Nowadays, there is broad competition in the market. To grab customers’ attention and to stay afloat, businesses need to find a product-market fit in the shortest possible time. A minimum viable product helps to achieve that.
This article will focus on the purpose of a minimum viable product, what is the bare minimum when it comes to MVP, why an MVP matters while developing network applications, and finally – how to create a successful MVP.
What is an MVP? The MVP and its purpose
A minimum viable product (MVP) is the first version of a product that is ready to launch. It consists of the most crucial components and features to achieve a quick product-market fit, meet early adopters' requirements and convince investors.
An MVP is not a fully developed product, but it can definitely be used to show the product's business potential and test it in a real-life environment. However, a minimum viable product brings value not only to investors but also to users. An MVP is a chance to test the product inside out with people not engaged in the development process and without any emotional links to it. Even if the feedback is less positive than expected, look at this situation as an opportunity to improve the product.
A minimum viable product allows for early market entry of the potential product while requiring only part of the budget. Money saved can be used for implementing the necessary improvements or changes following feedback. In the worst-case scenario, they can be used for developing new product ideas. The purpose of an MVP is to deliver products that grow with users' feedback and suggestions to meet users' needs as closely as possible and mark your position in the market.
Why create an MVP for a network application?
According to statistics, about 33% of small businesses start with less than $5,000 in their pocket. A limited budget forces the company to count every cent to spend it wisely. However, even if your company is not included in this metric – you have a more extensive budget, or maybe the company has a solid position on the market, it does not matter in the case of creating an MVP. Every idea needs to be tested and feedback gathered as to whether it is feasible.
Compared to more regular digital products, network applications are more difficult to release and often require specific skills and knowledge relating to networks and their functions.
Network applications can not be designed without understanding how a network operates – both functionalities and design have to be planned with a strong connection to this aspect. The more demanding development process and the necessity for a specialized team are sufficient arguments to start looking for a way to make it more manageable.
Creating an MVP for a network application helps to arrive at tangible solutions quicker. Thanks to focusing only on predefined top-priority features, the team does not lose crucial aspects from track besides so many elements of the complex network environment. Also, because of the earlier early adopters’ feedback, MVP enables for urgent changes and improvements to be made more easily while using less budget.
No matter the business, industry and the resources available, wasting budget, time, and employee effort will have a negative impact on the company in the long term - hence the value of a minimum viable product.
What is the minimum for a minimum viable product (MVP)?
It is not easy to determine what is the “minimum” while developing the initial product. First, considering potential user flow, the actions that the user can take while using the application, facilitates the selection of features. Next, define the business value of each of the identified features and estimate the time and money needed to bring them to life. Compare your list with the actual budget. In the case of a feature that requires a lot of resources but has a relatively low potential business value, schedule it for later.
The minimum viable product should include only limited features, those that are most important to the product. This does not mean that the model can be faulty in any way – there is no room for poor UX, functionality, crashes or bugs, or overall low quality.
What is also worth mentioning – a poorly designed vaporware product can irreparably discourage potential clients. Well-planned MVP minimizes this risk. The below points help with finding the golden mean.
An MVP should connect and balance between:
Usability – an MVP should convince both users and investors of the value of the product, so there should be a user-friendly interface and clear presentation of the functionality.
Functionality – include only the top-priority features that emphasize the attractiveness and business potential of the product.
Reliability – the product has been tested to eliminate bugs before releasing it to users.
Design – still not fully finished, but avoiding any temporary solutions or shortcuts that could affect its quality.
There are a few other reasons why UX in network applications matter – the article provides you with more details.
Things to avoid during MVP development
A minimum viable product cuts the mustard only if it is properly developed. What are the most common mistakes while conducting a minimum viable product that can make your MVP useless?
- Trying to develop a complete product.
The urge to add too many features to an MVP can be harmful – investing too much money in possibly unnecessary features instead of focusing on the real goal can shrink your budget, leaving no money for further improvements.
