Articles

How to Plan an MVP

By eLearning Inside
December 04, 2020

Many entrepreneurs spend months or even years to launch a product that no one is interested in eventually. According to CB Insights, 42% of startups fail due to lack of market demand. The MVP (Minimum Viable Product) concept is designed to minimize the risk of such a situation. It is applicable to any type of product, but it is most often used for the development of software and digital services. MVP allows reaching two goals in one go — developing a product and studying the target audience’s reaction to it. MVP is an early version of a future project and the most affordable method to collect practical data about how customers interact with your product.

If you have a technical background, you can build an MVP yourself — write code from scratch, or use one of the many specialized tools. But a more reliable approach is to hire a developer or a company like Purrweb to be sure about the result.

What Is a MVP?

MVP is often confused with PoC (Proof of Concept) or prototype. These concepts are interrelated, but not equivalent.

PoC implies marketing and social research. It is used to analyze the number of pre-orders and other theoretical evidence that the future product is interesting to the market. MVP is a workable product. MVP is not a prototype either. It may contain only one essential feature and has to perform it well.

a developer points to a whiteboard covered in stickie notes
Startae Team, Unsplash.

MVP allows you to test your project with the help of real users. It enables you to adjust the business model and basic characteristics of the future product, outline development directions, and plan an updated roadmap. Positive results at the MVP stage give the green light for the development of a full-fledged product version.

MVP Planning and Development

This process requires scrupulous work and consists of several important steps. At the initial stages, you need to refine your business idea. Further stages relate to the design of the product, and only then, it will come directly to development and testing.

Define the Task

Each product is developed to solve a specific problem, and it’s not only about making money. Here, you need to think of a customer. Why will your product be demanded? Having a clear response to this question, you will realize the product’s objective and its value. So, by launching a food delivery service, you will solve the problem that all of us face during the pandemic outbreak — fast delivery with minimum social interaction.

Determine your Audience

Focusing on the needs of a wide audience when designing an MVP is a wrong approach. A clearly defined target audience allows you to customize the design of the future product. Therefore, it is vital to draw a portrait of your potential user, a person who will buy your solution and will like its features. As a rule, such a portrait includes information about the user’s age, education, income, habits, interests, and hobbies. These details are necessary to understand how well the product suits the future user. It will also facilitate your advertising efforts.

Analyze your Competitors

Even if you think that you have invented something truly groundbreaking, there is a high probability that a similar product already exists on the market. It is crucial to find competitors and study their performance, benefits, and drawbacks. The main idea is to find out why customers prefer them, and what makes them popular. These details will improve your MVP.

Highlight Strong and Weak Sides

A SWOT analysis allows you to identify strengths (S), weaknesses (W, internal environment), opportunities (O), and threats (T, external environment). It is used in strategic planning. To complete it, you need to answer a number of questions related to the 4 mentioned categories. There are no rules here. You can compose questions on your own and draw up answers to them in the form of a table.

a developer works on their computer using a text editor
Charles Deluvio, Unsplash.

Develop User Roadmap

After a fundamental analysis of your business idea, it’s time to look at the future product with the user’s eyes. You should build an algorithm that a customer uses to achieve their goal — for example, to order home delivery or book tickets. This chain of actions should be short, simple, and convenient. This stage will allow you to understand what additional information a user may need, where to add a hint, and how to approach UI/UX design optimally.

Choose a Key Feature of Your MVP

Even if you plan a small-scale project like an MVP, it is necessary to list and prioritize its functions. You should give preference only to those that are directly related to the main goal of your product. Additional features will only confuse users and distort the feedback. More functionality can be added to a final version of your product.

Choose the Right Methodology and Develop an MVP

Having defined the scope, order, and direction of work, you can begin to develop a minimum viable product. The choice of a specific methodology depends on the preferences of the development team and the nature of a particular project. Lean, Scrum, Kanban, extreme programming (XP) — all of them allow you to regularly improve and update the product on the fly based on the feedback.

Test your MVP

MVP needs to be tested throughout the whole development process. Alpha testing is conducted internally by experts, while beta testing will require outside help. It’s great if these would be people from among future users. You can invite people to participate in the test via social networks, forums, and email newsletters.

Conclusion

Creating an MVP is only the first step on the way to a strong business. From the moment of the MVP launch, it is necessary to collect, save, and analyze feedback. Everything is important, from statistics to data on behavior to user reviews. MVP is often created with the aim to obtain this information. It allows you to understand if the project has the potential to grow. It helps generate new ideas and develop a product strategy based not only on assumptions but on facts. Thus, MVP development and launch will pay off in full.

Featured Image: Clark Tibbs, Unsplash.

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