Minimum Viable Product launch is a good idea for those who would like to reduce startup financial risks, attract early adopters and study first user feedback. In general, the MVP idea is to check the startup hypothesis and its potential of being useful for the target audience.
Most of the well-known digital products from Facebook and Spotify to Airbnb eventually had been grown from the MVPs, or the early versions of themselves performing core functions only.
This article will help you to figure out how to build an MVP and measure its success. If an MVP concept is still being under cover of mystery for you, switch to our previous article on MVP definition.
Before Starting to Create an MVP, Make Sure, That Your Product Is Viable
The Lean Startup approach helps owners to spend their money and time smart. The tricky thing is that there are no limits for lean development and an MVP concept could be also tested before the implementation. Follow your tips to do so.
First, choose the criteria of the livability of your product. Keep in mind that an MVP is a ready-to-use product even though it doesn’t have advanced features.
To define the core function of your MVP, try to think of the main problem that could be solved with its help. Let’s take the Gmail web application and Spotify as examples. Gmail provides users with an opportunity to stay in touch by emailing each other. The Spotify application is an online music streaming service, it helps customers to enjoy tracks wherever they’ve got an internet connected device.
So what customer problem you are dealing with and what is your solution? Keep the solution bold within the MVP.
Second, make sure that your product could be demanded. Use the focus group opinion or make your own market observing.
Sometimes, we may have a great worthwhile idea that is likely to solve a real existing target group problem, but the fact is that the look-like solution has already been launched by your competitors. For example, there is a small chance that anybody could successfully launch another all-covering social media platform like Facebook. You don’t have to waste money on an MVP to learn this. For more examples check our article "What does MVP mean and why you need it?"
Finally, the focus group will help you to set a basic commercial goal and develop a monetization strategy.
Analyze Your Competitors. Indirect Also
How to build a minimum viable product? Start with competitive sector analysis.
An MVP will be thrown to the market where it will immediately interfere with the competitive environment. As we’ve mentioned above it is important to evaluate your target niche in order to check whether you aren’t doubling an already existing product. But that is not all. Competitors analysis could help you to define and focus on the unique features of your product and turn them into core ones.
Example. Researching the social media field you’ll soon figure out that there are some major players like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter covering all interests of the diverse global audience. On the other hand, you may also find that there are no perfect social media platforms for those who would like to share reviews on books they had already read.
Direct competitors analysis also tends to give you a complete view of what to expect from your product. Learn the growth rate of the top companies from the niche, study the monetization model common for your field and set realistic marketing goals. As a result, it will also help you to attract investors.
Remember, that to study MVP feedback you need to persuade the audience that your product deserves its attention in general.
Think of the best way to reach your target audience evaluating promotional tactics of your competitors. Don’t forget that generation Z as well as the vast majority of internet users used to change their opinion every second creating a hype around a single product and completely forgetting it the next day. That gives you a chance to beat competitors fast.
Here is the list of competitor analysis steps:
- Identify direct, indirect and substitute competitors
- Learn: competitors products’ features, pricing, branding features, positioning, and reputation
- Figure out competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
- Shape the competitive advantage of your MVP
The last important thing is that not only direct competitors are those who may lure away your target audience. You main competitor could also be indirect and substitute. In order to identify them try to observe the customer’s needs from the customer point of view. Ask yourself “What substitutive solution is available on the marker?”.
Example. In 2019, Netflix with nearly 149 million subscribers admitted that its main competitors are not video streaming platforms like Hulu or Amazon Prime Video (which are far behind if we compare the revenue rates) but entertainment tools such as YouTube and PlayStation.
Building an MVP Sales funnel
Job Need To Be Done (JTBD) approach could guide you through the user funnel stage. According to the concept, from the customers’ perspective, any product is a tool to satisfy their needs. In other words, a customer just wants the job to be done and would like to spend on the solution less money and personal effort.
In that case, your task as an MVP creator is to link your product with an appropriate functional and emotional “job” and to compare if you propose the easiest way to make the job being done. If not — competitors will easily conquer you. If yes — move to user funnel development.
To get more downloads, sales and as the result early customers’ feedback, you need to think of your MVP sales funnel. A sales funnel is a term that describes the road potential users follow to purchase or download your digital product or, if required, to complete any other key actions.
