An MVP (or minimal viable product) is a very basic version of your product. It’s typically used to get your product to market in its infancy so that you gain insights from early adopters. This feedback is like gold and helps to guide the development of future iterations of the product.
The idea behind the MVP approach is to get constructive feedback as quickly as possible to get to the iteration stage. Speed is the name of the game here. MVPs feature heavily in the agile development process to validate and iterate products.
By using an MVP you get to see what customers really think about your initial product, whether it meets their needs, and whether there are other key features or functionality you need to include in future versions.
Main principles of an MVP
There are three main characteristics that an MVP needs to have to make it useful and ready to launch. An MVP needs to:
- Have enough value that customers are willing to use or buy it.
- Show enough future potential to keep early adopters interested.
- Provide a feedback loop to shape future product development.
The MVP only features the essentials, so development should focus on those key elements of the product. Being disciplined is an important part of developing an MVP. All too often scope creep becomes a real issue for product teams that don’t stay focused on the goal.
Keep your eyes on the prize of getting an MVP to market to then build the bells and whistles in the future. The MVP won’t be flashy or do all the things you want it to, and that’s OK. It’s a version built for feedback purposes. The quicker you get that first reaction from your customers, the quicker you’ll be on the road to building the best product for them.
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Benefits of using an MVP
We love MVPs. We think they’re absolutely brilliant at getting quick insight and moving forward at a speedy pace. Here are some of the main reasons we heart MVPs:
- Product teams can move faster through the development and iteration process.
- Identifying needs and challenges early can save a lot of money down the line.
- Valuable learning comes from real life customer feedback.
- Learn what resonates with your target market, and what doesn’t.
- Pivoting your business or making major changes to your product is a lot easier in the early stages.
- Potential early return on investment with initial sales from your MVP release.
- Can help secure early stage investors by showing a working version of your product.
“Don’t get too caught up in creating the perfect product or service. Start small and prove your idea works, first. It’ll save you so much time and money. You’ll either fail or succeed, quickly – and that’s the point.“
– Eddie Whittingham, FounderRead more
How to approach an MVP
What you’re MVP looks like will be very different, depending on your business or product. And the approach you take will therefore also vary. Are you looking to test a brand new product in the market with minimal risk (or investment)? Or do you want to get a better understanding of needs for additional features for the future?
Your approach to how you create your MVP might differ, but the one thing that should be true of all MVPs is that it needs to be directly to your end goal. Whether that’s generating revenue, solving a specific problem or tailoring your product to a niche market, your MVP needs to help you get there.
Because your MVP must deliver value to your customers, you need to make sure it’s fulfilling the gap in the market that you’re setting out to fill – even if just at a basic level.
Quick guide to creating an MVP
To help you get started, here some steps to follow when creating an MVP:
- Market research and competitor analysis. You need to understand what’s currently available in the market and identify the gap you want to fill. Is your product or service something that customers want or need?
- Set goals. To be successful you need to know what success looks like, and that means setting your goals. Taking time to understand what you want to achieve helps you make the right decisions to get you there.
- Make a plan. Start planning what you’re going to deliver and how. Break down your list of features into high and low priority and then identify what’s essential to deliver the basic functionality. That will be your MVP.
- Start developing. Now you’ve identified your MVP you can start developing it. Remember to stay focused only on the essential features for launch. Avoid adding unnecessary features or functionality that isn’t needed for launch.
- Launch. Once you’ve created your MVP and it’s ready to go live, launch it. Make sure you gather feedback from as many early adopters as possible. Pay attention to all their comments, learn from them and plan your first iteration. Then start the process again.
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