HOW TO BUILD MVP FOR YOUR STARTUP
What is MVP
If you are new in product development it would be good to start with the definition of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). And believe me, if you are pretty experienced it would be good also to remind yourself what is it, as sometimes we use to put too much effort into not exactly necessary things.
So, Minimum Viable Product is a development technique used by startups and product teams to quickly develop and launch a product with basic features and functionality, in order to test the market and validate the product's value proposition.
The most important words here are “quickly”, “basic features”, “validate”. The goal of an MVP is to get the product in front of customers as soon as possible, so you can learn from their feedback and iterate on the product until it meets the needs of the target audience.
Very often we see the situation when startups want to build and invest too much. This causes a lot of frustration, because firstly, the product building process takes too long. And when the product is already launched - it’s not really user friendly and doesn't match potential customers' needs. So this causes a lot of frustration and startups could lose potential customers, because they do not exactly resolve the problem.
However, it is important to find the right balance between launching too early with an incomplete product and launching too late when the market has already moved on. This is where the MVP approach can be helpful, when you are looking to test product ideas with minimal resources.
How to plan the MVP
So where to start? The main function of a successful business is to solve specific problems of the consumer. I believe, if you plan to build the problem, you should already know what is the main problem your product should solve and your goal is to run a successful business or project. So follow the next steps in planning the MVP.
1 - Problem identification
Which problem will your product fix? It could be 1, 2, or more points. This is your hypothesis, which will be confirmed, changed or at all rejected on the next steps. Don’t be afraid to change or update the product idea. Sometimes it’s painful, as we think that we created the best possible solution in our minds. But if it’s the best possible solution only for you, who will then buy your product?
2 - Basic research
There are some essential steps that should be performed on this stage:
- Market research is really important.
Yeah, we know that sometimes it’s boring and you’d like to just start building the product. But believe me, if you would like to save your money, time and business opportunities, you should perform a lot of homework before product planning.
So on this step you should understand the current state of the market, your competition, and your target audience. This will help you identify gaps and opportunities for your product.
- Define your target audience.
Who is struggling with the problem? Firstly, identify the exact target audience - social group, for eg. young people 25-35 y.o that would like to travel more or first time parents (25-35 y.o), that need advice.
- Identify pain points
And then identify what their needs are. This can be done through customer interviews, surveys, and analyzing user behavior data. Don't be afraid to talk to people. The best way to identify the common main problem is to arrange meetings with potential customers / users of your product and talk to them about their problems. Be prepared to listen and learn. And let them say about the problem as much as they want.
- Prioritize pain points
Once you have identified the pain points, prioritize them based on their impact on your target audience. You can create a list of pain points from customers’ worlds during the interview. And ask them to evaluate from 1 to 10 most painful problems. This will help you determine which pain points to focus on in your MVP.
3 - Value proposition
The essential part as the result of all previous steps. This should be a clear statement that describes the benefit that your product provides to your target audience. Base your Unique Value Proposition on the pain points and target audience that you identified on the previous steps. Don’t copy the competition, create something different and unique.
If you are struggling with the value proposition, just imagine the B point. If it would be the way, you customer now in the A point with all problems, pain points and issues (identified during interviews). What does the B point look like? When your customer is happy, all pain points are fixed and your product helps him to manage the main problem. How does the product help? What functions in your product are the most important?
Btw, do not use any objections in your value proposition.
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Uff, we are slowly getting to the product planning stage
4 - List main features for MVP
As a new product developer, it's easy to get caught up in adding more features, perfecting the design, or building out every aspect of the product before launch. However, this approach can be costly and time-consuming, especially if you later discover that some of those features or design elements are unnecessary or not valued by your target audience.
So firstly list all possible features, even the smallest one like button animation (this will be useful in future, when you will be crating the advanced roadmap and developing the product)
And in the next step determine which features are critical for the initial release and which ones can be added later. Your MVP should include the core functionality that solves the primary problem (identified on previous steps, and with highest score) and meets the main need of your target audience. These are the most important features of your MVP.
Some additional features, that could be included in the MVP:
- User authentication
- Payment processing
The chosen features should be in line with your goal. What would you like to test with the MVP? For example, if you want to test usability, the most useful functions, how customers interact with the app and you will give an app for free, so maybe the payment processing feature is not so necessary for the MVP stage? Optimize as much as you can.
Ok, did you already list all possible features already and identify the most important ones? The next step is to choose the product format and create the roadmap. It could be a mobile app, web application, desktop application, E-commerce website, Social media platform, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, SaaS products. It would be good to take advice from the technical person, who can help you to choose the best suitable product type.
Download the success MVP checklist
5 - Roadmap
This is the visual representation of the strategic plan for developing and releasing an MVP over time. It outlines the key milestones, features, and deadlines that are critical to the success of the product.
MVP roadmap in comparison to the main product roadmap is not set in stone (and even the main product roadmap should be flexible). MVP roadmap can be adjusted and updated as you gather feedback and learn more about your target audience. The key is to focus on the essential features and release the MVP as quickly as possible to validate your product idea.
