The term MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product and is essentially a phase one of a digital product you wish to take to market. This MVP can be a stripped-down version of a website, web application, e-commerce site or mobile app. This MVP contains only the minimal, necessary features needed for you to release your product to the public, which solves a core problem.
Make no mistake this is not an incomplete or buggy release. It is fully functional and bug-free yet doesn’t contain all the “nice to have” features.
HOW DOES MVP DIFFER FROM TRADITIONAL DIGITAL PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT?
To understand the MVP approach, you need to get an understanding of how traditional products and projects are built.
Traditional product development usually occurs in four stages:
- IDEATION: Come up with an idea that solves a problem, identify the features that it may contain and for whom the product solves a problem for (target market and users).
- SCOPING: This involves an in-depth needs analysis process. An in-depth project discovery process is followed. Documentation such as functional specifications, project tools, technical specifications, wireframes, user process flows, etc. is created.
- The full project is scoped out and the roadmap is created for all milestones that need to be delivered in order for the product to be launched.
- DESIGN & BUILD: The design of the product’s user interface (UI) takes place. This is followed by the development of all features and functionality, with testing being an integral process step during and post design and web development.
- LAUNCH PHASE: Deploy the product to production servers, test and then release the product to market.
MVP product creation uses the same four phases, however instead of scoping the full project’s features, functionalities, and deliverables; it only contains the minimum and necessary features in order to launch the product as quickly as possible.
Certain documentation may be omitted or slimmed down in order to speed up the project process. Therefore the “nice to have” features are placed on hold (for future rollout) and excluded from the MVP product build.
Using this MVP approach, you are essentially able to test your idea before building an over-engineered, fully-fledged, feature-rich product, which may have all the “bells and whistles” of which some potentially may never be used. In other words, you can be confident that you are only building features that your target audience will use.
Due to the fact that this product requires less scoping, design and web development mean that it can be taken to market much earlier and exposed to the target market. Also, Project management plays an important role.
Once you’ve launched the product, you can use analytics to track and measure who your users are (demographics, age, location, etc.), how they interact with the product, potential bottlenecks within the system and you are able to determine which platforms and devices they are using to access your product.
With these insights and data, coupled with user feedback, you can then plan for the next version. This is best done using an iterative/continual development process, which allows your product to evolve through a series of design and development phases. The point here is to learn quickly and iterate. Feedback from your customers and users essentially provide you with valuable information for you to build what they really want and need, in other words, they build the product for you.
Using this fast-paced and effective approach, allows you to win over stakeholders and attract (further) investment (if you are looking to go down that avenue), once you have been able to prove your business concept and grow your user base, sales/transactions, and general traction.
Even though MVP may be the process of rapidly designing and producing digital products and getting them to market quickly, it certainly does not mean that the product should lack quality. In fact, it should be of extremely high quality as you ought to make the best first impression on your target market.
MVP definitely has its place and has proven to be successful for many projects however it is not always the right approach for every project.
The benefits to individuals, start-ups and companies are that they are essentially able to produce and deploy a product to market quickly, which they can test, whilst still controlling and limiting their capital outlay. Due to research and iterative development, the product is more desirable to your users because it gives them exactly what they need without unnecessary features that clutter the experience. Ultimately this leads to better a better customer experience and increased usage of the product.
Elemental has worked with many start-ups and companies, take their idea to an MVP product, launch it and promote it to the target market (by driving traffic through various campaigns and channels). From MVP we’ve gathered valuable information and implemented further product releases through design and development iterations.
This has proved to be a highly successful approach and we would love to talk to you about your product idea. We will work with you through all the phases and processes of scoping, designing and developing your MVP product.