We have all heard of MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) but do you know what an MVP App is? and how you can go about building an MVP for a Mobile App?
In this article, we take you through What is an MVP App? the benefits of building an MVP App and most importantly, How to Build an MVP for a Mobile App?

What is an MVP?

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is an early version of a product bearing only the minimal amount of features and functions that allow selected users to provide feedback, used to improve the product’s concept and business viability.

MVPs empower business decision making by identifying early adopter customers and users that validate a product idea at the onset of the Product Development cycle.

The final product is only developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users. This way, product owners will not waste their valuable time, funds and resources in building a product for which there is no real wants, needs, or likes.

With an MVP you’re selling the vision and delivering the minimum features.

The Concept of an MVP was first proposed by Frank Robinson circa 2001 and later popularised by Eric Ries as part of his Lean Startup Methodology.

Characteristics of an MVP

  • Even though it has the ‘minimum’ features. An MVP does provide enough value so that users are willing to use it or buy it.
  • The users of the MVP get sufficient benefits from it, so that early adopters continue using the product.
  • The success of an MVP depends on a feedback loop that can help in improving future versions.
  • The MVP should have enough features so that the idea can be showcased to potential investors.

Minimum: The most minimal number of capabilities and features

Viable: The ability to deliver enough value that customers are willing to spend money

Product: Something customers can use now and not later

What is an MVP App?

An MVP or Minimum Viable Product App is a preliminary iteration of a Mobile Application with a limited number of features that enables it to offer a level of functionality (product demo/mockup) and core benefits that early users can experience.

“We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.”

Eric Ries

One of the key benefits of an MVP App is its ability to validate the proposed concept or idea in an effective and insightful manner, underpinning future business decisions. This is made all the more important by knowing that 35% of startups fail because there was ‘no market need’ for the product. This scenario can be completely mitigated by first developing an MVP.

Billion dollar Apps that started as MVP Apps

Some of today’s most popular Mobile Apps such as AirBnb, Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox all began as MVPs. They leveraged the learnings from their MVPs to progressively scale up and improve their overall user experience, monetization and profitability.

Uber MVP Homepage in 2010
The original Twitter MVP homepage

Benefits of Building an MVP App

An MVP App is a great way to bring your Mobile App Idea to life and showcase your intent and vision for the end product. We list below a few of the benefits of building an MVP App:

  1. Real-world feedback from Users – With an MVP App, App owners can obtain direct feedback on the performance, productivity and popularity of their Mobile App product without having to rely on guessing, hypotheses and conjecture. 
  1. Data from user Interactions– A Minimum Viable Product App is one of the best methods to obtain real-world data on user behaviour with minimal effort. By creating an MVP App and releasing it to a selected group of early users it is possible to discover what’s going on, what users are doing and how they are behaving in the App.
  1. Proof your Concept works – MVP Apps help to corroborate, validate and verify that your Mobile App Concept actually works and has the potential to be successful and profitable
  1. Observe and monitor user Interaction and Engagement – Minimum Viable Product Apps also let App owners understand what pages or sections or features of your App offer the most points of interaction and engagement for early users. 
  1. Identify Bugs and Fixes – A MVP App also provides App owners with the earliest possible opportunity to identify, address and rectify any errors, bugs or updates required to offer users a smooth user experience. 
  1. Testing, Testing, Testing – A Minimum Viable Product App presents users the ability to extensively test their Mobile App in order to better understand the impact of high usage rates or sudden increases in downloads or in-app transitions etc. This helps App Owners to be prepared for the best in case the popularity of their Mobile App increases.
  1. Great to Secure Funding – Many grant programs, high net-worth investors, incubators and other sources of funding will often require an MVP (or evidence it is being developed) as part of its decision-making process. Many startup entrepreneurs fund their MVP Apps from their personal funds to get their Mobile App Ideas off the ground and show investors their vision, commitment and intent.
  1. Assessing Business Viability – MVP feedback provided by early users, supplies valuable insights into the actual behaviour of users as opposed to the predicted or expected behaviours of users. 
  1. Proving Monetisation – If App owners have an element of monetisation within their App, then a critical analysis of users behaviour at this early stage can provide solid evidence for a business case and the Mobile App Idea’s business viability and soundness. 
  1. Save $$$ – If you have a Mobile App Idea, the cost of developing an MVP App as opposed to a fully-fledged Mobile App will be minimal. A Minimum Viable Product, empowers App Owners to obtain a realistic assessment of the future of their Mobile App Idea without committing to building a product that won’t succeed.
  1. Reduce your Time to Market – the time taken to release your Mobile App to market will reduce drastically when creating an MVP first
  2. Make New Discoveries – Creating and sharing a Minimum Viable Product can sometimes reveal other business opportunities, concepts, insights or ideas that may positively impact your decision-making process. Outlining the problem or answer better and aiding in the best version of the solution.
MVP Video for the Spray Mobile App clearly highlighting all the benefits and features. This MVP never made it.

