Why Building an MVP for Your App Idea

Adriana Campoy and Gimena Aguerreberry
May 26, 2020

No matter how well you've researched the market, there are always risks involved when you build a web or mobile app.

You could discover after launching that your users are not interested in half of the product features or that the app doesn't fully address the most critical problem users need to be solved.

This amounts to unhappy stakeholders and a significant waste of time and resources, as your fully-fledged app will need to be reworked to better fit market demands and alleviate user pain points.

Fortunately, building a minimum viable product (MVP) provides an alternative path to product development that allows you to avoid these common risks.

Highly popularized by Eric Ries in The Lean Startup, an MVP is the most basic version of your product; it should have few features and focus solely on fulfilling one core user need. It is not a prototype, but a totally usable product trimmed down to the bare essentials.

The idea is to release a fully functioning product as soon as possible in order to let user feedback guide what new features are added. While the temptation might be strong to delay shipping your app until it has all the features and functionality you originally planned, there are very compelling reasons to go the MVP route. In this post, we'll unpack some of the most important ones.

Iterative Development And The Build-Measure-Learn Process

When an organization decides to develop a product, assumptions are made. Assumptions can be made on any of the following:

  • what users they want to target

  • how the design should work

  • what marketing strategy to use

  • what architecture will work most efficiently

  • which monetization strategy will make the product sustainable.

For a product to find success, these assumptions need to be validated.

By using the iterative, "build-measure-learn" process of MVP development, organizations can validate or invalidate these assumptions with little to no risk.

Iterative development is designed to identify user pain points and determine the proper functionality to address those needs over time, by continually testing assumptions against user feedback to make fast product changes as new information presents itself.

The Benefits Of An MVP

To enter the market as a startup or entrepreneur with minimum investment, you must need proper guidance and a suitable plan. MVP is that strategic plan, which allows you to understand the potentiality of your idea.

Building a simple yet necessary feature-fledged application would gain your project momentum and also allow you to gather feedback and suggestion. This requires minimal investment and builds in a very short time.

Building and testing a Minimum Viable Product allows you to:

1. Reduce development costs.

Releasing a complex product with a lot of different features can turn into a very expensive mistake since user demand (or the lack thereof) can demonstrate that some of those features should be reimagined or scrapped entirely.

Building an MVP, on the other hand, is a more cost-effective use of your resources because it limits development to the most crucial capabilities. After release, you can invest strategically in new features based on user data.

Mature products are the result of years of development, with a price tag to match. But because these apps were created iteratively over a longer period, the cost is spread over time, often with reinvestment of the revenue generated from earlier versions.

The minimum approach also helps to prevent the product from becoming over complicated and requiring more sophisticated coding and solutions. As businesses begin to gain more users and gather more information to inform the direction of the product from the MVP, they can begin to invest more, and more intelligently.

2. Cut down time-to-market.

Time is highly valuable in the competitive tech industry. Rather than spending a long time developing a whole host of features, the MVP strategy gets your app in front of users as soon as possible, allowing you to really leverage whatever makes your app unique.

An MVP is all about testing, seeing what works and what doesn’t. In some ways, an MVP is more about trying to achieve an understanding of the market demand, than it is about trying to sell or acquire customers. Often, organizations assume that their product fulfills a specific user need; however, this may not be the case as either the need doesn’t exist, or solutions already in the market address the pain point.

3. Keep things simple.

Focusing your efforts on an MVP helps avoid feature creep and overcomplicated product design. An MVP centers your app on one key user need, ensuring a clean, understandable design that will be easier to expand later on.

4. Secure buy-in from investors.

Releasing an MVP allows you to test the app's viability in the market and see what parts of the product are most valuable to users. You can then use real data to demonstrate ROI and make a strong case for further development.

5. Start the learning feedback loop.

Perhaps the most useful part of the MVP process is the way it facilitates the build-measure-learn cycle. After creating an MVP, you can test your assumptions against user feedback and take what you learn to improve the product through iterative development. This keeps your approach Agile and allows you to continually adapt to what you learn from users.

6. Form relationships with customers.

As you collect feedback and continue improving your product, you can strengthen customer loyalty by catering the product to their needs. Shipping an MVP also allows you to get your app in the hands of evangelists and early adopters who can help grow your audience. 2

7. Make informed decisions.

You won't need to guess what will increase ROI or which new feature would fill the most urgent user need. Collecting feedback on an MVP gives you priceless insights on everything from where to allocate resources, how to monetize your app, or how to shape the ideal UX.

Conclusion - Why Building an MVP for Your App Idea

In short, building a Minimum Viable Product is a smart, strategic choice that will continue to pay off long after you've launched your app. At sophilabs, we help entrepreneurs determine what their MVP should look like through our tried-and-true product inception process. If you want to find out more about how we work, don't hesitate to get in touch for a free quote and consultation!

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"Why Building an MVP for Your App Idea" by Adriana Campoy and Gimena Aguerreberry is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by You X Ventures.

Categorized under research & learning.