This blog will focus on startup MVP development best practices. You will also learn how startup MVP development can help build a better product for your users. In my last blog, I talked about minimum viable products and how they can help your startup make it big in the app-o-sphere. I also included MVP examples for both successful and unsuccessful minimum viable products.
If you happened to read my previous blog, you might already understand the following key factors about an MVP:
- MVPs serve a particular audience
- They are built quickly
- MVPs deal with one key issue that potential users face
- Help you test your idea
Before we jump into learning more about the best practices for developing an MVP, let’s take a step back to recap what an MVP is and what is the best way to develop a successful MVP.
What is an MVP for a startup?
In the words of Eric Reis, “A minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” Often, an MVP is your first significant step. Your MVP will allow you to validate your idea, collate data, and learn more about your product and target audience.
How do you develop an MVP?
Building an MVP is S.I.M.P.L.E. Here’s why:
Keep your MVP simple and to the point when you build it. Here’s how to build an MVP app right the first-time round:
- S: Start the market research early—preferably before even thinking of a startup.
- I: Idea+Value=success! Understand how your product will add value for your users. Understand the need for your product to exist. Success will automatically find you. 😊
- M: Make the design. Design your app to help people solve a problem. If your design is faulty, your users will easily switch to an alternative.
- P: Pick the most essential features for your users. It is important to know what your potential users need. Create priority lists and only add the most important ones to them.
- L: Launch, launch, launch! Create and launch a high-quality, engaging product that fits the immediate needs of your end-users. Monitor the launch day activity well and gather feedback from your initial customers. Check app traffic well and measure user engagement and analytics to generate launch day insights.
- E: Evaluate your product thoroughly post-launch. Collate client data and use analytics to follow the build, measure, learn loop and calculate customer acquisition cost for future planning.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let us learn how you can create a valuable product for your customers.
MVP development best practices for startups
Developing an MVP is not easy. Although it may sound that way, there is a reason why research on the global startup ecosystem by Startup Genome found that 9 out of 10 startups fail at the MVP stage. MVP Best practices are essential guidelines that will help you envision and build a better product.
At Volumetree, we ensure that our clients understand and follow these best practices for MVP development to create a product that their customers will love. Without further ado, here are the five best practices that every entrepreneur who is planning their startup’s MVP development must follow:
Think long term from the outset:
If you have followed the S.I.M.P.L.E MVP development approach I spoke about above, you would have done all your homework needed to create a successful MVP. The next step is to think long-term. Businesses do not succeed in a day—they require careful planning and strategic investments of funds, a workforce, and products to ensure continued and long-term success. Most successful entrepreneurs understood this with trial and error. With our straightforward approach, you will be able to create not just an MVP product roadmap but a strategy for long-term success. For example, a 3 or 5-year vision for your product will help you to create better product roadmaps and view your path to success with clarity. This will also help investors understand that you mean business and long-term viability.
Have a path to profit:
Also known as a minimum viable plan, this method will address your revenue generation problems from the beginning. If you ease your customers into understanding that they will have to pay when the entire feature set is available, you will have a better chance at building a long-term relationship with your customers. The best example for this would be deciding on a freemium model at the outset, such as with Grammarly, ClickUp and Canva. These companies always had a “Pro” version in the making but eased users into the paid version with great features moving into the Pro or Business version while still keeping a lot of the functionality in the basic version.
Keep everyone informed:
All your project stakeholders must understand your plan—this includes your vision, mission and ultimate goal for your product and the path you’ve envisioned for your startup to succeed. Stakeholders in a startup include Internal stakeholders (employees, management) and external stakeholders (early investors and potential clients). For crowdfunded startups, external stakeholders also include those customers who purchased (funded) the product so you could meet your funding goal.
This helps to build a collaborative yet creative environment that is conducive to business success. Additionally, early investors, co-founders and employees will understand their place in your business.
Companies such as ClickUp keep their product roadmap online so stakeholders can see what is going on. Customers will know when their issues will be fixed, developers know issue priority and investors/management knows what is going on.
Set your priorities straight:
If you have your priorities listed down, you will find that you can build order from chaos. A lot of times, startups face intense competition, pushes and shoves from the market. If you have got your priorities in order, there is no way your plan will not work out.
As an example, know the goal for your product at the outset. Now list down items that will help you reach that goal. Ensure that your business and technical priorities are built around those goals so they can help you succeed.
Stay motivated and build, build, build:
Growth is never linear. Neither is your path to success. Stay motivated. Even if you take two steps forward and hit a setback, you will learn what caused that setback and use the learnings from this setback to move forward with hope. This will help you and your team to stay motivated and build your MVP. A good way to showcase this is the story of the Apple iPhone. Even though the first product was more of an MVP than an actual $600 phone, but they kept improving the product over the years and today, for 18% of the world (and 48% of premium phone buyers in India), there’s nothing better than an iPhone! As a company, Apple and Steve Jobs stayed motivated to drive success against all odds and created a product that every other phone is weighed against today.
Your questions answered
I would also like to address questions and queries received from readers in the last few days. These answers will help first-time readers gain a better perspective about MVPs.
What is MVP in software development?
A minimum viable product or MVP is a product that has enough features to attract customers and validate your product quickly. MVP software development can help your product team receive user feedback as soon as possible to iterate and improve the product. Additionally, following MVP-focused best practices for software development can help your team build a better, more relevant product.
How long should it take to build an MVP?
On average, our development and product teams spend anywhere between 1 and 1.5 months to build and launch an MVP.
How do you build a successful MVP?
Give me a call! That’s the quickest way.
Another good way is to ensure that you do not make the same mistakes as other startups. Here is why many startups fail at the MVP stage. With your MVP, ensure that there is no:
- Lack of demand for your product
- Lack of preliminary market research
- Lack of capability to meet your competition head-on
- Lack of thought into the user experience
- Lack of promotion of your idea
Ensure that you do not make these mistakes, use the S.I.M.P.L.E. idea I talked about above, and you’re golden!
What makes a good MVP?
A good MVP is a usable product. It should not be a dummy product for demonstration purposes only and should bake in the bare minimum functionality your users cannot do without (and then some).
How do you prioritize features for MVP?
You can prioritize features for your MVP using prioritization methods such as the MoSCoW matrix, RICE, KANO, Walking Skeleton or others. Additionally, take care of the following:
- What does your user want vs what does your user need? Wants are features that are nice to have. Needs are features that your products must-have.
- Understand what features do not add value until you have a more extensive user set and keep them for your product V2.
- Ensure that you have a working customer feedback channel in place.
A list of startup MVP development best practices could span entire volumes—yet not have the exact answer you need. In reality, the only correct answer is the one you will find—and learn from experience.
These words by Richie Norton hold true for an MVP. An MVP is not about features and perfection in your first iteration. It is about taking action and ensuring that get the product out to your customers when they need it the most. Building an MVP is the first significant step for your business. You will have to identify your target audience, set a budget and a timeline and identify and implement the features you need in your product. This will help you attract the right users and gain knowledge to build the next version of your product.
As a startup founder, I have often found myself balancing both technical and business needs to ensure that my product suits my customers. Creating an MVP is the best way to figure out if things will work with your concept in the long-term or if you need to pivot, get back to the drawing board and chart out another path to progress.
Hang tight, stay motivated and let me know if you need help. It’s going to be a challenging yet amazing ride!