As mobile app developers ourselves, we always prefer launching an MVP [Minimum Viable Product] of an application before developing and releasing the full fledged product. Unless there are some constraints, like time, money or scope limitations, we advise all our clients to first roll out an MVP to early adopters and then, by calibrating the application based on the feedback, release the complete product. There are a lot of benefits to this approach that we have personally experienced over the years, and we’ll talk about them in this article.
To give you an understanding of what an MVP is, it stands for ‘Minimum Viable Product’ and is basically the stripped down version of the final application. The MVP has core features that are enough for users to begin using it and provide feedback.
Reasons why we develop an MVP (and the benefits we reap from it)
- Gives our clients the chance to reach the market earlier than expected.
- Gives us actual user feedback from real-time use. In most cases we release the app only to a selected audience, like a curated focus group or early adopters, to eliminate toxic feedback.
- Saves time and money on building features that can prove to be redundant, unuseful or impractical, which we learn only after real-time usage.
- Studying app usage accelerates our learning of user requirements and demands.
- Gives our clients brand exposure which the marketing team leverages to build market curiosity and demand.
How We Go About Building An MVP
In general, there are 4 areas we focus on when building an app:
- Design (UX and UI)
- Functionality (Features that the app will provide)
- Usability (Is the app and are the features easy to use?)
- Reliability (Uptime, load time, and speed)
When developing the MVP, we focus on the same 4 areas, but roll out only what is needed under each one-
- We start by listing out the core features that need to be included in the MVP. Any feature that can be skipped (because it doesn’t add immediate value to the user) will be skipped. For example, when developing a fintech loan application app, the core features are those that let a user create a loan request, get it approved, get the money transferred, and allow them to begin making repayments. Any other feature, like high performing filters, calculators, etc, while very useful, are mainly added to increase user convenience. These are not immediately necessary especially if the audience is controlled and not likely to complain about these inconveniences.
- We design the product. The main focus here is on UX with a basic UI. The product has to be ‘minimum’ but still intuitive and easy to use so our audience actually uses every feature.
- We build the MVP. What’s important to note is that we plan out the required technology stack based not only on the immediate features that will be added, but also taking into account future features that will be added and product scalability.
- We either gather a focus group, or market the product to acquire a selected number of early adopters, and release the product to these users. We also install tracking systems to get analytical and visual data so we can see (in stats and videos) how the app is being used. This gives us a good sense of how easy/complicated the product is for our users.
- Along with analytics feedback, we also gather user feedback to understand firsthand what the app users liked, and didn’t like.
- Finally, we modify the product to incorporate the feedback, our learning, and the other features to build the final product.
Does Every Tech Company Build an MVP First?
They definitely should. Did you know Instagram was first launched as Burbn, and was just a location check-in app? When the team rolled out Burbn, they found that users pretty much liked and used one feature of the app – the photo sharing feature. The rest is history.
So, yes, we believe an MVP definitely should be a part of your development process. And we say this not from historical proof like that of Instagram, but from personal experience. After having built many, many web and mobile apps, we can say that the the benefits of releasing an MVP definitely outweigh the cons (if any!).