Building a software product, whether it is a website or a mobile app, can be a daunting task, especially in terms of costliness. When you are thinking to bring a new app idea to life, you could be entering a realm of risky opportunities. Oftentimes, it cannot be said how your target market will react to this new product. Therefore, it is always a smart decision to first test the idea with the help of a minimum viable product, also known as an MVP.
In this article, we will talk about what an MVP is and walk you through the 6 basic steps you need to follow as part of the MVP development process.
What Is An MVP?
A minimum viable product is a version of a product that has only the basic features included. The term itself offers a bit of an explanation behind the concept of an MVP: it is a minimal version of a product that can be put out there to be used for the basic essential functions that it was intended to perform.
Choosing to go for MVP development can be advantageous for various reasons. One of the biggest advantages is that you can start off your project with a much lower initial investment. Another advantage is the faster time-to-market. A full-fledged app chock full of complex features takes a long time to perfect and launch. A much more basic version of your software that contains only vital features would take much quicker to build and launch.
Now, let us talk about the different phases of MVP app development.
The MVP Development Process
Whether you are going for MVP web development or mobile app development, there are certain standard steps that you need to follow for the best possible results.
1. Research the market
The first and most important phase of MVP development is the part where you conduct thorough market research. A recent survey by CB Insights revealed that the lack of market need was the second biggest reason behind the failure of many start-ups. Therefore, it is extremely important to actively involve yourself with your target audience. You need to find out whether the product you are planning to offer is going to be useful to your intended market.
Will enough people buy or download your software? Is there any space for your product to make its mark and grab people’s attention? Do you have any competitors? Is there any vendor that is already offering what you plan to offer? The answers to all of these questions are crucial in determining the success of your product before you start investing your time, money, and resources into building it. You can include short surveys in your MVP software development process to gather information about what the customer wants.
2. Define user flow
In the next step of the MVP development process, you have to clearly define the user flow. Identify users, actions, and how users will perform said actions.
First, you have to clearly identify the different types of users that you intend your app to be used by. Then, you must determine the different actions that each type of user will be performing by using your app. Next, you must work out the app’s design concept according to the flow that each user will adopt in order to perform each action. At this stage, you must take a good look at your app from the perspective of your users.
A pain-gain map is a useful tool for working out the needs of the customer, i.e. the pain points, and how your app will be useful in addressing these needs. This helps work out the route that the user will take to successfully perform each intended action so you can plan the design flow of your app accordingly.
3. Shortlist essential features
It is a common misconception that in this phase of MVP app development, the app owner only needs to cut down the number of features in order to make the app as compact as possible. The process of prioritising features is also about making each of the included features basic enough to satisfy the users’ most essential needs. Anything that beautifies or enhances the basic functionality can safely be dropped in this phase. The MVP development process can then be taken forward.
4. Build the MVP
This phase of MVP software development can be handed over to the technical experts. You can hire a reliable professional software company or a freelancer to handle the development part. Since the market research part is already covered, that is one step down. Next comes the design phase, which should also be easier to follow since you have a fair idea about how your customer would want to interact with your software. You can choose to go for wireframes and/or prototype development to give you a better look and feel of your intended app design and flow. This design is then converted into a working software application which is thoroughly tested by QA engineers before being released.
5. Launch the MVP
The initial release of your app is now ready to be launched to your actual customers or users. Mobile apps can be launched in the official Google and Apple stores so that your app is available to a large population. At this point, you can also invest in certain marketing or promotional activities to reach an even wider audience. However, this is not where your MVP development journey comes to an end. There is one last crucial step.
6. Gather and implement feedback
Perhaps the most critical part of the MVP development process is to observe how your new users respond to your app. This is the stage that will define the future of your software product. Track user behaviour to see if the users like or dislike anything about your app. If a large part of your user base responds poorly to a certain feature, you can choose to remove that feature from your app in the next release. If they express interest in another feature, you can choose to develop, refine, or evolve it further so that users can make better use of it or perform some more advanced functions with it.