The primary task of a minimum viable product is to present the main features of the future project and collect feedback to make a chain of strategic decisions. Namely: the demand, attractiveness, and prospects of your business idea. It is essential to do this as economically as possible.
The right MVP is the key to the success of your startup
If there were a cemetery of failed projects somewhere in a parallel universe, then ambitious startups would have an alley of honor there. Loss statistics may differ depending on the specific source of information, but the most plausible figure seems to be 92%. That is how many promising projects are closed every year. One of the main reasons is the lack of a clear idea of how much the market needs this product and how viable it will be when presented to the general public.
To avoid bitter disappointments and ruinous spending, MVP development services for startups exist. The correct production of a minimum viable product, the competent collection, and deep feedback analysis are an axiom for modern business. However, for some reason, people who decide to conquer the market with a sudden cavalry attack appear every day. Unlike the legendary The Charge of the Light Brigade, no one writes romantic poems about these fallen reckless heroes. They just quietly and imperceptibly join the ninety-two percent.
To not share their fate, let’s talk about MVP in more detail.
MVP should be attractive but not perfect
The two most common mistakes consumers make when using MVP development services for startups are one of two mutually exclusive approaches:
- The desire to make your minimum viable product ideal, that is, immediately include all the intended functions in it and bring, as well as the appearance of the product, to perfection;
- A condescending dismissive attitude towards your MVP – they say since this is not even a release, then there is no need to invest in it too thoroughly.
The first approach leads to unnecessary, completely unjustified costs at the initial stage. The second one deprives the MVP of user attractiveness and does not allow for collecting objective feedback that would enable making an informed decision about the project’s future prospects.
It is essential to understand that, on the one hand, an MVP should embody the main idea, the primary function of your startup. You can add all extra buttons, menus, services, and other bells and whistles later. At the stage of testing a minimum viable product, you need to understand how engaging your product or service is to potential consumers and how innovative and competitive your idea is. Therefore, it is imperative to strike a balance: focus on the essence, and postpone the details and particulars until the release since the main idea should be presented most understandably and advantageously.
On the other hand, another danger arises if you go too far along the path of simplifying and reducing the cost of MVP. You can make it so vague, awkward to use, and aesthetically unattractive that potential consumers will reject it outright without even understanding your market-breaking idea. In this case, it may well turn out that an up-and-coming business project will not be implemented because users, disappointed at the start, will not go further and, therefore, will not give you objective feedback.
MVP is not just about software. Any new idea needs to be tested
A prime example of how an MVP works when it comes to validating an idea rather than a product is the history of Airbnb.
In 2008, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia could not pay for a loft apartment in San Francisco and decided to see if there was a demand for renting rooms directly from the owner. They created an easy one-page website with photos of their apartment and started renting out their loft. Young designers managed to pay off all debts very soon. Already in 2009, their startup attracted the attention of Paul Graham and received the first investment from his Y Combinator business incubator. After that, Chesky and Gebbia traveled to New York, where they went door-to-door with clients and asked them about their rental experience. They soon realized that many tenants were put off by the poor-quality images that appeared in the ads. Then the young designers rented an SLR camera and went to addresses in Manhattan and Brooklyn to photograph the landlords’ apartments.
The experience of designers from Frisco is quite applicable to creating an MVP of some new product. If you understand the still unsatisfied needs of your future consumers and realize them in the most accessible and elegant way, you will be successful without a doubt.
Of course, each specific idea implies its specific approaches and ways of representation. However, the general principles, in general terms, will remain unchanged:
- Define a problem for a solution. It is necessary to answer the question in a few words: what is this product for?
- Define your target audience and narrow it down. First, you need to prepare a detailed description of the client or buyer: determine his age, gender, education, areas of work, and income level. You can imagine even his specific habits and hobbies.
- Analyze competitors. Find out their product’s strengths and weaknesses to determine your project’s functionality. Analyze the three major market players, and explore their past and current strategies, sales volume, revenues, and financial and marketing goals. Take the information from company websites, blogs, magazines, and newspapers, as well as attend business events with the participation of competitors. Programmatic analytics tools such as Similar Web, Ahrefs, Quantcast, App Annie, and AppFollow, which collect data about websites and applications, are also suitable.
- Conduct a SWOT analysis. Large companies use this strategic planning method to make management decisions and form business policies. It allows you to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the product, its opportunities, and threats for the MVP.
- Define a user path map (user flow) – the path the user takes when interacting with the product. This method will allow you to develop requirements for the content and design of sites and applications.
- Compile a list of features ranked by priority. It should start with the required components for the future product. The user stories will help you define valuable parts from the users’ point of view.
- Determine the scope of the MVP. Foremost, you must create a product with the most necessary features, separating them from non-essential ones.
- Choose the most appropriate type of MVP.
- Conduct alpha and beta testing. The first is internal testing, where the product evaluates the narrow environment. In beta mode, you can let real users try the product for a short time and analyze the feedback. Then the product is updated and again goes into beta testing. The number of “build-test” cycles and their time frame depend on the product type.
The choice of a specific type of MVP depends on many different factors. However, the undeniable fact remains unchanged: any new idea must pass preliminary testing to take off for real.
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