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Why Spend the Time and Money to Build an MVP?

By Nick Epson on February 11, 2021

A well-designed MVP (Minimum Viable Product) serves as a valuable tool that enables businesses to get a foot in the door of digital marketplaces and begin the journey to success – in much the same way that your performance during an interview can be the difference between landing a job or resuming a job search, MVP software development needs to make an impact without oversharing. Businesses get the best results when sticking to a focused feature set that they can deliver to the market in a timely fashion.

Putting the time and money it takes to come up with a great MVP is a critical investment that can make or break your software’s ability to make an impact on your target audience. Putting out a rushed piece of hot garbage without sufficient planning is just as bad going overboard and trying to include every feature you’ve imagined. There’s a sweet spot you should aim for when deciding on what to include in your first release of a product. We’re going to start by covering a few aspects of a great MVP then discuss why this iteration of a digital product is so important.

What should MVP software development look like?

When building a digital product, understanding that focusing on a solution to a single or small group of closely related problems is the goal. Your MVP needs to provide a useful service that either brings innovation to the market or spins an existing formula for the better. The mantra for an MVP is “cut, cut, cut” to the point where it simply captures the essence of your main idea. It should have minimal features to engage early adopters such that you can test your hypothesis.

There are a couple of reasons you don’t want to build every feature you’ve conjured into a first release. Mainly, doing so would require a much larger initial investment, and if you make some kind of small oversight, you could end up like the multi-billion dollar Quibi platform that imploded soon after launch. In addition, a longer time-to-market will often negatively impact your product’s success – in the most dramatic cases, someone else with the same idea could steal your thunder, among other complications that can arise.

Running through a five-day design sprint is the ideal way to go about MVP software development. You’ll work with a team of designers and developers to hone in on the pressing matters that your product will solve in addition to create a roadmap for future feature releases. The prototype you’ll have by the end of the process will closely resemble the MVP as it will incorporate the feature set for the digital product’s first iteration. Here, you’ll collect your first batch of feedback from a group of test users that will serve to solidify your feature set.

Getting a solid product on the market as quickly as possible should be the goal. To quote Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn: 

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Benefits of putting time and money into your MVP

Though your MVP will be a refined version of what your product will look like down the road, it still needs to get the job done. Don’t’ take the quote above out of context – while you should feel a little disappointed knowing what the “end game” looks like, it needs to engage users just enough such that you can use it to test your hypothesis. Putting together a great MVP will enable you to do the following.

Win stakeholder and investor buy-in. For both entrepreneurs looking to bring a product to the market with the help of investors and existing businesses that need a proof of concept, MVP software development showcases actual results to those putting up the money for development. Because most digital products don’t typically yield enough profit for further development during their MVP phase, you’ll need additional funding to promptly build the next wave of features. An MVP serves as a proving ground where you can demonstrate through feedback, both good and bad, that a product’s growth aligns with its projected earning trajectory.

Learn about the usability of the product. The UX of a digital product is often built on layers of assumptions that, when combined, work to define the UI which is why constant feedback is so valuable. The prototype from the design sprint will give a glimpse of insight into the product’s usability – once it’s live, you’ll learn so much more from real use case scenarios. Information about how users interact with an app both through direct feedback like app store reviews as well as indirect feedback from backend analytics will expose shortcomings and opportunities. By applying this information to optimize the UX, your product will be better equipped to retain its userbase. 

Test your product and prove you’re able to quickly address issues. The goal is to furnish an app with as few bugs as possible but that’s never the case in real-world MVP software development. You’ll find that users will somehow manage to get an app to do “the impossible,” for better or worse. A system needs to be in place to address and prioritize software patching by using tools like Jira that we use here at Blue Label Labs. The timely repair of issues shows users that you pay attention and care about the problems they experience.

Verify market demands before going all in. Through testing, gathering feedback, and measuring financial results, you’ll gain insight into the viability a fleshed-out model of your MVP will supply the market. Your performance (or lack thereof) will reveal if your digital product has the wherewithal to continually produce results throughout its lifecycle. It’s a good idea to request specific feedback through a survey of your existing users to understand how pricing might affect their experience. Finding the sweet spot for pricing allows you to retain your early adopters as well as appeal to new users.

Refine your monetization strategy. Building on the point above, you might find that you need to adjust your underlying financial model to get the best results. For example, you might initially plan to eventually charge for an app after you’ve built more features. In most cases, if you initially offer a freemium product, you’re usually best to stick with this model rather than slapping a price on it once your product has “proven” itself. It’s typically best to give users a taste then let them pay for what they want.

Observe user behavior to solidify or adjust the next milestones on your roadmap. Future releases organized on your roadmap are a result of early assumptions and initial user testing. You may well find that your next planned feature won’t be nearly as valuable to users as something scheduled for later in the development cycle. Analytics need to be set up alongside well-defined funnels to understand how users are specifically engaging with and “moving through” the software. Information you gather from feedback and analytics should be used to either justify your roadmap or tweak feature releases to align with user expectations. 

We understand that a successful product starts with a true MVP

We celebrate “smart failures” because we know we’re not always right the first time. Feedback gained from dedicated testing allows us to reevaluate our process to ultimately build the best possible product. Blue Label Labs knows how to best pivot a product’s trajectory to deliver the most impactful features at the right prices for your audience. Get in touch with us to learn more about our MVP software development process and how we can help your product to engage with users throughout its lifecycle.

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