How To Build An MVP In 5 Steps
An MVP stands for a minimum viable product. It's a technique allowing you to launch a new product with core features and receive customer feedback. This article explores five easy steps of turning an idea into a minimum viable product.
From the customer's interaction with the MVP, the product can then go through cycles of improvement that result in a full-featured product that customers will love.
This article explains what an MVP is and its advantages. Most importantly, I'll overview the five essential and easy-to-implement steps to build an MVP.
What is an MVP?
An MVP is a barebones version of the product with the minimum required features to make the product usable and appealing.
The MVP goal is to test your hypothesis, deliver a product with basic features, and then improve it with the help of users.
Four key elements of an MVP:
- Functionality. An MVP must satisfy the user’s core needs.
- Design. An MVP must have a well-developed UI.
- Reliability. An MVP must be tested meticulously and be production-ready
- Usability. An MVP must be easy-to-use
Advantages of an MVP
Idea validation. Building an MVP is an excellent way of validating your idea and learning early from user feedback. An MVP helps you understand market needs without spending too much effort and money.
Only essence. Building just the initial product version’s functionality helps you bring your product to market faster at the lowest cost.
Low risks. An MVP reduces the risk of investing a massive amount of time and money into building a product that the market may not value.
Based on these points, you see that considering building an MVP is a cost and time-efficient move.
5 Steps to Creating an MVP
Now, you understand the main idea and benefits behind launching MVPs. Let's see what fundamental steps will lead you to that successful launch.
Step 1: Research the market
The first step is to study the market in which you want to launch your product. Consider the following questions when analyzing the market:
What are the customers' pain points that your product is trying to solve?
Are there available solutions? Any drawbacks of these solutions?
Who is the intended audience?
What should be unique in your product to beat competitors?
Performing comprehensive market research helps you tailor your product to just what your customers need.
Step 2: Identify and prioritize features
The next step is to design your product features. Always be mindful of customers’ pain points and design features that would resolve them easily and quickly. Have a hard look at your hypothesis and prioritize the features based on how vital they are to customers.
For prioritization, use MoSCoW framework. It's convenient, descriptive, and useful.
Except for prioritization, you should consider using the lean methodology This method helps in identifying and eliminating redundant processes during the product development – you'll focus on the most crucial aspects.
Step 3: Choose an MVP type
Among several types of MVPs, these five are still the most popular.
Pre-order MVP. There is no actual product built first. The product's intended features are advertised with an option to pre-book the product. This way, the product manager can gauge the product’s demand and accordingly start producing the product to be shipped. The benefit of this option is that you can be sure that customers need your product.
Concierge. Instead of building a prototype, some product functionality is done by humans. Nich Sinmurn, a Zappos co-founder, used this type initially: he bought and delivered shoes to the customer by himself, not having a shoe store or warehouse. The obvious disadvantage of this type is that it's not easily scalable to larger audiences.
Wizard of Oz. In this type, human participation is also present but hidden from users. In other words, some automation is done manually. If you have a lack of financing, you may consider such a move. When your MVP grows, you receive revenue. Then you can boost the product even more by actually automating the process.
Single feature. As the name suggests, this type focuses on building a single element. The aim is to build one functionality and make it perfect for the customers with time. Mailtrap, a popular among developers fake SMTP server, was built by this principle.
MLP. A Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) is an MVP entirely focused on design, user experience, and customer satisfaction. Spotify is a good example. It started with a landing page and turned into a well-designed streaming service.
You can find the full list of MVP types in this video guide.
Step 4: Launch your MVP
Pretty self-explanatory step. When all the previous preparation is done, you should kick off the MVP. But even before the launch, ensure to make necessary tests of your product not to fail in the eye of a demanding customer.
Step 5: Measure and learn
Adopt the Build-Measure-Learn (BML) method to measure and learn how the market reacts to your product.
Once your product is built and launched into the market (build), collect feedback (measure) using key metrics, and work on improving your product (learn). This iterative cycle of development helps you build up your product incrementally.
In this paradigm, the measuring step is very vital. To understand your product success, make sure you focus on:
- Feedback. Obtain direct feedback from your customers about your MVP through forms, CustDev interviews, surveys, reputation testimonials, social media.
- Net Promoter Score. Users can rate your product on a scale of 0 to 10. For MVPs, this scale differs from the traditional ones. In this case, 0-4 are detractors, 5-7 passives, 8-10 promoters.
- Users number. It indicates how your MVP fits the market and the target audience. A higher number generally means that many people are interested in what your product offers to ease their pain points.
Overall, just five simple steps are needed to kick off a working minimum viable product. Eventually, a correctly built and launched MVP saves your time, money, and efforts. Accurately measured feedback allows you to grow your product into something bigger and popular that your users will love and promote.
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina