As a result, we have companies that are not willing to use the MVP approach as they don’t 100% understand it, experts who state the concept is wrong and clients who often get hot under the collar after the suggestion to try out a minimum viable product.
Сonsidering the fact that MVP remains one of the most important components when creating software, it would be unreasonable to drop it just because some people misuse the concept.
We have already written about what does MVP mean and what MVP is not about, now let’s talk about why this lean tool becomes confusing, what mistakes you should avoid and, more to the point, what is the right way to build an MVP.
MVP meaning: where does the confusion start?
First of all, the seat of the trouble involves emphasizing the wrong word.
As a result, we have people who focus on “minimum”, others – on “viable”, and the rest, who are convinced that MVP is a “product”, build once and then consider the work done.
For example, a development company concentrating on “minimum”, can create a product for one certain machine configuration with minimum features involved, while a business leader will be expecting an MVP to viably support the whole group of potential users.
The huge mistake most do when speaking about MVP is splitting the notion into parts and focusing on a single word of three.
Like it or not, a word dropped from a song makes it all wrong.
Here are three main rules you should keep in mind when speaking about Minimum Viable Product:
Rule 1: MVP involves a limited set of features, but make sure the “minimum” is not winning over the “viable”.
If you start focusing on minimizing the set of features, you may fall into the trap of excluding features critical for the customer. As a result, your minimal set of functionality might cover neither the needs of your customers nor the business goal of your product.
Minimum Viable Product is not only about figuring out the smallest set of features but also about making sure you can help with the main problem of your customers.
Rule 2: Viable means it solves a valuable problem of the customers and provides validated learning for you.
According to “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, validated learning is “a small unit of progress that can be quickly verified to determine whether a chosen direction is correct.”
The lack of validated learning flavored with the incomprehension of how to receive it may result in a common trap many entrepreneurs fall into. They believe that building a product quickly based on the half-cooked and premature prototype can get them somewhere. But it can’t.
Creating a quick and bad quality product should never be called an MVP.
In such a case, you won’t be able to learn from it. You can’t understand the reason why it failed: was it because of a bad idea or because the implementation destroyed the idea.
Rule 3: MVP is never an end product…
… as it aims to start the process of learning.
Entrepreneurs create an MVP to test assumptions in their business model, receive feedback, make required improvements, and proceed to build a new iteration of MVP in order to test the next hypothesis. It is called the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop that lies at the heart of building great software products.
In such a manner,
building a Minimum Viable Product is an iterative process.
With these tips in mind and understanding of what MVP stands for in business, we move to the most common mistakes business owners do when developing their Minimum Viable Product.
5 signs you are making MVP wrong
Sign 1: You are focusing on a large target audience
Don’t try to reach out to everybody with your Minimum Viable Product. You have much higher chances for success when you know exactly who you’re talking to through your MVP.
Try to please a limited target audience instead of making something for ‘everyone’.
Imagine you are invited to hold a workshop and the only thing the inviting party explains to you is that the workshop is just for “everyone who will come”.
However, it is quite a vague statement and you are likely to have dozens of questions at that time — the subject you will be presenting; the duration of the workshop; the sphere the audience works in and so forth.
If you haven’t determined your niche target audience, you risk spending a lot of money on marketing with no returns or qualitative feedback about your product. Winning the hearts of a small audience can help you establish a steady position in the market from the very beginning.
Sign 2: You are waiting for a full-featured complete product
Such a point of view presupposes that you know exactly what your potential users want.
Under real-life market conditions, you cannot be a hundred percent sure. You can only make assumptions.
It happens that most of your early assumptions about the product are likely to be wrong. In such a case you risk spending months of development time and effort on creating a product not solving customers’ problem.
Make your Minimum Viable Product a simple and helpful tool for your target audience and they will tell you themselves what they like the most and what they don’t in order to build a complete product.
Sign 3: You think that UX is not the part of an MVP
Quite the opposite! UX and UI are the fundamentals of a successful product.
According to Forrester, a better and seamless UX design is able to improve customer conversion rates up to 400%.
This does not mean that the design should be drop dead gorgeous or involve the latest trendy effects. In other words, imperfections are acceptable.
Ultimately, MVP design should be simple and handy, taking into account the basic principles such as unity, balance, hierarchy, proportion, emphasis, and contrast.
When the design meets the aforementioned requirements, it is easier for the end user to understand and use the product.
Creating a good first impression is a basis of building trust, which is important, as usually there are no second chances to rectify a bad impression.
Sign 4: You include too many features in your first version
Too many features is a bad sign. An incomplete set of functionality is not good, too.
