Eğitim / Kodlama 25 Mayıs 2024

How to Build an MVP for Your Project – and Why You Should Do It

Proof of concept, prototypes, wireframes, mockups… what actually constitutes a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

Well, it’s a product with just enough features to gather comprehensive qualitative feedback.

In practice, it’s as easy to understand the concept of an MVP as it is to ride a bicycle. Let’s do it then.

In this article, I am going to explain:

All your customers want to be heard and understood. In the world of software, there is a large number of apps and websites out there, but only a few get the attention and love of the users. So you can start by creating a minimum viable product to find out if your idea has a place in this competitive environment.

Building an MVP doesn’t really cost much. And it helps you investigate the market competition with minimum time and budget loss (in the worst case). You’ll discover the whole story, from benefits and prototype types to the common example of your future developed MVP. So…what are you waiting for?

What is an MVP?

The most basic version of a product that can be released to test a business idea is called a minimum viable product (MVP). This concept was popularised by Eric Ries in The Lean Startup. It is part of the ethos of the Lean Startup methodology. With minimal initial investment, this framework focuses on efficiency and learning from customer feedback.

An MVP is a perfect opportunity to let your potential users voice their opinions and test out a product before its final launch. Gathering and analyzing qualitative feedback is a primary task of MVP development. Based on these findings, you can modify your MVP and test it again.

This process turns into a cycle of MVP product development which takes place over and over again until the ultimate customer satisfaction is reached.

MVPs are all about testing product ideas, analyzing user feedback, and building a full product version based on what you learn. Experts say that it’s not an MVP until you can sell it in the B2B world. However, before diving into the process of how to manage an MVP, let’s learn about its main benefits.

The Benefits of an MVP

All these benefits demonstrate a strategic approach that goes far beyond just cost savings and speed to market. It’s about smart, customer-centric development, where each iteration brings a product closer to the heart of what users want.

Here are some of the many benefits of building an MVP:

1. Product Hypothesis Validation

You can test hypotheses directly with MVPs. MVPs help test the market’s response to a product by focusing on building core features. This process helps founders refine their business model with real-world insights rather than guesswork.

2. Minimising Capital Investment

The development of an MVP requires less investment than the launch of a fully developed end product. This approach aligns with the Lean Startup methodology, which stresses the importance of using just enough features to demonstrate the concept without overburdening resources. It allows startups to allocate their budget more effectively and mitigate financial risks.

3. Getting Investors to Trust and Get Funded

Presenting a well-developed MVP is often crucial to attracting investor interest and raising venture capital funding. The demonstration of a working MVP helps angel investors and venture capitalists visualize the potential of a business idea, making it easier to secure start-up funding.

4. Refine for Product-Market Fit

An MVP is an ideal tool for refining product-market fit, which is a dynamic process. It allows startups to closely align their product with market needs, based on user feedback. This ensures that the final product is well-received by its target audience, increasing the potential for success.

5. Gather Customer Feedback

The key to the success of any business is gathering feedback from customer research. An MVP provides a platform for engaging early adopters and gathering valuable feedback with a focus on core features.

Such user feedback is critical for startups to understand customer needs and preferences, prioritize the product roadmap, and develop the product for greater market penetration.

Now, you are ready to face the question: “How do you manage MVP software development?”.

How to Build an MVP for Your Project – and Why You Should Do It
Stages of MVP development

How to Do MVP Software Development

Every product is different, and so is the process of its development. Before we jump into the details of how an MVP is created, I want to point out that it is an individual and iterative process.

Product Discovery

Your first task is to make your idea come to life. You can start by running product discovery. You need to study the needs, interests, and demographic characteristics of the target audience. Also, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of competitors.

You will then need to go through all the features that can be implemented and select the essential ones. The next thing is to organize this information and present it during the workshops with the help of graphs, charts, tables, or any other form of visualization that you feel best represents the data.

Now, your idea should seem clearer but it is still not presentable.

Proof of Concept

Next, you need to create a Proof of Concept. Basically, this is aimed at summarizing the discovery stage and verifying that your innovative idea can be implemented in real life.

Ok, you know that your idea is feasible and comprehensive. You know that it can be done – but how?

User Journey

Now you need to understand what the user wants to see once they open the application. One of the starting points for an MVP is having a strong sense of your customer. Startups should carefully build a target user profile, taking into account various factors that affect buying decisions and product usage.