How to Build an MVP for a Mobile App

  1. Start with developing the ‘idea’ behind your App – It all starts with an idea and a good Mobile App Idea is what need to get going.
  2. Craft and Refine your Idea – It’s time to get realistic and map out how your idea will really work and if it’s indeed unique and solves a problem.
  3. Scope out the Competition – Make sure to research and gather information on similar products, competitors, services or solutions that are related to your Mobile App Idea.
  4. Narrow down your Target Market– This is essential and can be achieved by market research, segmentation and differentiation of target audiences and users.

    Differentiation: What makes your app unique? Why should users use your app and not a competitor’s?

  5. Allocate funds for the MVP Development Process – This is of critical importance as it will cover the funding of the total MVP Development Process without any delays.
  6. Define the Success Factors for your MVP – Analyze and discuss how you will evaluate the success of your MVP.
  7. Decide what features and core product benefits to include in the MVP – This is very important as it will have a direct impact on your success factors. This decision will include whether you will build a Native or Hybrid app as well. Remember you need to include only the minimum but absolutely essential set of features. It’s time to prioritise.

    First conceived in 1994, the MoSCow Method is a popular method of prioritising features on MVP Apps.
  8. Note down Expected and Predicted User Behaviours – This way when the MVP provides actual user behaviour, App Owners can contrast, compare and improve their App user journey. Think about what does the target user want versus what does the target user need?
  9. Build your MVP – Having drafted your MVP Development Plan you can now set about working closely with your App Developer to build your MVP Mobile App. Ensure the Scope of Work, MVP Architecture, Technology and Delivery Roadmap are all in place to mutual satisfaction.
  10. Test Your MVP – Internal testing will reveal any bugs, issues or problems that need to be fixed and addressed.
  11. MVP Marketing – Now it’s time to figure out the Unique Selling and Value Proposition of your Mobile App, the User Fit and the Target User Profile, to inform your MVP marketing decisions.
  12. Share your MVP – Having completed the development of your MVP App you can now share it with selected members of your target audience.
  13. Obtain Feedback – Early users invited to experience your MVP will provide plenty of feedback on their experiences and it is also possible to analyse the App Dashboard to obtain unique insights into user behaviours.
  14. Learn and Improve – App owners must proactively take note of all the suggested feedback provided by early users and also address any other issues or bugs that are reported.
  15. Make a Business Decision – Now that you have built, shared and obtained feedback on your MVP App it is time to make a firm decision on the next steps based on sound evidence received. For Mobile Apps, the number of downloads, engagement, interaction and monetization can be measured.

    Many also consider aspects such as the Churn Rate, Customer Acquisition Cost, Monthly Recurring Revenue, Lifetime Value of a User and the Average revenue per user when coming to a decision. In most situations, you will have to scale, pivot or re-evaluate your Mobile App Idea.

You have to commit to a locked-in agreement ahead of time, that no matter what comes of testing the MVP, you will not give up hope. Successful entrepreneurs do not give up at the first sign of trouble. Instead, they possess a unique combination of perseverance and flexibility. The MVP is just the first step on a journey of learning.

Eric Ries

Future of MVP Mobile App Development

The proven ability of MVP Apps to significantly increase and enhance the technical and commercial outlook of Mobile Apps makes it an App Owners favourite. As long as there is an opportunity to build, measure and learn MVPs will have an important role to play.

With an MVP, you have a low-risk and lower-cost way of testing your concept on the market. What’s not to love about that?

Smashing Magazine

Success Cycle

Final Word on MVP App Development

An MVP Mobile App is a valuable tool for anyone with a great idea considering building a Mobile App. Working with an experienced and affordable Mobile App Developer who has done it all before it a good place to start.

MVP Apps helps App Owners to deploy a complete, yet basic product that can continue to grow, gradually increasing and improving its capability and efficiency. So now you know what an MVP App is and how to build an MVP for a Mobile App!

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