5 Steps to Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

When it comes to building a minimum viable product, there are a few key steps that you need to take. An MVP is designed to give you the feedback you need to validate your product idea, so it’s important to keep that goal in mind as you work through the various steps of taking it from concept to actual build.

In this article, we take you through each of these steps. Let’s first unpack exactly what an MVP is.


What is a minimum viable product?

An MVP has the barebones features required to be “functional”, “conceptually sound” or “previewable”. This is usually determined by taking into account the needs of the target market or customer base. The goal is to have a product that can be released quickly and efficiently and at the same time, can prove the integrity and potential of the base concept.

Despite some of the advantages which we’ll cover below, there are also some potential roadblocks to consider. One is that it can be difficult to gauge customer reaction if the product’s concept is a bit more complex, or the end result of the MVP is not as developed. Additionally, if the product is not well-received, it can be difficult to make changes or additions without starting from scratch.

With that being said, there are great benefits to building an MVP. The main ones are as follows. 


Benefits of building an MVP

Here are just a few of the benefits of building an MVP.

-It allows for feedback from users to be gathered much sooner than if the product was fully developed: This feedback can then be used to improve the product before it is released to the masses, increasing the chances of success.

-Minimum viable products tend to be less expensive and time-consuming to develop.

-Releasing a minimum viable product can help to reduce risk

-You get to test concepts: Ideas that sound great on paper may not work in practice. By releasing a minimum viable product, you can test various concepts to see which ones are actually viable and which ones need to be scrapped.

Now that we’ve answered the question, “what is a minimum viable product?”, it’s time to jump into the steps that you need to take to develop one.


Steps to developing an MVP

Identify and understand your target market

The first step in building an MVP is to identify and understand your target market. This includes understanding their needs, wants, pain points, and what they would be willing to pay for a solution to their problem. Surveys, focus groups and simple word-of-mouth are good methods to get this information.

Based on this early research and data, you can then begin to validate your product idea. Create a hypothesis based on your knowledge of the market and discuss it with potential customers.

Assess Needs vs Wants

The next step is to assess the needs versus the wants of your target market. This will help you to determine which features are absolutely essential for your product and which ones can be left out.

Keep in mind that, when it comes to an MVP, less is more. You want to include only the bare minimum features required to make your product viable. Anything beyond that can be added in later versions.

Choosing Product Features

After you’ve determined which features are essential, it’s time to start considering which ones to actually build into your MVP. This is where trade-offs will need to be made as you weigh the costs and benefits of each feature.

Some factors include:

  • The complexity of the feature: How difficult will it be to implement?
  • The value of the feature: How important is it to your target market?
  • The cost of the feature: How much will it cost to develop and maintain?
  • The risk of the feature: What are the risks associated with implementing the feature? Will it elongate development time? Does it depend on an external integration or already-existing product?

Once you’ve determined all of these factors, you can start to prioritize which features should be included in your MVP.

Choosing and Creating The Prototype

The next step is to create a prototype of your product and test it with your customers, investors or audience. 

MVP’s can be created using a variety of methods, including the following:

  • Wireframes: A flow of main screens to capture a product workflow. Typically low fidelity, but can be constructed very quickly to logically demonstrate the overall flow and function of the product.
  • Clickable Prototype: This usually has design, layout and pre-set navigation capabilities for your product. Usually, this is what the front-end of the MVP would look like without the actual backend built yet. This can even have finalized color schemas, page layouts and others—making it ideal for anyone looking to “pitch” the product without any serious development work upfront.
  • Working Prototype: A functional product with limited but essential capabilities. Can also be a mix of working components baked in with a clickable prototype. Products built to be a working prototype are also perfect for getting live user input to interface with your product to even better demonstrate the idea in action.

Choosing any of the above types depends on what type of feedback you need before you can fully commit to the development of the full product. Some might just need a basic proof of concept in the form of UX slides. Other projects might require real world data to be captured first before being greenlit. It ultimately depends on what it’ll take to convince your customers, stakeholders, and yourself that this idea is good enough to proceed.

Release and Test your MVP 

After the initial prototype has been completed, it’s time to test it. This can be done through a variety of channels, including:

  • Website: Add a link to your MVP so people can try it out. You can also capture their contact information, and ask for feedback at a later date.
  • App store: Some app stores have developer programs to release beta builds to the public
  • Crowdfunding: A relatively new method to raise funds and interest. For example, you can build a wireframe or clickable prototype, share it on a crowdfunding platform and have a funding goal to get a fully working MVP out to your audience by a certain time.
  • Private Beta: For specific products, you can have a closed invite to your existing customers to try out the new and latest feature of your MVP.

Once you’ve released your MVP, it’s critical to collect feedback from your audience. This will be the quantitative data that you need to encourage internal or external investment into the product and ultimately greenlight the project for a full build.


Why is Building an MVP Necessary?

Building an MVP is a great way to validate your product idea and get feedback from potential customers. By including only the essential features, you can keep costs down and reduce the risk of failure. 

And, when you only have a limited number of resources to pursue many potential ideas, building an MVP may be a low-investment way to find out if the idea is worth pursuing through to a final product.

Interested in building your MVP but need support? Consult an expert today.

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