To build this target user profile, you have to identify the following:

  • Industry: the type of sector your product serves.
  • Pain problems: challenges your product aims to solve.
  • Buying decisions: How they make their decisions and what channels they prefer to use.
  • Contexts: In which way they would use your product.

To do this, you need to map a user journey. User journeys are a visual representation of a potential user and their experience with your app. They cover everything from the moment the user realizes they need this service, to the moment they first find and click through to your app, to the moment they decide to make this service part of their lifestyle.

User journeys resemble a set of statements, which look something like this:

As a [user role], I want to do [functions] so that [goal].

For example, “As a website admin, I want to be able to add or remove users to keep the app free of spammers”. Or, “As an unregistered user, I want to be able to open a menu so I can understand what the application offers before I sign up.”

Prototype

After that, it’s time to start prototyping. A prototype is a simplified version of the product. It demonstrates the final product design and navigation. Basically, it is a set of pictures of the interface of your future app. If it is clickable, you can navigate between screens by clicking buttons to understand user flows.

Prototypes may even look like a very basic version of your platform or mobile app. It is not a final product and not an MVP because you cannot show it to actual users.

Here, you have your idea implemented. Kind of. It can be shown to all the stakeholders but not to the end user as long as it is just a rough draft.

Now comes the most interesting part: you have to decide the type of MVP you’re going to use. We’ll take a look only at the 5 most popular types (but there are more). So, here we go:

Wizard of Oz MVP

This approach gives the user the illusion of a service or product that runs without any human interference – but in reality, behind the scenes, it’s all done manually by people.

For example, for developing a digital assistant app, the staff will manually answer the customer instead of complex AI infrastructure. The MVP will allow you to check the standards and collect suggestions from users to make improvements without a big initial input.

Concierge MVP

Similar to the Wizard of Oz MVP, the Concierge MVP is a front for the final automated response of a manually transformed customized service.

For example, if your startup is a food delivery app, you can start by doing order and delivery management manually, rather than building a highly automated platform from the beginning. This is particularly important in customer satisfaction in industries that derive value from personalization and a human touch.

Single-feature MVPs

In the beginning, you shouldn’t try to put together a product with too many features. Instead, develop and release just a single core feature that solves a problem. This will allow you to quickly test the pricing proposition of the product and gather customer feedback for improvements.

In general, prioritizing central functions can speed up development and reduce the likelihood of building redundant skills.

Pre-Order MVP

This involves placing pre-orders before developing or producing an actual product. With interest and pre-order funding, early sales can be used to help generate visibility and improve the product. This method reduces the chance of developing something that is not going to fit into the market and is perfect for fast iterations based purely on real names.

Minimum Viable Demos

You can also put something together that demonstrates your central price proposition but isn’t a totally functional product. This could be a model, a prototype, or an interactive presentation that shows what the product could do, rather than reserving funds for full improvements.

A basic live demo will allow you to make sales to traders, get initial stakeholder comments, and test the market functionality of your idea. This is a very strong way to test concepts before committing any resources to development.

As soon as you have all the info we can continue our journey. This is only a beginning. So, let’s take a look at the next phase.

Minimum Viable Product Development

At this stage, you need to make some ultimate decisions about the UI/UX and finalize the visual design. After that, it’s time to start coding the minimum viable product.

The Minimum Viable Product looks like a final app and feels like a final app. But it has fewer features, the design or performance is not necessarily production quality, and the code quality may be lower. Your idea is presented, you’ve put in the code, and it’s partially implemented – it’s now ready to meet its first user.

Minimum Viable Product Launch and Testing

After you finish development and launch the MVP, you should present it to a sample set of actual users. Throughout the next few days or weeks, you’ll gather customers’ feedback, analyze the results, and modify your MVP accordingly.

Once you see that your customers are fully satisfied, you can start implementing the final product.

Example of Developing an MVP – Let’s Build a Bicycle

Let’s imagine that you want to create a bicycle. A cool, stylish, hardwearing, and sustainable bike. But what if a potential client can’t figure out what you have in mind and you lose all your hard work? What if you need cash and you have to convince your investors that your idea is viable? Well, it’s time to build an MVP.

The development process will be pretty similar to what I described earlier. So let’s go through it with this example product to see how everything works.

Product Discovery:

You conduct a discovery stage: learn about what a bike is, what parts it consists of, what bikes people like, and what riders complain about. How can you make your bike stand out?

Through studies and marketplace evaluation, you discover insights into customer alternatives and pain points, and lay the groundwork for using new techniques. After that, you answer the most important question: what you can do to make your bicycle stand out among all the others?

