- An MVP is a useful tool that will help you test your business hypotheses, see how the market reacts to the product, and raise investments.
- By launching an MVP, you create a strong foundation for further development, as it gives an understanding of what the target audience really wants.
- Since you focus on the core features, rolling out an MVP costs less than developing a full-scale app. It’s also quicker: no longer than 3–4 months.
What is an MVP?
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a barebone version of an app designed to showcase its main features. Unlike a prototype, it is a functioning piece of software that can actually help users in real-life scenarios.
Some famous examples of MVPs in software development include Spotify and Uber: both apps started out as minimum viable products that centered around the products’ unique selling propositions. With Spotify, it was streaming music; with Uber, online ride-hailing.
What can you do with an MVP?
Founders use MVPs to complete tasks that are crucial for any business. An MVP will help you:
Check the product’s viability
Many businesses fail for one simple reason: they don’t investigate the market properly and release a product or service to little or no demand. By releasing an MVP, you basically launch a field test that will tell you whether or not your hypotheses and projections about the app’s viability are true.
A good example to look at. A couple of years ago, an owner of a vet clinic in Germany reached out to us with an MVP concept for a pet health tracker app. The client wanted to test her idea with a limited budget, so we carefully prioritized features and implemented only the crucial ones. PetBuddy amassed more than 5,000 downloads in App Store and Google Play, which is a huge number for a niche MVP — and this is not the end.
To attract investments, you need to present your product in a convincing way. The truth is that it’s hard to win over investors with nothing but flashy pictures and big promises. Showing your potential stakeholders an already functioning app with real users is much more effective.
Gather feedback from your target audience
Developing a product in a vacuum is a dangerous idea. What seems like a perfect idea to developers may prove simply inconvenient or even frustrating to end-users. With a successful MVP, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of what your target audience really wants and shape the product in accordance with these requests. This, in turn, will protect you from chasing harmful goals.
The benefits of an MVP in software development
Developing an MVP can also boast a handful of advantages:
It saves money
To launch an MVP, you work only on a small selection of the most essential features. Everything else is not relevant. Unsurprisingly, this costs much less than developing a full-blown app from scratch.
Take a look at our case. A little while back, entrepreneurs from Japan contacted us with an idea for a crypto wallet. To save our clients’ money, we came up with an intricate way to combine several third-party APIs in a way that would ensure uninterrupted operation and at the same time cost literally zero dollars.
For the very same reasons described above the MVP software development process usually takes 3–4 months. Compare this to a year or two required to build an app with every single feature (and there are a lot of them) working properly.
And here’s the proof. With FitnessApp, it took us only three months to build a feature-packed MVP from scratch — and not only for mobile, but for the web as well.
It creates a strong foundation for gradual development
With an MVP, you get an understanding of what the target audience really wants. After this, all you have to do is try to stay on course and update the app while staying in touch with its end-users.
It reduces the risks
A minimum viable product provides a perfect space for cautious experimentation and testing. If the project fails at the MVP stage, it’s not going to deal a disastrous blow to the people behind it: there’s just not enough money involved yet.
What does a good MVP need?
Let’s look at the most important things to consider if you want to launch a successful MVP.
There’s no viability without value. An MVP must solve its users’ problems — otherwise there’s really no reason for them to use it. Take Dropbox, for example: the company skyrocketed because it offered an elegant and innovative solution to file-sharing.
There are core features and then there is all the rest. To create a successful MVP, you need to carefully draw the line between the essentials and non-essentials. Otherwise, the value of a product may be lost on both investors and users. The MVP functionality should also have a unique selling proposition (aka a killer feature) that would make it stand out.
In business, form always follows function. An app’s design is first and foremost, a tool that provides the customer with a quick path to solving their problems. It must be clear, inuitive, but also pretty to look at.
Everything should not only look awesome but also work flawlessly. Bugs, freezes, and other symptoms of clumsy coding don’t do well with attracting and retaining users. A reliable and experienced MVP development partner will help you with this.
Openness to feedback
Apart from viable ideas, high-quality design, and impeccable code, there should always be another component: productive and mutually beneficial communication with the customer base. To gather feedback, use quick surveys and regularly check in-store reviews.
How do I build an MVP?
The whole MVP development process takes five steps. We’ll cover them all in a moment, but before that, a little disclaimer: note that we’re talking exclusively about how things work here at Purrweb — we can’t guarantee that other agencies work the same way.
With that out of the way, let’s get into how you actually create an MVP.
Step 1. Analyze the market
Just as you don’t jump into unfamiliar waters headfirst, any MVP software development process starts with market research. Note the most important trends in the field, carefully analyze your competitors to understand how you can improve on the already existing solutions, and define your target audience.
Step 2. Define the features of your product
Use the results of the market analysis to outline a competitive set of features that will comprise the core of your MVP’s functionality. There’s a useful trick for this: put yourself in the position of the end-user to better understand what exactly they want.
Step 3. Devise the UI/UX design
This stage is when the app finally begins to take shape. First, you need to construct a straightforward and intuitive user journey that will gently guide the customer through the sales funnel. Then, you can start making things pretty.
Step 4. Write the code and launch the first version
We’ve already discussed the importance of having a proper code base — make sure that the people working on your development team are professionals who really know what they’re doing. Testing is also absolutely necessary at all times, and especially before the MVP launch.
To reach as wide an audience as possible, we recommend using cross-platform frameworks like React Native — it will allow you to roll out versions for both Android and iOS at the same time at a minimal cost.
Step 5. Establish a feedback loop
Once the MVP is launched, it would be a good idea to establish feedback channels with your audience. However, don’t try to implement every single suggestion: it’s counterproductive and sometimes even damaging. Instead, focus on detecting popular trends.
After this, the project enters the development cycle: you gather feedback, iterate, gather feedback, iterate… You get the point. This phase will last for as long as you consider the product viable.
An MVP is a useful tool that will help you test your business hypotheses, see how the market reacts to the product, and win over investors — all at a fraction of the cost you’d have to pay for the development cycle of a full-scale app.
Do you have an idea for an app? Purrweb would love to help you bring it to life. We are a team of 190 that will take your project through the full cycle of the MVP software development process. Reach out to us using the form below — we’ll turn your concept into an MVP perfect for gauging the market and gradually scale the project.