How to Build a Minimum Viable Product – MVP Guide for App Owners
How to define a Minimum Viable Product? Step-by-step guide for app owners.
In the tech world, the best way to realize your idea for an app is by starting with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This article presents the fundamental steps of MVP development to help you maximize your chances for success.
In our previous article, we explained in detail what an MVP is and why it brings such a significant business value to app development projects. Make sure to check it out before you read on. In its essence, an MVP allows you to validate your product idea without having to invest time and money in building the complete product.
In this article, we show you 4 critical steps to planning and building an MVP that helps your company develop a successful software product.
Hot to build your Minimum Viable Product in 4 steps
Step 1: Define the problem your product will solve
The first step to building a Minimum Viable Product that works is identifying the exact problem your app will solve. You need to know what that issue is and who is experiencing it. This group of people will become your target audience and potential customers.
Start by asking these questions:
- What is the problem that my app solves?
- What is the most important goal of my application?
- Who are the final users of my product?
- How significant is this problem for my target audience?
- What benefits does my app bring to them?
- Which features are core to my app?
- How will I measure the end result to determine if my app met these objectives?
Here are two helpful tools for clarifying your vision and defining your target audience during an app development process.
🛠️ Product Canvas
Product Canvas is an excellent tool for strategic product planning because it helps you to get the entire product vision on a single page. Product Canvas is made of the following parts:
- NAME – the product’s name
- GOAL – the overarching business goal of the project (for example, building the fastest ride-sharing app on the market)
- SCALE – the size of your market (how many users are you looking to engage – and by when?)
- TARGET GROUP – the end-users of your app and their unique needs.
- BIG PICTURE – the user experience (UX) of your product (the user journey, functionalities, its visual design, and nonfunctional properties)
- THE NEXT BIG THING – the objective of the next product iteration and actionable items you need to reach that goal (for example, detailed user stories)
This is also the best moment to review your competitors. Are there any similar apps on the market? How do they solve the problem? What is unique about your approach to solving this problem?
You can also choose benchmarks for our application. Are there any software products that have the UX/UI design, User Journey, or experience that you’d like your app to deliver as well?
📌 TIP: Dedicating time to proper market research is a smart move. But don’t narrow down your research to the software products developed only in your sector.
Look beyond your industry!
Are there any applications that you like? Which features/apps elements do you appreciate most? Can you implement them in your product? It can be anything – the way you slide out a menu, motion design, user profile layout, visual language, animations/illustrations in the app’s tutorial, notifications, and more. In short – it’s worth to get inspired also by applications coming from entirely different areas.
The best way to capture the different types of potential users is by drafting User Personas.
Personas are fictional characters who represent the end-users of your application. The idea here is illustrating the behaviors and goals of your users. You can use demographic data, preferences, habits, interests, or even describe their ways of using technology devices.
Personas help to assume the perspective of end-users and understand what their pain points are. That way, you can focus on building a product that solves their problem in the best possible way.
📌 TIP: Please note that to use this method effectively, it’s worth to base your Personas on people who are the potential customers of your product in real life. Once your MVP is ready, you can turn to these users and ask them to test it. Their feedback will be valuable because they represent the needs and preferences of potential app users.
Step 2: Find the easiest solution to the problem you’ve identified
This is a critical step in MVP development because it focuses on the core features of your app. At Droids On Roids, we use these two methods to help our clients define these key features:
🛠️ Event Storming
Created by Alberto Brandolini, Event Storming is a workshop format that allows exploring complex business areas quickly. It encourages team members to share their understanding of key product goals and high-level business objectives. Moreover, you can use Event Storming to identify gaps and potential obstacles to the project plan, or discover improvements and new functionalities. Event Storming helps to optimize the business processes in your application.
The primary aim of Event Storming is creating a business model of the app that will be used during the MVP development process.
📌 TIP: At Droids On Roids, during the Event Storming session, we use sticky notes to communicate and document the processes in the app. These sticky notes represent business events describing what happens in the application. You can place them in a horizontal line. If you pick one event, it’s easy to see what happens before and after the event in the User Journey. That way, we can model the app architecture and learn how events depend on each other.