Proof of Concept:

Let’s say you found out how to create a bicycle chain that never falls off the chain ring. Once you have a clear idea of how to do this, you create your mechanism: a chain, with a chainring and pedals – your proof of concept.

With a clean idea in hand, throw your concept out there to investors. You tell them more about your idea, and receive their approval and support to keep going with the project.

Prototype:

But it’s not quite time to build the final bicycle, as you have not seen it yet in its actual size. So now you create a full-scale copy of the bicycle, carefully choose all the colors and materials, and make it resemble a real product.

Still, the pedals won’t spin yet, and you won’t be able to steer or actually ride it. This is your prototype – looks pretty impressive and realistic but does not work yet.

MVP Development:

Your investors again review the idea and approve your design, but now they need to see the functionality. You again create a full-scale bicycle, and now it has working wheels, pedals, brakes, gears, and a seat. That is going to be your MVP.

At this point, you can let your users try it out. They get on a bike, test it, and share their opinion with you. The more people try it, the more complete your feedback is. Just be sure not to show your bicycle to people you do not trust, or they might leak your idea to a next-door producer who also makes bikes for a living.

MVP Testing:

Finally, you modify your product based on what your customers have to say until you are sure that you’ve got it right. Each improvement brings you closer to perfection, ensuring your bike meets and beats expectations. Through rigorous testing and iteration, you build a product that not only meets your goals but also delights with functionality and format.

Final Product Development:

Only after all these steps, when you have received financial support from your investors and the approval of your customers, are you ready for the launch.

You change out the wooden seat for a cushioned one, install safety lights on your bicycle, lubricate the bicycle chain, put on stickers and a bell, and start selling your product. A strong advertising and promotional campaign announces the arrival of your product. The culmination of creativity and hard work marks the start of a new technology in the world of cycling.

Why is an MVP Important?

A Minimum Viable Product has one main advantage, but it’s a very important one: it allows you to test your future product in real-life settings with actual users.

This simple benefit has a lot of positive consequences:

  • An MVP lets you adjust your product development plan before it’s too late.
  • It serves as a warning for any mistakes you make or as confirmation for good business decisions.
  • This approach saves you a great deal of time, effort, and money by optimizing the planning process and reducing risks.
  • A Minimum Viable Product boosts motivation because the team knows that what they do matters.
  • MVP development offers a unique experience of testing the product idea, which will definitely come in handy in your professional life in the future.
  • The MVP approach can and should be used within industries of all sorts. While for manufacturers of traditional goods it’s a long and strenuous process, for software developers it can be rather simple and accessible.

Some businesses may choose to disregard the minimum viable product stage when creating something innovative – and that may be understandable in certain spaces. But in my opinion, for a software development company it’s detrimental.

Once a team has launched a Minimum Viable Product, they can decide whether the venture is on the right track. The most important outcome of an MVP is to get valuable statistics from early users. It’s the customers who provide information about the first-class performance of the project. The statistics you get can be used to plan future improvements and prioritize which features should be implemented first.

If you decide to take a risk and implement your idea before checking in with your target audience, you’re potentially placing money, time, effort, energy, inspiration, and supporters on the line.

Do you have an idea for an MVP?

My company Covent IT is experienced in developing Minimum Viable Products. In case you need a free estimate for a similar project, feel free to get in touch.

If you have enjoyed the article, you should continue with How IT Outsourcing Saves Costs for Your Company and Avoiding Pitfalls in IT Outsourcing: Tips for Minimizing Risks.

FAQ

How to spend fewer resources

Remember that you should create an MVP with a minimum of time, money, and effort. Think about how you can spend less and still effectively test your business idea. Discussing this question will usually help you choose the MVP functionality to implement in the early stages of new product development.

How do you interact with users?

One of the main goals of creating an MVP is to test your hypotheses and determine the need and value of the product. Feedback from the first users of the product helps you achieve this goal. In order not to miss any important information, think about how you will interact with the target audience: through reviews, surveys, direct interviews, and so on.

How do you make the first sales of a product?

The first sales of the product will give you the means to develop it further and to see if there is interest in your product. You could also consider organizing a pre-sale on a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter.

How do you promote a product?

Plan the promotion campaign and the channels you will use. Google Adwords is usually the main tool. Then choose social networks (Facebook, Instagram, and so on), create official pages, and start targeting. You can also collect feedback on social networks.

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