An MVP is probably the best thing that could happen to product development. Once businesses that invested in fully completed products feared failure, and most did actually fail. Today, a Minimum Viable Product is a must-launch strategy for marketing a new product, testing it, and validating the business idea. The process of MVP development involves every stage of product development, from market research to design and development, but let’s find out what the key principle of MVP development is in lean startup methodology.
What is an MVP
MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It is a product or a service developed with the minimum features necessary to be launched and tested among early adopters and stakeholders to collect feedback for further development. The primary purpose of developing an MVP is to enable faster time to market, test the feasibility of a business idea, validate assumptions, and get early feedback from the target audience with minimal resources and investment.
A minimum viable product has “minimum essential” features to meet the user’s needs and intent. Popular in startup and software development cultures, MVP allows companies to quickly iterate, test, and pivot if necessary before investing significant time and resources into building a fully-featured product. Once feedback is collected, the company can use the insights to improve the product or service and add more features relevant to its target audience.
Still, MVP doesn’t mean it needs no investment, no resource consumption, or no effort. It has a complete development lifecycle meant to create a worthy product with its value proposition because the MVP is your unique selling point that further determines the future and success of the project.
Finally, a simple truth to keep in mind is to focus not on the “M” part of the term, but on the “V” part, or you will end up with a below-average product with zero traction on the market.
What are the 3 key parts of a good MVP?
Before moving on, let’s define the three primary components of a good MVP.
- Solve a problem: A good MVP should address a specific problem of your target market. It should provide a simple, valuable, and easy-to-use solution.
- Have minimum features: A good MVP should have the minimum set of features required to solve the problem or address the need. The focus should be on the core features crucial for the product’s value proposition.
- Learn on user feedback: A good MVP should be designed to gather user feedback and data. The goal is to collect user feedback to validate assumptions and make data-driven decisions.
How to Build an MVP
We have already defined the importance of starting idea implementation with an MVP to test your assumptions about the market and the product before investing too much time and money into building a fully-featured product. Here are the key steps you can’t skip when developing an MVP.
Carry out market research and identify the market need
Every new initiative, be it a small marketing campaign or a product development, starts with market research because, after all, the aim is to create something that will drive interest among users. Start by identifying the problem or need that your product is addressing. You need to research the market and understand the pain points of your target customers. Talk to potential customers, conduct surveys, and analyze the competition to identify the real demand for your product. If there is no chance of talking to customers, choose a small group, usually family members, friends, or people with industry knowledge, to understand their needs.
Once you identify market needs and problems, it will be easier to determine the value proposition of a future product. And once you define the value proposition that will make the product stand out from competitors, you can move to the next step.
P.S. The first step will also define the target audience, main goals, and time frame.
Define and prioritize MVP features
As soon as you identify the market problem or need, you can determine the minimum set of features required to solve the problem or address the need. The main goal here is not to cut costs on defining the features but to focus on the critical ones that will solve user needs. Your MVP should have enough functionality to provide value to users but not so much that it becomes too complex or expensive to build.
This stage can be divided into two phases: define and prioritize. You can identify the final set of features of the product and then filter out the most important ones essential to the product’s success. Prioritize them above the secondary or tertiary features that can be added later. Think like a user: What emotions do you want to have when using the product? What is your journey? What are your needs and goals?
You can use the MoSCoW method at this stage:
- Define the “Must have” features of the MVP stage.
- Define “Should have” features for the second iteration.
- Define “Could have” features that are desirable and may be added in the future.
- List “Won’t have” features that are high resource and low reward for your product.
Create a prototype
Create a prototype that includes only the MVP features. The goal is to design a functional product that provides a positive user experience and represents the final product. This prototype can be in the form of wireframes, sketches, or a working software prototype. It is essential to have a tangible product to test with your target audience. Of course, the best is to have a working prototype for maximum user experience. The more you can see and touch, the better you will visualize the future product, identify its drawbacks, and fix them before moving on to the development stage.
Build, measure, learn
With defined features and design, you can build the first version of your product. It should be user-friendly, extremely responsive, and packed with crucial features.
Next, test the MVP with a small group of users to validate your assumptions and collect feedback. You can do this through interviews, surveys, or usability testing. Be open to criticism and use it to improve your product. The feedback you receive is integral to helping you understand what works and what needs improvement.
Finally, learn from the feedback and start over with the stages. In fact, product development can, or should be an endless lifecycle as long as you strive for better results.
Refine, iterate, and launch
The second iteration will be based on feedback. Continue to test it with users and make improvements until you have a product that meets the needs of your target market. Once improved, you can now launch it to a broader audience. Be sure to track user feedback and make ongoing improvements based on their needs.
How long does it take to develop an MVP?
From a business perspective, time is money; the longer the product is developed, the more you will have to pay. It is quite difficult to have a clear timeframe for the MVP’s development because the team may face new challenges during the process. The same goes to cost estimation; it is hard to have a clear answer to the question, “How much does it cost to create an MVP?” The price and time frame will be approximate, so keep in mind that the data may change.
Approximately, it will take 3–4 months to develop an MVP. The duration solely depends on the prioritized features and the design. The time frame doesn’t include future iterations or time to market. Also, the time will depend on the expertise of the development agency and its agility. Actually, the product development costs also depend on the vendor, its background, and its location. Make sure your partner’s experience meets your budget and expectations.
Your startup journey is fascinating, and developing an MVP is the first step toward creating something really useful and unique. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create an MVP that solves a specific problem, has the minimum set of features required, and is designed to gather user feedback. Remember that the MVP process is iterative, and feedback should be used to refine and improve the product until it meets the needs of your target market.