So, you find yourself with a great idea for a software product. It’s new, fresh and exciting, you’ve done your research, and all you can think of is: let’s start building this thing already!
But betting it all on a tech solution that may or may not win over users is, needless to say, a risky business. 7 out of 10 upstart tech companies fail. Which is exactly why, when developing a new software product, you should play it as safe as possible.
What you need here is a Minimum Viable Product.
What is an MVP?
There’s a big chance that you’ve already stumbled upon the term. The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has become a standard in development in the past few years, especially when it comes to startups.
The simplest and most popular definition would be: an MVP is a version of a product that has enough features to be released among early adopters, which gives the company a possibility to gain valuable feedback and insight about user behaviour.
This means that a minimum viable product is not a final product version, but rather the most basic one that could be released to the market. This way, the risk remains low: you’re able to find out whether the users like your product, what you should improve, and where your idea is lacking. All done at the lowest possible cost!
MVP, proof of concept and prototype: what’s the difference?
Before we go on to describe the benefits of developing an MVP for your tech projects, let’s clear up some common misconceptions.
Now, you might be wondering: since an MVP is basically an early version of the product, then how is it any different from a prototype?
The answer is right there in the name: a minimum viable product is a basic, but nevertheless a ready-market version of a product. A prototype, on the other hand, is all about exploring an idea and visualising it. It serves as a sample, and it gives you an overview of what your app will look and feel like, but it’s not a product in and of itself.
Another term commonly confused with a minimum viable product is proof of concept (PoC). It differs from an MVP and a prototype in that it’s meant to validate assumptions about your product concept, and checking whether an idea or theory about the product is achievable in development.
As such, proof of concept comes first, followed by a prototype, and then an MVP.
- A proof of concept is a way to verify whether a product idea could be implemented
- A prototype is a visual representation of a product
- An MVP is a basic version of a product.
Why should you develop an MVP?
All right, we get the definition and the differences between related concepts, now let’s see what developing an MVP actually brings to the table for software development projects.
Identify your core value proposition
Keeping it simple also means you get to focus on what’s really important. With a minimum viable product, you aim to solve a specific problem of your target audience. Creating an MVP makes you analyse what’s most special about your idea, and what you actually have to offer to your clients.
Learn what users think
In the long run, this is probably the most important benefit of them all. The goal of releasing a minimum viable product instead of the full-fledged version to the market is to learn how your end-users feel about what you have to offer and what you should improve when planning future development. The early adopters’ feedback is crucial for determining whether your product is fit to the target audience, what yet needs to be done, and how to better meet your clients’ needs.
The whole point of an MVP is getting the most results at the lowest cost possible. With a minimum viable product, you’re developing only the most vital features of your product instead of building a large, complex system. As a result, the cost of production is greatly reduced.
Release the product quickly
Time’s definitely not on your side when you opt for developing a feature-packed product, and the competition won’t wait for it to be finished. With an MVP, you’re able to shorten the time to market to weeks instead of months. A fast release also gives you an opportunity to better drive user engagement and build a solid relationship with your clients.
Leave room for future growth
Having only a few of the most important features means there are lots of possibilities for further development. Evaluate what has worked and what hasn’t, and make your plans for growth accordingly. Remember, an MVP is an early version of your product, meant to give you the opportunity to create something that your target audience actually wants and needs.
How do you build an MVP? Our process
An MVP may not be the final version of your product, but you’ll still need some best practices and a detailed process in order to create one. Let’s see how exactly it is done here at our software development company.
1. Scoping and estimation
The development of your MVP starts with the basics: understanding your business plans, needs, the features you’d like your digital product to have, and the general idea you have for it. The goal of this phase is to define the scope of your project, give you an estimate and a schedule for development.
2. Workshops and preparation
Here’s where the fun begins: during a session of tailored product discovery workshops, the details of the project, i.e things like the product’s appearance, product strategy, tech requirements and anything else you’d like to work on, are specified.
Now that there’s a clear vision of what your MVP is supposed to be like, this phase can be finished up by creating the wireframes, design drafts and gathering the requirements for building the minimum viable product.
3. The development begins!
Once everything is set and ready, it’s time to work on the minimum viable product. It’s an iterative process which starts with a planning session and goes through weekly sprints where we complete the tasks related to your project, bringing your MVP to life piece by piece. We complete the designs, set up the backend and develop the MVP in up to 3 months.
4. Product release
That’s it! Your MVP is ready to hit the market. Before that happens we, the developers, make sure that every part of the software works as it should, and provide app maintenance and support once the product goes live.
5. The next step? You decide!
All right, your MVP has been released, and the users have had time to get to know it and leave their much-wanted feedback. Now it’s all up to you, as you may decide that your MVP is fine just as it is, or develop additional features based on the data you’ve gathered to truly make the product shine.
Summary: is an MVP worth it?
You can probably guess the answer by now.
An MVP is the most efficient way to validate a product idea, learn what the users need through gathered feedback, and plan future enhancements based on real-life data. Not to mention the most important part for any emerging business: you save both time and money in the process!
How long does it take to build an MVP?
It usually takes from 3 to 4 months to build an MVP. However, you need to consider that many factors determine how fast you can release your MVP. These include the number of features, their complexity, and the number of developers and designers involved in the project.
How do you choose features for your MVP?
To prioritise features for your MVP, you need to do some in-depth research and identify your target audience first. This way, you will get an overview of their biggest motivations, limitations and pain points.
Another reliable strategy is to analyse the market demand and your competitors’ activities. Check what solutions they have already introduced and how your MVP can fill in a gap in the market.
On this basis, you will be able to determine the key features of your digital product that will create added value to your potential end-users, solve their problems and bring innovations.
How can an MVP support your business?
Thanks to an MVP, your company reduces the time and budget to build a digital product that may potentially fail. What’s more, by releasing your solution faster, you can lower the implementation costs, test the market, get valuable feedback for future development, and examine whether any additional features are necessary.