Developing a web or mobile application is one thing, ensuring it yields a favourable result without any hitches and it appeals to the market is another. It is a dicey exercise. It is important to understand that the new application or website remains a hypothesis till it is tested and verified. A client can shell out thousands of naira and still fail to penetrate the market or get users to try out his or her product. To prevent this from happening, you need to do research on your users and the market. Then use the findings to perfect your hypothesis. The minimum viable product (MVP) helps you to validate your hypothesis.
Now to the big question, what exactly is an MVP?
A minimum viable product is a Lean Startup concept that provides a better understanding of customers’ expectations and whether the product’s functionality caters to their needs. It is a version of a new product in its smallest form that supports basic features which allow a team to see how the target audience will likely respond.
You want to know what you’re getting into, use an MVP to find out!
Frank Robinson, co-founder and president of SyncDev, invented the term ‘minimum viable product’ in 2001. However, the term was popularized by Steve banks and Eric Ries. According to Eric Reis, an MVP is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
Frank Robinson’s Definition of Minimum Viable Product™ (MVP)
PROBLEM: Teams often brag, “We added 800 new features.” Some even consider feature count a badge of honor. Unfortunately adding features doesn’t necessarily improve the business case. It may take longer, make the product less usable, and carry more risk.
SOLUTION: The MVP is the right-sized product for your company and your customer. It is big enough to cause adoption, satisfaction and sales, but not so big as to be bloated and risky. Technically, it is the product with maximum ROI divided by risk. The MVP is determined by revenue-weighting major features across your most relevant customers, not aggregating all requests for all features from all customers.
From Frank Robinson, “How it Works: Minimum Viable Product” Oct-3-2008
Purpose Of Building An MVP
After a prototype of a product is released, the minimal viable product is handed out to early adopters to test it and offer constructive criticism. This is to make sure that the time and efforts used in the course of putting the product together are not wasted. The team can also predict the demand of the product, ways to improve and how to come up with a well-thought-out strategy for the development process.
The MVP is important for software development for a couple of reasons which includes:
- Proves the functionality of a product: It is used to test the feasibility of the main business idea before huge sums of money are pumped into it. The MVP validates the idea that the business owner has in his or her mind. It tells them that they are on the right track and it highlights the areas for improvement based on the user’s feedback and suggestion. It reinforces the ability of a developer or any team member. Also, bugs or defects are detected on time before the product is finally doled out to the big market.
- Spells out how the design should be: It is necessary to have a skilled and creative team especially when the need for producing a custom feature arises. Apart from establishing the concept, the MVP offers new insight into the project. Early adopters can suggest new features that can be helpful. This helps the development team to know the needs of the end-users and the certain features that can satisfy them. It is all about creating a good user experience at the end of the day. All information is useful when it comes to developing, designing and delivering a robust and viable product because it helps you to meet the expectations of the target users.
- Check the demand for a unique set of features: A development team builds a minimum viable product to figure out the best approach to achieve the ideal result. During the process of developing a product, what plays at the back of the mind of a dev team is whether the application can actually proffer valuable solutions to real-life problems efficiently and what features can set it apart from other applications. The MVP provides answers to these burning questions to satisfy their curiosity.
How To Build An MVP
Some businesses encounter problems during their attempt to build an MVP. Hence, it is crucial to understand the processes involved when carrying out this activity.
Below are the necessary steps to guide you:
- Conduct market research: Before you act upon an idea, test the waters. Learn about the market needs by carrying out surveys. Ascertain the problem the product intends to solve and the best way to go about it. This helps in building the value proposition of the product. Monitoring the competitors’ offerings closely can give you an idea of how to make your product stand out in the market. No, it does not make you a bad person.
- Know thy target audience: These are the group of people that are likely to purchase and utilize the product. Even so, why should they take up these actions? You need to reach deep down and discover a unique problem you can tackle for your target audience. The problem could stem from your personal challenges or a particular segment of the market. How can you help solve the problem? What are the appropriate tools to build the product? Is there something you are missing? What are the benefits the audience will derive? It is important to identify whether the product is fit for your target audience.
- Draw the user flow: To achieve this, outline the steps required to achieve the major goal of your product. Focus more on basic tasks like finding and purchasing the product, overseeing and getting orders rather than contemplating certain features. It covers the customer’s journey right from the first interaction with the product to a successful result. These are the objectives your end-users will achieve when they use your product. After the process stages are clearly defined, highlight the features of each stage.
- List the features in the order of priority: Itemize the features that you intend to add to your product before developing your MVP and prioritize them.
- Release the MVP: You can now build your MVP. Do not forget that even though the MVP is not up to par compared to a final product, it still needs to meet your customer’s expectations. Thus, it should be appealing, easy to use and appropriate for your users.
- Build, test and learn: When you are done developing the process, it needs to be tested. This will be carried out by quality assurance engineers. Everything needs to be reviewed to ensure that they are working after pushing out the MVP. The client’s response is important to find out how the market will welcome the product and how it will compete in the market. It is also necessary to test the various pricing models during this development stage.
In our next article, we’ll discuss effective ways to validate your MVP development.