For many startups and growing businesses, knowing how to get your product up and running while minimizing risk can be a challenge.
- Is there a need for my product in the market?
- How will customers react to my concept?
- Do I know all the relevant features I should include?
- Am I really addressing all of my users' problems and have I presented the "right" solutions?
These are all questions that keep business leaders up at night. And getting to the bottom of each of these concerns takes the right approach when it comes to launching a successful product development project.
Many businesses find that the best way to address each of these questions is by creating an MVP (minimum viable product) to validate their product ideas and ensure they are executed properly. But what steps should organizations take when following this path?
This article will help you understand the importance of MVPs when it comes to new product launches and the 5 steps you need to know when beginning a development project.
What is an MVP?
An MVP (minimum viable product) is a basic, launchable version of a product. It supports the minimal, must-have features of a product, which attracts early adopters and validates the viability of a conceptual design early in the product development lifecycle. In industries supported by software development, MVPs are incredibly valuable because they help the product team receive user feedback quickly and early in the process, so they can ultimately improve the product.
Below we'll address the five critical steps you should be taking in order to execute an MVP successfully.
Do market research
If you’re developing an MVP, you’ve established the core concept of a product you want to create and are taking the steps to make it a reality. The MVP will be the basic version of the product that you launch, giving you the opportunity to improve on it as needed. Doing market research in advance will help you assess the viability of your new product or service before you begin development.
During this phase, use surveys, product tests, focus groups, etc. to gather information about your ideal customer base. Unfortunately, some ideas simply do not fit market needs. In fact, lack of real product need accounts for more than 40% of most startup failures.
Before you initiate an idea and begin to develop an MVP, check to see if it fulfills the target users’ needs. The more information that you collect about your users, including their demographics, their likes and dislikes, devices they use, and their overall product needs, the greater your chances of success.
Clearly define your goals and process
Having completed market research, you should have a clear idea of what the users’ problems are to solve. Ask yourself, “How can I make this product most valuable to my customers?”
This is your primary goal, and all of your actions should be based on this. The next step is defining a user flow. The user flow is the path taken by the prototypical user on a website or app to get the desired result. Understanding the user flow will help you to define the required features of the MVP.
After creating your user flow, list out the features of your product and prioritize them by importance. A good way to categorize the features is by creating a table with three columns: “must-have,” “nice-to-have,” and “additional.”
Going through this planning stage will help you to understand the goals and process before beginning to build and launch your MVP.
Effectively launch your plan
After you’ve created a plan, you’ve arrived at the development stage. With the help of the Lean Startup methodology, you can continue on to the MVP creation process using the Build-Measure-Learn (BML) feedback loop. Here are the cycle stages that can help you launch your plan:
In this cycle stage, you figure out problems and define how to create a minimum viable product that will solve them quickly. There are four different options to choose from for development:
- Find a technical co-founder who will help you build your application
- Work with a freelancer or freelancing team
- Hire in-house developers
- Collaborate with an MVP development team
After you’ve built your MVP, you can move onto the next two stages, measuring and learning.
This stage is where you determine if you’ve made real progress. You can use your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) sales metrics and their correlation to determine whether it is profitable to continue the development of the MVP. You can also utilize Google Analytics and Hotjar for your website to see your traffic, conversions, etc.
In this stage, you launch the product you have built and collect the users’ feedback for future improvements. You have to determine if that feedback means you should persevere in the direction you’ve started or pivot and change certain features. You may also determine that you need a new development strategy.
Team up with the right development groupTo get the most out of your MVP development it’s important to partner with a team who understands your vision and can be trusted to hold themselves accountable to it. Click To Tweet
In the third step, we talked about the different options you have to develop your MVP. It’s important to note that not all are created equally. In fact, collaborating with an experienced MVP development team can help you save costs and launch more quickly, compared to struggling to work out the kinks yourself. By releasing your product earlier to your competitors, you have increased your chance of being competitive in the market and beating out your rivals.
For example, if you work in software and you want to build an MVP that offers basic functionality, then working with an established company will help you to accomplish your goal much faster due to their vast experience and in-depth industry knowledge.
If you initially go in the wrong direction (freelancer, in-house developer, etc.), and you need to redirect, then an MVP development team can always provide you the expert assistance that you need to improve the project.
Measure the results
When you build an MVP, you build it off of features you feel are most important to your customers. As soon as it lands on the market, you'll be able to quickly assess if you stayed on track with these goals. At this point, it’s all about what your users think. Now, it’s your job to collect ‘real data’ after you launch your MVP, so you can measure whether or not your product was successful and how it can improve. Here are some of the metrics you can look at to gain this insight:
- Word of mouth (i.e. traffic)
- Downloads, launch rates, etc.
- Percentage of active users
- Client Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Number of Paying Users
- Client Lifetime Value (CLV)
- Churn Rate
MVP development is an important step to take when you need to validate a product concept quickly and with minimal investment necessary to move forward. By following these five steps, you'll ensure your design project takes the right user-centric approach and you gain the valuable insight you need to build a long-term viable product.