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Tetiana MatviiokTania MatviiokContent Manager

Minimum Viable Product: Between an Idea and the Product

A product with just enough features to gather comprehensive qualitative feedback

Proof of concept, prototypes, wireframes, mockups… To spot the difference between all those and an MVP can be quite a challenge. Yet, the concept of MVP is easy to understand – as easy as to ride a bicycle. Should we compare MVP and a bicycle then?

MVP

Thank you to Oleg Romanyuk for coauthoring this article.

So, in this article, I will shed light upon:

  • What is MVP?

  • How is MVP developed?

  • How would MVP be developed if it was a bicycle?

  • Why is it important to build an MVP?


Every customer wants to be heard and understood. The software world offers an excessive number of apps and websites, but only some of them receive users’ attention and love. To find out whether your idea can find a place in this competitive environment, create a minimum viable product first.

What Is MVP?

Minimum Viable Product is one of the major stages in the software product discovery process. Essentially, it is the set of minimum necessary features, which can be used by the end user. The concept of minimum viable product became widely known in 2009 when Eric Ries coined it in his book The Lean Startup.

The minimum viable product is a perfect opportunity to let potential users voice their attitude and to test out a product before its final launch. Gathering and analyzing qualitative feedback is a primary task of MVP development. Based on these findings, you can modify your MVP and test it again. This process turns into a cycle of MVP product development, which takes place over and over again until the ultimate customer satisfaction is reached.

MVP development cycle

How MVP Software Development Is Conducted?

Each and every product is different, and so is the process of its development. Before we jump into details as to how MVP is created, we want to point out that it is an individual and iterative process.

1. Idea

At first, you have an idea. Even if you feel that it is revolutionary and genius, in fact, it still may be rather vague.

2. Product Discovery 

Our task as of an MVP development company is to help you make this idea come to life. We start with conducting product discovery. We study the needs, interests, and demographic characteristics of the target audience. Also, we analyze the strengths and weaknesses of competitors. Then, we check out all the features that can be implemented and select the essential ones. The information is organized and presented during workshops with the help of graphs, charts, tables, or any other visuals we agree on.

Now, your idea seems clearer, but it still not presentable.

3. Proof of Concept

We create a Proof of Concept. Basically, it is aimed at summarizing the discovery stage and verifying that your innovative idea can be implemented in real life.

Ok, you know that your idea is feasible and comprehensive. You know that it can be done, but how?

4. User Journey

We need to understand what the user wants to see once they open the application, which actions they are most likely to take, and what goal they will try to achieve. For this purpose, we map a user journey. User journey is a visual representation of a hypothetical user and their experience with the app from the minute they realize the need in a certain service, through the moment they first find and click through your app, and up until they make a decision whether to make this service a part of their lifestyle. 

User journey resembles a set of statements, which look as follows: 

As a [user role], I want to do [functions] so that [goal]. 

For instance, “As a website admin, I want to be able to add or remove users so that the app is free of spammers”. “As an unregistered user, I want to be able to open a menu so that I understand what the app offers before I sign up”.

5. Prototype

After that, we start prototyping. Prototype is a simplified version of the product. It demonstrates the final product design and navigation. Basically, it is a set of pictures of the interface of your future app. If it is clickable, you can navigate between screens by clicking buttons in order to understand user flows. Prototype may even look like a very basic version of your web platform or mobile app. It is not a final product and not an MVP because you cannot show it to actual users. 

Here, you have your idea implemented. Kind of. It can be shown to all the stakeholders but not to the end user as long as it is just a rough draft.

6. Minimum Viable Product Development

We make ultimate decisions about UI/UX and finalize the visual design, after which we start coding the minimum viable product. Minimum Viable Product looks like a final app and feels like a final app. However, it has fewer features, the design or performance is not necessarily perfect, and the code quality may be lower. 

Your idea is illustrated, put in the code, and partially implemented – ready to meet its first user.

7. Minimum Viable Product Launch and Testing

After we finish development and launch the MVP, we present it to a sample of actual users. Throughout a few days or weeks, we gather customers’ feedback, analyze the results, and modify MVP accordingly.

Once you see that your customers are fully satisfied, you can start implementing the final product.

For Example?

Let’s imagine, you want to create a bicycle. A cool, sturdy, and eco-friendly bicycle. What if the potential clients do not like it and your effort goes in vain? Or what if you are on a shoestring budget and you need to persuade investors first?

The development process will be pretty similar to what I described earlier.

Product Discovery:

You conduct a discovery stage: what a bike is, what parts it consists of, what bikes people like, and what riders complain about. After that, you answer the most important question: what you can do to make your bicycle stand out among the others.

Proof of Concept:

Let’s say, you found out how to create a bicycle chain that never falls out the chain ring. Once you have a clear idea, you create your mechanism: a chain, with a chain ring and pedals – your proof of concept. You show it to your investors, tell them more about your idea, and receive their approval and support to keep going with the project.

proof of concept

Prototype:

Yet, it is not the time for the final bicycle as you have not seen it yet in actual size. You create a full-scale copy of the bicycle, carefully choose all the colors and materials, make it resemble a real product. However, the pedals won’t spin yet, and the steering wheel won’t turn. This is your prototype – looks pretty impressive but does not work yet.

Prototype

MVP Development:

Your investors again review the idea and approve your design, but now they need to see the functionality. You again create a full-scale bicycle, but now, it has a working wheel, pedals, brakes, gears, and a sit. That is going to be your MVP. At this point, you can actually let your users try it out. They get on a bike, test it, and share their opinion with you. The more people tried it, the more comprehensive feedback you have. However, be sure not to show your bicycle to the people you do not trust, or they leak your idea to a next-door guy who also makes bikes for a living.

MVP Testing:

Subsequently, you modify your product in accordance with what your customers had to say until you are sure that you get it.

MVP

Final Product Development:

And only after all these steps, when you have received financial support from your investors and approval of your customers, you are ready to launch manufacturing. You change a wooden seat with a cushioned one, install safety lights on your bicycle, lubricate the bicycle chain, put stickers and a bell, develop a marketing campaign, and start selling your product.

Final product MVP

Why Is MVP Important?

Minimum Viable Product has only one but very important advantage. It gives you an opportunity to test your future product in real-life settings with actual users. This simple benefit has a lot of positive consequences.

  • MVP lets you adjust your product development plan before it is too late.

  • It serves as a warning about a mistake that you are bound to make or as a reassurance about a good business decision.

  • This approach saves you a great deal of time, effort, and money by optimizing the planning process and reducing risks.

  • Minimum Viable Product boosts motivation because the team knows that what they do – matters.

  • MVP development offers a unique experience of testing the product idea, which will definitely come in handy in your professional life in the future.

The product MVP approach can and should be used within industries of all sorts. While for the manufacturers of traditional goods, it is a long and strenuous process, for the software developers, it is rather simple and accessible. The decision of any other business to disregard the minimum viable product when creating something innovative is somehow understandable and can be justified. For a software development company, it is unforgivable. 

Eventually, if one decides to run a risk and implement the idea before checking up with the target audience, they lay money, time, effort, energy, inspiration, and supporters on the line.


Are you interested in MVP development services?

We will gladly assist you with this vital product development stage. Take a look at our service page to learn more about how we do it.