Once you’ve run successful proof of concept and prototype tests, it’s time to build your minimum viable product (MVP). You would have established in the early testing stages whether the tech and design for your project is feasible. Now it’s time to build your product with minimal features to release to early adopters.

What is a minimum viable product?

A minimum viable product is the first product you will actually build. It will contain the most basic and crucial functionality. Essentially, the product will include just enough features to create value for real customers by solving a problem for them.

Use the lessons learnt in the proof of concept and prototyping phases to build out your minimum viable product. During this phase you would have validated whether the technology you want to use is feasible. Usability or technical glitches would have been ironed out.

You will also know which UX or design features work well and understand how the app or website will look and behave.

Crucially, your minimum viable product must drive user engagement and collect their feedback. This will give you an understanding of which features are useful to customers, and which are not. Use these insights for future improvements and further development. Building a minimum viable product allows you to get your product out to market quickly. You will save time by building a basic product. In addition, you’ll save money by only building out essential features. Despite this, it’s important that your product is of high quality, because this is the product that you will build out in future iterations.

Manual MVP functions

Don’t assume that all aspects of your MVP need to be coded. Elements of your MVP that your audience do not prioritise but are crucial to the product’s functioning can be handled manually. In a previous article, we discussed how to use Wizard of Oz and concierge tests to do this.

Once you have enough paying customers, you can develop digital solutions to replace manual processes. This is yet another way to save time, money and other resources in digital product development.

What makes a MVP successful?

Before you release your product in the market, define what would constitute its success. There are various criteria you may decide to use to measure success. This could include the amount of traffic your website or app receives. It may also be the number of signups or downloads you get. All of these are an indication of users’ interest in your product.

Importantly, you can also check how many active users your product has. Study active users’ behaviour and check their ratings. This will indicate how your product has been received by people who are actively putting it through its paces.

Launch MVP and monitor feedback

Once you’ve built your MVP, it’s time to launch it with a small group of early adopters. You will want to decide on a specific group or type of user to target. They will likely be people who most need the product to fulfil a need they have. You want your first customers to be highly engaged and be able to provide you with quality feedback.

Although the MVP is a market-ready product, you still need to determine if it is competitive and how users rate its performance. Monitor analytics regularly to determine how the product is operating.

Frequent interviews with users will help identify usability and technical issues. Your customers will be able to tell you why they did or didn’t download, buy or use your product. They can also tell you whether the product is good value for money, and where it is lacking. Perhaps it hasn’t quite solved the need or problem it was meant to solve? Or maybe there are technical glitches which are off putting? Customer interviews will reveal these insights.

Experio recently helped Esri South Africa launch an MVP for an online location information service. Esri is using it to gather feedback from select customers.

Customer service and adding features

Once your product is in the market, the service you provide to your customers also becomes important. You’re no longer just providing a digital product, therefore it’s vital to be aware of how your business is perceived. Take user reviews into consideration and incorporate questions around service in your customer interviews.

Begin to prioritise your feature backlog once you’re comfortable that your MPV is gaining traction. Use the user feedback you’ve gathered to determine which features it makes sense to add next. Continue gathering data and insights with each updated iteration of the product that you release so that each version is an updated and improved product. 

The next step will be to scale up your product.

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