Have you ever had an idea for a mobile app or piece of software, but weren’t sure it was worth fully developing? Or have you known that the software would work well, but didn’t have the capital to see it through? While these may seem like random situations, they represent two of the most common barriers facing software developers. Thankfully, there is a solution in the form of something called a Minimum Viable Product or MVP.

Due to the fast-paced and complex nature of software development in 2019, more companies than ever are choosing to pursue MVP development before fully committing to their ideas. In this article, we are going to introduce you to exactly how the MVP process works and why it might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. With this in mind, let’s start with some basics.

minimum viable product

What is an MVP or Minimum Viable Product?

First, let’s look at the definition of exactly what a Minimum Viable Product is and does. According to Techopedia, an MVP is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. From here, developers work off of user feedback to build out the rest of the product.

While an MVP is the most pared down version of the product, it should still include the following key characteristics:

  • It has enough value that users are willing to use it or buy it as is
  • It demonstrates enough future benefit to retain early adopters
  • It provides a feedback loop to guide future development

The trick to building a successful minimum viable product is to capture enough interest from your early adopters that they see the full promise of the software. Unless you can grab their attention right off the bat, you may need to go back to the drawing board.

What is the purpose of an MVP?

Now, it’s one thing to comprehend MVP development in an academic sense, it’s another to understand its purpose and potential real-world use cases. So, what is the purpose of a minimum viable product? This will depend on the type of product you are building, but for the most part MVPs are used to confirm that there is a need for your product before seeking further investment.

For example, when you are brainstorming your mobile app, there may be dozens of features that you want to include in the final product but only a handful that are essential to completing the core functions of your app. An MVP allows you to build a strong foundation that can then be built up using the extra features and feedback from your users. Next, we’ll take a look at the benefits of MVP development to further prove our point.

Benefits of MVP development

While there are numerous reasons for MVP development and different benefits that go along with each, the benefits we will review next are the most-often cited for why a company chooses to build a minimum viable product. From there will we look at next steps and the path forward.

1. Shortest possible timeline

The first and most immediate benefit of building a minimum viable product rather than a fully formed software is that you are taking the shortest possible timeline to get it in front of users. There are a couple of reasons why you would want to do this. First of all, the sooner they can take a look at your product, the sooner they can provide helpful feedback. Not only will this benefit your design moving forward, but the overall purpose of the product.

Second of all, as we mentioned before, the world of software development is incredibly fast-paced and often getting their first is more important than getting there with a fully formed idea. If you are racing a competitor to market, an MVP is the perfect way to get ahead without shooting yourself in the foot.

2. Reduced costs

Now, along with reducing the amount of time it takes to launch your product, developing a minimum viable product before fully committing can be a huge money-saver. Again, while some organizations will go all-in on a product, there is no guarantee that it will work as expected. By building slowly and with purpose, you can save money on your development and potential lost revenue from a poorly made product.

This is by far the most popular reason for developing an MVP, but it makes a lot of sense in today’s market. Developers, even offshore ones, are becoming more expensive to hire and without the proper testing, that time can go wasted. Save money, reduce your timeline, and you’ll be surprised how much better your product will perform.

3. Test demand before going all-in

Finally, the last benefit of a minimum viable product is the ability to stick your toe in the water before diving in, i.e., testing demand before going all-in. While this may not be the most popular reason for creating an MVP, it is the most powerful benefit of doing so. Incremental development is one of the best ways to set your product up for success and an MVP is the first step in that process.

Ultimately, this all comes back to Agile development and the best practices that originally formed those methodologies. Instead of trying to shoot at a moving target by launching a fully formed product and just hoping it meets your user’s needs, create a basic product and work from that. Not only will the target be easier to hit, but you may be able to expand the audience you are trying to reach, leading to further success.

Keeping things simple

As we wrap up this beginner’s guide, you should be able to see that everything comes back to the basic philosophy of keeping things simple. Software development is only going to continue to become more complex and move a faster rate. A minimum viable product is the perfect antidote for this and can revolutionize your product offering.

Have your own idea for a software product? Consider MVP development today and allow yourself to walk before you run.