We are confident that great inventions always start with small things. Thus, at Touchlane we always recommend starting the project implementation from the MVP development before rushing into product scaling.
From our experience, we often face many concerns regarding MVP from our clients so we’ve decided to discuss this essential topic with our business expert, Alex, to sort all MVP points out for your convenience.
How can you define the MVP meaning in short?
Alex: Basically, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a “light” version of your software product with an essential feature set to be launched to the market and attract users.
Though MVPs are claimed to contain only basic features, it is fair to mention that the functional set should include some unique features that would distinguish your product from competitors. Having a so-called “zest“ is an obligatory condition for a successful MVP.
Why should MVP become a must-have stage of any project?
Alex: Even if you come up with a brilliant app idea, rushing into the implementation of a full-scale project sounds like bad advice. Having numerous successfully launched products on our account, I feel responsible for ensuring clients from making bad decisions. At this point, I always highlight the following crucial reasons why developing MVPs makes great sense.
- MVP helps to test the app idea at the outset of the mobile app development cycle and get the product in front of users in the shortest time possible.
- Once users “test-drive” the app, we have an opportunity to gather feedback and make plans for further updates and predictions about the potential sales.
- Also, it is impossible to skip evident material benefits as MVPs provide the opportunity to deliver a ready-to-use product to the market at minimum cost as well as reduce wasted hours for development.
To this extent, MVP is a kind of experiment that helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your solution at the very beginning, so that you can fix certain details if needed instead of rebuilding a full-scale product from scratch, or scrap the project at all without extra costs if your idea has found no response.
What are the key steps of the MVP creation?
Alex: To my mind, you should never underestimate the power of strategic planning and preparation so the first step is to conduct research of the target audience and market competition.
Based on this data, you and your team of specialists can make decisions about the key components for MVP: expected feature set, tech stack, UX/UI design solutions, platforms (mobile, web, or desktop), localizations for different regions, etc., depending on your app type.
Once you’ve made up your mind about the key aspects, all the requirements should be described in the project specification. This step deserves special mention as the detailed specification can greatly speed up the work of the development team. Though it may seem that it is quite simple to describe what you need, in most cases a competently written specification requires the help of a professional as well. In our projects, we often give a hand to our clients with the specification preparation.
Sometimes it is not possible to immediately write down a clear specification, but if a client has a general idea of the project’s essence, this issue can be solved by using flexible Agile development methodologies. In such cases, the whole development flow is divided into sprints that help to implement the app gradually, by milestones. This is a less preferred but possible option that is often used on large and long-term projects.
Then, the MVP development and QA testing are followed by release to the market and feedback gathering. When measuring MVP success, it’s important to keep an eye on the following metrics: download & launch rate, user engagement, number of active users, average session length, and lifetime value. (To learn more about the metrics and how to calculate them, check our post about essential mobile app analytics.) Plus, pay attention to user ratings and reviews in the app stores, or better make some in-app survey to ask users about what they like or dislike about your app.
In fact, with collected feedback and proven MVP, it is much easier to find investors and make your project skyrocket, compared to sharing just a bare idea of a hypothetical application.
Speaking about the feature set, how to identify the functionality sufficient for MVP?
Alex: The feature set, obviously, depends on the software type and industry, so if the client has only a vague vision, we always strive to provide expert consulting upon the project and settle all issues right away.
As I’ve mentioned in the definition, the recipe for an ideal MVP should contain basic functionality and a couple of unique highlights, helping to stand out among the competitors on the market. If you select too many irrelevant features, you are at risk to lose both time and money so prioritize wisely.
Case in point, let’s say that you plan to develop a messenger app. Though it may seem that coming up with the necessary feature set for MVP shouldn’t be difficult, the process can become more complicated than expected for a non-professional in this field. As such, we always give a hand to our clients to choose the optimal MVP functionality without frills.
Speaking of the example with a messenger app, the initial version should include such basics as registration & profile creation, contact integration, instant messaging, photo & video sharing, and push notifications. However, to become visible on the market, we always recommend to spice up the product with some extra solutions, like Viber was the first to introduce audio calls, and we are always ready to share our professional vision about what highlight to add to your particular application.
What is the difference between MVPs and prototypes?
Alex: Sometimes people confuse these two concepts, but the difference between MVP and a prototype is the fact that they are intended for various purposes.
MVP is an initial version of your app that will be launched to the market while a prototype is a visual mock-up that precedes the MVP creation and shows the design of certain app screens, but doesn’t contain any working code. As such, a prototype is intended for internal use, can’t be released to the market, and doesn’t demand as much effort for creation as MVP does.
How much does the MVP development cost?
Alex: It’s a tricky question as, again, everything depends on various factors. As for banking apps, they usually utilize more complex secure solutions compared to coloring apps or photo editors, so the costs can vary.
However, there’re common factors that affect the MVP budget. Apart from the niche, the price can depend on the mobile platform (iOS or Android), selected functionality set, tech solutions, development team size, just to mention a few.
At all accounts, one of the main MVP advantages is its cost-effectiveness as its development is way less costly than the development of a full-fledged app.
All in all, MVP creation is a proactive practice that helps to make sure that your business concept and application really meet your expectations without investing too much. In case you still have questions or wish to collaborate with us, we’ll happily share useful advice and assist in the MVP creation as well as provide optimal solutions for the foreseeable product scaling.