So you have an idea and want to build an app or digital product for your company… You may not know where to start, or perhaps you read about it and talked to a few people and is now terrified because you heard that building a product may take an amount of time –and money– you don’t have.
Trust me: we know that feeling. The good news? It can be done. And you can start that now.
What many of our customers miss or forget (probably because they are too busy worrying about figures or how to design and develop the perfect product) is that most of the million-dollar apps they know today were not just created out of the blue.
Joe Gebbia didn’t have much more than a couch and a few ideas on how to pay for his rent when he started AirBnb. Before Khan Academy became a world-famous teaching platform, it was just an attempt from Sal Khan to tutor his young cousin over the computer.
All these products and (many others yet to be seen) have something in common: they all started as an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, before they evolved to the point you know them today. By prioritizing its core features and starting with a small user base, those founders were able to ship their products on a budget, then constantly revised their business models, product features and functionality by listening to their customer feedback and implementing constant and gradual improvements. And, eventually, building enough value to draw the attention of key investors and more and more users.
But what is the recipe for a successful MVP? How can someone find the right balance to make sure that a product is:
- Released with just the right set of features
- Planned, designed and built within the initial budget
- Scalable and flexible so that new features and versions can be easily implemented
- Usable and interesting to users –even if not fully featured
After years helping all sized businesses and entrepreneurs to make their ideas come to life, we have learned 5 important things to keep in mind when creating an MVP:
1. First things first:
Start with who and why. Identify and elaborate on your target audience and core values:
- Who are the user types / personas of your product? What are their pain points?
- What is the main functionality of your product? And why is it valuable to your users (in other words: how do you plan to solve their problems / pain points).
2. Define your priorities
Determine your MVP features / functionality… then divide it by 8 (and stick to it!).
Remember: you don’t need a lot to hit the ground running. The idea is to ship a fairly decent product as early as possible. Then gather as much feedback and data as possible to validate your assumptions and hypothesis, determine how to keep evolving and pave your way to the ideal product.
“Minimum Viable Product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”
– Eric Ries, author of Lean Startup
3. Be part of the system
Building advanced features such as algorithms, system integrations (with external / third-party tech) and automations can be complex and time consuming. The good news is that you don’t have to do that from day one. Need to generate reports? Start with a spreadsheet or hire an intern to handle it. Payment system? What if you / your team manually created your own payment links?
It’s likely that you will not start with that many users or data, which means you have the perfect scenario to learn from your customers, get insights and experiment on different ways to get them what they need.
By the time you are ready to scale, you will have enough data and experience to plan, scope, design and build your app add-ons, or review existing features.
4. Use pre-built resources
The goal of an MVP is to ship a viable product with as little effort as possible. And, although this is the very bread and butter of FreshinUp we are not afraid to tell you that there is a lot you can accomplish without investing on custom designs and programming. Examples:
Need a landing page? There are plenty of templates you could start from.
Support system? Start with a simple form before you implement a complex ticket / agent system.
Your app needs a login / signup form? There is no point in coding that from scratch. There are UI libraries and frameworks you can use that would have that out of the box.
5. Remember: done is better than perfect
Releasing an app or digital product is a constant work in progress. MVPs is never about delivering the perfect user experience and all the features (you think) your app needs. Rather, we believe it should be an opportunity for you to test and learn from your users and your business model in real time before you take your next steps:
- Revise and evolve your business plan
- Review assumptions, hypothesis and value proposition
- Gather user feedback
Excited? Scared? Both?
So grab your notebook, pen and sticky notes and start planning your next digital revolution. And let us know if you need any help. Our team is ready to assist you on every step of the way.Contact Us