As CB Insights reports, a lack of usability is among the top reasons for product failures. As a rule, additional features do not improve your Minimal Viable Product but complicate it.
You can add features after you test your assumptions with MVP and know exactly what your users want.
It is hard to believe but almost 65% of the features in software products are rarely or never used.
For example, what functionality do you use in Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel? How much of it – 5 or 10 percent? Maybe, 30% if you are a power user!
Thus, when you build MVP app, focus only on the crucial moments. You can save a lot of time and money while reducing time to market.
Sign 5: You are not learning from your MVP
Treat your Minimum Viable Product like a scientific experiment.
Any feedback, whether good or bad, is equally important. It helps you understand your early adopters better and improve the product in order to meet customer needs.
At long last, you should focus on finding the happy medium between the capabilities of your product and the needs of the end users.
Now when you are aware of what mistakes to avoid, it is time to move on and review the right way of how to create a Minimum Viable Product.
How to build a Minimum Viable Product right then?
Step 1. Identify the idea (the problem you are solving)
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to answer the following questions: “Why do I need this product?” and “What can I do with this product that I couldn’t do before?”.
It happens that entrepreneurs became obsessed with an idea and entirely forget about the problem it’s intended to solve.
That is why, at the very beginning, you should identify a need – why your product should exist and determine the criteria showing whether your product is successful (more than one metric).
Step 2. Analyze the competitors
After the idea is determined it is essential to check if there are already related products on the market.
Neglecting competitor analysis and putting blind trust in the uniqueness of your product may be an ominous threat to project success.
You should bear in mind that even if you think you have no direct competitors, your questionless faith in the singularity of the product is not a reasonable ground for marketing it.
Competitor analysis is critical in any case, you should know your business sector like the back of your hand.
You can use such tools as Google Trends, SimilarWeb, Compete and many others to check whether there is some new “player” or whether something has changed with the permanent leader.
Do not hesitate to take over some good ideas from your competitors and also learn from their mistakes.
Step 3. Find opportunities to solve the problem (list the features)
You should launch the simplest version of the product which contains enough functionality to test such fundamental questions as:
- Is there a real problem?
- Is the problem important for people?
- Can the solution solve this problem?
Focus your MVP on solving the pain points of your target audience.
You can use a “How Might We” opportunity statement for this purpose. For example, “How might we make it easier for users to book appointments?” etc. It will help you transform the pain points into features description.
Step 4. Prioritize features
After the features are listed you need to identify the key ones for your first version.
For example, the prioritization matrix is quite a simple tool that allows sorting a varied set of features into an order of importance.
Another “tool” that can help you with prioritization is so-called MoSCoW method which divides your features into Must Haves, Should Haves, Could Haves and Won’t Haves.
With the help of the MoSCow Matrix, you are able to go through the entire business idea, its features, and functionality and “carve” the most necessary product features for market delivery.
The goal of the prioritization step is to decide what to include in your MVP, and what to reserve for further releases.
Step 5. Build-Measure-Learn Phase
When your MVP features are mapped out and prioritized – start the developing.
But remember that MVP is just a stepping stone and the start of a feedback loop, allowing to continually improve your product in 3 stages: Build, Measure and Learn.
The goal of the Build-Measure-Learn cycle is to transform the doubts and assumptions into knowledge that the startup can use to develop the product.
Let us review its components:
Phase 1. Build. This stage is aimed at building or developing the MVP to test some assumptions or form the hypothesis.
Phase 2. Measure. In the second stage, the startup defines whether real progress is achieved or not. It involves measuring the results received from the experiment of the BUILD stage.
Phase 3. Learn. The startup decides whether to persevere or pivot. It means that the company either keeps the existing strategy and goals or changes the whole product strategy or its aspects.
The feedback loop enables turning the idea into a product, measuring client response, and deciding whether to pivot or persevere.
Step 6. Iterate or Pivot
Sometimes, user feedback may verify your beliefs and show that you have chosen the right way. Sometimes, it may show you’ve made a slip and are going in the wrong direction.
All these signs are critical to building an MVP app that people need.
In fact, you aren’t creating software for the sake of software. You want to build a product that people will fall in love with. That is why you should keep in mind that:
- Listening to your users is vital;
- You are creating a product to benefit their lives;
- Asking users what they want is helpful.
An MVP is aimed to solve key user problems by determining the pain points and focusing on a viable solution.
Keep this information in view on each step of building a Minimum Viable Product.
I hope that these tips were helpful, and now you are fully armed to give the right answer about what is MVP in software and start your personal journey to a successful software solution.
If you are looking for a passionate team to build MVP and make your dreams come true, reach out to us right now. MindK has experience and desire to conquer the challenges of your future product.