Cost, Quality, Speed: Benefits of an MVP Approach
The well-known saying goes that you can’t have cost, quality, and speed all at once. However, there is a solution that allows you to achieve all three. Using an MVP approach, you can enjoy the advantages of cost-effectiveness, a high-quality product, and a shorter development time. With this approach, you truly can have it all.
Consumer-facing companies and enterprise clients alike are increasingly incorporating an MVP approach. Here’s why and how you can achieve the same for your digital product.
What is an MVP?
Creating a minimum viable product (MVP) is a commonly used approach for app development. This method involves developing a simple version of the product, launching it to the market, and collecting feedback from users to confirm the idea’s validity. Unfortunately, many startups fail within the first few years of operation. By starting with an MVP, companies can iterate and improve their product, increasing the chances of success in the market.
The MVP approach focuses on developing the key features that are absolutely essential for a product to work well and deliver value to its users. By including only the necessary features, you can ensure that users can easily benefit from the application without feeling overwhelmed or confused by too many unnecessary extras. This approach helps to reduce risk and increase your return on investment.
Sometimes less is more, and creating an MVP will:
- Reduce iterations and rework.
- Solidify the product’s core value proposition.
- Allow for customer feedback.
- Address the product’s most important features and functionalities.
The goal of an MVP is to provide immediate value while minimizing development costs. Creating an MVP is highly beneficial in ensuring that your product lands well while addressing the core needs of your user base. Taking in customer feedback allows for a future powerful launch into the market.
Benefits of an MVP Approach
Building a full-fledged product without validating its market potential can be risky and costly. When business founders were questioned about what they wished they’d done differently when starting their businesses, 58% said they would have conducted more market research before launching.
An MVP approach allows you to test your business concept and gather early feedback from your user base. Incorporating feedback into the iterative development process results in higher effectiveness and cost savings. With an MVP development process, you can test your product’s viability and spot potential issues.
Simpler products are easier and less expensive to design, build, and maintain. An MVP reduces the risk of failure and helps developers get it right early on without learning things the “hard way.”
Many enterprise companies and well-known apps have used an MVP process. Take Airbnb, for example. It all started with two roommates looking to earn some cash. They started out offering their bedroom as a bed and breakfast. They soon realized that their idea could be something big. They turned to Craigslist to test their MVP and find potential customers to offer their homes. The rest is history. Airbnb reported Q4 revenue of an estimated $859 million in 2020, regardless of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
An MVP framework allows developers to target shortcomings and hone their products. By increasing their chances of achieving a product-market fit, businesses can save themselves from costly investments in a product that might not succeed in the market.
Developing an MVP allows businesses to focus on the essential features while reducing developmental costs in the process. Instead of high investment costs in building a fully-fledged product, agile development allows for significant savings and building efficiency. Sometimes, an entire app must be revamped, or core issues need to be addressed. An MVP framework saves developers valuable time and money.
Faster Time to Market
Launching an MVP early allows businesses to enter the market quickly and generate revenue. This offers a competitive advantage by being first to market while allowing businesses to iterate and perfect their product.
It’s a simple equation: satisfied customers equal a thriving business. It really does come down to the customer’s satisfaction with the product and meeting their needs and preferences. By releasing an MVP to real-time users, businesses can validate their product ideas and ensure that their product is useful, valuable, and smooth. You can then use this feedback to refine your product, delight, and wow your target audience.
Identify Market Fit
It’s important to determine if there is a market fit for your product. By considering user feedback and analyzing usage data, businesses can assess whether their product meets the target market’s needs and adjust their strategy accordingly.
Developing an MVP reduces the risk of investing significant time and resources into a product that may not resonate with users or meet market demands. By testing the concept’s viability early on, businesses can decide whether to proceed with full-scale development or pivot their strategy.
Let’s consider a social media app. Launching an MVP with essential features may be an effective strategy instead of investing months or even years in developing a complete product. The app developer can refine and add features based on user preferences by collecting initial feedback. This iterative process ensures that the app meets the needs of its target audience while minimizing development costs and time to market.
