To understand what your customer wants, when developing software, you’ll need to test your project – and this is where the process of building an MVP comes in.
An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is an important step in the software development process that allows you to preview and test the product to make necessary adjustments before actually releasing the final version with all features.
In this post, I will share some of my experiences on how to build an MVP. Learn the steps and know why this is a very important thing to do when developing software or applications.
What is an MVP?
MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is a beta, or a test, version of your product or service.
When you decide to create customer-oriented software it's crucial to understand what the final users actually need.
In this sense, to make sure you have the necessary information and understanding of what your customer wants you’ll need to test your project– and this is where MVP comes in.
The term MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a part of Lean Startup methodology, that aims to reduce waste, optimize business processes, and make startup smarter, not harder.
MVP is a perfect example of this methodology as it helps to reduce the cost and time waste of product launch while learning and optimizing the product in the process of development.
When you build an MVP, it helps you to know the balance between the company’s offer and customer’s needs. Through several cycles of testing, this will help you to minimize errors and optimize your ideas during the development process.Usually, when you are building an MVP, you should focus on the most relevant feature. This is the feature that solves the main problem of your customer.
For example: When Instagram was released, they built only a couple of screens.
The main feature that made Instagram popular was its photo filter feature.
Often times, smaller features accompany the main feature in order to make the app fully functional.
In it’s MVP form, Instagram allowed users to upload a photo, apply a filter, and share it with their friends. That’s it, nothing more.
- Users Login
- Sign In
- Upload Photos
- Apply Filters
What are the main benefits of an MVP?
The process of building an MVP drives a lot of benefits for companies in the process of software and application development.
Without developing an MVP you might face a larger initial investment in software development and a higher risk when it comes to releasing your product into the market.
MVP serves as a trial round that allows you to see your idea in action and make the necessary adjustments to make it more appealing and valuable to the user. If you launch your app, with a lot of features, it’ll be much harder to adjust in the future.
Also, the cost of building an MVP is much lower than a final version development, due to step-by-step development. Furthermore, when your app starts to bring some profit, you can reinvest it into the development of additional features.
At last, building an MVP can also work to attract investors. With a functioning product, you will have more chances to gather funds and attention from VCs or angel investors.
That’s why, I really encourage you to build an MVP, following the 5 key steps below.
How to build an MVP: 5 key steps
After more than 17 years in software engineering I’ve identified 5 key steps in MVP development:
- Market research
- Goal and main user identification
- Choosing features that are most relevant for the user
- Develop the MVP
- Receiving the feedback and analyzing results
Let’s take a dive in into these 5 steps:1. Market research
No matter how innovative and interesting your idea maybe, you need to do market research to assess demand and competitors to avoid significant financial and time losses.
Familiarize yourself with your target audience before you get to the product development stage.
Market research helps you to identify your ideal customers, what makes your idea unique and viable, what problems it may solve, and how to make your product meet your customer’s needs, before your even start to build an MVP.
Keep in mind that the key to successfully building an MVP is showing your target audience the value that your product will provide.
So during market research, it's crucial to decide how the user can benefit and how can you introduce the value to the customers.
2. Goal and main user identification
Establishing clear and specific metrics that will measure the launch success.
If you are developing an app, you can measure:
- The number of downloads in a certain period of time
- A total number of downloads
- Review and feedback score
- The time that users spend on the app
- Anything else that helps you see if your MVP is meeting your customer’s needs or if it needs adjustment
Facts and statistics can provide you with a realistic viewpoint and helps identify clear goals and what success would look like.
3. Choosing features that are most relevant for the user
Once you get a clear idea of what value you are bringing to users, your business goals, and how you combine these two points, it’s time to decide what your product will actually look like.
Think like the final user - mapping customer journeys provides you with information based on user behavior and helps you identify the sequence of actions that will solve the user's problem.
User journeys also include thoughts, feelings, and decisions that result in the user taking action. Journeys are a visual representation of the customer’s relationship with your product.
Remember to take into consideration what your users are thinking and feeling while using your product as it will considerably affect their decision-making process. You can also use this information to redirect them from one feature to another within the product.
To understand your user's journey answer the questions that identify users and their personality, decision-making process, the final goal, and a series of actions that users need to take to meet this goal.
If you define several types of potential customers, focus on the one that you can most quickly provide the most value. That will save you time when you analyze the test results.
At this stage of the development process, you need to define which features will be included in MVP and which will not. Focus on a smaller number that provides the most benefit to the user as the core of your product.
These features have to solve the exact problems that you’ve identified earlier in your market in customer research.
4. Develop the MVP
Now that you have all the necessary information it’s time to actually build an MVP.
The prototype should be user-friendly and engaging since it’s a representation of the final product you are looking to develop and by no means can it fall behind in quality standards.
Focus on the main features that will deliver the solution for users as fast as possible.
Once your prototype is released you can consider which feature will be the priority for developing the final version of the product.
5. Receiving the feedback and analyzing results
I believe that measuring the results is the most important part of the MVP development process. This is the real test for the viability of your product and it will determine the future direction in final product development.
Listen carefully to what the users have to say. Even though you cannot satisfy every user in the market, user feedback can give you a very precise idea of the improvement of the features.
Modifying and tweaking are part of the development process of your product and you need to be prepared to adjust your product to the market needs.
You may need to run tests with adjustments several times before you are ready to develop the final product.
Adjusting and optimizing MVP for tests may seem like an unnecessary step but it gives you an opportunity to adapt the product perfectly to customer needs which can result in higher engagement and profit when the final version is released.
We’ve Built an MVP. What’s Next?
The first thing that you need to do after the release is to collect feedback and analyze data. The next steps will depend on the response that you get from the users.
If the MVP didn’t meet the success criteria that you’ve established and the KPIs showed poor performance, you need to change and optimize your creation.
Don’t be discouraged by the low results, this is exactly why you’ve started with MVP in the first place - to see the product in action before the actual release to the market and adjust it to the client’s needs so that it would meet them perfectly.
it's normal when building an MVP that you might require several rounds of changes to fine-tune your product.
Reworking things helps you to avoid the cost of redoing the whole software if you’ve launched it without the test product and time that would go into it. So get into it and tweak it to perfection.
So what are you going to do after the MVP showed an improved performance that met the criteria for passing the test?
Here comes the MMP!
MMP or Minimum Marketable Product is a product that has a lower number of features or still in the process of development but is already suitable for sales and marketing.
It allows you to introduce the product to the market and start making a profit while finishing the development process instead of working on your product in secret and investing in the work for a longer time before making any money.
If MVP is used for testing, experimenting, and learning, MMP is the actual product that you release to the market.
It usually still has fewer features than the ideal product that you’ve imagined but it has all the necessary ones to survive in the competitive software market.
What is the difference between MVP and MMP?
MVP has fewer features and is tested usually on the specifically selected audience, while MMP is a more developed version of the product which mainly attracts innovators and early adopters of the product.
While your software is still in the “startup” phase and doesn’t have much of an online presence and reputation, the people who might be more interested in it are the curious thinkers that love to try out new options and those who are familiar with you and your work - colleagues, network, friends and family.
The step between MVP and MMP is defined by the validation of the testing process. By approving new features that are in development you move from the Viable to Marketable product.
The key here is not to get carried away with the possibility of adding on numerous features, but choose strategically and prioritize the ones that would make the product competitive in the market while you are working on finishing the rest.
Rather than thinking of both ideas as actual tangible creation of a prototype, think about it as an evolutionary process that takes you from the simple version of your product to more complex and innovative one step by step, testing round after testing round.
To put it in short, MMP consists of an MVP that went through testing and development processes, which makes it an important step in agile software development.
The point of MMP is to provide shorter initial time to market by using fewer features than a complete product that needs more time.
What happens after MMP?
Before the fruit of your hard work gets released you need to make sure that you’ve prepared to sell and promote it.
The biggest part of your technical work is done, but it won’t perform as well as it can on the market if you don’t have a clear plan of action for marketing and sales.
The development of a business plan for software is similar to the development of a business plan for a company. It focuses on the promotion and monetization strategies that will validate the performance of your software in the market.
Once your MMP is released and you have the sales and marketing processes sorted out, you can continue working on additional features that will increase the value of your software.
But keep in mind that you should prioritize the ones that can benefit your user in the period of time. It’s crucial to continue receiving and analyzing feedback from your MMP to be able to constantly improve your product according to the market needs.
Making a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has proven itself time and time again to be a beneficial step in the software development process.
It helps businesses test the waters before going all-in and investing in ideas that may not prove viable or need an alteration in order to meet market needs.
MVP creates a foundation for information-driven business decisions and can also be used to attract investors.
Are you ready to build a successful MVP? At Trio, we will help you identify your target client’s needs and how to address them with software development.