How to plan what goes into your MVP
So you want to build an MVP? Great! This is the best decision you can make for your business. An MVP (minimum viable product) is what it says on the tin: a version of your product with only the most basic features that allow it to function as intended. Building an MVP allows you to iterate faster and get customer feedback sooner so you can make smart decisions about how your product evolves over time.
But before you start coding up a barebones minimum viable product, there are some things to consider—and then some more things after that! In this article, we'll cover everything from requirements gathering and user stories to wireframing and prototyping.
You need to understand the purpose of an MVP.
MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It’s a way to test if your idea is viable before you take it to market.
You can think of an MVP as a bridge between the idea and the final product or service, which will later be used by customers and their feedback will help you improve your product.
MVP gives you an insight into how people are likely to use your product and what problems they might face when using it.
If everything goes according to plan, then after collecting user feedback and improving upon the initial MVP version, you can launch your final product with confidence that it will be useful for users from day one!
When building your MVP, you need to build the right product.
The purpose of an MVP is to test your assumptions about whether or not customers will pay for the product you have in mind. It should be something that gives you insight into how users interact with your product and what they need from it.
Your MVP shouldn’t have any unnecessary features, but it should still provide value for users by solving a problem or meeting a need. Just because you think something is cool doesn’t mean it belongs in the MVP — only things that are essential for getting feedback from end-users belong in this stage of development.
The characteristics of an MVP depend on which type of product you're developing: software or hardware; web or mobile; etc. For example, if you are building a website, then your MVP might be just one page explaining why people would want to use your service (and showing them how).
It pays to do some research before you start planning.
It pays to do some research before you start planning. To create a good MVP, you need to know the following:
Your target audience. What problem does your product solve for them? What questions does it answer? How often will they use it?
Your business model. How will your product be funded and how much money are you willing to invest in its development and marketing?
Your competitors' strengths and weaknesses. Who has already created something similar that has been successful in the market (or is likely to be successful)? What makes their products different from yours and why would customers choose one over another if both are free or low-cost options? It's important to know what users think about each competitor's products so that when you launch yours later on, they'll see enough value in what yours offers over theirs right away!
The first step in planning what goes into your MVP is to prioritise features based on the three criteria of value, cost, and time.
Value: The value of a feature to the customer is determined by how much they will pay for it. If you're building an app that helps people find local food trucks, then "find food truck locations nearby" is more valuable than "order food from a food truck."
Cost: You should prioritise features that cost less to develop because they allow you to get more bang for your buck (and also because you'll be able to make more money if you don't spend too much on them).
Time: The amount of time required to build a feature can vary greatly depending on its complexity. A simple feature like "login" may take just several hours to code, while others like "sales dashboard" may require weeks or months of work depending on their complexity.
Create a bare-bones design for your app.
A common mistake many people make when creating a product is jumping straight into the details of its design rather than first defining the problem and goals. This can result in wasted time and effort, as you may end up with a product that doesn't solve your user's problems.
A good MVP approach starts with defining the problem before starting on a solution. You might not have all the answers at this point, but by listing potential problems and asking yourself questions like "what do I want?", "what am I trying to accomplish?", and "how will this benefit my users?" you'll get started on narrowing down what kind of app you should create.
Once you've defined your goal for an MVP, don't worry about what other people's goals are; rather than trying to build something based on assumptions about others' needs, focus on what's relevant for yourself—the future user base may end up being very different from who you think it will be now!
Look for ways to reduce risk.
As you're planning your MVP, look for ways to reduce risk. The best way to do this is by using the right tools and approaches. We've already discussed some of these in the previous section (for example, choosing a database type and framework based on your use case). Here are some more considerations:
Use good software architecture. A good technical lead will be able to analyse your project requirements and pick the most appropriate and cost effective architecture.
Keep it simple. It's tempting to want everything perfect from day one, but remember that an MVP is designed for learning how users respond to minimal functionality—and often even simpler interfaces than those offered by larger applications could be enough for them!
Don't forget about non-functional requirements.
It is often tempting to skip over non-functional requirements. This is because they are harder to test and write than functional requirements. However, they are just as important because they impact the user experience and retention rate of your product.
Security: Ensuring that data stored on your app cannot be accessed by unauthorised users is an overarching concern for all software developers today—and it should be for you too! Security testing depends heavily on how well you've implemented your security infrastructure, so make sure you're confident in this area before moving forward with any other non-functional requirements tests.
Performance: Performance testing ensures that the application runs smoothly across devices, networks and situations (e.g., low bandwidth). If your app crashes at any point during use or freezes at random intervals then these issues should be fixed before launch day arrives!
Usability: Usability testing involves having real users interact with mockups of their screens while giving feedback on whether or not each feature was easy enough to understand through visual cues alone (or other means) such as colour coding schemes
Identify bottlenecks and ways of dealing with them.
Identifying and understanding bottlenecks is an important part of the process. If you can't get your product to a usable state, your MVP won’t be able to serve its purpose. To deal with this, you can either remove features or introduce them in a different way so that they do not cause bottlenecks. For example, if data transfer is taking too long, use other ways of transferring data such as local storage or even simple text files on the device itself (although this will be far less efficient).
Solid planning will help save you time and money when developing a new product.
Planning is essential to delivering a successful MVP. A well-defined, thorough plan will save you time and money, helping you get to market faster. Proper planning will also help you avoid mistakes and avoid scope creep, keeping your project focused on what matters most. It’s very important that you stay on schedule with your product development plan because it can be difficult or even impossible to make up for lost time later in the development process.
Summary and Next Steps
Planning is the key to building an effective MVP. The best way to do this is by staying focused on the product's purpose and prioritising features that will help you achieve it. You should also look for ways to reduce risk during development, such as identifying bottlenecks in your system or working with outside contractors who have expertise in areas where you don't have much experience. Finally, make sure you're clear on what non-functional requirements need addressing before moving forward with development!
Now that we’ve covered everything you need to know when it comes to planning for an MVP, it’s time to take action. Bytehogs has supported many businesses, like yours, launch their MVP, and quite a few people from our team have independently launched their own MVPs. We’re best placed to support you end-to-end with getting your MVP from ideation through to go-live and beyond, book a free, no-obligation consultation call with our team today - we’ll gladly walk you through our process, and all of the options you have available to you.
We offer a fixed-price MVP programme, where you get 2 weeks of scoping and design from our product and design leads, as well as 4 weeks of development from 2 of our software engineers. It's the best way to quickly get an MVP built and launched so you can start gathering crucial user feedback! If you sign up before the end of January, you'll get this programme for the discounted price of only £13,499 + VAT.
Ready to get started?
Contact us via email or schedule a call back. We offer a free 30-minute consultation to start your project.