If you’re a non-tech startup founder, the idea of app development or creating an app prototype can feel scary. It might even seem downright impossible.
For those who are unsure about where to begin your app-building journey, a good starting point for most businesses is to create an app MVP (short for Minimum Viable Product).
Never heard of an app MPV? Not sure how to build one? Read on to everything you need to know.
What Is an App MVP?
An app MVP or Minimum Viable Product is a basic, early version of an app.
An MVP is not completely finished or perfected. However, it does contain the primary features that your target users will need and want.
Ideally, MVPs will be created with clear value propositions. They give startups and entrepreneurs an opportunity to test their ideas and start providing their audience with a solution to a problem, even before the app is fully developed.
Why Create an App MVP?
Do you have to create an app MVP before putting a product on the market? Technically, no. It’s your business and you can do whatever you want.
However, there are lots of benefits that come with taking the time to create an MVP before finalizing the app development process.
Here are some of the main reasons why people choose this approach:
Verify Market Demand
One of the main benefits of a Minimum Viable Product is that it gives you a chance to test various aspects of your app before you launch it. For example, building an MVP allows you to verify market demand for an app like yours.
Why does verifying market demand matter? Research shows that, among startups that fail, 42 percent claimed that lack of market need was the reason.
By creating an MVP and assessing market demand, you get a better idea of whether or not people want and need this type of app. That way, you won’t have to invest a ton of money into building the final version of it if it turns out it’s not going to be well-received by your target audience.
Test App Concepts and Features
When you create an MVP, you also get a chance to test various app concepts and features before putting your app on the market. It’s not uncommon for people to have a vision of how their app will work, only to find out later that it simply isn’t possible or practical.
If you build an MVP first, you can test these things out and see what works and what doesn’t early on. Then, if features or design elements don’t work as you’d planned, you can make changes and create a better product when you finalize your app.
Test Usability and User Experience
An MVP also allows you to test the app’s usability and user experience. User experience is one of the most important things to consider when creating an app (or any kind of digital product, for that matter).
If your app isn’t easy to use or is confusing, people aren’t going to want to download it and keep it on their devices. By verifying user experience early on and making adjustments as needed, you’ll be able to ensure people are satisfied (and leave good reviews) when your app hits the market.
Win Over Investors
If you’re looking for investors who can help you fund your app, they’ll likely want to see some kind of prototype or MVP before they agree to give you their hard-earned money.
By creating an MVP before you start going into investor meetings, you’ll have something tangible to show them.
This can help them to develop a sense of trust in you and feel more confident in your vision. As a result, they’ll be more inclined to invest and support your business.
Make Wise Investments
Speaking of investment, an MVP also helps you to make smarter investments during the development process.
As we mentioned above, the idea of building an MVP is all about testing. A major benefit of this testing is that it helps you to make informed decisions throughout the development process.
Because you’ve conducted tests, gathered feedback, and seen what works and what doesn’t, you’ll be able to invest your money in updates and developments that will yield higher returns moving forward.
Find a Way to Monetize
During the MVP building process, you also can figure out the best way (or ways) to monetize your app. Throughout the testing phase, you’re able to test various iterations of the app with different monetization strategies in mind.
For example, you can test the MVP with the idea that in-app purchases will be the main monetization method. If your tests show that people aren’t making as many purchases as you’d like, you can go back to the drawing board and test it again while utilizing a different monetization strategy.
How to Build an App MVP
Now let’s dive into the steps you’ll need to take to build an MVP. The good news is that you don’t need to be a master developer to create an app MVP and start testing.
By following the steps listed below, you’ll find that it’s easier than you thought to start building:
Find a Development Partner
If you’re not an app development expert, it’s a good idea to start looking for someone who is early on in this process. The sooner you find a developer who is experienced and knowledgeable, the better off you’ll be.
Not sure what to look for in a development partner? Here are a few factors to keep in mind during your search:
- Ask About Experience: How long have they worked in the app development world? What training have they received?
- Review Their Portfolio: Have they worked on apps like yours before? Does their style align with your goals?
- Reach Out to References: Read reviews or reach out to their references to see what their experience working with this developer
- Consider Pricing: Do their prices work with your budget?
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Conduct Market Research
Your next step is to conduct market research.
It’s crucial that you learn about your audience early in the app development and MVP building phase. When you’re well-informed and know whom you’re trying to reach, it’s easier to make decisions on what features to include, how to design the layout of your app, etc.
How Do You Conduct Market Research?
Start by creating buyer personas. These are generalized, fictionalized characters that represent members of your target audience.
Be specific when creating these personas. What’s their gender? How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests?
