Posted Jun 13, 2018

Building A Mobile MVP: The What, Why & How

We’ve met many start ups over the years who have to us with their idea of the “next big app”. However the hard truth is that many of these apps are destined to fail almost immediately. In fact, 42% of start ups fail because there was no market need. It’s precisely for this reason that we always recommend building a mobile MVP (minimum viable product). Building an MVP allows you to test the market and establish the importance of certain features and functions of your app. It’s also a much more cost effective way to start development without ploughing all of your time, money and resources into an app where there is a high potential it may fail in the market (and no one wants that!).

What is a Minimum Viable Product? (MVP)

A minimum viable product (MVP) is arguably one of the most misunderstood terms in the whole industry. The concept has been popularised by Eric Ries in his best selling book “ The Lean Startup”. An MVP is essentially a development technique in which a new product (app in this case) is developed with only sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final product and complete set of features are only developed once you have obtained critical user feedback and can incorporate this into your final app. It is a standalone application that has the minimum but enough basic features to be launched and run smoothly.

Essentially, the core idea behind this approach is to “build, measure and learn” with the objective to offer immediate value and quickly.

A good MVP should address the following characteristics:

  • It has enough value that people are willing to use it initially
  • It provides a feedback loop to help guide further development
  • It demonstrates enough future benefits to retain early adopters
  • Serves at least one specific (niche) audience
  • Should address at least one critical pain point or challenge for the users
  • Can be built and launched quickly

Why should you build a mobile MVP? 

Building an MVP for a scalable mobile app project has numerous advantages:

  • Test the persona – Evaluating the success rate of an app idea in it’s early stages can save you a LOT of money further down the line. It allows you to test the concept with your target market and personas. This will allow you to gain insight into whether which user personas to focus on and help you find your loyal users.
  • Cost efficiency –  Depending on the nature and functionality of your app, the final app can take months (if not years) to build and the price will reflect that. Building an MVP is a more cost effective and faster way to ensure that your final investment will actually deliver ROI.
  • Gathers real feedback from users –  An MVP allows you to gather important feedback and user intelligence from the outset. You can gain valuable insights into the opinions and preferences of users and use this feedback as a guide when building the final product
  • Early Testing Opportunity – It’s better to find out in the early stages whether your idea will function the way that you envision it. It will help to know what functionality is possible and what your users respond well and not so well to.

How do you build a mobile MVP? 

Before building an MVP, as a good rule of thumb you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why am I building this app?
  • Who is my target market?
  • Are there any other apps that offer a similar experience?
  • Do I have a solid marketing plan for this app?
  • Do I have a hypothesis for testing?

There are a few ways that you can build an MVP. You can either;

  • Do it yourself- this assumes that you have basic coding knowledge and a solid understanding of app functionality and platforms
  • Engage with a reputable and trusted app development company that has experience in building MVP’s and prototypes
  • Outsource it to a freelancer. This may be cheaper but it does not guarantee the best quality. Make sure that you choose someone you trust and has experience operating in your intended market.

xDesign MVP Process

Here at xDesign, we’ve built many mobile MVPs across multiple industries. This has allowed us to build up a wealth of experience and come up with a common “blueprint” for MVP development. We’ve broken it down to a 9 stage process (see above).

Our process is designed to give structure to the MVP process at the same time allowing for flexibility. We can help take you through similar apps in the industry and help to create persona user sets. From there we work with you to determine functional requirements and user stories. We adopt a MoSCoW (must have, should have, could have, wont have) methodology which is a prioritisation technique in software development to reach an understanding with you about the importance of every requirement. This then helps to define the basis for MVP.

Once this has been worked out, we move on to creating information architecture and wireframes to accurately map out how the solution will work. This is a collaborative and fast to iterate process in which we provide a set of tools for users to offer feedback. From there, we move on to creating a design prototype, designing a key user journey and integrating some basic navigation. This prototype is shared via a link to either internal or external users for testing.

Once we have obtained the feedback, we then use this information to incorporate into final designs and continue working through each user type. Design is crucial for providing the best user experience and we make this process as collaborative as possible where any feedback can be captured in situ.

Then it’s time to start development. We work to an agile methodology which means ever spring (fortnightly period) delivered a feature which is fully testable. This approach allows you to see the product building in front of your eyes. Once the app has been built, we don’t just leave you to it. We warranty every app we make can help you with app launch and publishing into the App Stores. We enable detailed analytics packages to monitor users behaviours and use this as a basis to guide you through future planned development.

Building an MVP is a crucial part of the app development process and makes sense if you want to achieve long term success with your app.

Want to know more about building a mobile app MVP? Or interested in chatting through our process? Contact us today and we can help get you on the right path towards mobile app success.

Published by

Mairead Quigley

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