MVP Mobile Apps: Start Your Business Wisely
Discussions around MVP are not new. Almost everyone who has ever dealt with software development knows what it is and why it is used. Nevertheless, customers change their behavior over years and the market has to respond to these shifts in order to survive and develop. This means that people’s attitudes toward some things can undergo some changes as well. In this article, we will speak about MVP mobile app development and see whether any new trends and tendencies have emerged with regard to this process.
What is a Minimum Viable Product: Past and Present
Let’s revise everything, briefly, from the very beginning. You know that a minimum viable product is what MVP stands for. Although most people learned this term from Eric Ries and Steve Blank, you should know that the very first man who used it was Frank Robinson, the co-founder and president of SyncDev.
The SyncDev company defined MVP as “the right-sized product for your company and your customer.” They explained that a minimum viable product has to be a sweet spot between too many features and lack of important features to reduce risks.
The great popularizer of MVP, Eric Ries, wrote a book called "The Lean Startup" where he defined the term as the "version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” In this whole process of MVP creation, the main role was devoted to collecting and analyzing data to be able to improve the product in the next iteration based on the received feedback.
The words “version of a new product” give reason to distinguish a few types of MVP: wireframes, mockups, explainer videos, landing pages, software prototypes. These allow startups to collect validated learning without even building a product itself, though the last item is regarded as a separate MVP type too if it has only the basic features required to be ready for the market.
There are many famous companies that can be great minimum viable product examples in their initial stage: Dropbox (explainer video), Airbnb (a web page), AngelList (email intros to investors), Product Hunt (a group for sharing links), just to name a few. Even the very first iPhone is an MVP because it lacked some features that its closest competitors already had (copy-paste, search, MMS, Bluetooth).
Digging deeper into the matter, you may come across one more term - the minimal marketable product (MMP). MMP is used to denote a product with the smallest set of features necessary to be presented to users and marketed.
Speaking of the relation between these two terms; they used to be treated based on the main purpose each of them had. MVP was mainly the means of idea validation and MMP was a market-ready product built in accordance with the received insights with the help of MVP. As of today, the situation has changed. Now the majority of people and companies define MVP as the smallest product that can be launched and offered to the public. This new perception eliminates the difference between a minimum viable product and a minimal marketable product, leaving no need to use the latter.
If you analyze the MVP concept integrally, it all comes down to the question of reducing risks in the conditions of extreme uncertainty that new products usually face. Indeed, the chances of product failure are very high because the market is competitive and demanding. Entrepreneurs have to be extremely careful with what they offer customers, and MVP is just the right start to test the waters.
Peculiarities and Features of MVP Mobile Apps
The Lean Startup methodology has been widely adopted by entrepreneurs and mobile app development companies. There is a solid reason for this. The number of applications in app stores grows every day and the competition is more and more cut-throat. Using a minimum viable product to test the market of mobile apps is a very wise decision.
Let’s determine the meaning of an MVP mobile app to avoid misunderstandings. It is a complete standalone application that has the minimum, but enough, basic features to be launched and run smoothly. The quality of the product should not be underestimated. It’s a big mistake to think that users will forgive you for bugs or some glitches just because you offer an MVP and the best of your application is yet to come. The conditions are severe because people have many choices and only the best wins the race.
The key reason for the decision to start with an MVP app is the opportunity to launch it as quickly as possible with a minimal budget. This will allow you to test whether users even need your product. If they don’t, you have a chance to adjust your app to the demand of your target users by knowing their exact needs.
Even if you have enough money to build an application with a lot of features, you should still consider starting your business with an MVP. The whole thing in this approach is not about budget, but about validating your idea. Why waste your time and money if nobody is interested in the final product as you imagine it?
Though the functionality of an MVP app should be limited, there are definite features any application cannot be developed without. They have become an integral part of user experience and people expect to have them in every app.
As you see, there are two kinds of apps: a user application and an admin panel. The latter is necessary because every product should be managed. As long as applications have users and content, they need moderation to avoid violations and so as not to break restrictions.
The rest of the MVP features depend on a specific mobile app idea and the industry the application will be released for. This relates more to user apps; as admin panels have more or less standard features, we won’t dwell on them.
E-commerce MVP app features
E-commerce has been booming for many years and is still in high demand. No matter what is sold via mobile apps of this kind, it’s done with the help of the same typical features. Have a look at them below:
- Payments with a credit card (Braintree)
- Navigate by categories, subcategories, and products
- Manage cart
- Manage order history
- See product page
- Product information and parameters
- Review and rate products, see other reviews
Learn more about e-commerce development from the article
How Much Does an E-Commerce Website Cost?
