MVP Software Development Principles
2 Mar 2017
If you have an idea for a great app or a service, do not hurry to launch a fully featured product. According to the principles of the Lean StartUp approach by Eric Ries, it’s more important to answer the question “Does anybody actually need this product?” We recommend you build the MVP before you develop a 100 percent functioning product. This will help you to get feedback from customers and understand whether all the planned functionalities are required.
MVP: More Opportunities with Minimum Features
MVP is a minimum viable product. Usually, it has limited functionality and can be built quickly with low costs. The wonderful thing is that the MVP helps to test the hypothesis about demand for a product.
How can it be implemented?
- Identify key metrics to show there is user interest in the product and check if the product has growth potential.
- Run an MVP to check the metrics.
- If your metrics work, you can continue to develop the product. If not, try to pivot and change the direction of the product development.
A startup owner can repeat these steps in a circle until he/she comes up with the right solution or rejects the initial idea.
It’s particularly important to note that an MVP is not a raw, homebrew product. In fact, it is a starting point for the launch of a comprehensive solution. MVP software development is a quite popular practice in mobile app development.
One of the illustrative examples for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the mobile app Chefkoch Academy that we developed for Chefkoch.de — a popular cooking portal in Germany. Chefkoch Academy is an iOS app aiming to teach users how to cook different dishes via video courses and professional lectures. We created an app with minimal features and a video course “How to bake bread” within a strictly defined deadline. The MVP has proven itself to be excellent. The customer was satisfied with the outcome and continued further software development by adding new features and courses.
Tools & Techniques of MVP Validation
While creating an MVP, it’s necessary to test it not only on the technical side but also from the ideological side in order to be sure that the final product will be functioning and demanded. Let’s take a look at the specific techniques of MVP validation:
- Customer Interviews
Interviews with early adopters help to get validated learning about customers needs, collect the maximum amount of validated data and test an MVP with real users.
- A/B Tests
A/B testing allows you to test several versions of the product and via user behavior determine which one performs best.
- Analytics Platforms
Analytics Platforms like Google Analytics can be used to collect the maximum amount of data to understand how initial users act. For instance, you can analyze your click-through ratio and conversion to improve parts of the product.
- Explainer Videos
Using videos, you show your app or service features for customers with the least efforts. And they are targeted at potential users.
One of the most famous examples is the Dropbox minimum viable product. It began with a 3-minute video where users could see Dropbox’s promised functionality. After that, signups for Dropbox increased from 5,000 people to 75,000 overnight — all of this in absence of a real product.
- MVP in Parts
Meaning that MVP can be created using readymade services instead of development from scratch.
MVP is not a raw, homebrew product. It is a good start for the launch of a fully-fledged solution.
- Manual-first (aka “Wizard of Oz”) MVP
The purpose of the “Wizard of Oz” MVP software engineering relates to creating an illusion of full functionality until you complete all the features.
A good example of the manual-first MVP is Zappos — an online shoe shop. Its founder Nick Swinmurn started putting up photos of shoes from local shoe stores on a website to measure whether an online store is needed before building one.
- Concierge MVPs
The Concierge test is similar to the “Wizard of Oz” minimum viable product. The only difference is that instead of faking a working product, you’re upfront about the manual work and the product or service is delivered as a highly customized service to selected customers.
- SaaS & PaaS
MVP is based on existing services and cloud platforms: Amazon Web Services, Facebook Connect, Mixpanel, MailChimp, WordPress, LiveChat, and others.
- Digital prototypes
In order to demonstrate the product’s functionality in a way that mimics the actual usage, it’s possible to apply mockups, wireframes, and prototypes.
On the one hand, your MVP software development process can become an additional stage of work as it requires time and money. On the other hand, MVPs allow understanding whether it’s worth investing the money and resources in the project or not.
So think twice, what hypothesis you’d like to test? And then order an MVP that helps you to confirm or reject the hypothesis.
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