Once you’ve created buyer personas, pick one to focus on first during the testing phase. Then, start putting together surveys with questions you can ask to learn more about them and find out what they do and don’t want to see in an app like yours.
When you work with an app developer, often, they can help you with the market research phase (and the other phases of creating an MVP). They’ll provide guidance and can help you decide which questions to ask to get the most valuable information from your audience.
Create a Value Proposition
A value proposition is a statement that explains, briefly, why someone would want to use your app. It’s an answer to the question “What value does this app provide?” or “What problem does this app solve?”
When you have a clear value proposition for your app, it’s easier for you to make decisions when it comes to designing the interface, choosing features, making plans for monetization, and more. By keeping in mind the goal you want to accomplish or the problem you want to solve, you can avoid making decisions that aren’t in the best interest of your target audience.
A value proposition will also make it easier for you to win over investors. If they can see what your app does for others, they’ll be more inclined to consider investing in it.
Outline User Flow
This is a key part of the MVP development stage.
Ideally, your app should be easy to navigate and convenient for people to use. They shouldn’t have to guess or waste valuable time trying to find things or get to their final destination. Everything should be simple, straightforward, and intuitive.
When it comes to outlining user flow, start by outlining the different stages that users will go through when engaging with your app. What tasks will they need to carry out (e.g., searching for a product, adding the product to the cart, checking out, etc.)?
Once you have each stage defined, it’ll be easier to create a flow that makes sense and is easy for the user to follow.
Next, start thinking about the features you want your app to have.
Make a list of the features that are most important to you (and, more importantly, that your target audience will value the most). Once you have a list, start dividing that list up based on importance.
Remember, your MVP is a basic version of your finalized app. It doesn’t have to have every single bell and whistle ready to go. Think about the features that are going to be most valuable to your audience. These will be the ones you focus on first.
Divide the remaining features into “medium priority” and “low priority” groups. That way, you’ll know what to address next and what can wait until later on in the development process.
Develop, Test, and Launch Your MVP
At this point, you’ll be ready to start developing your MVP.
During this stage, your development team will be doing most of the heavy lifting. They’ll take the information you’ve gathered and the plans you’ve drafted so far and use them to create a Minimum Viable Product.
When the development process is finished and you’ve tested and reviewed the MVP, you’ll be ready to launch it and put it out there for the world to see.
Completing an MVP is a great first step toward creating a profitable app. The hard work isn’t over yet, though.
Once you’ve launched the MVP, your next job is to collect feedback from your users.
All types of feedback, both positive and negative, are essential. The more you can learn from app users, the easier it is to create a finalized product that will support your business and help you see a return on your investment.
How do you gather feedback? There are lots of strategies you can use to test your MVP, but the following are some of the most effective:
Customer interviews and surveys are popular for collecting feedback and learning more about people’s experiences with your app. Keep in mind, though, that to collect valuable feedback, you need to ask the right kinds of questions.
Here are some examples of helpful questions you may want to include in your interview or survey:
- How helpful/useful was the app for completing X task?
- Did this app meet or exceed your expectations?
- What did you think of X,Y, or Z features?
- Did you not use any of the app’s features? If so, why not?
- What did you think about the layout of the app?
- Do you know of anyone who could benefit from this app?
- How likely are you to recommend this app?
Monitor Social Media Platforms
Pay attention to how people are talking about the app or engaging with content related to it on social media, too.
For example, are people liking or sharing posts about the app? Are they leaving feedback on your posts?
You can also use social media tools like Instagram or Twitter polls to gather more feedback on the app, too.
Analyze App Store Data
If you release your app MVP in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, you can analyze data from these platforms to assess its performance, as well.
Look at the number of downloads, the app ratings, and comments left behind by users. This is valuable data that can help you make plans for the future and decide what to focus on moving forward.
A quick tip for gathering feedback: to encourage users to leave reviews and comments, you may want to build periodic reminders into the app design.
Update As Needed
Once you’ve received feedback from your audience, it’s your job (and your development team’s job) to go back to the drawing board and make changes or improvements based on that feedback.
Remember, all feedback is valuable. Use your audience’s comments and critiques to create a better, more profitable app.
Be patient and be prepared to create multiple iterations of your app, too. The app development process is rarely one-and-done (especially if you’re creating a high-quality, highly functional, and user-friendly app).
Make an App MVP Today
Are you ready to start building an app MVP? Is it time to move one step closer to getting your app on the market?
Follow the steps outlined above and you’ll be well on your way to making this happen.
Do you want to partner with a development professional to create an MVP for your app? If so, our team is here to help. Contact us today for more information on our app development services.