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Building and planning an MVP

February 23, 2024

MVP App Development

Here’s the situation: You’ve got a great idea for your business and now you want to convert that idea into a working app. Your first instinct is to get it built and ready to sell as soon as possible.

While that all sounds pretty logical, our best advice is to look at MVP app development instead.

MVPs are the smartest way to take big ideas and turn them into success stories. They minimise risk while maximising your chances at receiving funding.

That was the short answer. Let’s take a look at the long answer:

What is an MVP?

An MVP, or minimum viable product, is the most pared-down version of the final product. Its characteristics are described in the name: minimum and viable.

  • Minimum because a fully-loaded product takes money and time to build.
  • Viable because you do need to demonstrate proof of concept, even if it’s the bare minimum.

So, you could say an MVP is the first draft of your app, where you’ve included the most important features only.

Luminos explaining what an MVP is and why you need MVP app development

It’s important to note that an MVP needs to be both minimalistic and viable. The idea isn’t to put out an incomplete product—rather, it’s a way to release an application that embodies your idea without any extra frills.

Why do you need an MVP?

An MVP has become an important step in software development because of its many benefits.

Reduces development cost

  • The cost of app development goes up with the number of features required. With an app MVP, you focus only on essential features. As a result, you pay less for development costs.
  • As your app becomes more popular, you can start adding features. That way, you don’t have to pay a huge upfront cost. At the same time, it doesn’t affect your app development either.

Secures funding

While you may have a brilliant idea, it might not be as convincing on paper. On the other hand, a fully-developed product, with all the bells and whistles, is expensive.

You need something that doesn’t use up all your working capital to show potential investors.

A working MVP serves as proof of concept. You can use it to demonstrate the product and secure funding.

Go to market sooner

The completed app is not just more expensive to develop; it also takes longer to build. If it takes eight months to build the finished product, that’s eight months you’re not earning anything.

And, you still have to pay the developers.

An MVP will take less time to build and you can release it into the market as soon as it’s ready. That way, you can start generating revenue sooner and use your earnings to add more features to your application without interrupting cash flow.

Tests your business model

Your idea might appear sound on paper, but you won’t know for sure until you test it.

Of course, if you spend all your capital on developing an application that doesn’t get off the ground, you’ll be left in the red without a viable product.

An MVP helps you mitigate your loss by allowing you to start with your core idea, test it out in the real world, and improve upon it.

Receives invaluable user feedback

An MVP allows you to tweak your idea based on what the market says. You can release the MVP, get feedback on it, and use that information to refine your final product.

It can help you identify bugs and flaws in design at an early stage before you’ve invested too much time and money into it.

As a result, you’ll create a product that people will love instead of one that’s adequate at best.

Reduce the cost of bug fixing

No matter how good your application is, it’s nearly impossible for it to be bug-free.

There will always be bugs.

Planning the application in great detail might mitigate the problem to some extent, but you cannot completely eliminate them.

Starting with MVP app development can help you reduce the cost of fixing bugs. The 1-10-100 rule states that it costs $1 to prevent bugs through planning, $10 to correct bugs caught in the prototyping phase, and $100 to fix any code failure after the final product launch.

It is easier to “catch” bugs in the simplest form of your app than in the massive complicated code structure that is your final product.

The importance of planning your MVP

According to Gartner, only one in 10,000 apps released actually becomes successful. That’s a 0.01% success rate.

If you want your mobile app MVP to take the market by storm, and not be one of the 9,999 apps that fail, you need to plan it well. Planning the MVP for a mobile app helps you refine your idea and helps you identify:

  • What your minimum requirements are
  • What would make it viable, and,
  • The likelihood of the full-scale product succeeding

Plus, as we mentioned, proper planning will help you reduce the number of bugs your product might potentially have.

The stages of planning an MVP

Here’s how you would go about planning your mobile app MVP to ensure that it exceeds expectations.

Understanding business and customer needs

No matter how brilliant and innovative your idea is, it needs to solve a problem. If it doesn’t, then no one will want to buy it.

So, the first step in planning your product is to find out what problem it solves for your customers and how it fits in with your business model.

In essence, you want to know:

What your goals are

This step involves finding out what you hope to achieve with MVP app development.

  • Do you wish to make a certain aspect of your business easier to navigate? What aspect, and how would the app simplify it?
  • Is there another product that solves that need? How is your app different from the competition?

How you will measure success

Whilst it is important to know what your goals are, it is equally essential to know how you’ll measure the success of your goals. In this case, how will you determine if your MVP app does what you want it to do?

Planning the user journey

Based on what you want to achieve and how you define meeting your target, you must plan your user journey. To do that, you need to ask these questions:

#1: Who is the user?

You must know who your user is. If you don’t, you’ll find it difficult to create a product they’ll care about.

For example, if you’re creating an app for an older target demographic, you already know your app needs to meet certain accessibility requirements. Conversely, if your MVP app development is for a children’s game, you want to make sure your design includes bright, vibrant colours and plenty of animation.

#2: What do you want them to do?

Your MVP application should be designed to lead customers where you want them to go. You would need some user experience (UX) expertise in order to guide them down the right path.

#3: Where does the journey end?

When you’re designing a path, you need to know where it ends. Should your customers make a purchase at the end, click on “Play next level”, or something else?

Identifying the major pain points

So, you’ve designed a well-thought-out path for your users. The next step is to evaluate it to see what pain points users might experience for each action.

