A bit of theory: what is an MVP?
In software development, an MVP is a product with limited functionality but that is enough for customers and consumers to start using it. It tests working hypotheses and helps in getting feedback from customers.
We emphasize that MVP is actually operational software. Often this term is used to refer to something else and different, for example:
Landing page with contact form or presentation: in this method of testing marketing interest, it is using a profitable approach, but it is not yet a practical version.
A product not tested and released by the development team, which cannot be used due to several bugs: This idea of MVP is very common among technical teams, but such a product will not be sustainable either.
To start using the software, you have to go through a complex training and usage course or alternatively perform a lot of complex integrations.
Why is MVP development a task of utmost importance and priority?
Every good start-up is a new product, which should be significantly different in its features from other products already on the market. When we launch the product and use it, we don’t know for sure which aspect of functionality will be required – defining initial configurations or what is planned to be added as a final part. At this stage it is important to create the MVP and allow the product to rebuild itself.
Maybe you’ve heard the saying: “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you probably blacked it out too late.” That’s the truth because it’s just like that. This does not mean that you should offer your customers a raw product, but that an MVP always requires further improvement
The key in such cases is to start collecting product usage feedback as quickly as possible. A minimum viable product will provide data and information for more successful product development, so developing the MVP is a priority task.
Minimum practical product requirements
The most important requirement for the MV is that the product must provide value. If the project is not final and not of use to the customer, no one will be interested in qualified architecture, excellent load resistance or extensive future functionality.
It is essential to implement the most useful functions quickly and cheaply, and leave all the choppers for another time.
A minimally viable product, fully ripped, must be promoted clearly and able to perform the tasks assigned to it, in other words be wanted by the customer and no less convincing.
Unfortunately there aren’t many clear criteria for MVP success. At the beginning of any project it is important to first understand the limitations: time cost and scope – this is the perfect triangle for the project. These indicators are interdependent, so if you change one of them, you will need to adjust the others accordingly.
What do you need to create an MVP?
It is very difficult to put together detailed and precise instructions for creating an MVP. It all depends on several parameters such as the type of product, the state of the market, the capabilities of the team, etc. But in general terms, the process of developing a minimum viable product can be represented as a sequence of several steps.
Define the main purpose of your product
To be a required product, the software you develop must solve specific problems the customer may have. You need to understand why a potential customer will need your product and why they must purchase your product. A detailed answer will help you understand which tasks the MVP should do first.
Find your target audience
It is a huge mistake to create an MVP for a wide audience in different age ranges. A large amount of information and many conflicting user reviews make it difficult to find a functional product model. You need to narrow down your target audience.
At this stage, describe the portrait of your ideal customer – a person who will be absolutely satisfied with your solution. The more you know about your target audience, the better. Take into account their age, education, income level, interests, habits, etc. During the MVP testing process, pitch the product to the target audience that accurately matches your ideal customer.
Do competitive market research
Even if you have invented an exclusive product, there may already be similar products on the market. Do market research to see if there are other competitors, so you can find out what they offer, what market share they occupy and how they attract customers.
Conducting a SWOT analysis
SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique, its essence lies in the analytical factors affecting an object under study.
You must specifically define the product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The purpose of SWOT analysis is to focus on benefits, identify and minimize disadvantages, prevent potential threats and fully utilize development opportunities.
Focus on user usage
After you have performed an analysis for the future product, it is time to examine it from the customer’s point of view. You need to understand what sequence of actions you need to take in order for customers to purchase your minimum viable product. The use for the customer should be short, convenient and simple.
Find key features for your product
Your final product may be able to fulfill several functions at once, but the sheer number of options may confuse your customers during testing.
First, you should highlight the features that enable the main function of the software product to be performed, there should not be many functions and they will form the basis of the MVP. Sort all the other features by importance – you can always add them back after the product is activated, gather feedback and analyze the test results.
Running alpha and beta testing of the MVP
Run the first version for a small group of people, often choosing family and friends for testing. This is called alpha testing or testing in a closed group of people. If there are no defects in the operation and use of the product, you can proceed to beta testing and deliver the product to real customers. After about one to two weeks, you will collect and analyze the feedback you will receive from the customers, update the MVP and run a new test.
The length of time and the number of cycles of tests you will conduct depend entirely on the product and the speed with which it will be possible to reach the final stage of the product and release a final version.
What to choose? Testing in a closed group or using external sources?
You can choose two ways to develop an MVP, testing in a closed group of people or using external sources for testing. Each way has its advantages and disadvantages, each of them can also determine how much it will cost you to develop the MVP.