The MVP roadmap typically includes the following elements:
- Goals and objectives that the product is intended to achieve. This provides a clear understanding of the purpose of the product and what it is trying to accomplish.
- Timeline that outlines the key milestones and deadlines for the product. This helps the development team to plan their work and ensures that аeatures and functionalities are released on schedule. You should include next stages:
- Initial testing (could be skipped sometimes)
- Design and prototyping
- Validation of the MVP
- Iteration and refine
- Resources that will be needed to develop and launch the product, including personnel, tools, and funding.
6 - Initial testing (this step could be skipped)
We mean here the no-code tools. Testing products without code can be challenging and depends on the roadmap. If the product launch is planned in more than a few months, you may want to test some features hypothesis in advance. In this case you can create simple no-code solutions to understand the customer needs. This test helps to improve the UX even before the first release.
Available no-code options:
- Prototype: Use a no-code prototyping tool like InVision or Marvel to create an interactive prototype of your MVP. This allows you to test the user experience and get feedback on the design and functionality of your product.
- Landing pages: Create a landing page for your product idea using a no-code website builder like Webflow (recommendation from us) or you can also use Carrd and Squarespace. This allows you to test the demand for your product and gather email addresses of potential customers.
- User surveys: Use no-code survey tools like Google Forms, Typeform, or SurveyMonkey to gather feedback from potential users. You can use surveys to test the market demand for your product, identify user needs and pain points, and get feedback on pricing and features.
7 - Design and develop
Choose tech stack. The most important thing on this stage is to use correct modern technology that is suitable for your product type and scale. When UX/UI can be updated in the meantime, the chosen technology can’t. As you will need to re-do the product from 0, if you will decide to change the technology. So it’s important to plan the product with the person who understands the software development process and also is familiar with the UX/UI. It’s better to build the correct product from the beginning. Find a tech person or company, who can help you to choose a technically correct approach and will show the right planning direction.
There are 2 schools for MVP building - some say that you should treat MVP as a prototype only and your main product will anyway be built from scratch. And the second approach - you choose the right technology and UX from the beginning and just pivoting and iterating the product. Your MVP is the first step in product development. We did both and we like the 2d approach.
So you should choose the tech stack that should be suitable to the product type, features, scale and a lot of other things that could be identified individually per project.
Develop user flow. User flow is the path that a user takes while interacting with your product. It includes all the actions your customer takes from the start of their journey to the end.
- Map out the user's journey from start to finish, identifying key touchpoints and actions that they take along the way.
- Identify user goals at each stage of the journey. This could be anything from learning more about a product to making a purchase or providing feedback.
- Identify the specific actions that the user takes at each stage of the product journey to achieve their goals. This could include clicking on a button, filling out a form, or navigating to a specific page.
- Map out the user flow. Use a diagramming tool or create a flowchart to map out the user flow. This should clearly show the user's journey, the actions they take, and the touchpoints they encounter. You can use Miro or Figma.
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Design the prototype. Start by sketching out the prototype, focus on the main features and user flows, create wireframes that provide a more detailed view of the product and then design the visual interface. This includes choosing colors, fonts, and images that align with your brand and appeal to your target audience. Use a tool like Figma or Sketch to create wireframes that show the layout of each screen and the interaction between screens.
Develop the first ever MVP for your idea. But hold-on, it’s not the end! It’s actually just the beginning of the long journey! :)
8 - Test and validate the MVP
It’s time to find your first potential customers. Conduct user testing with a group of people who potentially will buy your product. You can use social media, email marketing, or other marketing channels to find testers. Ask them to use your product and provide feedback on its usability, features, and overall value proposition. It’s very important to talk with them, to check if they are using your product (and also to check why not).
There are several methods you can use to test your MVP, such as user testing, A/B testing, surveys, focus groups, and analytics. Choose the method that best fits your needs and budget.
Before testing your MVP, it's important to define your success criteria. What are the key metrics you're looking to measure? How will you know if your MVP is successful or not? Examples of success criteria could be user engagement, conversion rates, retention rates, etc.
Analyze the feedback to see how well your MVP is performing against your success criteria. Look for patterns in the feedback and identify any areas that need improvement.
9 - Iterate and refine
Based on the feedback you receive, make necessary improvements to your MVP. Keep testing and iterating until you've achieved your success criteria. Iterate on the design and features until you have a product that is valuable and useful to your target customers.
10 - Launch
Once you have a functional MVP that meets your target customers' needs, launch it to a wider audience. And then go back to the iterate and refine step:
- Collect user’s feedback to understand how well your MVP is performing (it’s the most important - on every stage!).
- Prioritize improvements to your MVP, based on the feedback you receive. Focus on the most critical issues first and work on those that will have the biggest impact on user experience and retention.
- Once you've made improvements to your MVP, it's time to start expanding your user base.
Remember that an MVP is not a final product, but rather a starting point for testing and learning. Your goal should be to get your product in front of customers as quickly as possible to validate your assumptions and improve your product iteratively.