How to build a minimum viable product. A comprehensive guide

Jan 3, 2022·6 min read

MVP is one of your first steps towards the successful business, and you should make this step wisely. Don’t overestimate your budget and hire expensive developers from the very beginning. Read this simple advice and build the product the customers really like and appreciate.

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There are various reasons for building an MVP app: validating an idea, generating initial income, attracting investors, etc. Anyway, the decision is correct - you have to start small now to become big later.

Forbes claims that more than 90% of tech startups fail without ever realizing what they did wrong. Is your goal landing among the remaining 10%? Focusing on processes preparation and planning is your key to success.

Let’s skip the introduction on what an MVP is and why you should build one. Today’s article is about how to build a minimum viable product. This step-by-step guide will answer all your questions!

Stages of minimum viable product development

When building an MVP app, you usually have limited time and resources. Taking the shortest possible path to get your application to the market is your number one priority. But there are several steps that are essential to release a proper minimum viable product. Focus on the following:

Stage 1. Target real-life problems

Your first steps define the whole business path.

An idea may seem ingenious, and you want to immediately start development. But there is a danger of recognizing that the idea was great, but no one actually needed it.

To reduce such risk of failure, your first step should be defining an existing problem your app will solve. Solutions for real-life problems are more likely to find many users.

Solve a problem with an MVP

Stage 2. Define your target audience

Trying to target all users everywhere make you less focused. Getting everyone to use your application is impossible. However, it is much easier to satisfy a specific group of people.

Build your buyer persona and make it specific. Define as many details as you can, such as potential buyer’s age, profession, education level, earnings, family, hobbies, fears or goals, etc. The better you understand your potential customer, the better you can tailor your future product to meet their expectations.

Stage 3. Decide on the core feature

We’ve got to the vital part of the development process: how to create an MVP.

When you initially thought about your application, you probably identified dozens of unique features that can turn it into a killer app. Unfortunately, you’ll have to put all these ideas aside until you test your assumptions concerning the central problem that this idea will solve for users.

The best strategy is starting with the minimum set of core features that will bring value to your customer. Ideally, focus on only one essential feature during the initial stages of product development.

Let’s look at an example. Your assumption is that potential customers want to move faster. You are about to invent a car. But building a car will cost you much time and money. And before investing it, you decide to test your assumption by building a minimum viable product.

A minimum viable product concept

An MVP can help you validate your app idea. You offer a skateboard - a primitive device that solves the identified problem - helps move faster. If your target audience is interested in a skateboard, then you were right. They are in need of a vehicle, and they are ready to pay for it. So you can move on and add some other features until you build a car.

Offering a customer four wheels won’t solve the initial problem. But a skateboard will.

To create an MVP, remember: the product you release first might be primitive. However, if your idea provides an effective solution to an existing problem without neglecting user experience, it will have users, and the MVP will prove this assumption.

Stage 4. Build an MVP

When the core features of an MVP are defined, it’s time to implement them and build the product.

Forget about perfection! At this stage, your only aim is releasing the application in the shortest time possible in order to test assumptions with less risk.

The sooner your real users will start using the product, the better. Their feedback will show whether they are interested in this kind of an app, or whether the development would be a complete waste of time and money.

Remember, if users like your minimum viable product with all its imperfections, the full version of an application will earn even more appreciation.

How to build an MVP

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Stage 5. Test an MVP with users

Remember one of the first steps we’ve mentioned, target audience definition? Find people who match your buyer persona and ask them to test this MVP.

If you have gone through all the essential stages (defining the problem, target audience, and minimum features set) you’ll receive relevant feedback. This will be your clear guide as for what to do next.

You should take customer feedback seriously.

  • It will show you whether the idea is worth investing in or not.

  • It will reveal whether you defined the target audience correctly.

  • It will give you a clear vision of how to develop your application further.

  • It will reveal which features your product does and does not need.

And these are reliable proven facts, not just assumptions you had at the very beginning of your path.

You may be afraid of receiving negative comments about your product. However, in business there is one thing to remember: Negative feedback is better than no feedback.

You should be glad realizing that an app idea isn’t attracting customers since you haven’t spent much building an MVP. Testing it with real users gives you a chance to fail small or to pivot (adjust the idea to market needs), preventing you from big losses and debts.

Gather customer feedback

Stage 6. Learn and improve your MVP

After receiving reliable feedback from your first users it’s time to take advantage of this information.

So, you know what your users like and what they don’t like. Now you can improve the features they appreciate, remove the redundant ones and add something new to test whether or not it will work.

Keep working in circles

Further work with MVP development is like running in circles. You build a product, run A/B tests for new features, get feedback, analyze it and build again to get new feedback.

The whole idea behind building an MVP focuses on developing the application according to the needs and preferences of real users, not just startup founders or investors. The workflow described in this tutorial helps to ensure that there will be an audience who uses, loves and is ready to pay for this product.

What is MVP

So, what is a minimum viable product all about?

Every great idea is in danger of failing. Following the MVP model will help you minimize these risks. The main idea behind an MVP is releasing an app with a set of core features in the shortest time. It is a good presentation of your application idea for potential investors and it will bring your first customers and likely your first earnings.

Customer feedback at this stage is more important than you’d think. It shows you whether you’ve chosen the right path and whether your assumptions concerning the product and market are correct.

Moreover, an MVP helps you with making the right decisions based on real customer feedback. Every improvement you make is connected to customer comments. You add the features they need, improve existing features according to target audience expectations, and make your service more customer-oriented.

Have an idea for an MVP project?

An MVP is one of your first steps towards creating a successful business, so you should be asking yourself how to properly create one. If we could give you only one piece of advice, it would be the following:

Don’t overestimate your budget and hire expensive developers from day one. Consider outsourcing your app development to get more work done for the same amount of money.

In addition, an outsource team will complement any expertise you or your employees lack. The results of such cooperation will be a strong minimum viable product with solid prospects.

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