What does MVP mean and why is it necessary?
In the article, we tell you about the key information surrounding the MVP process, with examples and cases. You’ll get informed of the goal pursuing in creating an MVP, its major stages, and how its principles help create the product.
What does MVP mean, and why is it important for startups? What will be considered the minimum viable product and the right steps for its implementation? If you have an idea for a mobile application or a web platform, do you need to do it right away? Or is it better to test your hypothesis on the early adopters?
It would be best to disassemble the MVP with specific examples. But before that, let’s consider the process itself, the stages, and its relation to building a product.
- What does MVP mean in relation to setting up a startup?
- Minimum viable product vs prototype
- How MVP principles help create the product
- How to build an MVP?
- Why is a minimum viable product important?
- Great examples of minimum viable products
What does MVP mean in relation to setting up a startup?
In 42% of cases, the reason for the failure of a startup is the lack of market demand (according to research by CB Insights). MVP helps to reduce the likelihood of such an outcome.
Let’s say you have an idea for an app with a full set of features and options, however, it is not verified, and you can’t guarantee if it will actually have success among the users. This is where the MVP comes in handy to test your idea.
The founder of the Lean Startup idea, Eric Ries first introduced the term Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The concept refers to the earliest version of a product available for testing.
The essence of the MVP is simple: you are developing a product (website, application, automated service, etc.) and your task is to track and analyze the behavior of people who use this product for the first time. Thanks to the obtained data and metrics within MVP, you continue to work on the project, adjust it, or, if there is no audience interest, you stop further development.
MVP for startups is by no means a raw product made in a hurry. It just reduces the project launch time by creating only the key functions and start getting real feedback on your project. In these terms, the MVP approach is useful not only for startups but also for companies that are developing their existing products. This may be a new functionality that you want to test before starting large-scale production, or an extra feature you consider can attract more users.
Minimum Viable Product vs Prototype
MVP and prototype are two essential tools that a business needs to test hypotheses before investing effort and money in full product development. However, these two concepts usually are mistakenly considered the same.
The major difference between prototype and minimum viable product lies in their goals. A prototype is for proving the very technical possibility of implementing an idea. It may be underdeveloped because it does not need to show any result in the real market and receive feedback.
The MVP is an early version of the product that contains the minimum possible functionality, but at the same time, it is not crude or unfinished. It should answer the question of how viable and competitive the idea is. With MVP, you get users’ feedback and learn from the market.
As a rule, prototyping is one of the main stages in the MVP process since you should make sure that it can be realized technically with the resources available. Here there may be many prototypes with different volumes and content to visualize the future product and proof the concept. Later, an MVP can be built on the basis of a particular prototype model. Such an approach allows you to test the market, prove the idea to investors and attract first users. And after that, you add valuable features to the product and keep building on its success.
How MVP principles help create the product
As we found, the major task of an MVP is not only to present the product, but to collect information about its need for the market. It is the analysis that allows you to finally determine the target audience and the directions of its further product development. Thus, the MVP principles provide a chance for a better and more thoughtful organization of the development of projects, including in such directions as product design, marketing, Agile model.
MVP principles are effective in product design development. Here the MVP allows the designers’ team to strengthen the weaknesses of the product, remove unnecessary elements and make its functions clear. The usual stages of MVP product design relatively include the creation of layouts, optimization of the user interface, and prototyping. At the first MVP implementation, the product design is developed based on the team’s hypothesis. In the next iterations, the designers work with data that was obtained from real users of the previous version of the product.
Let’s say we need to check if the chosen advertising channel will pay off; or if there is our target audience in social networks; or if our marketing strategy actually will increase brand awareness. Does MVP principles be helpful here? Definitely, yes.
MVP helps us test the hypotheses we have. It can be a starting version of the product for testing, or a simple Tilda landing page to launch ads and check demand. In fact, the landing page can show you which links on the page are most often clicked by new users, which sections of the page are most interesting to a potential buyer of a new product, application, or service. You can also run several parallel versions of the landing pages and, after, compare their results.
Then, based on the MVP campaign metrics, you draw conclusions about which versions or sections (depending on what you were testing) will be the most viable for your audience. Accordingly, you adjust the marketing strategy and determine the path of further development.
An agile development model is a flexible approach to software creation. Here the customer can easily control each stage of work. You can learn more about Agile and the other 7 popular software development models in our previous article.
Within Agile, developers divide the process of development into small stages – sprints. After each sprint, the product should be functional; useful to the user, and more perfect than before the sprint. Such a product is the very MVP.
MVP component is the must-have stage in the Agile development process. As a rule, it takes around 1–3 months to launch an MVP on the market and then start adjusting the functionality according to users’ feedback and business requirements. This means that the resulting product within the Agile model will better meet user expectations.
In case of unprofitability, you will not mindlessly churn out unnecessary product, but change it or create a new one. The same goes for every next version of the product.
How to build an MVP
In theory, you learned what does MVP mean and where it can be used. Now let’s talk about the practical part – creating an MVP. To get a good result, break down the work into small iterations/ stages, outline goals for the team, and tasks for each member. The steps your MVP should pass through to become a mature product are:
- Analyze the niche and target audience
The stage includes analyzing your business, potential clients’ demands, and identifying your goals. After, you come to the best solution to address your startup needs and prepare a working plan.
- Design stage
The creation of a User Journey Map and prioritization of MVP features enable you to maximally meet business goals along with customers’ needs.
- Build prototype
Prototype simulates the key aspects of the final product. It shows your product’s basic structure, interface layout, and sketches of the screens.
