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Build your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) the right way - step by step guide by mDevelopers.

29-10-2021 12 min read

Build your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) the right way - step by step guide by mDevelopers.

Creating the entire application "at once" and releasing it to the market is a bit like Russian roulette - there is a good chance that nothing will happen and the application will find its users.

However, if something goes wrong, the consequences can be dire.

Therefore, Eric Ries, author of the Lean Startup book (which every person involved in a startup should read), created the mystic concept of MVP.

So what exactly is a Minimum Viable Product - MVP?

Defining MVP

Minimum Viable Product is a basic application version with limited functionalities to solve the user's core problem.

When building this type of product, we should always be guided by the idea of ​​the build-measure-learn process, because this is what MVP is based on.

The inscription build measure learn, there is a drawing above each word

The whole goal of MVP is to create a product with as little time and money investment as possible that will give us as much validated learning about users as possible.

This initial feedback will be precious because it will show your team what the user pain points and needs are and will verify the fundamental assumptions of the project.

Working on the MVP is a continuous loop because we have to make multiple changes and iterations based on the collected user data.

That is until we produce a product that is positively received by most users and ready for market release.

Why do you need an MVP?

Fit in the market

Building an application is one thing, but adopting it by users is a whole other story. As shown by data from CB Insights, 35% of startups fail because there is no market need for their product.

On the left side, the inscription - 35% of startups falls, and on the right side, a crashed rocket

To avoid this situation, you need to be sure that someone will use your application before releasing it to the market.

The development of an MVP allows you to check whether your application reaches the target group and whether it is needed by anyone at all. All this with the least effort and small investment of money.

It is much better to collect feedback (even painful) at the stage when the application is just being developed than when you spent the marketing budget and fine-tuned the application.

Protect your budget

Yeeees... the budget. The most common reason for startups failure (38%!) is the lack of funds for further development.

If you decide to start developing a Minimum Viable Product which is an iterative process, you will verify all your steps with a small financial investment.

By creating an MVP, you not only save time and money by validating every step but also build something that you can show to investors!

MVP = Higher funding chances

Interestingly, the DocSend report shows that VCs no longer accept showing the idea itself as an MVP.

It means that, e.g., Dropbox with its original MVP (video clip) probably wouldn't secure funding these days and would have to build an alpha or beta of the product first.

Only 11% of companies nowadays receive funding without a ready-made prototype of the product.

How to do it?

So, you already know what an MVP is and why you should invest in it. The only question that remains is how to do it the right way?

We at mDevelopers have extensive experience in mobile app development projects, web app development projects, and working with startups, so we know exactly how to build a successful MVP.

The steps below should help you build your very own Minimum Viable Product!

Additionally, if you want, you can download our Planner for a Successful MVP, with the help of which it will be easier for you to organize your thoughts.

Process of MVP Development

We at mDevelopers use an agile MVP development framework. The first step is to develop the MVP itself. Below are the steps on how we do it and how you should do it.

A hut that turns into a house that turns into a big house

Think about your idea

You should start defining the MVP development process by defining your idea. This point seems to be very trivial, but if you are just starting development and want to check your business hypothesis, you have to start from scratch. Therefore, the first thing you should consider are the entire assumptions of your project.

What are you solving?

First of all, you need to know what problem / need your application is going to solve.

If you specify this point, you will be able to define your target group and check if there is a gap your solution is going to fill. I will talk about the target group more later on.

Competition

One of the first steps is also to determine if there is competition in the market. If there is no similar application on the market, there are two options - either your idea is pioneering, and people do not know yet that they need it, or similar applications have all failed.

It is worth researching this topic because you can learn a lot from the mistakes of others. However, if there is competition on the market, you should start to wonder how your application will differ from it.

If your competition is firmly embedded in the market, it may be worth changing the assumptions of your application.

Initial research brought positive results? It's time to set goals!

Business objectives

The most important thing is establishing a business model canvas and goals to meet in the long term.

Is this goal to increase revenue? Attract more customers? Get financing?

It is worth establishing it at the very beginning to know what you are aiming for.

When it comes to the business model canvas in the case of building an MVP, it is worth answering several issues from this model, such as value propositions, customer segments, and key activities.

Success criteria

If you create an MVP, you will have to somehow measure whether it is meeting the pre-set goals. Simply said now it's time to define success.

Metrics you can measure include, for example, retention rate, time spent in your app, user activity, etc. If you want to know more, read our article in which we describe these types of metrics.

Identify user persona

The user is the aspect on which the entire MVP is based. You create your mobile app or web app for him, and you will build future iterations based on his feedback.

That is why it is crucial to identify your application's target group, precisely the user persona.

Who is the application intended for?

In the first step, you have determined what problem / need your application is going to solve. Now you need to understand who would benefit from such a solution.

On the left side the inscription Identify user persona, on the right side a man with a question mark above him

If your application is used, for example, to recognize insects through a photo, your target persona will be people interested in nature.

However, this is just the beginning of identifying a target person. Now you have to answer questions that will make it more precise. Below are some examples.

How does he/she do [a certain task]?

How long does this task typically take?

What traditional (analog) tools does he/she use to accomplish tasks?

The answers to such questions define the target persona and allow us to see our value proposition.

Value proposition

If checking an insect in an encyclopedia or searching for it on the Internet takes 5 minutes and our application does it in a few seconds, the user will surely go with it.

When determining value proposition, you need to consider why the user should be interested in the application. What will the application give him? In a word, why a user should become a user.

Focus on target user

You just defined your target users. Great! Now is the time to consider how this prototype user will navigate through your Minimum Viable Product and what will drive him.

In a word, it's design time!

A board with an embedded arrow held by a figure

We at mDevelopers use several techniques for this.

User flow

User flow is the path a prototypical user takes on your website or app to complete a task.

The user must start at the entry point and then go through all the steps towards achieving success, and finally click that final button.

Designing these flows should be one of the top priorities for ensuring users can achieve what they need without hiccups along the way!

This solution comes from the UX family and is responsible for user satisfaction in the application. After all, no one likes non-transparent and unintuitive solutions.

To design a user flow, you need to know how your MVP app structure will look and what it should offer users.

It's best to list all the features first and then think about the user's path to achieving a given goal, such as ordering a product or registering.

Process of user flow

User stories

When creating user stories, we must put ourselves in the position of the end-user of our application. How we describe user stories should be simple and accessible so that each team member will understand it.

Thanks to user stories, you will know what functionalities should be added to your application to satisfy the previously defined target persona.

This type of solution is divided into three parts, which together create the user's story.

Equation where persona + need + goal = user stories

The user of your application is the "persona”, the "need" speaks for itself, and the "goal" is something that the user wants to achieve through our application.

So, let's say you have a service appointment booking app and want to create a user story. It should look like that :

As a {student}, I want {to research barbers in my area} so that I {can find the cheapest one}.

Even such a simple example shows us that the application needs to have a price filter.

It is why user stories are helpful to verify current features and to invent new ones.

Of course, you need to create a lot more stories of this type, so it's an excellent task for the entire team to brainstorm!

Pain and gain map

If you have designed your user journey by creating user flows and stories, now is the time to make a pain and gain map.

Simply put, it is writing out the pains and gains of the user who has a specified "need." Following the example with a student, the pain and gain map would look like this:

A table with pain need and gain written out

When creating this type of map, we locate the user's pain points and immediately present what benefit he will receive if the problem is solved.

Thanks to this, we can segregate which aspects of our application are worth investing in the most and only distant dreams.

After all, we must remember that we are building a minimal version of our product!

Prioritize functionalities

In the previous steps, we determined what features and functionalities our application would have.

The more, the better, right?

Well, not really. As we have already mentioned, the purpose of building an MVP is its validation with the least effort. Therefore, now it's time to sort the core functionalities and core features of your application.

You have to consider what is a "must-have" for the user and what is just nice addition and categorize the elements of your application into high, medium, and low priority.

Sign on a red background that says priority

The elements from the last two categories are likely to be included in the product roadmap as things to be implemented later or in future iterations.

Functionality prioritization can only be done well when you know what your user looks like and wants. However, you have to be careful not to overdo it in either direction.

If there are too many functions, the UX will be disturbed, and the user will get lost. If there are not enough functions, it will be hard to check if the application is working and achieving its goals.

In a word, it's worth writing out all the functionalities and features in one place.

When you have such a document, you can take a bird's eye view of the structure of your app, and prioritization comes in quickly!

Pick needed tech stack

After the concept and design stages, it's finally time to start thinking about the actual product!

For this purpose, you need to consider what technology your application will be built on and what technological solutions it will use.

Thinking through the technical issues before starting development will allow you to iterate faster and have fewer bottlenecks throughout the project.

The features identified in the previous step can be a great guide to choosing a technology, and the goals set at the very beginning will determine what the system load will be and how this number will increase with time.

Another critical issue in this step is to determine in which stores the application will be available. Should it be listed on the app store, google play, or maybe both?

On the left side App Store logo, on the right side Google Play logo

Each store has its regulations and requirements, so you should read them before starting construction.

If you have any technical-related questions, we are always open for a chat. Use our Free Consultation to dispel your doubts!

Develop MVP

The market needs are fixed, business or customer needs are discussed, core features set, technology selected, now it's time to start development! When creating the first version of your MVP, you must never forget  to find the balance between simplicity, economy, and meeting the expectations and needs of the user.

Another thing you can't forget is that your minimal product should be viable! If you have previously specified a function that is not feasible at this stage, try to rebuild it or enter it as "to be added in future iterations."

Test and iterate it!

Three gears on a blue background

Okay, so you've released your MVP, now it's the moment that we at mDevelopers like the most. Controlling the achievements of your application and continuous iterations.

Of course, both of these activities should be supported by user feedback that we collect from users.

This feedback will tell us which functionalities to improve, which to remove, and what else to add to the application.

This stage will probably take the longest because now you have to test, test and test again. Then iterate over the test data until the final product is produced.

It should also be noted that successful apps, after the final MVP release, have two options.

Either they convert the MVP to the final product and release it to the market, or they scrap the MVP and build a new application from scratch that relies on the intel collected during the MVP production.

However, it all depends on the nature of both the MVP itself and the project.

Summing up

Building an MVP is an excellent idea if you want to ensure that your product will hit the market and find its audience.

We hope that the above guide will help you understand both the idea behind the MVP and its production process.

If you would like specialists to help you with your development, read why participating in the Feasibility Study & Discovery Workshop is worth it.

Good luck!

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