MVP vs. Clickable Prototype
A clickable prototype is a visual representation of a software application or website, typically in the form of a wireframe that displays a design. A product prototype is designed to test a product’s user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) concept and functionality without yet being released. To the user, it functions similarly to an app, and they can click on different areas and advance to the next page.
- Benefits: It is a powerful tool to test different user cases, create specific features, and test them with real clients.
- Drawbacks: MVPs take longer to build, are more pricey than clickable prototypes, and tend to be more complex.
- Benefits: Highly cost-effective and low-risk.
- Drawbacks: It’s not fully functional, lacks full-fledged features, and doesn’t have the same effect as a usable app. The user‘s level of engagement and feedback is more limited than with an MVP.
Limitations of a Clickable Prototype
Lean Startup, Agile, & MVP
Enterprises and consumer-facing web companies have recently adopted a new framework for developing technology. This new development framework has countless names—lean startup, agile development, rapid release, MVP, iterative deployment, data-driven design, and more. Fundamentally, they all involve gathering data from users and using innovative development techniques to inform product decisions.
The common thread is that lean startup, agile, and MVP do not rely solely on the developer’s intuition. Instead, they involve user input to create a more specific application.
A lean startup is most commonly used to introduce a new product for an already existing company. The demand already exists, and there is already market interest once the app is released. The concept of a lean startup is building off a current demand rather than hoping to create demand. Lean startups build their product based on the desires of the market. This is beneficial because, as CB Insights reports:
Over 30% of startups fail because there are no market requirements or interest for their products.
Agile development is a broad term that encompasses project methodologies that use a flexible and iterative approach. It is a smart and innovative way to scale a product. Often, it is the slow and steady approach, building upon what works, that wins the race and enables sustainable growth.
Companies that encourage an agile approach tend to see their teams achieve breakthroughs and innovate at a faster pace.
MVP incorporates both agile and lean startup methodologies into its method. An MVP approach is focused on gathering user feedback and addressing the core functionalities of the product instead of building a full-fledged product.
Amazon is an incredibly popular service. But did you know that Amazon started with an MVP idea? In 1990 Jeff Bezos saw predictions of the internet to experience 2,300% online business growth. He had an idea of building “a bookstore online” along with a few other select products. When he founded Amazon, he started off with a straightforward process of selling books and sending them directly from the distributor to the customer. Today Amazon is the world’s 2nd largest retailer.
Think Big, Start Small
Building an MVP
“Occasionally, I’ve seen people who come in feeling like experts in the problem space. They’re domain experts. When they come to us, they often feel like they know exactly what users are going to want in that space. What I’ve seen over and over again is that once an app is released and it’s in the hands of real users in their industry, they’re often surprised by the things that users find important or valuable that may be different from what their original vision is.”
—BRAD WEBER, CEO | INSPIRINGAPPS, BOULDER CO
Best Way To Create an MVP
MVP allows you to tackle smaller portions and iteratively develop an improved product that hits the mark for your target audience.
We’ve consolidated the MVP creation process into three simple steps:
- Determine your core business needs.
- What’s your long-term goal for your MVP?
- Why are you undertaking this project? What needs to be solved here?
- What are your success criteria?
- Explore your options.
- Map out a user journey.
- Determine how your MVP can best provide value and solve customer pain points.
- Determine the pros/gains and cons/losses of each action.
- Choose which features to create.
- Finalize which features are most important to create.
- Analyze previous data to determine your product priorities.
- Make a final decision on what must be included in your MVP.
When developing an MVP, certain decisions made during the early stages can have long-lasting consequences and prove challenging to reverse once the product is launched. Choices regarding the technology stack, UX/UI and design, data model, core features, monetization strategy, and branding can become deeply embedded and difficult to alter post-launch.
To avoid being stuck with irreversible decisions, be sure to plan carefully, conduct market research, and incorporate a flexible approach during development to set a solid foundation for future iterations.