To build app MVP with a perfect user funnel, set your goal first. In the case of MVP it could be one of the following:
- product download and permanent use
- in-app purchase
- early reviews
You may also mix goals or set some of them at once building an MVP. If you’ve got several target actions, keep in mind that you will have several separated user funnels.
User funnel exists regardless of whether you lined it up specifically or not. But it is a good idea to plan it in advance and keep watching the funnel all the time, gaining additional feedback from those who didn’t manage to leave a review or do the target action.
Generally, the user funnel consists of 4 stages called AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action.
Let’s describe them shortly:
At this stage, you catch the potential user attention. You might use an advertisement, social networks or private communication to inform others about your solution.
Give your potential user reasons why he or she should use your product or follow your invitation to do a target action. Show how their life may change after this and establish your expertise.
Pick the right time to propose your product or service to the particular user. For example, if your goal is to make users download your app and then to sell them its paid premium version, set 10th-day offer reminder.
At the bottom stage, users make a purchase or complete the target action. Well-supported, the stage will lead to customer retention in the future and help you to keep your finances better.
Customer Journey Map (CJM) is a visualization of an actual or potential end-to-end user experience. A CJM reflects user problems as well as touchpoints between your software and your customers, areas of your cooperation and finally shows how your funnel looks like through users’ lens.
In fact, a Customer Journey Map may go further than just sales funnel. It gives you a complete overview of customer problem, his or her hesitations to use your product. CJM helps to understand secondary communication channels and even to define third-party influencers.
Find All Features and Prioritize Them
To start building an app MVP you need to know what exactly your future MVP will look like. The quality of any MVP depends on what function it performs and if they are really demanded by your target customers.
Following our advice, at this phase, you may already know what kind of audience you are going to have and what kind of needs you have to cover. Build user flow and user funnel and visualize it to make everything clear for all the team members.
The next step is to draft of customers’ pain and gain map. Check the user flow by yourself looking at your future product from the customer’s perspective and figure out why your customer could take each action and what sort of benefits they would get doing so. Make your product better by simplifying hard points and adding something that was missed.
Good news! Now you are ready to hit an MVP development road. Using your draft, list all obligatory MVP features you need to implement and don’t waste your time on avoidable things.
There you could find the list of the most common app features:
- User login
- Profile editing
- Push notifications
- Portrait and landscape view
- Media content downloading
- In-app purchases
- Payments integration
After having discerned what features you need, switch to prioritizing them. Put on the top the features that are directly connected to the startup overall goal. Other features leave for later releases that will warm up your customers’ interest.
Then, create MVP roadmap for your team. Use prioritization matrix to define deadlines and divide tasks. If you did everything right, at this point you would have an MVP development working plan.
Build an MVP
An app MVP development has no differences from any other mobile app development services. So here we would like just to remind you the key stages of the process and give a short explanation for each of them considering the fact you’ve already passed market research, features selection, and user flow planning stages.
Let’s describe the development itself:
Stage 1. UX / UI
Use the user flow visualization to create a draft of app design. Keep in mind that it has to be simple, cheap in realization and perform key features and ideas only.
Stage 2. Prototyping
A prototype is sometimes confused with MVP. The difference between the two is that MVP is a finished product that you can offer to a real user, and a prototype is a sample that your programmer and the rest of the team will use to create an app. A prototype can be created using a graphical editor or a specialized prototyping tool.
Stage 3. Back-end development
Now you need to breathe life into your prototype. That could be done by a single programmer, and if you need to speed up the process, or you are targeting several platforms at once, you need a team of developers. As a result of this phase, you will have a ready application. But wait! Before you release it to the market, you need to test and improve it.
Stage 4. QA and testing
Pass your newborn product to Quality Assurance engineers. They will find bugs and make a list of edits. When the improvements are made (programmers do this), you can launch the product to the market. Take care of feedback collection tools and performance measurement options.
Stage 5. App launch and marketing
All is ready! Publish your MVP and monitor the feedback. Please note that by the time the application is launched, you will need to understand what your goal is and how you earn money on it. You also need to have a ready-made marketing plan for at least the next few weeks.
Mind, that MVP launch is only the beginning of your startup. After the launch, your task is to collect users’ feedback and decide if your project deserves to be developed and if it does it that way.
