Aug 28 2018

The Power of a Minimum Viable Product

If you’ve ever built an app (or, really, embarked on any large creative endeavor), this may sound familiar:

Day 1:

You have your idea and the basic sketch for a final product. Excitement is high. You’re pumped, your team is pumped, the sun shines on your glory.

Week 3:

Getting into the details now. Ran into a few design snags, but the birds are still singing, the sky remains blue, you still give high fives in the office.

Week 4:

The snags have turned gnarly. Everyone is still optimistic though. The deadline isn’t for four more months!

Week 8:

The dreaded feature creep has begun. While working through your design hurdles, everyone has a great idea to fix it. You lose focus. You’re starting to wonder if your idea was that great in the first place.

Week 16:

Your deadline is approaching but you are nowhere near done. The doubt remains: will consumers even like this product? You shrug it off and check your books. You can float this boat for two more months. Maybe. High fives are no longer given.

Week 20:

The deadline has come and gone. You’re still working out all of the features but you’ve put so much time and effort into the project you’re not willing to stop now. You miraculously find another investor.

Week ad infinitum:

You finally launch. Your product is incredibly expensive, fairly bloated, and you still have to find your users. Sigh.

Is there a better way?

Getting products to market is no small challenge. It takes a long time, plus there’s a huge investment before you can know if customers will like, let alone buy, the product. But there is a way that you can avoid the scenario above, a different, more powerful way to build your app.

 

It’s called the minimum viable product (MVP), and can save you time, money, and has proven time and again to produce some of the most successful apps on the market.

 

While the idea of an MVP has been around for much longer, Eric Ries helped to popularize the concept around 2009. His definition is best: “the 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.”

 

To unpack that for a moment, this doesn’t mean that your MVP is going to be weak, thin, or sloppy. It means you’re going to discover your product’s sweet spot – where it is solving needs for your users, but doesn’t yet give them everything they may want. The goal is to get the core idea of your app into the hands of your users as quickly as possible. This opens up a feedback loop that provides you with valuable information as to how your target market is using the app and how they would like to see it improved. The more feedback you receive, the more you can adapt and improve your app to suit your end users, resulting in a more successful and market-friendly app.

 

For example, consider an app for runners. At its core, the main problem it solves is helping runners to log their runs and track their distance and pace. While this may feel too basic, those few elements are all you need to begin that ever-important feedback loop.

 

As you start receiving responses, you may discover users love the efficiency of your app but wish they could share their runs on social media. And they would like to receive a verbal notification at each mile without interrupting their music. Now you have powerful information that tells you where and how to spend your money. Furthermore, with engaged and committed users, you can consider asking or surveying them before you commit to building a new feature. Your MVP has now created the ideal place for you to test ideas and discover if they are marketable. All of this before you spend another dime.  

 

When developing an MVP, you have to apply a different mindset you may not be used to. Your focus is less on the product itself and your vision, and more on the real time feedback you’re receiving from your market.This helps you focus on who you want to help and the marketability of your idea, instead of focusing on what you want to do. You may find you have to cut certain features you were in love with, or even scrap the idea entirely for a new one for which there’s a more obvious market. While that might sting a little, it helps improve your return on investment.

 

At Five Pack Creative, we’re passionate about MVPs. If you have an idea but are struggling to pare it down to the perfect size, schedule a consultation to find out how how much time and money an MVP can save you while building your mobile app. We would love to help you create your MVP, get it to market, and then evolve it into something even better as your long-term partner!

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