MVP – what is it and why is it crucial for your business?

Business | Design | Development - 6th January 2020
By Marek Hasa

The MVP. If you’re part of the busy world of digital products, websites, mobile apps and web applications, I’m sure you know all too well what we’re talking about. But let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.

Why an MVP?

Entrepreneurs and managers who haven’t been involved in a digital product development yet might find everyone’s obsession with the MVP a bit strange. What does this omnipresent term mean? And more importantly – why do we need to come back to it refresh it’s meaning regularly?

Mobile app development is a very demanding process in terms of your time and resources if you aim to create a quality product on a professional level. For most businesses, it is an investment which requires smart planning. You need to think of the return on investment, as well as the specific way the future app will fit into your broader business plans.

At the same time, the digital business is a very competitive world where every day and penny count. The speed at which you’re able to move towards launch is crucial, the same goes for feedback from real users and customers. And that’s where we get to the MVP – minimum viable product.

What’s an MVP?

An MVP is the simplest version of a product which already brings some clearly defined value and benefits to the user, can be tested and pushed forward to production. It contains compact functionality and quality design. It is reliable and easy to use.

It can take many shapes and forms. Mobile app development starts with creating a product concept and prototype – and we can already generate the first version of our product in this phase.

MVP is not just about functionality, the key is combining it with usability, design and reliability.

Why is it so important for us to define our MVP properly? We don’t want to waste time and resources on a long development phase without any results! Every successful mobile app development needs to be structured into steps as small as possible – this allows the team to generate a usable product very fast and understand what went well and what could be improved. And then jump right back into the development process.

Make sure your MVP is well-defined, you will avoid delays in launch, wasted time and money. Our team at Pixelfield is used to working with both startups and large companies and can help not only with development but also with product concepts, design and analytics. We will help you define your MVP in the most meaningful way for your business plans and with regard to your product type.

Key MVP elements:

An MVP must include these key elements in production quality:

  • Functionality
  • Design
  • Reliability
  • Usability

Functionality is a bundle of features which are all intertwined and can be used to reach a goal within the product and receive specific value. Design needs to meet the commercial quality standards so that the feedback of your target users is not biased by amateurish execution.

The same goes for reliability. Your MVP needs to be thoroughly tested and fully functional. Usability means that users are able to complete target actions and gain specific benefits from using the product.

MVP is not…

An MVP is not merely a fraction of the product’s functionality that isn’t ready for commercial use. The picture below clearly illustrates the right approach towards defining an MVP. Your desired final product is a car. The utility we wish to offer to our customers is a means of transportation from A to B.

If we wish to provide this utility with as little expenses as possible, our MVP could be a skateboard – even though it’s still very far from the final product. Contrarily, a tire or a wheelframe cannot be our MVP because they don’t fuflil the usability requirement.

MVP definition
When defining your MVP, you should carefully consider if it’s usable and if it provides users with the desired value.

How to define an MVP?

Ask yourself two fundamental questions:

  1. Where do you create the largest value for your users?
  2. How can you deliver this value in the simplest form possible?

Avoid defining an MVP as a fraction of your product’s final functionality which doesn’t bring any value to users. Your MVP shouldn’t be a semi-product or just one of the many steps to your end product.

Focus on the core of your business, not the form. Your MVP might very well take a different form than your final product. For instance, if you’re building a dating app, your MVP could be just arranging a few dates for your single friends.

MVP and the Lean cycle

The paragraphs above clearly outline the meaning of an MVP. Define what you do, gather feedback and proceed with the next phase. Let’s follow up on the dating app example: hosting a few events for single people will equip you with invaluable insights – how the target group seeks partners, what their expectations are, and what would be the next tool they would find useful for their efforts.

This feedback will help you build another version of your product. You will reach another iteration and further development.

MVP loop lean cycle
MVP and Lean Startup. Source: Greenice.net

Are you planning on creating an MVP? Take a look at our ‘development for startups’ services. We can also help you with defining your MVP or with UX/UI design.

Marek Hasa
Written by
Marek Hasa
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