MVP Development Process: Build, Learn and Build Again
As you may have guessed, MVPs are created in order to test the idea of a startup, having invested as little money in it as possible. To accomplish this task, you need to collect feedback. It generally determines how your project will develop further.
The most important and decisive stage in building an MVP app is measuring and learning.
After launching the MVP get ready to review every aspect of it. Use direct customers’ feedback, information on how they interact with your product, and consider first marketing analytics. Try to find out what features your MVP was lacking and which of them stayed without user attention.
There are a few ways to evaluate an MVP. Mix them to get an even better result!
Customers used to call and email your support team in order to solve problems they had faced with your app. Write down all you’ve heard about your product. It is also a good idea to let people fill in the feedback form. Make it simple but concrete and encourage customers with presents or promo codes.
Downloads, sign up and churn rate
Calculate how many users you’ve got in the first, second and third week after launch. The percentage of people who stopped using your app per day, week or month will also help you to find weak points of the product.
Engagement rate, active uses, and Client Lifetime Value
Figure out how many hours people usually spend using your software. Are they active? What do they exactly do within it? Measure the percentage of users who behaves actively. Divide users by the behavior model and decide what you have to do to increase the number of active ones. Also, analyze those who stopped to use your app. How much money did they spend on the product before uninstalling?
CAC (client acquisition cost) and ARPU (average revenue per user)
Check if your marketing strategy was successful or not by calculating how much money you’ve spent to get one user. In case you’ve launched commercial MVP and your monetization strategy involves that, count current average revenue per user and compare it with your goals.
General Recommendation for MVP Development
At first glance, it may seem that building an MVP of an app does not differ from developing a regular application, but it is not true. When you work with MVP, you have the flexibility that allows you to adapt the product to the real needs of potential customers, even if you made some gross mistakes at the planning phase.
Our tips will help you to simplify the work on MVP if you have not yet encountered such tasks, as well as improve the efficiency of product development.
Use checklists! It improves the structure of work and speeds up the process
Even before you begin to compare your idea with the needs of a potential client and list necessary app features, make a general work checklist, share the primary tasks among team members and specify the immediate tasks in order not to miss anything.
Risky hypotheses are MVP fuel
If you know what result you will get then it means you are not doing anything new. Remember that the MVP approach is designed to reduce the risks of failure and test ideas for ultra-profitability. Create MVP based on crazy ideas. MVP does not exist for instant profit, but for knowledge and experience.
MVP does not exclude focus groups or A / B testing
MVP is a real product. If you want it to shine spend time on making it better. The best is the enemy of the good, but that does not mean that you can market a raw product. At the stage of approving the UX / UI concepts, assemble a focus group. If its opinion is ambiguous, run two MVPs in parallel.
Do not mess with security
It’s one thing if customers don’t have the needs that you planned to satisfy, and therefore don’t use your application, and it’s quite another if they planned to satisfy their real needs and trusted you, but you couldn’t their trust. An MVP can be simplified in everything except the security of a person’s personal data.
MVP is an endless process
The method of testing hypotheses using MVP is good because you can apply it both to the whole product and to the idea or even a single feature. When you have learned your first MVP users feedback, start working on the app features MVPs. For example, if real experience has shown that your application requires chats, start with text chat, not video calls.
Mobile app MVP is not necessarily an app
Remember that your task is to test the hypothesis. Perhaps your product can be vitalized with much simpler and cheaper tools? If you want to launch a trendy fashion magazine, start with the Facebook community. If you want to launch a dog walking service, start with a one-page site and a contact number.
Building MVP app may sometimes be a time-consuming task but in any case, do not hesitate. The strength of MVP lies in the fact that you spend a minimum of effort on it, getting maximum useful information about the viability of your idea. If you stretch the MVP development process, a competitor can release its analog faster!
MVP is a brilliant tool for startups. MVP development process and an MVP itself allow you to check the viability of ideas, plan your business with minimal risk, win the love of target customers before the full product release, and more. But be that as it may, MVP applications and a full-fledged application are two different things.
MVP is an approach, not only a product; the result of working on MVP is the knowledge you gain. Use the tool to check your most insane ideas in the search for a gold mine, but do not forget that there are issues in which you can not compromise. Your product must be of high quality, safe and fulfill its key functions brilliantly. In other words, the MVP should be convenient and promising from the beginning. If you succeed, your users will look forward to the development of the project and you’ll easily win an investors’ support.