Among companies starting the path to success with MVP are Apple, Uber, Airbnb, Snapchat, Spotify, Foursquare, eBay, Unsplash, Kickstarter, and many others.
You got the idea of a great startup. It’s splendid in your mind, but how do you know if it solves the problems of users? Does anyone except you need it? Will the expenses be worth it?
It’s better not to rush to invest in the development of a fully-featured product. Startup is a business at its very source. You will save money, time, and nerves if you check previously if your grain will sprout. This can be done using the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
The methodology is based on the development — measurement — feedback study cycle. Getting feedback should be followed by the improvement of successful features and their repeated testing. In the case of success, you can create a fully-featured product and enter the market.
Minimum viable does not mean low-quality. This is an early version of the offer with minimal functionality. It is necessary to think all the elements through and choose what will show its benefit to the audience to the fullest extent. In this case you do not have to create something that users are not interested in and for which they are not willing to pay.
Cindy Alvarez, the user experience specialist at Yammer, warns startuppers of a common mistake. Many teams are trying to create the final product and cut its functionality, instead of doing research. To avoid this, Cindy suggests following the Cupcake Model, that is, creating a full-fledged product, but with a minimum of key features. You can always turn your cupcake into a cake later.
Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz (inbound marketing platform) says the first impression is very important, so MVP should be planned as an EVP (exceptional viable product).
So, it’s important to understand that MVP is not a stripped-down version of the final offer, but the basis for its creation and a tool for validating of business ideas.
The goal of MVP is not to create the perfect product, but to get the most information with the least effort.
It’s incorrect to use such a model of consistent development, where the priority is the only improvement, but not determining the reasons for introducing changes to the product. In such a way, an ideal but not viable product will be born.
You should focus on the width, not the depth of iterations. This will allow you to choose the optimal development path for the product and dig into developing:
1. Describe the Goal of the Product. Identify the problem you are solving.
For example: “To provide home delivery of goods”
2. Define the Target Audience and narrow it. Create a portrait of your potential buyer. Does your product solve his issues?
3. Analyze competitors. Take the three major market players. Learn about their strengths and weaknesses, their market share, strategies, sales volume, marketing goals. Evaluate your ability to offer something better. Explore company websites, presentations, “white papers”, annual reports, and other publications. Analytical services like Similar Web, Quantcast, or Ahrefs will help you figure out how successful and profitable your competitors are. It will be easier for you to understand what will make your product unique or what it lacks for this.
4. Make a SWOT-analysis. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses (internal factors), opportunities, and threats (external factors).
5. Create a User Flow chart. The path that the user walks when interacting with the product should be simple and reasonable. The User Flow chart is the requirements for the content and design of the site (application). All information must be in its place, nothing should prevent users from moving to the next step.
6. Make a list of functions. Specify the mandatory features of your product. Put them in order of priority.
For example, a list of steps for placing an order by the user:
7. Determine the scope of MVP. The first row on the chart is called the framework. It’s the least useful version of the product that lacks functionality. In some cases, the MVP matches the framework, but sometimes this is not enough. To understand where the framework is, and where it is a viable product, you need to classify the functions.
Separate the vital functions from the non-essential ones. The features to which you give the highest priority are your minimum viable product. You can add the rest after implementing MVP and analyzing feedback.
8. Choose an appropriate MVP management and development method. Choosing one of the development approaches is significant for creating a feedback loop.
This method uses a development in accordance with the “creation-measurement-training”-template. With Lean, you can quickly set up a feedback loop and see if your product is in demand.
This approach helps to distribute the amount of work efficiently and helps teams complete tasks faster. You can manage the development of MVP functions in the sprint (2 or 4 weeks) and use the scrum master to track the status of all scrum processes. Scrum is more demanding than Lean but more suitable for gradual and long-term development.
It focuses on work in progress models and suggests focusing on tasks as they emerge. After receiving feedback from users, experts add tasks to the pipeline. Kanban works well in startups that don’t have a clear plan but are actively developed.
This is a flexible software development methodology, amplified to the maximum level. Like other agile methodologies, it has special tools, processes, and roles. This is a set of practices such as code refactoring, simplified design, coding standards, that allow to improve the code and update in a short time. Suitable for MVP, which relies on code quality.
If you want to achieve the most positive result and develop in the direction that your company needs, start with MVP. Only this way you will achieve your goals in the market, save money on developing unnecessary features, and satisfy the needs of your customers.