radically new, the product can be made of the most successful elements based on time-tested practices. This type of MVP involves combining ready-made parts of the functionality into one interface. It allows you to test its relevance and viability before developing such a solution.

It takes less time to develop such a product. This saves your budget and makes it possible to test everything you need thoroughly. On the other hand, in case of success, you will have to develop and assemble the product anew, as a full-fledged system.

3. “The Wizard of Oz”

This type of product involves only imitation of the main features, and all actions are performed by the owner or team manually. If the whole business is considered a software product, you seem to create a single interface, and the whole software part is done manually.

So, for example, you can create a store without a warehouse by buying ordered products in stores and sending them to customers. Or you can create a booking service without a direct booking feature, doing everything manually.

Despite the unpopularity of this MVP, it is very useful because it allows you to check the performance of a business idea with minimal investment. However, you still have to develop the entire “invisible” part of such a platform after success.

4. Concierge MVP

Another type of MVP, where everything is done manually, but the essence of it is a bit different. It’s about searching for ideas and trends in addition to testing one idea.

So, if you want to provide users with many different services, you don’t need to develop functionality for them immediately. It is enough to make an interface and perform the ordered services manually. So, you will decide which features are needed, which are in greater and lesser demand, and, perhaps, make some other important discoveries.
The advantage of this method is that you don’t have to spend a lot of resources creating a product that you’re not sure about. You can test it without creating it. In case of success, you will discover a full development cycle.

Launch of a Minimum Viable Product

The last but not least important part is to launch your MVP. Make sure the product is easy to find and that your target audience has access to it. It is best to announce its development in advance so that interested users already keep their ears to the ground. When your product is actively used, all you have to do is follow it, collect feedback and draw conclusions on business development.

Minimum Viable Product Implementation Plan

To create a quality MVP, you need to follow a clear structure. It will help determine the main tasks, build a vector of application development, and avoid errors in development.

Pre-development stage. Confirm the basic principles and methods of MVP

It is very important at all stages of development to follow clear principles for creating an MVP:

  • Spend little to no money and effort.
  • Raise awareness; collect statistics and data.
  • Pre-sell the product.
  • Collect information about customers, conduct interviews and surveys. Study the audience.
  • Provide feedback to collect feedback in a timely manner.
  • Create a landing page with a description of the product and its capabilities, so you can understand how to evaluate the application.
  • Use social networks to position the product and increase awareness.
  • Launch an advertising campaign and collect statistics.

Step 1. Identify the problem you want to solve

The main question to ask prior to development is, “What is this product for?” As soon as you answer it, you can set goals and objectives. It is important to determine the value of the product.

Step 2. Identify your target audience and narrow it down

The more customers you target, the harder it is to develop an app. There are many customer profiles. As a result, the development process can be significantly delayed and grow in cost. Therefore, it is necessary to carefully consider what the target audience looks like and narrow it down to the minimum size based on their preferences.

The main mistake in the development of MVP is, on the contrary, to expand the audience. It seems as if more people will use the application. That is possible, but not at the MVP stage. The task at this phase is to test the product, assess its prospects, and understand how to promote it further.

Step 3. Analyze your competitors

If you think you have come up with a unique product and it is exclusive, you are probably mistaken. Surely, you already have competitors who work in the same field. The challenge is to take a trivial or simple idea and develop it into an exclusive format.

Collect information, study the statistics of competitors, become their client to assess the quality and features. Analytics will help to understand the strengths and weaknesses, assess the prospects, and make a product that will stand out against the background of others.

Step 4. Do a SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis is the identification of strengths and weaknesses. The abbreviation stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is important to understand the threats, risks, opportunities, and vectors of development.

When designing an MVP, you should consider both strengths and weaknesses. The challenge is to focus on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.

Step 5. Define a user scenario

A user journey map is a specific route that a customer takes when interacting with an application. In the MVP, it is very important to build the correct, step-by-step path of the client so that each time they move to a new step, you gradually get to the main goal.

Step 6. Make a list of features by priority

When the functionality is approximately clear, it is necessary to describe it in more detail and understand what specific features are needed. That’s often the most challenging part for developers.

Therefore, the method of gradation by priority is used. Its essence is to determine the list of functions necessary for developing the MVP and then prioritize them in descending order. First, go to the most important ones. As a result, it will be clear what to focus on, and what can be abandoned altogether.

Step 7. Determine the scope of the MVP

We need to find a “middle ground.” If there is only a skeleton, the so-called “skeleton of the application,” it will not be able to perform the main task. It is unnecessary to make it too “thick” because the weighting will lead to slow development and a price increase.

Ideally, create a schematic plan describing features by priority. Then it becomes visually apparent how much of the minimum viable product should be.

Step 8. Choose the most appropriate MVP management and development method

At this stage, the development of MVP technically begins. A lot of work is done in the course of analytics, but the quality of the final product and the success of its launch depend on research heavily. However, there are development processes ahead that need to be managed.