- Overlook the PoC
Best practice is to start with a proof of concept (PoC) as a stage prior to the MVP. A PoC allows for checking if the idea is feasible at the very beginning of the process. Why else do you need a proof of concept? Firstly, to even better predict upcoming costs and necessary resources - for more examples check out the article.
- Underrate the importance of users’ feedback
Sometimes feedback from users after testing a potential product can be harsh and less favorable than expected. However, it should not be ignored – people outside the organization have no emotional links to the product and see it from a different perspective. This is the best time to accept the lesson and use it to improve the product's shortcomings. Not considering users' opinions does not make the product better – conversely, it will be less well adjusted to the market and audience requirements.
Time for the more practical part – below, you can find a brief list of checkpoints for creating a successful MVP.
Step-by-step guide of how to build an MVP
Building a successful MVP which meets your requirements will be much easier if you follow the below steps.
- What is the problem to solve?
Every product is made for a definite purpose and should solve a specific problem. Without defining these aspects, a product will deliver poor (or no) value to the users. Additionally, without a strategy or clear goal to achieve it is difficult to convince investors to sink money into the idea.
- Define the market.
Analysis of the market allows you to define potential competitors and better validate your business model and opportunities. Checking out existing similar products and their drawbacks can be an inspiration for your own product and shed more light on features that the market is currently lacking.
- Who is the audience?
At this stage, it is essential to define the target persona. Who will be the potential customers? What is their age/interest/where do they live/what other significant characteristics might affect the project? Setting up the target audience clarifies for whom the product will be developed and who will test it in the near future.
- Define user flows.
User flows aim to identify how potential users will interact with the product. This step helps develop a better understanding of customer behavior and adjust the product to make it more user-friendly and intuitive.
- Prioritize features.
Knowing the problem you’re aiming to solve in mind, list the planned features and prioritize them. For now, save the budget only for the most important ones that really make your product stand out from the competition.
- Gain feedback and improve the product.
After the MVP sees daylight, it is not the end of the process – it is only the beginning. After collecting and analyzing all the feedback, it is time to upgrade the product and make it even better. Measure and learn – to win the market, the product should be constantly monitored and improved where there is a need.
If you are looking for more detailed descriptions of how to build a successful MVP, in the previous article, you will find a graphic explanation of the MVP development cycle.
Business benefits of MVP
Creating a minimum viable product provides benefits not only to the development process itself but also to the business. How can implementing an MVP help your company? The most fundamental points are below.
- An MVP keeps the project on track.
Creating an MVP in the early development stages helps the process focus on actual priorities and predefined crucial features. While developing a product, it is easy to be sidetracked by new ideas, trying to include too many functionalities at the same time. The implementation of a minimal viable product keeps the focus on the real priorities needed to create the right product.
- An MVP allows for market validation.
This point is connected to the previous one – testing an MVP in the market facilitates the validation of the product’s business potential and confirms there is a niche for the product
- An MVP saves budget and time.
An MVP consumes only the minimum resources necessary to develop an initial version of the product. A minimal viable product requires less investment of money and time compared to a fully-developed product.
- An MVP gains honest feedback.
A minimum viable product allows for testing the potential product in real-life scenarios. Feedback from the potential users gives fresh insights into the product idea and allows the team to react quickly and upgrade the product according to users’ needs and expectations.
Network applications are specific products that require special treatment. They are more demanding than regular applications and need a dedicated development team with domain knowledge. The minimum viable product helps to face this challenge and reasonably apportion the company’s resources.
Creating a well-balanced and purposed MVP is not easy, but is definitely the best way to conquer the market and grab users' attention in a shorter timespan. There are a lot of elements that need to come together to create a successful solution, and the above mentioned points aim to make it easier to cover most of the crucial aspects during the MVP creation process.
Hopefully, this article highlights the importance of an MVP in business terms and shows why a minimum viable product is a critical part of the network application development process.
Read our other MVP-related articles:
- Building an MVP: 6 common mistakes to avoid
- MVP vs prototype – which one do you need?
- MVP in software development - everything you should know about it
- MVP Implementation & Strategy for Network Applications