🛠️ User Journey Map
Then, we prepare a User Journey Map that displays how users will move through the application. The map is based on the Events we have identified during the Event Storming workshop.
A User Journey Map visualizes the user flow step by step. Designers use it as the foundation for creating wireframes and clickable prototypes of applications. Besides, this is also the moment when you and the team can get creative and experiment with different user pathways.
Step 3: Prioritize app features
At this point, you need to decide which features are the most important ones for your Minimum Viable Product. That’s because an MVP needs to offer the end-users enough value to help you validate your business idea.
Your two points of reference in choosing the core features are:
- The problem your app solves,
- The general goal of your application.
We know that it’s not easy to depart from your vision for the product. But the features for your MVP need to originate in the problem your app aims to solve, not from your vision.
Don’t forget that the main purpose of creating an MVP is providing the end-users with a set of features they can test and then communicate their feedback to you for future development.
This is where the Prioritization Chart can help you.
🛠️ Prioritization Chart
A Prioritization Chart is a management tool that helps to decide which features are the most significant for creating your MVP, based on their importance and complexity.
At Droids On Roids, during the Product Design Workshops, our teams together with Product Owner delineate the features that will become the core for MVPs. We do that by dividing features into must-haves, should-haves, and could-haves. Only the must-haves will become part of MVP development. The rest will land in the product backlog to be used in the later stages of building the app. This is also where we advise our clients on the choice of features. What’s more, the Prioritization Chart helps us to come up with project budget estimations.
To reduce the costs of developing your MVP, consider replacing some features with ready-made solutions, instead of building custom components from scratch. Features such as authentication or logging in aren’t unique, so there’s no point for your team to spend their precious time on developing them. For example, we use Auth0 to implement authentication features across many of our projects. In the long run, this strategy will save you plenty of resources and allow faster time-to-market for your MVP.
Step 4: Release your product, gather feedback, and iterate your way to success
Once your product is out there, you’ll have the opportunity to gather customer feedback and start working on the next iteration of your app.
You can do that by asking users – especially ones corresponding to your Personas – to share their thoughts in surveys distributed through email or directly inside your app. You can also reach the comments section of your app page on app stores or ask users similar to your Personas directly. What’s important is that you use some analytics tools (like Google Analytics) to collect data about how people use your application – it is also a crucial source of knowledge.
Our development teams are usually very eager to hear what users think about the MVP app. In particular, we’re curious if the app helps users to solve their problem, and how they use the product. Do they need all the features we have created? Have they met any obstacles? What do they think about the app’s look & feel? Valuable, constructive feedback always gives our teams a motivation boost!
In particular, businesses can learn which features would bring the greatest value to users. It’s smart to focus on them during the following next development phases of the app.
Next steps after MVP
Developing an MVP is not an end goal. It’s just a single point in the long-term process of building, improving, and maintaining a digital product.
But an MVP opens the doors to successful product development. By releasing an MVP to market and gathering feedback, you get to understand your target audience better. As a result, you can design the future features with full awareness of how they impact the user experience.
Thanks to all the user feedback, businesses that decide to start with an MVP can then make smart decisions and invest in developing features that bring maximum values to the end-users.
📌 TIP from Agnieszka, our Scrum Master: Be open to any feedback. Remember to not fall in love with your own ideas. Listen instead of talking.
On the basis of the gathered feedback, the Product Owner can make decisions about the shape of the product backlog.
In this article, you have learned how to build a Minimum Viable Product / how to define an MVP for your software product. We hope this roadmap helps you to create a Minimum Viable Product that positions your app for success.
Developing an MVP is a sure-fire strategy for testing your business idea on the market and adjusting your product to the needs of your target audience before investing a lot of resources. Moreover, by creating an MVP you’ll reduce the risk of investing money in features your target audience doesn’t really need.
Do you still have some questions about how to build, improve, and pivot an MVP? Get in touch with us! At Droids On Roids, we have a lot of experience in MVP development and know what it takes to create a successful software product.