Understanding Your Target Audience
An MVP builds a relationship with your customers sooner, enabling you to help you create a better and smarter product. Identifying the target audience is a foundational step in the product development process. Understanding who your product is intended for ensures that resources are allocated effectively and that the product addresses the specific needs of the intended users.
By knowing your target audience, you can tailor features, design, and functionality to resonate with their expectations, leading to higher conversion rates. Identifying the target audience empowers product development teams to create solutions that truly make a difference and forge meaningful connections with the people who matter most—your customers.
Spotify is an example of that. As a leader in the industry, Spotify recognized an opportunity to allow music lovers to stream music. They included influential music bloggers as beta testers. They launched an MVP perfectly aligned with their target audience—music enthusiasts who we’re looking forward to having the entire world’s music in one app. Bingo! A match made in heaven.
Developing Your Core Features & Functionalities
Crafting your core features and functionalities requires strategic thought leadership driven by insights and foresight. Through market research and customer feedback, you can asses which features to prioritize. Simplicity and efficiency are key while building a lean version of the product.
Iterating, testing, and validating each feature ensures it aligns with the target audience’s requirements. Keeping the development agile allows room for flexibility and improvements based on user insights. By crafting a minimal but impactful MVP, you can efficiently launch the product and gather valuable data for future iterations and enhancements.
With a strong focus on resource efficiency, you can handpick the essential elements that will form the backbone of your product, ensuring a lean and agile foundation.
Testing With Real Users To Validate Your Product Idea
Building an MVP also enables you to get honest user feedback on your product before you’ve invested a lot of money building something that wasn’t quite right. Even the best market research isn’t as good as a trial with your user base.
Testing with real users to validate your product idea for an MVP is an indispensable step on the road to success. By putting your creation in the hands of actual users, you gain invaluable insights into its usability, functionality, and market fit.
Taking into account customer feedback allows you to identify pain points, spot any mishaps, and make data-driven decisions for future iterations. Adapting, refining, and reshaping your MVP based on real-world experiences will ultimately determine its effectiveness. Through this impactful testing process, you can fortify your product’s foundations and ready it to take on the world.
Iterative Process After First Release
Cost Considerations for an MVP Project
“A common pitfall might be to lose sight of what you really want to build and focus more on the tertiary things that may not be the biggest bang for the buck or what you want to get out first. I think defining a realistic budget is important. I think that‘s something that we work through with our clients. We offer some really good options for clients as far as ways that they can get their budget and maybe satisfy things without cutting the cost to the point where they get an app that‘s just not usable for them or doesn‘t meet any of their needs.”
—STACY GRIFFIN, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS | INSPIRINGAPPS, BOULDER CO
When working on an MVP project, it’s important to budget for the product. As discussed earlier in the article, there are many cost-effective benefits to doing so. By being mindful of costs, you can make your project sustainable and save valuable time and resources. This will ultimately increase your product’s chances of success in a competitive market.
Development Costs vs. Development Time
To streamline the development of your product, it’s important to prioritize the key features of your idea. This can save you time and resources while allowing you to test the concept without investing too heavily in features that may not be popular in the market.
Keeping Costs Low Without Compromising Quality
By focusing on what truly matters, you can avoid unnecessary work on peripheral features that may not add significant value to the MVP. This enables your team to optimize their time and resources toward perfecting core functionality and UX. As a result, you can build a high-quality MVP.
Balancing Short-Term Costs Against Long-Term Benefits
Through collaboration and working together, you truly can achieve anything. By inviting your customers into the development process early on, you can target potential problems, tweaks, and successes from the get-go. With data insights and feedback, you can refine and create innovative solutions to knock your product out of the park. By partnering with your user base, you can reduce costs and effort in the long term.
Like many startups, monkii.co had a fixed budget for app creation. To meet their budget, InspiringApps recommended creating an MVP to get an app into monkii hands quickly. InspiringApps also recommended building the app on only one platform initially to get feedback from monkiis to guide future enhancements of the Android app. After only a few weeks of availability in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store, the monkii app has been downloaded over 5,000 times in over 50 countries. It has earned 5-star ratings and excellent reviews.
