An MVP or minimum viable product is the basic or simpler version of your product. Its goal is to collect customers’ responses and use the collected data for improvement. It enables you to find out which features and functions work and which ones do not, and if your product appeals to your target customers. MVP also helps you establish a strong relationship with your clients. To make all these possible though, you have to know how to
- build your MVP,
- scale your product, and
- win customers.
How MVP Came to Be
Before giving you the techniques to successfully build your MVP, let’s find out how the idea of a minimum viable product first started.
It all begun in 1999 when Nick Swinmurn went to the mall to buy the pair of shoes he has long wanted to have. He didn’t find it and went home frustrated, but not for long because an idea immediately crossed his mind. Swinmurn created a simple website, worked with a shoe store so he could take photos of their products, and he posted these on the website. Every time a customer ordered, he bought the shoes from the shop and immediately shipped them to the customer. He earned nothing, but the experience made him realize that people are willing to buy shoes from an online store.
That same year, Swinmurn founded Zappos.com, which was launched as Shoesite.com. On its first year, Zappos reported gross sales of $1.6 million. Amazon acquired the company in 2009 for $1.2 billion. Today, Zappos is one of the leading online shoe and clothing retailers in the United States with revenue amounting to approximately $2.6 billion.
If you want to replicate Zappos’ success story, start by building a minimum viable product instead of a full-featured one. Here
Tips for Building Your MVP, Scaling Your Product, and Winning Customers
Before you get down to the actual MVP building process, there are several things to consider first:
Find a reliable, experienced, and highly skilled development team.
Creating a minimum viable product requires the skills and expertise of an experienced development team. Your team should know what makes a unique, functional, and engaging product. Ensure that the team has diverse skills and can work together towards a common goal. You may also want to choose a reliable senior developer who can competently manage the team in building your MVP.
Study your market.
Your goal for building an MVP is to determine what kind of product your target customers prefer, so it’s just natural that you find time to study your market. Ask yourself these questions:
- “Do my customers need my product?”,
- “What features and functions are popular among my target clients?”,
- “What value does my product offer to the market?”,
- “Will my customers benefit from my product?”
Do some research and conduct surveys, as these are the best ways to learn about your target market. Also, do not forget to study your competitors – what they offer, how they market their product, and what customers like about their offering.
Clearly define the product and stick to it.
Be clear and specific about the value of your minimum viable product. There are three areas that must be the focal points of your MVP:
- Ability to test your product’s core feature or functionality
- Ability to test the market viability of your product concept
- Ability to test the product’s delivery system
Ensure that your MVP is able to deliver the above-mentioned and follow through with them. If your minimum viable product cannot cater to these tests, it does not have any market value.
Work on the UX or user flow.
How will your users interact with your product? This is what you’ll answer once you have successfully and clearly defined the user flow of your MVP. For example, after logging in to the app, where are the users taken? If they’re brought to the Homepage, what will they find there? How do they go to the products listing page? Where do they go to pay for their orders?
User flow should be easy, convenient, and defined. It has to have entry and exit points.
Identify your MVP’s necessary features and focus on them.
Write down all the necessary features of your product – those that you want your customers to experience. Then do an elimination process and leave out only the features that you think your users need the most – these are what you’ll include in your MVP. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between a “nice-to-have” and a “must-have” feature. Focus on the must-have ones and ensure that they are properly executed.
Time to build your MVP.
You now know who your target market is, what the ideal user flow should be, and which features are needed the most. You’re now ready to build your MVP. Just keep in mind these three things:
- minimal is not the same as incomplete,
- using the right technology is vital, and
- product testing before launching is crucial.
Scaling your product and keeping customers engaged.
After launching your MVP, your next goal is to collect data. You need these to analyze the product’s performance and impact to users. There are several “components” where you can get quantifiable data:
- using website traffic,
- using the total number of active users,
- how many paid users are there,
- the total sign-ups on your app, and
- user engagement.
Using all the data collected from these metrics, you’ll learn and understand what you need to improve on, what still needs to be done, and what works and what doesn’t.
Also, be sure to build an MVP that has specific value. No matter how many features your product has, if customers do not find any value in their use of the app, they’ll stay only until they’ve experimented with all the MVP’s features. Make your customers stay. Win them over by choosing features that have value. Make your users immediately grasp why they need your app or product.
Lastly, use A/B Testing and user-experience feedback to help you determine how (and when) to scale your MVP.
The most important thing to remember if you want to successfully build an MVP, scale your product, and easily win customers is to create an app that users find value in.