Step 9. Use alpha- and beta-testing

Alpha testing is an internal analysis of an application, during which a product is evaluated. As a rule, the process includes the developers themselves, the owners, and employees of the client company. The task is to evaluate the application on the part of the user, detect problem areas, and understand what a user may dislike. During the issue detection, specialists immediately solve them.

Beta testing is a test of the product on real users. Potential or existing customers are given access to the application for 1-2 weeks, and they fully use it. Their job is to leave feedback, discover problems, and share their opinions.

Once all these steps are completed, the MVP product can be released to see the performance in real-time. The main advantage of such a product is that it is inexpensive. It also allows you to assess risks and test the business model. At the same time, it is full-fledged and functioning.

Common Pitfalls When Creating an MVP

During the process of MVP development, experts may face several challenges. Be armed to the teeth!

  • Incomplete team

As a rule, if the project is carried out by programmers and developers, they have a balanced approach to the issue of their competence and the value of the MVP proposal. However, young talented programmers should remember that they should not bet on an untested idea, which, moreover, may belong to someone else.

If you have no experience in programming and design and there is no team to create an MVP, the question of finding a partner willing to provide technical support is paramount. Check this list of signs that you may need a dedicated developer when working on your project.

A good team capable of solving tasks not only increases the chances of success but allows you to focus on other aspects of the business.

There is practically no jack of all trades with the full range of these skills.

  • Failure to analyze feedback

Many startups fail by ignoring feedback from users and testers. Respond to signals from them and eliminate flaws. If customers say that everything goes smoothly, still do your best to bring the product to perfection.
Important indicators:

  • Daily number of users
  • Retention rate
  • Average time spent in the app or on the website

Use analytics tools to get these insights. Our team can take care of these indicators and provide you with reports if you choose our services.

  • Fake announcements

Announcing something without embodying it is the last thing you want to do. At the MVP stage, startups like to announce future innovations and additions.

However, anything can happen, and the embodiment of the promised feature can fail. Don’t lie to your customers for marketing purposes. If you disappoint users, make a public apology.

  • Strong enthusiasm for the idea

Sometimes, being obsessed with a business idea’s success makes it difficult to assess how things go around soberly.

Important: if tests show that it is better to abandon an element, do not resist. Save the idea for the future.

  • Does the world even need my idea?

Startups often make this mistake. Many developers believe that the idea should be unique, giving something that has not yet been invented to the world.

Not every idea that arises in the head of a startup is innovative. Many use the same traits as their competitors. In this case, your project is not a startup, and there is no point in making an MVP.

Wish to stand out? It is enough to test your business experience and focus on improving it. Offer users something new in familiar niches.

The main reason for the failure of startups is the lack of demand in the market. With the help of MVP, you will check the demand and decide whether to improve the development process or not. Be attentive and flexible when developing an MVP, and you will be able to avoid mistakes.

Costs of Development

Ideally, the time to develop an MVP is a few months (some say no more than 90 days), and many starting points will require the coordinated work of the whole team at all stages of development.

The largest part of the time, oddly enough, is required for the development of the concept instead of the application development. To test a hypothesis or idea, it must first be formulated. Next, it is necessary to conduct a detailed analysis, collect data on competitors and the target audience, as well as estimate customer needs.

As for the financial aspect, it might be a rather sensitive topic. The cost of an MVP can range from a thousand to several tens of thousands of dollars, so it is vital to plan an initial budget. To do this, you need to understand what tasks are set and why a minimum viable product is created at all.

The cost of creating an MVP may change during the development process. Many factors influence it. However, there are some basic expenses. Planning an initial budget will help you get started, even if the possibilities are too limited. The bottom line is that even at the planning stage, the cost of developing an MVP is determined, taking into account some risks. Therefore, it is not so difficult to come up with an initial budget. It consists of several items:

  • Idea development. Suppose you have a ready-made idea – great, especially if it is spelled out as a business model. If not, you will need some consulting services.
  • Analytics. If you can collect all the necessary analytical data yourself, that’s fine. Mind that its quality should be excellent since, based on this data, a concept for a prototype is formed. It is necessary to take into account the target audience and study their needs, tasks, problems, and preferences. It is also worth analyzing competitors, as well as the general situation in the market. Finally, it is about collecting all the information that will help to understand what the product should be in the end clearly.
  • Design. You can really save on the app design, thereby reducing the cost of MVP. However, in no case can you save on UX design. Externally, you can make the application simple, but it should be convenient and functional.
  • Development. Another item affecting the initial budget. You can choose a simple technology stack to help you realize your ideas. Still, if you initially create sufficiently powerful tools, the cost of developing an MVP will increase automatically. More time and resources will be needed.

In any case, the initial budget should be formed. Be ready that it can expand at any moment. We at Intellisoft try to calculate the amount necessary for the project implementation as accurately as possible, even at the stage of discussing the idea. To find out specific figures, contact us in any convenient way, and let’s discuss your project.

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