Educational MVP app features
In the MVP apps that provide educational services, the choice is more diverse because it depends on what has to be taught to students. The general feature set of this kind of applications incorporates the following:
- Course pages
- Audio and video streaming
- Progress measuring and recording
Learn how to succeed in app development from our article
How to Make Your App Successful. A Detailed Step-by-Step Guide.
Food delivery MVP app features
Food delivery apps are extremely popular, especially among people who work a lot and don’t have time to eat out. As you see from the list of features, this industry presupposes two kinds of users (buyers and restaurants) and thus, two kinds of applications.
- Manage order lists
- Payment with a credit card
- Search for restaurants
- View restaurant profile and menu
- Manage cart
- Notifications about order statuses
- Manage restaurant profile
- Manage menu and orders
- View balance
Learn more about food delivery apps from the article
Development of Mobile Apps for Food Delivery Services.
Social network MVP app features
The niche of social network apps is densely occupied. Such severe competitive conditions make it difficult for new products to enter this market. Still, if you have a great and original app concept, you should give it a try. Here are the most popular MVP features to implement in a social network MVP app:
- Report content or another user
- Create posts
- Like and comment posts
- Manage friends
- Event-based notifications
We have prepared a full guide on the development of social media apps. Read it to learn more: How to Create a Social Media App
Taxi booking MVP app features
Taxi booking apps also have two categories of users, passengers and drivers, who perform different activities. This is why two separate applications should be developed. The MVP version of the solutions should include the following features:
- Pickup locations and driver tracking
- Request results
- Fare calculator
- Payment with a credit card
- Reviews and rating
- Booking history
- Reply to booking requests (accept/decline a booking)
- Status updates (pickup/drop a passenger)
- Booking history
- Map with passenger locations
Find out more about taxi booking app development from the article
How to Make an App Like Uber: Complete Guide.
Healthcare MVP app features
Technology in healthcare is still actively developing. There are various mobile apps in the industry that serve a wide range of users’ needs. A healthcare mobile application for patients and doctors should include the following set of typical features:
- Payments with a credit card
- Scheduling appointments
- Tracking feature to monitor well-being
- Access medical records
- Check and download test reports
- Chats with doctors and other patients
- Patient management
- Chats with patients and other doctors
- Encrypted chats with other doctors
- Schedule management
- Upload test reports
Stages of Working on MVP Applications
If you ask yourself where to start, the answer is here. Start from an idea. There are people who are looking for startup ideas on purpose because they want to launch a business. Perhaps some of them really succeed doing things this way, but great and original insights usually come out of the blue. Besides, it’s not enough to be solely motivated by potential incomes, there should be another kind of motivation - an intrinsic one. Don’t be too pragmatic.
No matter how good your idea may seem to you, it might be completely irrelevant and unimportant to others. Before going further, check if people really need it. If you find a real problem your future MVP app can solve, then analyze and define it as much as you can. This will help you to offer the most relevant solution and reduce the risk of failure.
Defining your target audience is the next crucial step on your way to launching an MVP mobile app. Wanting your product to be liked by everyone is a big mistake you should avoid because such a goal is impossible to achieve. People are very different and it is perfectly fine to have both supporters and opponents. The main task is to define your supporters.
You should focus on a definite group of people and aim your application at them. To ensure positive results in the future and know what to offer and how, it is important to know as much about your target audience as possible. Make a profile of your potential user and specify even the tiniest details. The better you know your target audience, the more chances you have to recognize their true needs and find ways to meet them.
When you have identified a certain group of people with a common problem your mobile app idea can solve, it’s time to think what features to include in your product. Here, you should remember the two magic words - “minimum” and “viable.” These will remind you to be minimalistic while choosing functions, but keep in mind that they should work together to convey the main value of your application to its future potential users.
It is likely that you will probably have a strong desire to implement everything at once, but this doesn’t make sense in terms of MVP development. Your primary goal is to test your idea and get validated feedback about the initial version of your application. Specify only the core features the app cannot do without.
Now you can move to the next step which is to finally build your mobile app. At this stage, time is a crucial factor. The faster you create your MVP, the better. The world is very dynamic nowadays and you cannot be sure that no one else is working on a similar idea at the same time.
Although this is only the MVP version of your future app, you should take it seriously. Quality still matters a lot, but don’t try to make your product perfect. There is no limit to perfection and the process could take too much of your precious time. Just make it good. If the application meets users’ needs and expectations they will likely forgive some very minor shortcomings.
When your MVP mobile app is ready, there should be nothing else that could prevent you from testing it. Contact people who match the definition of your target audience and ask them to try your application out.
