Do you use MVP in software development? MVP, or Minimum Viable Product is a concept that enables software or other companies to launch a relatively low cost and effort version of their product to test it prior to full development.
Even from that brief description, you should be able to understand the advantages to the company through early testing of an idea or feature – but how can this improve your customer experience?
The concept of a Minimum Viable Product comes from The Lean Startup, a movement led by Erik Ries with the mission of changing how products are designed and built.
The idea of the MVP is to allow developers to gather as much user feedback and ‘validated learning’ as possible before too much time and money is invested in the development process. This might be as simple as proving that there is a market for your app or service. This is done through the following MVP stages:
1 – Define the Problem
Whether you are working on a website, SaaS product, or an app you will be hoping to solve a problem for your customers. The first thing you need to be clear on is what that problem is, which sounds straightforward but often proves a sticking point! This understanding underpins the other stages that come later.
2 – Identify Your Target Audience
While your app may be ‘for everyone’, there’s likely to be a sweet spot for people who will use your solution, or at least those who can provide you with useful feedback at this stage. This step involves working out who those people are, and how you will recruit them.
3 – What Features are Necessary?
Chances are that you have a fully-formed idea of the functionality you want in your app, but to test the viability of your product with minimum investment, you need to work out which ones are completely necessary. Building an MVP gives your mobile app development company a great opportunity to check which UX and UI components are important for the usability and intuitiveness of your mobile app. This is the heart of the MVP idea, what is the minimum work you can put in to create a product that can be used/tested.
4 – Create your MVP
With the research done it’s time to put your MVP in software development. This is the time to make decisions about your MVP software architecture; what language will you develop it in? What tools will you need to create it? Following that it’s time to unleash your coders onto the task and let them create the MVP, which doesn’t need to be fully fleshed out and perfectly designed, it just needs to be functional.
5 – Get Testing
Some companies cover MVP costs by charging for the original version of the product, while others consider this a part of the development lifecycle and ask for beta testers. Whichever approach you decide to take, the feedback that you get from users is vital.
Consider what you need from your users – is it enough to know that they will use the app, or to be able to measure how they use it, or do you need them to give you qualitative feedback about their experience. How will you capture the data?
6 – Use the Feedback
The feedback that you have gathered can be used to inform your decisions going forward. If the number of users was disappointing, or it didn’t do what users needed it to, then you can tweak and adjust until you are getting the responses you are looking for. On a more positive note, if you got lots of great feedback then you know that you have a solid foundation moving forward.
Relationship Between CX and MVP
So, how does MVP software development support customer retention? The answer to that is both simple and complicated.
It Maintains Customer Focus
Remember the early stages of the MVP software lifecycle? Consider the problem that you are solving and identify your target market. Those two questions will help to keep your solution customer-focused from the very start.
In step one you look at the issue that you are solving for your customers, this helps you to design a product that delivers greater customer satisfaction. Not flashy or gimmicky, but a way to genuinely make a change in the lives of your target customer.
Step two is to identify those target customers. Thinking about ideal customers is standard practice for sales and marketing, but software development can often be abstracted from the end-user. This step ensures that the needs of the ideal client are considered from the very beginning.
It Builds Brand Loyalty
Have you ever backed a project on Kickstarter or a similar crowdfunding website? Chances are that if you did, it felt like a different experience to simply buy something in a shop even if the end result was the same; you exchanged money for something.
The reason for this is that, through the mission of the Kickstarter website and the explainer videos and marketing copy, you became invested in the project. Once you’re invested, you’re more likely to do more to support the project in the future.
That’s why MVP in software development can help forge a meaningful connection between you and your customer base. If they know they are helping you out as a beta tester or because you will be listening to their feedback, they will become invested in a positive outcome for you and your company and once they are invested they will go the extra mile for you.
That means supporting you with feedback if you are asking for it, or sharing your solution with others. They will want you to succeed.
Developed from Feedback
Because the MVP has been designed for your ideal customer, and you have asked them for their feedback on it, future iterations of the development will improve in the way that they meet their needs. You really can’t get better help for designing and developing your software than the people you want to use it with!
One way to keep your product fresh and new, and with that your customers engaged is through changes made to the app or website. If your solution is ‘finished’ at launch, you are limited in the number of changes you can make going forward.
With an MVP not only will you have other features to add that were in your original design, but you may also come up with new functionality or features as a result of user feedback. Either way, you will be bringing in changes in a phased way that will keep the product feeling fresh and new. Don’t forget to create content to make your customers aware of the new features you roll out.
Poor CX = Failed MVP
What an MVP will tell you very quickly is whether your project meets the needs of the people you are trying to serve. If you receive negative feedback from users, or it’s clear that they are struggling with functionality – or just dropping off from using the app, then your MVP is a failure.
Does that mean you have to give up your whole idea? No, but it does mean you need to rethink the way that you have developed the project so far. And that’s the beauty of an MVP, you can learn early on and with limited investment what is working and what isn’t, and know whether to pull the plug or simply change your approach.
Examples of MVPs
Reading this article so far, you may have got the idea that MVP in software is just a quick and dirty version of the app to test how useful it is. While this is one type of MVP, it’s by far from the only one. Here are some other examples of MVPs to give you an idea of how other companies have used this concept.
Back in the early days of this cloud-based storage solution, Arash Ferdowsi and Drew Houston had come up with the idea but realized that developing it would be cash and time-intensive. Rather than risk everything on an idea that wouldn’t work, they created an MVP – an explainer video that talked about what the solution would do when it was ready with a call to action to sign up to learn more. 70,000 signups later, the pair knew they were onto a winner.
The voucher code service is now available through the web and as an app, but did you know it started its life as a simple WordPress website? The simple sign-up page generated a lot of interest and captured the contact details of interested customers. The results speak for themselves.
Source: (Wayback Machine)
Rather than implement their ride-sharing app on every platform, Uber (then Ubercab) was originally launched on iPhone or via text only, but this limited launch allowed them to prove their concept. Once they knew there was a market for their service, they were able to expand security in the knowledge that they were doing the right thing.
One aspect of MVPs that shouldn’t be understated is how useful it can be if you are trying to attract investors. Imagine how much more compelling a pitch from Dropbox was when they had an email list with 70,000 interested customers, in comparison to just going in with an idea? If your app has already been downloaded and given 5-star reviews, it becomes a much more viable proposition for investors.
Will You be Using MVP in Software Development?
We hope that this article has helped you to understand the many benefits of the MVP approach when developing your first product. By helping to keep your focus tight on the customer and their needs, not only can you launch your product for a reduced cost, but you can also make sure that it more accurately meets the needs of your end client. Can we say win-win?