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2 June 2022

Software Development

Everything you should know about MVP software development

14 minutes reading

Everything you should know about MVP software development

Have you ever wondered what successful apps like Facebook, and Spotify have in common? They have all used MVP development to gradually become mature platforms loved by millions of customers. For many IT startups, a minimum viable product is the first goal they strive for when developing a new application. It’s a way to gather the maximum amount of validated learning about the target audience with the minimum  effort. Let’s explain more about why you should invest in MVP software development and how to create a successful MVP.

What is an MVP in software development?

An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a version of a product with a minimum features that is enough to be launched to early customers. MVP development is a way to collect valuable feedback and insight, as well as get to know the market demand better. 

According to the lean startup methodology, validating a fully-fledged product may be too cost- and time-consuming for the development team. An MVP has sufficient features to satisfy early adopters and gather feedback that will influence the development process. It’s a kind of experiment to test a potential part of your solution to users’ problems. It determines if your proposal is viable from a business perspective at reduced cost and with managed risk.

Is an MVP the same as a prototype or a proof of concept?

These terms are often confused so let’s stop for a moment to quickly clear them up. An MVP differs from a prototype and a POC. It’s a basic, yet functional version of a product that gives early customers an opportunity to test that product. It reduces the risk of wasting more resources on development. 

On the other hand, a prototype is a visual representation of a product. It shows the users what the product will look like, thus, it reduces the risk of user dissatisfaction. 

Finally, a proof of concept is built to check the technical feasibility of an idea. It’s meant to be used internally to reduce the risk of a technical problem during the entire development process. In the software development life cycle, a POC should come first, followed by a prototype, and then an MVP.

If you want to know more about the differences check out our articles:

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Famous examples of an MVP

As already mentioned, many globally-known applications began as MVPs. One of them is Instagram. Originally, the app was far from a platform for sharing pictures. It was a location-based application created for users to check in, similar to what Foursquare was already offering. Users could use the app to take photos, edit them, and geotag locations. Then, the feature of photo sharing was added, and it was a revolution. Users wanted to share their photos and the app founders exploited this gap. They made sharing, liking, and commenting on the pictures super-easy, and the MVP turned into a full-fledged social media platform with over 1.4 billion users around the world.

Another example is Spotify, which started in 2008. Martin Lorentzon and Daniel Ek discovered a huge drawback of the music industry. They realized that music lovers have serious limitations in streaming songs. They knew that people loved listening to music and their first idea was to enable various artists to stream music online. They launched an MVP and very quickly, the lean startup approach validated the idea. Spotify became the feature-rich platform we know today.

Why is a minimum viable product useful?

In software development, an MVP is a basic version of the software. It has all the core functionalities and important minimum features. An MVP helps in designing, testing, and delivering the software. The purpose of the MVP development process is to:

  • Validate the product idea at an early development stage.
  • Launch a product quickly, with a smaller budget. 
  • Present the product to the market and see how it reacts to the product idea.
  • Reduce time wasted by the development team and reduce time-to-market for new feature releases.
  • Minimize errors in the agile development process.
  • Find the right fit between what a business is offering to customers and what customers actually need.
  • Gather viable data on customer behavior which will help you make data-driven decisions.
  • Grow a pre-launch base of customers.

Why should you invest in a minimum viable product? Key benefits

MVP development can bring a lot of benefits to your software development projects. The most important is that it prevents you from creating software that nobody wants. What else?

You can focus on the minimum feature to identify your core value proposition.

You can focus on one idea only. You build the right product with a minimal budget and save resources at the same time. You can test your software with minimal risk and analyze the most unique elements of your concept.

You gather valuable feedback from the market. 

Thanks to an MVP, you can collect customers’ opinions. You find out what they want to see in the final software and what you should improve when planning the next stages of your software development process.

You can validate your business idea.

The MVP launch is a great opportunity to verify whether your software is right for the target audience. Thus, there is less room for error. An MVP makes the entire team feel more confident about the product, they can experiment more and iterate on the customer’s ideas.

You save your development team’s time.

You receive feedback fast so you can work on the improvement right away and release an updated version quickly. You release the product quickly (weeks instead of months!). Your project moves forward more rapidly.

You save money.

MVP development is budget-friendly. It allows you to validate your idea before spending your money on things that may not work. Thus, you get the most results at the lowest cost possible.

You can plan your future growth. 

As an MVP helps your team evaluate what has worked and what hasn’t, you can adjust your plans for future growth. Creating an MVP means you can leverage users’ feedback to further refine the product and speed up the development cycle with less stress and more satisfaction.

You get the chance to find investors. 

The MVP launch is a sample of what is expected to become a unique, ground-breaking product. If you present it to potential investors, they are more likely to invest their money in further development.

How to create the perfect MVP

There are six steps you need to take if you want to build a successful MVP.

Step 1: Identify your business idea

First, you have to make sure there is a need for your product in the market. Does your product idea stand out from the competition? It’s good to set a long-term business goal. If it’s measurable, that’s perfect! The success criteria are as crucial as the goal itself. Your problem statement should be written down, then, you should check the project’s feasibility.

Step 2: Conduct market research 

Find out what your competitors have to offer and conduct a user analysis. Don’t forget to calculate the market size. If you want your MVP to be successful, you need to be sure that people want to spend money on your software and that their number is enough to continue.

Step 3: Map out the user journey

Building an MVP means having your users in mind all the time. Mapping out user journeys is a way to look at your product from the perspective of your potential customers. First, identify the user and the actions they need to take to achieve their goal. Then, work on the goals your users want to achieve. When you identify user pain points, you will be able to determine where you have the greatest potential to add value.

Step 4: Prototype a potential solution

Some companies consider this step optional but as we explained before, a prototype is an attempt to visualize a working solution, whereas an MVP is a product with core functionality that performs target actions. They perform different functions - both valuable.

Step 5: Choose the features to build

During this stage, you need to decide which MVP functionality (one or more) is necessary to make your minimum viable product successful. Make sure the functionalities are connected to your product’s overall goal. Building a prototype will help you validate UX&UI and suggest some improvements that should be implemented in an MVP. Start getting feedback as soon as possible – this will help you make a list of crucial features to be added to your MVP.

Step 6: Keep iterating

Having your MVP finally ready is not the end of the process. Don’t stop gathering feedback and testing the changes – it’s a way to build a product your customers will love.

>> Learn more about how to build a minimum viable product.

Some handy tips to create an MVP

There are some useful tips to follow while building your first MVP. First, you may consider getting early feedback from professionals. This will help you get a deeper understanding of your target market. Another option is A/B testing. Sure, it takes a lot of data and measurements but comparing two different user experiences can be extremely valuable. Statistics will show you how something you have modified has changed the behavior of your users. Finally, measure everything. Monitoring the success of your product is of the utmost importance, especially if your organization is a startup. You cannot ignore important metrics, such as are user engagement, the percentage of active users, the percentage of paying users, and the customer lifetime value (LTV). 

If you want to check out what MVP development process looks like at CodiLime, you can find the details on our MVP development services page.

Conclusion 

In the world of software development, a successful MVP may decide the future of the digital product. It’s a way to measure whether your project can be both profitable for the stakeholders and useful for the users. It saves time, costs, and resources when entering the market with a new concept. 

Did you know that Musk’s Tesla is a fine example of creating an MVP? A simple electric car once solved a small problem. Multiple improvements have led to the ultimate vision. The fact is, an MVP could be the tipping point for your software-based business.

Read our other MVP-related articles:

Maciej

Maciej Manturewicz

Director of Engineering