Be ready for both positive and negative feedback. You should take both into account. Pay special attention to criticism because it will motivate you to become better, and be careful with compliments you receive as they usually play to vanity and can fool you.
User feedback will help you learn whether your application provides value to them and what should be changed if it doesn’t. You will also understand if all the previous steps have been done right. In general the main point of testing your MVP mobile application is to establish a vision for how to develop it further.
Based on the user feedback you can introduce corresponding changes into your mobile app and add new features to see whether they will be relevant or not. Improving your product this way is the key to its success.
The last two stages are the main parts of continuous work on your mobile application. Even if it eventually grows into more than an MVP, you shouldn’t stop collecting user feedback. There is no limit to perfection, especially if you want to stand out from your competitors.
MVP App Development: Cost, Time, Team
Minimum viable product development is, in itself, an effective way to minimize the costs and time required to build your application. Nevertheless, this approach still has minimum price and time limits it is not likely to fall below.
Judging by our own experience, an average MVP project takes approximately 3-5 months of work starting from idea analysis to its release and can cost roughly $60,000 - $100,000. Keep in mind that we mean a mobile app with a minimum feature set when speaking about MVP development, not just wireframes, mockups, or prototypes.
This ballpark estimate should only help you understand what to expect; it is not a final standard cost that is applicable to all MVP mobile apps. Everything depends on the situation and your project in particular. To get a more precise idea, it’s better to talk to company representatives and discuss your project in detail.
The price also depends on the number of experts working on your project. Nowadays, software development companies offer many services, except development itself, to fully cover the potential needs of all clients and remain flexible. A modern project cannot do without the following roles in a team:
- Product Owner - a decision-maker on the client’s side. It can be a client themselves, or their representative, who has a clear vision of the product and has the final say on all questions related to product development.
- Project Manager is the main contact for a product owner on the company side of things. A PM manages the team, holds meetings, reports to the client, and has full responsibility for product development.
- Business Analyst - a person who helps clients work on the product concept, develops functional specifications, and advises on app features based on business and industry requirements.
- Designer is responsible for the visual part of the application. They work on user experience and create an app interface while paying attention to design best practices and guidelines. Their job is to focus on app usability.
- App Developers bring your application to life after all preliminary preparatory steps. They do the coding, set the app architecture, and implement all necessary features. Most app development companies, including MLSDev, have iOS, Android, back-end, and front-end developers in-house. The number of developers depends on the project size and specifics. Speaking about MVP app development, you will need at least one iOS or Android developer and a back-end developer for the server side of your product.
- QA Engineer is no less important than the rest of the team. This team member tests applications before release to make sure that they work smoothly and do not have any bugs. In the event some are found, app developers fix them to ensure the best product quality possible.
How to Build a Successful MVP Mobile App
You hear about prosperous mobile apps almost everyday, but it’s not a secret that there is a greater number of startups that fail. CB Insights gave an exhaustive explanation of the top 20 reasons why this happens. Here is the chart from the report that lists all of them:
If you analyze this list deeply, it becomes clear that some of the reasons are more fundamental than others and the rest of them appear like consequences of the former. It’s also evident that to become a successful mobile app MVP startup, you should avoid the issues listed above.
Here are the major things to be done to make your MVP mobile application successful:
- Choose the right team Your development team has to be experienced and possess the right skills to create a good mobile app MVP that meets all the necessary requirements. Additionally, the team should be highly motivated and results-oriented.
- Choose the right development method There are two most popular development methods - waterfall (traditional one) and agile. It’s important to understand which of them can be applied to your project. Although the traditional method is still alive and well, most of the software development companies that work with startups prefer agile. Take a look at the statistics taken from the Standish Group Chaos Report to learn why:
- Do market research before building your application If no one needs your app, it won’t be successful. Prior to implementing your idea, see what’s going on in the market and what other companies offer. If there is a niche for you, then go ahead, but if there is no room for your product, think of another idea.
- Always look at user feedback This is a key factor in the MVP development process. Speak to users, ask questions about your product, monitor key metrics of the statistics that should be integrated in the mobile app. After all, you develop an app for end users, not for yourself.
Controversies in Building MVP Mobile Apps
If you follow discussions about MVP development, you might come across some articles discussing the fact that this approach doesn’t work anymore. The keynote of such messages is that users and investors are not interested in minimum viable products that are released fast and with a lot of imperfections. People are not willing to use unstable mobile applications.
This is definitely true, and an important point to keep in mind, but as we have already explained, the approach to building MVP mobile apps is not that traditional anymore. Times have changed and so has the understanding of MVP. If you work on an MVP mobile app, you should always pay attention to its quality and release it only when it is polished enough to provide a good user experience.
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