Building a minimum viable product (MVP) has become standard practice in the two decades since the approach was first defined. The benefits of launching with an MVP are many, but how do you know if it’s right for your project? Is creating an MVP app all it’s cracked up to be? Read on to learn the pros and cons of developing an MVP and find out if it’s right for you.
What Is an MVP App?
An MVP app is a basic version of an app product — it includes only the most essential features to solve a user’s problem. MVP (minimum viable product) is an app development process. When developing an MVP app, you focus on providing value by building a solution to a problem and then get it out to the market as quickly as possible. Then, you collect first-hand user feedback and incorporate it back into the app. This build-measure-learn validation process provides invaluable learning to drive future development. It helps you to serve your customers with lower up-front costs.
An MVP app is fully functional — it includes the features that are needed to solve a user’s problem without extra “bells and whistles.” But it’s only a first step in developing the app. Once the app is in the user’s hands, you can validate the need for the app’s functions and get much more specific insight as to what to develop next based on actual results instead of speculation.
When Should You Create an MVP?
Creating an MVP is a great way to reduce your risk and your initial cash outlay. (We’ll share more about that later in our review of the pros and cons of creating an MVP.) Though it’s generally a great idea to start any app development project by building an MVP, you need to define some other things first to make sure the MVP will be effective.
- When you need clarity around the product’s purpose — What is the problem you aim to solve with the app? What will the app do, and why will users need it? Your app needs to offer a unique solution to an existing problem for users to buy it.
- When trying to understand your ideal users — Who are your ideal users? What are their needs, desires, goals, thoughts, and feelings? Start by creating user personas that reflect your user groups. You’ll also want to have some real users representing your target user groups to partner with you to validate your idea, prioritize features for your MVP, and provide feedback once it’s released.
- When determining what features to include in your app — It’s easy to get excited and to go overboard when building an MVP, as you want to wow your users. However, you don’t need anything too fancy; you just need to solve their problem. You’ll need a way to determine what features need to be part of your MVP app.
Use this template to help you determine what features to include in your MVP app. It will help you identify which features are essential to solving the users’ core problem.
Designli’s SolutionLab walks you through the process of defining your MVP, making sure you have fully vetted responses to these questions before we start building. With this proven process, you can have a high level of confidence in your MVP.
MVP Pros and Cons
Pros of Creating an MVP
- Get your app out to the market more quickly than if you waited to develop a robust app with all considered features.
- Learn quickly by testing the concept before you commit too much time, money, and resources.
- Save money creating your app by building only the features that are needed and not spending time and money on features that may not be as important. You also reduce your up-front spending.
- Create stronger relationships with customers by soliciting their input for future releases.
- You have a tested idea to bring to investors if you’re seeking funding to build out the app.
Cons of Creating an MVP
- Getting reliable target user feedback may require more upfront work.
- The success of an MVP hinges on correctly defining the necessary features.
- There is heavy importance on selecting the right resources and technology to build successfully.
- It will likely require multiple development releases, requiring additional resource time for things like testing.
Minimum Viable Product Examples
A lot of popular products, tools, and apps got their start as MVPs. You may not even recognize them now based on their initial release. Once they validated their core concept to address a consumer pain point, they collected user feedback and updated the apps based on their users’ needs.
- Facebook — “TheFacebook” initially was a message board to connect students at a college. The simplicity of the approach built a powerhouse.
- Uber — This service originated in San Francisco in order to offer taxi services as inexpensively as possible, and was offered only to local iPhone users brave enough to have credit card payments enabled.
- Amazon — Amazon got its start selling books online to compete with brick-and-mortar bookstores like Barnes and Noble.
- Spotify — Spotify’s initial goal was to be the best music streaming service available, but they started out by signing on a small number of artists to see if the idea would take off.
- Dropbox — A video explaining file-syncing was all they started with to validate their concept. Then, they started small with the ability to load, store, and retrieve files in the cloud, and moved on from there.
- Etsy — Etsy found an audience in small crafters who were not being served elsewhere. Etsy tested its idea with an MVP and has expanded to become one of the most popular independent seller marketplaces.
- Twitter — This popular social media platform started as an internally-used product at a podcasting platform seeking an SMS-based messaging platform solution. When they realized how much employees were spending for SMS, they developed an MVP app to accomplish the same thing without the cost of SMS.
Increase Your Success with an MVP App
Building an MVP is a great way to reduce your risk when creating a new app. It’s an effective way to build a product when you do your homework up-front and ask your initial users to share feedback.
Want to learn more about how we help clients build successful MVPs? Get in touch.