designJuly 26, 2018
How to build your first MVP
In my previous blog article, I had introduced to you the basic concept and definition of an MVP – Minimum Viable Product. We learned that an MVP is the least designable version that provides your user with the core, most important functionality of the product. Now that you have a fair idea of what can MVP is and what are the benefits of an MVP in a product development process, let’s discuss how can you go about building your first MVP.
Every product starts with an idea first. Did you know that before Airbnb was founded, it started out with renting out an air mattress on a loft? That was their MVP- a simple bed with a promise of breakfast- before they became the $25 billion company that it is today.
Having an idea is the first step to building a successful product. But knowing how to implement that idea and understanding whether or not the idea will work is confusing and risky. The purpose of building an MVP is to considerably mitigate this risk. But you cannot build an MVP with just an idea. Even with an MVP, you have to spend time going over research and gathering information.
Here are some steps to help you build your first MVP.
Identify the target user and their pain point
The whole purpose of building a product is to solve a problem. Before you begin working on your MVP, ask yourself this important question – What problem is it going to solve? Begin by researching your customers and the market thoroughly. Identify your target group. Find out your customer’s market, demographics, interests, likes and dislikes.
Then put yourself in their shoes. Ask questions like “ Why do I need the product?” , “How is this product going to help me?” , “Why should I buy this product?” When you find the answers to these questions, you will realize that you have identified the main objective of your product. This will allow you to come up with the best solution to your customers’ needs.
Research your competition
Sometimes, it so happens that you are so sure about the uniqueness of your product idea, that you fail to look past that. Competition analysis is of utmost importance before you start designing your MVP. No matter how great you think your product idea is, if there are similar products in the market already, people will not be interested to buy your product.
Market research is very essential at this stage. There are various online tools that allow you to research your competition. Analyze your competition’s websites, their product features, their user base, user reviews, the website traffic and all other important information.
Create a user flow
A user flow is a journey that your user will follow to get to the final action stage of your product. For example, if you are building a mobile application for delivering products, your user flow will include the user’s journey right from launching the app to ordering the product.
It is very crucial that you define the user flow of your product before designing your MVP. It helps you keep in mind user satisfaction and ensures that you do not miss out on any additional feature in your final product design. Defining a user flow involves defining the process stages first. It basically means you need to explain the individual stages that are required to reach the primary goal of your product. Then you can connect these stages to form a user flow diagram.
List down the important features of each stage
Once you have defined a user flow, make a list of the features of each stage of the user flow. You can then prioritize these features basis their importance in the user’s journey to your final product action.
There could be some features that are absolutely necessary. You could have certain features that will be good to have but not quite essential in the first stage of your MVP. You can then arrange the different features of each stage in order of priority. This process will give you an idea of what should your MVP look like and how to define your final product in the later stages.
Build, test and learn
Once you have followed the above processes, you can move to build your MVP design. Remember, it’s an MVP. Not your final product. Incorporate minimum time and effort in building only the most important features.
Once your MVP is ready, it’s time to give it a test run. You can have your first stage of testing in-house with your Quality Assurance team. This is before the MVP is even released. QA testing will ensure that your MVP is ready to be opened to your set of early adopters in the market.
After the QA testing, your MVP is ready to be released in the market to a select set of users. This is the stage where you gather feedback about your product. Based on user reviews, feedback and user behavior, you learn what works and what does not. On the basis of this data, you will implement the necessary updates and changes to your MVP.
You might want to release the second version of your product for beta testing before you release your final product. This will help you to study whether you were able to implement the feedback properly and how well your users adapted it.
So these were the 5 most essential steps for building your first MVP. Keep in mind that though an MVP is not your final product, it involves a lot of research.
It does not have to be perfect in design but it should functional enough to solve the problem that you identified during your research. An MVP is a tool for feedback and learning. Ensure that you spend minimum time and effort in building it and more on learning and rebuilding it to your final product.
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