MVP App Development: Concluding Thoughts
Our customers are the domain experts. When they come to us, they often feel like they know exactly what users will want. But we’ve seen repeatedly that once an app is released and it’s in the hands of real users in a client-specific industry, clients are often surprised by what users find important or valuable. That may be different from what their original vision was.
Just because users love your clickable prototype doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll love the app. Sometimes there’s functionality that is hard to introduce in prototypes; it’s hard to represent varying workflows. And that’s what that MVP really can help you do.
What you need at the end is always a little bit more. By keeping the scope small, you also keep the cost of adjustments down. Developing apps isn’t a one-and-done scenario. You’ll want to make updates based on user feedback. And so, again, the MVP approach is the best way to keep costs down.
InspiringApps has decades of experience building mobile products and MVPs for startups and enterprise clients. We can build your next dream product—starting with a successful MVP. An experienced agile app developer will give you the wings needed for your idea to soar high.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is MVP development?
An MVP is a product development strategy where a basic product version is created and released to the market to gather user feedback and validate the concept. This approach focuses on building the core features necessary for the product to be functional and deliver value to its users. An MVP acts as a starting point for iteration and improvement, ensuring that the final product meets customer needs and achieves success in the market. The goal of an MVP is to provide immediate value, minimize development costs, and gather data and feedback that can be applied to improve future iterations.
What are the benefits of MVP minimum viable product to startups and other businesses?
Overall, an MVP approach offers numerous benefits, including cost-effective development, faster time to market, validation of product ideas, continuous improvement, and risk mitigation. By starting with an MVP, businesses can gather valuable feedback, enhance their understanding of the target audience, and build a successful, user-centric product.
What are the advantages of an MVP over a prototype?
Unlike prototypes, MVPs can be tested in real environments, fostering meaningful interactions and helping to refine the product iteratively based on actual user needs and behaviors. By incorporating user feedback from an early stage, MVPs reduce the risk of building a product that doesn’t meet customer expectations and increase the likelihood of creating a successful and viable solution.
What is the importance of MVP testing?
By releasing an MVP to a select group of users, businesses can gather invaluable insights into its functionality, usability, and overall value proposition. This early testing phase allows for rapid iteration and improvements based on real user feedback, reducing the risk of building a product that doesn’t meet market demands. It helps identify potential issues or shortcomings, validate assumptions, and understand user behaviors. By embracing an iterative approach through MVP testing, businesses can refine their offerings and align them closely with user needs, ultimately increasing the likelihood of long-term success.
What are the three features of MVP?
- Minimalism: MVPs are designed with the bare minimum features required to address the core problem or deliver the main value proposition. By focusing only on essential functionalities, development time and resources are optimized, allowing quicker iteration and feedback collection.
- Viability: An MVP must be viable and functional despite being minimalistic. It should be capable of providing real value to its users and fulfilling its intended purpose. This ensures the product is usable and useful enough to attract early adopters and gather meaningful feedback.
- Testing & Learning: The primary purpose of an MVP is to learn from user interactions and feedback. It serves as a testing ground to validate assumptions, gather insights, and understand user behavior and preferences. The feedback collected during this phase informs further product development, enabling iterative improvements and enhancements based on actual user needs.
What are the success factors of the MVP?
The success factors of an MVP can be summarized as follows:
- Clear Purpose: A well-defined purpose and problem statement that the MVP aims to solve, ensuring a focused and targeted approach.
- Minimal Features: Inclusion of only essential features necessary to demonstrate the product’s value proposition, reducing development time and costs.
- User-Centricity: A strong focus on understanding and addressing user needs, ensuring the product resonates with the target audience.
- Rapid Iteration: The ability to gather user feedback quickly and iterate on the product based on insights gained.
- Measurable Metrics: Identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) to track and measure the MVP’s success.
- Real-World Testing: Testing the MVP in a real environment to observe real user behavior and validate assumptions.
- Adaptability: Being open to pivot or change direction based on user feedback and market demands.
