10 Essential Tips for Building a Minimum Viable Product

by Quazi Reyan 1,051 views0

A minimum viable product (MVP) is an offering that only contains core features and is devoid of any bells and whistles. MVPs test a product’s viability in the market, enabling firms to gauge consumer perceptions and behavior to determine product demand and create effective pricing strategies.

The following are 10 tips for building a compelling MVP.

1. Find a niche.

Source: Ross Hawkes / Flick Creative Commons.
Source: Ross Hawkes / Flick Creative Commons.

Discover a problem that needs solving. By identifying major pain points addressed by your offering, you’re more likely to create solutions that are engaging and ultimately more  profitable later. Do your research—the more niche your product is, the higher the chance that it will be received by customers with unaddressed needs. By concentrating on a niche market, you get to do more focused marketing and  networking for future expansion.

2. Define your MVP with a realistic roadmap.

Source: Fred Benenson / Flickr Creative Commons.
Source: Fred Benenson / Flickr Creative Commons.

Before you actually start building the product, you’ll need to identify the core features of the MVP and set a clear roadmap for product development. Identify which features are critical  and which ones are nice-to-haves. Retain critical features  that satisfy the customer’s core needs and ignore the rest.

3. Do the necessary competitive research.

Source: Jimmie / Flickr Creative Commons.
Source: Jimmie / Flickr Creative Commons.

Research  existing products that are similar to your offering. Identify which specific markets they are serving and their value propositions to determine how you can do it differently and better.

4. Start selling your product before you make it.

Source: Anthony Easton / Flickr Creative Commons.
Source: Anthony Easton / Flickr Creative Commons.

Despite sounding counter-intuitive, an effective MVP strategy is to start selling your product before it’s even developed. Provide a money-back guarantee and early access to acquire as many early adopters as possible—they area great source for product feedback. Keep in mind that you are not giving your customers anything at this point (other than a promise).

5. Discuss profusely and garner as many second opinions as possible.

Source: Joe Wolf / Flickr Creative Commons.
Source: Joe Wolf / Flickr Creative Commons.

Talk to your teammates, take second opinions, and solicit feedback to identify critical issues that might have gone unnoticed. Second opinions are valuable when assessing an MVP.

6. Don’t stray from the product development path once it has been established.

Source: chrisjtse / Flickr Creative Commons.
Source: chrisjtse / Flickr Creative Commons.

As the project progresses,  new ideas and suggestions will constantly emerge—from stakeholders, teammates, as well as yourself. Do not give in to every idea and suggestion—no matter how brilliant they may seem. Keep the initial product vision in mind for determining which features to add and which to reject. Furthermore, you’ll need to spend enough time in bug testing. If you have the budget, hire a QA team or explore the various crowdtesting options available these days.

7. Remember that an unfinished product means you’re on the right path.

Source: Jolene Faber / Flickr Creative Commons.
Source: Jolene Faber / Flickr Creative Commons.

Your MVP should be properly branded, as bug-free as possible, and able to effectively fulfill its core functionality—no more, no less  Your objective at this stage is to release an early version of the product to garner first impressions from consumers and gain their trust.

8. It’s not too early to focus on customer service and PR.

Source: ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓ / Flickr Creative Commons.
Source: ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓ / Flickr Creative Commons.

Chances are you won’t get millions of consumers signing up for your product upon launch.. Subsequently, your early adopters should be embraced as  thought leaders in your chosen market.. They are instrumental to spreading the good word about your product, so be nice to them. Reach out and engage them on social media and offer ample customer support. You don’t need to do anything extravagant—simple gestures go a long way (e.g, gift cards/freebies for completing customer surveys and providing product feedback).

9. Keep improving your MVP.

Source: Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons.
Source: Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons.

One of the great things about launching a young product is that you will receive tons of feedback on how to improve it from users. Keep an open mind but don’t try to implement all changes at once. Stay on the product development roadmap that you’ve set earlier.

10. Maintain an MVP mindset and culture, even after launch.

Source: Dave Gray / Flickr Creative Commons.
Source: Dave Gray / Flickr Creative Commons.

Apply the lessons learned during the MVP development process continuously throughout the life of your product/company:

  • Prioritize the problems that the customers encounter when using the product.
  • Relentlessly find creative ways to do a lot with a little.
  • Do things that are high impact, low-effort.
  • Don’t be a sheep. It’s easy to follow the crowd and make useless products by incorporating overly-superfluous features
  • Keep a transparent team culture and encourage collaboration/information unsiloing.

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