A minimum viable product (MVP) is an essential part of product development. While it’s not your end goal, the MVP is an important stepping stone to learning what you need to know to develop a product that will perform well in the marketplace. The goal is to provide immediate value to your users while minimizing risk and development costs — then to leverage customer feedback to continuously improve.
The Purpose of an MVP
The purpose of the MVP is to test hypotheses by minimizing potential flaws and errors, on top of everything it also works perfectly in terms of time and cost-saving. An MVP allows to reduce the initial development cost and introduce the product as quickly as possible to earn first money. It enables you to launch an app based on your idea and adhere to a minimal budget.
An MVP aims at achieving a balance between what the product is offering to users and what the users actually need.
MVP development can help in:
- Saving valuable time and resources by ensuring that a project is worth the investment
- Gauging the interest levels of the target audience and potential users
- Gathering user feedback, which can help in further product development
- Attracting investors and gaining traction in the startup community
- Streamlining the actual product development cycle by eliminating features or functions that have not attracted any positive feedback
Steps to build a successful MVP
Step 1: Identify Your Target Market
First, decide who you’ll target and dig into understanding their needs and challenges. This can be done through interviews and market research. Additionally, investigate competitor companies and products to get a thorough understanding of what’s currently available in the market and how customers are responding.
Some questions to ask:
- Are there opportunities for products or features not currently being met?
- Is there a benefit to improving upon what is currently available?
- What value will this product offer my customers, and what problem does it solve?
Step 2: Market Research
Market research is a key stage that enables you to identify how your idea fits into the market needs. Several ways can be used to approach this which may include conducting surveys and questionnaires to get a better understanding of the market.
There is also a high possibility that what you are offering is already on the market. Therefore research similar products with which you will eventually compete, also consider all the possibilities to make your idea unique.
Step 3: Decide What Problem You’ll Solve
After you understand the needs and challenges of your target market, select one major problem you wish to solve with the MVP. You want to be sure there are a business opportunity and a solid value to your target audience of intended customers.
Step 4: Define the User Flow
Defining customer flow involves stepping into your customer’s shoes. What you want to achieve is to reach the primary goal but it’s going to be a process getting there. For example, assuming the goal is purchasing a product, it is essential to consider all the stages the customer has to go through to get there (i.e. purchase a product).
Define the process stages required to reach the main objective. Focus more on basic tasks rather than elements such as finding and buying the product. You should aim at simplifying the whole process and at the same time adding more value to it.
Identify the pain points (problems or inconveniences users encounter) and then write down the gains (the value-add achieved when the pain point is addressed). Comparing and balancing the pains and gains will help you generate features for the app.
Step 5: Identify the Core Features
There are many frameworks for determining which features should go into V1 and which should be saved for later versions. Some of the more popular include:
- Prioritization matrix, with axes that include items like urgency and impact, risk and value, or effort and impact
- The MoSCoW method, splitting features into must-have, should have, could have, and won’t have
- Story mapping, where you have a series of categories that represent each stage of the user’s journey on a horizontal axis, and vertically under each of these, place the features in order of priority
Regardless of the method, the goal is to decide on a prioritized list of features required to release the product. Anything not determined to be a priority from the user’s perspective can be reserved for future releases.
Step 6: Test Your MVP
The completion of the development phase ushers in the testing process. The first testing stage takes place before the release of the MVP, which is known as the acceptance testing.
It is carried out by the Quality Assurance engineers and the main task is to improve the quality of the product before its release to the market.