Planning your MVP: how to build it and choose the right technologies and tools
How do you plan and build an MVP? Here’s an article for everyone planning to build MVP or trying to find their path with a new app idea. Find all the needed information to start planning the creation of your app, get to know how to choose the right technologies and tools, and how to approach the MVP development in general.
This is another article created with the help of our CEO and Project Manager. Thanks to their practical advice, you’ll get the chance to find answers to most frequently asked questions and to gather information on how to build an MVP from a more technical point of view.
Starting with basics, let’s recall what MVP is and move to what its development process should be like.
What’s a Minimum Viable Product?
MVP is a minimum viable product, which means a product with a minimum set of features. The app simply contains fewer features than a complex, fully-fledged, finished solution and can have a simpler design. Usually when building a minimum viable product you aim to expand it later. Of course, if the first version met your expectations. So basically, MVP is about providing customers with the most important features, releasing the product as soon as possible and checking if it fits the market.
MVP development process
MVPs are often over-interpreted. It is useful to think of the process of building a minimum viable product as delivering something remarkably simple quickly, which will meet the expectations of the target audience. When planning to create an MVP, it’s good to follow the “Less is More” principle.
In the beginning, we have lots of ideas and the final product seems perfect in our heads. However, creating a good MVP should stick to certain rules. Let’s have a look at what the minimum viable product development process should look like.
The first, non-avoidable step in every app development process is doing market research. There are different strategies and ways to get to know the market and competition. Generally, app market research is looking for answers to questions that will help you understand if your idea has business potential and that will give you a hint on what to do to make your project a real success.
A good start would be to go to mobile app stores and download a couple of competing apps – products that are similar to what your idea is supposed to represent.
You should also gain some domain knowledge about the market you’re about to hit and about the app development market in general. This will help you base on proven, known and often used capabilities, for example in terms of technologies and tools used to plan and build your minimum viable product.
Reading articles, browsing competing apps in stores, analysing target users, looking for answers and talking to people is free, and doesn’t require technical knowledge. So try to catch the general concept and move on to more detailed steps.
Deciding on the core features
Once again, it’s important to remember that MVPs are supposed to contain the minimum set of features and to be released to the target audience quickly. That’s why it’s essential to choose the core features of the app representing your business idea in the best possible way.
All great products that are very popular now have started with their trimmed-down first versions, rather far from the final product. Going back to the initial versions of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many others should be the sufficient proof.
Your minimum viable product concept should evolve, develop and grow with time, along with its users and your business.
Pareto principle and other tools
The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes (the "vital few"). Some also call this principle the 80/20 rule or the law of the vital few. This principle also applies when building an MVP.
From the entire pool of features you plan to implement in the product, you should select the 20% of key ones that will deliver 80% of the app's development value. With this principle, many effective management practices and methods of prioritising tasks have been created. So at the beginning of the process, with a head full of ideas, it’s good to consider which product functionalities are really the most important. Often at the beginning it seems that everything is essential, but with an in-depth analysis it is possible to select the core features.
When it comes to the choice of technology, it is advisable to look for proven methods and take advantage of current trends. Well-known and popular technologies most often bring proven solutions. This is, among other things, thanks to good-quality libraries and the presence of developer forums supporting each other, such as the Flutter community.
The more common the solution, the lower the risk of failure. When creating an MVP, you should also care about cost optimization, so it is worth paying attention to costs, i.e. what are the rates of specialists for each technology.
However, you should bear in mind that some technological solutions are non-negotiable. Particular product requirements demand specific solutions and sometimes it may not be possible to choose otherwise. These are quite rare situations, but they do happen, so this may already be the moment to seek expert advice.
First of all, you should learn that you can choose native app development or cross-platform app development.
Native app development
Native software is designed to run on a particular operating system. Native apps are the opposite to cross-platform apps which are intended to run on multiple operating systems and/or computer architectures.
This means that in native app development, if you want to create an app for both iOS and Android, you’ll actually need to build two separate apps. The most popular technological choice for iOS app development is Swift, and for Android apps it’s Kotlin.
A particularly important benefit of native apps is that they can take full advantage of the device features and latest system updates.
Cross-platform app development
Cross-platform app development is developing apps for multiple platforms (operating systems) or devices with one code base, at the same time, instead of building separate apps for each one. It’s a more recommended method for MVPs because this way, one developer can for example develop mobile apps for Android and iOS.
The most popular framework for cross-platform app development is Flutter – also most frequently used by our Partners.