- Development stage
The engineering team sends you reports and runs demo sessions of the product to show how the implemented functionality works in the development environment.
- Test an MVP with users
This stage gives you a clear idea of how to develop your product further. It will show you what features the product needs and what not.
- Keep improving
The vendor refines all parts of the user interface and functionality, taking into account the data, statistics, and user feedback from the previous step.
Why is a minimum viable product important?
Creating an MVP product allows you to:
- confirm the viability of the idea and test hypotheses about the product using real data;
- prioritize those product features that are important for users, and identify the unclaimed ones;
- get the feedback on the quality of the product, take into account all the shortcomings and improve the final version;
- reduce costs in comparison to the full-scaled launch (also note if you consider the offshore vendor, the rates for its services will vary depending on the chosen country. Read more about it in our latest article);
- build a user base before a full-scale launch;
- due to iterations, find out which direction of development will be the most optimal;
- occupy a market niche and attract first investors.
All in all, no matter in what industry you plan to launch your project and what scale it has, creating its minimum viable version will help not only identify strengths and weaknesses but, most importantly, to reduce risks of large financial losses and to guarantee the stable base for full-scaled launch.
If you are planning to create a mobile application, observe the PWA and Native Apps development to take the best choice for your project.
Great examples of minimum viable products
Most of the well-known online businesses have started their way with a simple MVP version. Here are four examples of switching from MVP to worldwide businesses:
Today’s highly popular service for renting apartments, Airbnb, started as an MVP of the website Airbed and Breakfast. Its founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia decided to rent out their apartment in San Francisco. For it, they created a website with a rental offer and saw a great demand among users. Soon they launched an MVP that was a platform for renting rooms and apartments around the world. This is how the company, which is now valued at $85 million, appeared.
The initial Mark Zuckerberg’s idea of Facebook as we know it today was to create a platform for connecting students in the university. First, it was Facemash, a website where users compared two photos and decided which one was prettier. Then it succeeded in Thefacebook, the real MVP of the social network. Four leading American universities (Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and Yale) launched it. After a year of testing for a limited audience, Zuckerberg opened up access to everyone, and thus the history of Facebook began.
Back in 2010, when Uber launched, the application could only connect customers to drivers. It was this simplicity that attracted users. After the MVP proved its worth to keep expanding functionality, other functions such as travel planning and the split fares were added step by step. In these terms, if from the start Uber had all today’s functions, the users wouldn’t figure out them all at once. They needed the main value, after which to accept the product and keep using it. The Uber app confirmed market demand and turned from MVP into one of the most successful startups, worth $53 billion.
The first version of Spotify was released in 2009. It was a simple landing page and desktop application with only functionality – music streaming. Its founders collected feedback from early adopters and analyzed the test results. Using MVP design principles, Spotify released iterations of its product to gradually deliver long-term value to users. Within time, Spotify has discovered new ways to add value to the listener experience by helping artists use the mobile app to maximize the impact of their music at every stage of their marketing funnel. Now, Spotify has over 250 million active listeners all over the world.
Creating an MVP product is a direct path to the successful development of your idea. With it, you test the market, identify valuable features of the product, try different approaches, and ultimately reach your goal to win the interest and love of users.
With FreySoft, you’ll get the most out of your MVP and bring your dream product to market. Our team always looks at IT tasks through the prism of a business and strives to establish mutual understanding between the development and the customer, combining digital and the company’s strategy, along with the further transition to the conceived.
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With the scalability of our outstaffing services, you have access to both one specialist and several engineers who will fully deal with your MVP. Our work with the client is carried out with maximum transparency and professionalism. The customer sees all the stages of its MVP development, therefore, has an idea of when and how exactly the work is done.
Learn more about FreySoft cases and the results our clients have achieved by applying for our services.
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A minimum viable product (MVP) is a real product with key functionality that can be offered to customers. After its deployment, you analyze the reaction of your audience to it and refine the solution taking into account its feedback. The main goal of creating an MVP is to save costs and reduce the time and resources for testing an idea before starting to develop a full-fledged product.
Not only startups but also already successful businesses use MVP for developing their products. It can be a new feature or functionality of the project that needs to be tested on the users before starting a big launch. In such a manner, MVP helps to make sure that the new idea will be in demand, or it is worth abandoning it.
The Scrum model is based on an iterative approach. The amount of work is divided into sprints that are cycles lasting 2-4 weeks. MVP is created at the stage of the first sprint. In subsequent sprints, the team updates the product based on customer feedback. Thus, Scrum helps to reduce the workload on the team and is ideally suitable for the gradual development of the product.
The MVP shows businesses what the proposed product means to consumers, how they react to it, and how much it meets their expectations. Thus, businesses can avoid unnecessary efforts in the event of a negative perception, and identify potential areas of growth and development. Consequently, with MVP business will create a truly high-quality product that can not only recoup the costs of investors, but also bring profit.
When creating an MVP, it is very important to find the optimal balance of cost and quality. And the usual failure within MVP is to make the emphasis on minimalism in order to save money and time. As a result, you can get the raw test version. However, while MVP is a product that supports minimal functionality, it cannot be raw and must be fully functional. Moreover, the product should perform as well as possible the basic functions that solve the specific problem of the consumer. That is, users must have a clear understanding of what the finished product will look like.
The order of actions varies from product type, market situation, team resources, and more. But in general terms, the order of creating a minimum viable product is cyclical and can be represented as the following sequence of steps: idea – prototype – demand assessment – data gathering – error analysis – improvement, and repeat.