How to create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
Investing in an app can reduce corporate risk
By Niccolò Maria Menozzi
What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)? What is it for and how do you create one? These are some of the questions we will try to answer in this short article for those who are thinking of developing a web or mobile app for their startup or established company.
Everyone likes to think big and, especially in the software field, it’s easy to get lost in unrealistic expansion plans and business plans built upon a rich network of features in addition to the core business. Very often the risk is losing sight of the real soul of your software, suffocated by add-ons that are not in line with the real needs.
A possible side effect of all this daydreaming is indefinitely dragging out the development of your web app or mobile app while searching for the perfect service.
We often hear about the fail fast concept, which means validating an idea before it becomes an out of control investment. This is where the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) comes into the picture.
What is an MVP?
As the name suggests, the Minimum Viable Product for a web application is the version of software with a number of features that are enough to make it usable.
An application is usually based on a limited number of fixed points that describe the essence of the problem it was designed to solve. Identifying these essential points is the first step towards designing an MVP. Once the project scope is defined, the MVP is put into production.
What is an MVP for?
We are used to thinking big because we use extremely articulated apps and services every day, forgetting that the giants of the web can count on dozens if not hundreds of professionals and that they have been improving their platforms for years.
When you start a web service project you have to look to the future to know what your business objectives are, but with your feet well planted on the ground. You have to start small if you want to become big, verifying the validity of your idea to avoid investing time and resources in a project designed to the last detail, but with no future.
The MVP can offer a potential client or investor a tool that can be used and can really demonstrate its business opportunities. If you are the entrepreneur, it will be useful to quickly understand if it is worth investing any further.
Creating an MVP means compiling a list of minimum requirements and then effectively developing them. How do we choose these minimum requirements?
How to design and create an MVP
In our experience, to make a long story short, we can say that a good MVP has 3 main steps: requirements analysis, User Interface design (UI) and actual app development.
Our job at Dreamonkey is to design and launch applications or update software that need to be migrated online or that need to migrate their user interface. In fact the three steps listed are part of the normal app design workflow, but in the case of an MVP it is the scale of the project that makes a difference.
To design an MVP we need to start with two questions that perhaps seem obvious:
- What are the characteristics of the web app that make it unique – compared also to the competitors – that we absolutely cannot do without?
- What functions enrich it, but are just an extra that can be sacrificed, at least at the beginning?
The answers to these questions cannot be imprecise. How can we deal with them in detail and in an exhaustive manner? The goal of this phase is to hand over to the future developers a clear list of what they will have to create. You can deal with it point by point, methodically. How many and which pages do we need? (log in, personal profile, product list, statistical charts etc.) What operations can the users perform from each of these? (save files, consult data, sell products etc.) What commands do the users need to manage these operations? (Create new elements, edit them, delete, copy etc.)
We feel that it is of utmost importance to deal with the design of the user interfaces (UI) and the software prototyping starting from the design phase of an MVP.
First of all because the user interface is a question of functional aspects rather than personal taste. However there are other reasons. For example in the software field the UI is required to set the basis for good UX (have you already read our article overview of the user experience?)
Finally, the development of the actual app is indispensable since it is the product of the MVP itself and it is the step which allows us to have something to test. At this point the working software can be presented to the investors, the company managers who must approve it, otherwise it can be placed on a production server and made available to the users who will use it. The decision is up to you.
What are the parameters of an MVP
Various activities make up a software project that can be more or less important according to the situation. An MVP implies the creation of software that satisfies the requirements of the main service, but from a business point of view that’s not all there is.
A web app must be seen as having its own brand (a name, a logo, a visual identity etc.), have a platform that describes the service making it attractive to the reference target and, where necessary, have a payment system to manage the subscriptions of the users. These are just three examples of other needs closely connected to the useability of an MVP. Minimal as it may be, the MVP needs these extra resources to communicate effectively with the client.
In conclusion, where is the limit between what is MVP and what goes beyond? Setting an inflexible rule doesn’t really help much, you should consider your specific case. Consider the deadlines you have set, the budget you can count on and the professional resources you have available. Decide the size of the investment you are willing to make to actually test the validity of your idea and be the one to set the limit.
We have been operating in this sector ever since 2016 and we can give you a hand in defining your MVP. If you would like a consultation contact us.