As for tools in the app development market and for designing an app, there are already proven and common standards. Project companies should use tools such as Asana and Jira, and be familiar with Agile methodologies such as the most popular Scrum or Lean Six Sigma. Graphics and functional mock-ups should be created in Figma or with other well-known design tools.
Overall, the most important thing is to use known and proven resources, and if you don't know how to find them, follow the advice of specialists.
Choose the experienced specialists
Despite the fact that cost-cutting is so important at the stage of MVP development, it’s essential to take care of your product's greatest quality. It’s important that the development team is middle or senior level. This increases the likelihood that the technologies and technical solutions they propose will meet the highest standards and take advantage of the latest trends.
Collecting user feedback
In your work on MVP development, the most important matters are the users and their opinions. Their preferences, requirements and suggestions should set the track for the app's development. How to find them? You simply need to collect feedback – you should try to reach out directly to early adopters to find out what's missing in their view, what to develop and their overall impressions of using it.
Even before you start building your MVP, you can seek user feedback from similar products and find out what they expect and what they would be willing to change in these apps.
Then, you should take advantage of the active users' reviews and opinions, e.g. from the early adopters. Don’t treat rates as one of the side effects of creating an app that you don't need or can’t use. They’re very valuable and will give you lots of hints on how to continue your work.
So collect user feedback and draw conclusions to make your MVP finally transform into a fully-fledged and fully-functional app.
Adjusting your budget
MVP development doesn’t have a fixed price of course, just like developing any app can require different funds to be invested. You can increase your awareness of what the financing structure and perspective look like for example by asking different teams for their estimates. Depending on your experience in building software solutions, you might be able to assess on average how much money you’ll need, or you might have no clue even after deep research.
That’s why it’s so important to have as many materials related to your MVP development as possible before you ask for a quote. All the knowledge you gained from the above + all your preparations are valuable when it comes to planning a product development.
Materials needed to plan the development
Below you will find different tools and materials that will help you prepare for your MVP development. Filling in these templates will simply get you closer to start building your product and choosing the right technologies and tools for this purpose – may it be for planning an MVP or a bigger app.
An in-depth research of competing apps will help you find flaws in these products and lacks in features, and get to know their audience needs. Basically, if you want to be well prepared to run your software project and have a good chance of success, you need to do the competitive analysis.
The analysis should consist of:
- App name – name of the competitor's product
- Target audience – who are they trying to reach with their app? Who are their customers? What does their user persona look like?
- Value proposition – what value does their app promise to deliver to the users? Why should their clients choose to purchase their product?
- Business model – what is their plan for making a profit? What monetization strategy have they chosen?
- Feature gap – what features are missing in your opinion and in comparison with other similar apps? How to change the user flow to make it better?
Here you’ll find a template to fill in.
If you want to create an app that is perfectly tailored to users' needs, you need to understand your target audience – who they are, what their motivations for using your product are and what problems you should solve.
There is a simple exercise to make this process easier – creating user personas (also known as buyer personas).
The user description should consist of:
- Basic information – it will give you a broader perspective about your potential users and how you can fit into their lives. Write the user’s name, occupation and age.
- Personality – what are their personality traits? Are they ambitious? Impulsive? Even such things can help you determine the design and features of your app.
- Bio – give your personas backstories. What is their everyday life like? What do they do in their spare time? How can you tailor your solution to their day?
- Goals – understand the end goals they want to achieve. What will achieving it result in? These are the main driving forces of your users and determine what the persona wants or needs to fulfil.
- Motivations – get inside your user's head and understand how they think, understand their real needs. Why do they want to achieve their goals?
- Pain points and frustrations – what are the main issues your personas face? Understanding them should impact the entire development of your app and you should be fully focused on providing them with the right solution.
Hint: It’s also easier to do after collecting valuable feedback from apps’ users.
Here you’ll find a template to fill in.
Mobile app brief
When planning your new app development and especially when looking for a tech partner to build your mobile app, it's a good idea to describe your project in detail. This will give the development team a good understanding of your business and can also speed up getting an estimate.
The mobile app brief will help them understand your end goal, the market you operate in and the product idea, as well as allow them to select the right tools and technologies to build an MVP.
You should describe as much as you can in terms of the app functionality, looks and maybe also the user flow. Here you’ll find a template to fill in.
If you still don’t feel ready to build an MVP or to create a detailed plan along with technologies and tools choice, remember that there’s always an option to find an MVP development company. It would be great to review and evaluate your product idea with an experienced team before building it. To a large extent you can do this yourself, but you can also use help when you need it.