- Time & Resource Management: Efficiently allocating time and resources to develop and launch the MVP.
- Stakeholder Alignment: Ensuring all stakeholders understand the MVP’s purpose and are aligned with the goals.
- Market Validation: Validating the product’s market fit and potential demand through user feedback and adoption.
By adhering to these success factors, businesses can increase the likelihood of creating an impactful MVP that serves as a solid foundation for future product development and success.
What are the types of MVP launches?
Businesses can consider several types of MVP launches, depending on their goals and resources. Some common types of MVP launches include:
- Concierge MVP: In this approach, the product is manually operated behind the scenes by the development team, simulating the experience of a fully automated product. It allows businesses to understand user needs and behaviors while avoiding extensive development costs initially.
- Wizard of Oz MVP: Similar to the concierge MVP, the Wizard of Oz MVP gives the illusion of a fully functional product, but the team manually operates certain parts. This approach helps validate the product concept before investing in full development.
- Landing Page MVP: A landing page is created to showcase the product’s value proposition and collect user interest through sign-ups or pre-orders. This approach tests market demand and helps gauge potential interest in the product.
- Explainer Video MVP: Businesses create a video demonstrating how the product will work and its benefits. This allows for feedback and gauging user interest without fully building the product.
- Prototype MVP: While not a fully functional product, a prototype gives users a tangible representation of the product’s appearance and key features. This can be valuable for early feedback and testing assumptions.
- Piecemeal MVP: In this approach, only specific components or modules of the product are developed as an MVP, providing partial functionality. This helps test critical features and gather feedback without a full product release.
- Single-Feature MVP: The MVP focuses on one core feature of the product, showcasing its value to users. This approach helps validate the most crucial aspect of the product before further development.
- Pre-Order MVP: Businesses offer pre-orders for the product, allowing them to assess market demand and gather funds for development before fully launching.
- Crowdfunding MVP: Crowdfunding platforms are used to showcase the product idea and gain financial support from backers. This validates the product’s appeal and generates funding for development.
- Limited Beta Release: One strategy for releasing a product is to first launch it to a small group of early adopters or beta testers. This allows for feedback to be gathered and areas for improvement to be identified before a full-scale release.
Each MVP launch type has advantages and suits different situations, but the common goal is to validate the product idea, gather user feedback, and inform future development decisions.
What are the key principles of an MVP?
The key principles of an MVP are:
- Minimalism: An MVP should have the minimum set of features required to address the core problem or deliver the main value proposition. Avoid unnecessary complexities and focus on the essentials to expedite development and gather feedback efficiently.
- Fast Iteration: The MVP development process should prioritize speed and agility. Rapidly build, test, and iterate based on user feedback to improve the product continuously.
- User-Centricity: Place the user at the center of the MVP’s design and development. Understand user needs, pain points, and behaviors to create a product that resonates with the target audience.
- Validating Assumptions: An MVP serves as a tool to validate assumptions and hypotheses about the product’s viability and market fit. Gather real-world data and user feedback to make informed decisions.
- Fail Fast, Learn Fast: Embrace failures and treat them as valuable learning opportunities. If an idea doesn’t work, pivot quickly to explore alternative solutions.
- Focus on Learning: The primary objective of an MVP is to learn from real user interactions and feedback. Use data-driven insights to guide subsequent product development.
- Prioritize Key Metrics: Identify and track KPIs that align with the MVP’s objectives. Measure the product’s success based on these metrics.
- Early User Engagement: Involve users from the outset to gain insights and create a sense of ownership in the product. Engaging users early can lead to a more successful product launch.
- Resource Optimization: Use available resources effectively. Avoid investing excessive time and money in non-essential features until they are validated by user feedback.
- Stakeholder Collaboration: Ensure alignment and collaboration among all stakeholders, including developers, designers, marketers, and business leaders, to achieve a common goal.
By adhering to these key principles, businesses can develop and launch an MVP that effectively validates their product idea, reduces risks, and maximizes the chances of creating a successful and valuable solution for users.
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