That allows you to pre-empt any reason, no matter how insignificant, a user might not like your MVP application. And, it helps massively in the next step, which is…

Using pain points to prioritise features for MVP

Now that you have a product roadmap planned and have identified user pain points, you can start prioritising these features.

Your MVP app development needs to focus on the essential features only. At the same time, the product must have some key features in order to make it viable.

Draw a prioritisation matrix

A prioritisation matrix is a grid that determines the urgency and impact of each feature. If a feature is high-impact as well as high-urgency, it’s a high priority. A low-impact, low-urgency feature, on the other hand, is a low priority.

You may need to revisit or rethink features that are high-urgency but low-impact, or low-urgency and high-impact.

Create a features roadmap

You now have a list of all the features you want in your application and have ordered them according to priority. You’ve also selected the highest priority features to be included in your MVP app development.

However, the remaining features have to be added to the product in future iterations.

Your features roadmap will help you plan when each feature should be added, depending on their priority rating.

Opportunity statements

Opportunity statements are single sentences that define what each feature does. These help you refine your MVP app, especially if you include the goal for the feature in it as well.

Designing the app

Finally, before your app goes into development, you need to decide what it’s going to look like. The most important factor in this stage is UX, where you want the best layout for each step. You may also want to consider the preferences of your users.

The most important factor in the final stage of MVP app development is UX

Once you have your MVP mobile application and its design planned, you can decide how to develop it.

Why the Agile methodology works best for MVP development

There are two methodologies used when developing applications—waterfall and Agile. The waterfall methodology is when the entire project is broken into phases, with product delivery of the completed application as the last phase.

Agile, on the other hand, is a flexible methodology that allows for a quick change of direction. Instead of focusing on building the product in one go, Agile developers break the process down into smaller iterations, or “sprints”.

Each sprint can be anywhere from two to six weeks. At the end of each sprint, the client receives an iteration of the product.

This approach is ideal for mobile app MVP development because you want the simplest iteration of the product first.

Once you have that, you can incrementally build up features in each sprint.

And, if customer feedback shows that a version or feature is not working, you can change or fix it in the next iteration.

How to determine if your MVP is successful

The first step after planning your MVP application is to get a prototype built. You’ll need a reliable development company to help you plan and execute the production.

After the prototype is ready, you will need to validate it. Before you put it out on the market, you could ask friends and family to test it and use that feedback to refine it further.

Once it’s released, though, you’ll need to closely monitor its performance. There are several app analytics services available, from which you can choose.

With app analytics, you decide the KPIs you want to measure and use them to track how well your mobile MVP is performing. Your metrics could include the revenue per user, daily active users, or downloads per month.

In addition to analytics, you may also take user feedback as a way of determining the performance of your MVP application. That also gives you a better understanding of how people are using your product, what they like or dislike about it, and the features they would like to see in the future.

From MVP to the product: How to move forward

Once you’ve launched your MVP app, you’re facing a fairly straightforward path. While you do have your features timeline planned, there might be feedback from customers that’ll make you rethink the feature priorities.

Your analytics data will also affect your next steps.

In short, your next steps are based on your initial plan combined with real-world feedback.

However, as your MVP application development is following the Agile process, you’ll soon start the next iteration, which will have the next round of features.

Once this is done, you’ll follow the same process of releasing the latest version, measuring success through analytics, and listening to user comments.

Types of MVP apps

Not all MVPs are equal. There are several types of MVP app development. Since the point of an MVP is to test out the idea, and there are a few ways of testing ideas, you can divide these apps into two categories:

  • Low-fidelity
  • High-fidelity

Low-fidelity MVP

When an MVP is low-fidelity, it is essentially a fake app designed to test demand. For example, if you see a call-to-action asking you to subscribe to a service, but when you click on it, you get a “coming soon” message, that’s low-fidelity.

The purpose of such MVPs is to test the waters—see if there is a demand for the service before the owners invest money in building it.

High-fidelity MVP

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the high-fidelity MVP, which is a fully-functional app that can again be divided into the following categories:

Single-feature MVP

As you can probably guess from the name, a single-feature MVP application has only one feature. It does one thing but does it really well.

It’s a quick and easy type of MVP that can be a very good way of testing your core idea. That said, you can always add features to it in future iterations to make it even more useful.

Concierge MVP

Let’s say you have a great idea for an app but automating the entire process might be too expensive for you. In that case, you might want to test your concept through an MVP application.

In a concierge MVP, real people are carrying out parts of the process rather than automation.

Once the MVP demonstrates that the concept is viable (through user feedback and analytics), you can invest in automating the rest of the feature set.

Wizard of Oz MVP

A Wizard of Oz MVP is like a concierge MVP—the backend processes are not automated but carried out by humans.

However, the users don’t know that. To them, it seems like a normal, automated process.

Again, it meets the requirements of an MVP, where it is used to test the viability of the idea. But before you invest in developing all of the features, you’ll be reassured that people want your product.

Piecemeal MVP

You could build an MVP from scratch, or you could cobble together one from pre-existing resources. Again, even if it’s not entirely “new”, it still serves the purpose of an MVP. And, by using already existing tools, services, and products, you can add in more features at a lower cost.

Need help with your MVP app development?

At Luminos Software, we are experienced developers with a deep understanding of the processes involved in the development of an MVP app. Our services are designed to give you the guidance you need in the planning stages while also providing you with technically sound app development.

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