When you decide to create customer-oriented software it is crucial to understand what the final users actually need. 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. MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is a beta, or a test, version of your product or service. and the single most efficient way to understanding your customer faster and reducing the risks and cost of software engineering. After you’ve developed the core product you can test and use the audience’s response to then finish the remaining features based on the feedback you receive.
The term MVP 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.
Building an MVP helps you to determine the balance between the company’s offer and customer’s needs through several cycles of testing in order to minimize errors and optimize your ideas during the development process.
After more than 17 years in software engineering I identified 4 key steps in MVP development:
- Market research and goal identification
- Choosing features and developing user journeys
- Building the MVP
- Receiving the feedback and analyzing results
Market research and goal identification
No matter how innovative and interesting your idea may be, you need to do market research to assess demand and competitors to avoid significant financial and time loses. 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. Facts and statics can provide you a realistic viewpoint and helps identify clear goals and what success would look like.
Establishing clear and specific metrics that will measure the success of the launch of MVP.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 scores, time that users spend with the app or anything else that helps you see if your MVP is meeting your customer’s needs or if it needs adjustment.
Keep in mind that the key to successful MVP development is showing your target audience the value that your product will provide. So during market research, it is crucial to decide how the user can benefit and how can you introduce the value to the customers.
Choosing features and developing user journeys
Once you get a clear idea of what the value that you are going to provide for your users is, what are your business goals are, and how you combine these two points, it is 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.
Building the MVP
Now that you have all the necessary information it is time to create the actual product. The prototype should be user-friendly and engaging since it is 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.
Receiving the feedback and analyzing results
I believe that measuring the results is the most important part of the MVP development process as 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 on the improvement of the features. Modifying and tweaking are the 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.
Starting with MVP
My experience in software development proved numerous times, the benefits of starting the project with Minimum Viable Product. It helps business 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. We’ve already assisted companies such as Everyday Speech, Cosmos and Kumon in building their products, can we help you too? Get in touch to discuss your project with us!