If you’re building a digital product, think about how to address your future users’ needs and predict potential risks early on by creating an MVP during website development.
Building a minimum viable product (MVP) – a version of a product that has enough core features to be used by early customers – helps you learn how or if your core business idea serves real users. By creating an MVP during website development, you gain valuable user feedback and solidify your business model and strategy. This is especially important in today's competitive environment, where almost any service is translated into an online offering. Read our list of seven best practices for building a successful MVP during website development.
Why is it worth creating an MVP during website development?
There’s a long list of benefits that come with building a minimum viable product before committing to the full scope of your project.
- The most obvious advantage is that you can quickly deliver value to end-users. This gives you the opportunity to gather user feedback while minimizing development costs.
- If certain features need to be changed or removed, you can do that efficiently and without wasting resources. Moreover, you learn more about your users’ behavior, target audience, and market. Crucially, mistakes made now are much less costly than further down the line with a more complex solution. Meanwhile, you save time and limit the loss of potential users.
- MVPs are fantastic tools for early testing. Based on your observations, you can plan better for future product development and use your MVP to devise strategies that help you gain and expand your user base.
- If you’re looking for funding – either through investors or crowdfunding – having a prototype of your business idea goes a long way toward helping you gain support.
- Finally, an MVP makes it easy to pivot, because shifting your focus and changing the core features of the app won’t be too costly.
Best practices checklist for MVP development
Here’s a list of seven top tips to keep in mind when creating a successful MVP during web development.
Define your business needs and conduct market research
First, you should detail the business needs the MVP is supposed to meet. This can be difficult, and a process such as the Product Design Sprint helps you avoid mistakes at this stage. A general rule to keep in mind is that successful projects don’t happen by accident – they’re created to fill a void or solve a problem.
To make sure this is the case with your MVP, conduct market research – and make sure you speak to relevant people (investors, users, experts, etc.). There’s a good chance a solution like yours already exists, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your idea. Instead, learn from and improve upon existing solutions. When it comes to web and mobile apps, and the Internet as a whole, remember that things change rapidly – faster than real life. Your idea may have been valid three months ago, but doesn’t necessarily meet today’s expectations.
Define product essentials, nice-to-haves, and add-ons
The next step is listing all the key features that you want your product to have, which create value for your customers. Map user journeys and user flow, focusing on usability. You should also come up with your product’s unique selling proposition. An MVP should showcase what makes your product special. At this point, trust the team that builds your product: If they have an idea on how to improve or modify functionalities, it’s wise to pick their brains, because they have expertise when it comes to building multiple products.
Once you have a list of MVP features, you may want to do even more grooming and divide them into three categories: the essential functionalities, the nice-to-haves, and the add-ons. Doing that may help you extract the bare must-haves for your product. Afterward, you’ll know what you want to build and be ready to hire the right team (including marketing, sales, project management, and project development experts).
Consider building a proof of concept (PoC)
A proof of concept (PoC) created before you start working on an MVP can be a fantastic tool for early-stage practical verification of your business idea. It also is valuable feedback and helps you build belief in your product among your team, stakeholders, and investors.
Define your MVP’s success criteria
Outline the MVP’s success criteria with your web development company – the key performance indicators (KPIs) that help you decide when it’s a good idea to invest more time or resources into the product development.
Measure your progress
Once all that’s done, development can begin.
Don’t forget to measure your progress and learn as you go. Use your time wisely and showcase your product to users and investors to start gaining traction. Run tests and keep an eye on performance, making sure your app is ready to make a good impression. Don’t be afraid to pivot if needed or drop functionalities you initially planned if the market indicates you should do so.
Remember that minimum doesn’t mean sloppy
Throughout the entire MVP development process, focus on building the minimum viable product. However, remember that minimum doesn’t mean sloppy.
Your team should build the essential functionalities of your app prioritize features that are necessary to solve a defined problem, and very little else – but these core features need to be well-designed, scalable, and compelling to users. In this context, viable means usable and effective at attracting a user base.
Don’t compromise on expertise or cut corners
Don’t cut corners thinking you’ll come back and deal with issues later. Likewise, don’t sacrifice expertise. Treat an MVP as the best way to test your product and get it out there fast – but it still needs to be representative of your brand. Don’t postpone the app’s launch to add in new features or functionality – that’s simply not the point. Additionally, don’t go overboard with fancy functionalities – there’ll be time for that after you perfect your core features. Also, track user behavior and use what you learn to improve your initial ideas.
Explore other ways to create what you need
Sometimes, there are other ways to get the effect and validation you need like using no- or low-code solutions. This can, although not in all cases, allow for faster product delivery. Companies that provide those services are experienced with tools like Webflow and help deliver the MVP in no time.
Watch out for potential pitfalls during MVP development
We’ve highlighted our top MVP tips, but what about potential issues? There are five common MVP mistakes to keep in mind.
- Zero market tests. Don’t jump into creating an MVP in website development without conducting proper market tests that gather real data and assess the need for your product.
- Building too many features. An MVP is all about focus and simplicity and prioritizing features, not an abundance of bells and whistles. Therefore, keep core features and value in mind to ensure your MVP’s success.
- Neglecting prototyping. As an essential part of product development, prototyping is also a core part of an MVP, leading to more robust and long-lasting products. Also, remember to test your prototype with real users.
- No data analytics. An MVP isn’t useful unless you embed analytics within, so you can evaluate how the product performs and decide what needs changing, improving, or removing entirely.
- Low scalability. During MVP development, keep scalability and extensibility at the forefront of your mind, helping you understand how core features will work (or not) when scaled.
Creating MVPs for web projects vs mobile products
If we look at the technical aspects of building MVPs, there isn’t much of a difference, aside from the obvious – the choice of technology stack. However, because an MVP is meant to be a fast and easy first step toward further development, it’s best to know which market and platform you want to explore first. Otherwise, you risk splitting your focus.
A web MVP launch may be faster in some cases, because there are no certification and acceptance procedures to go through. There’s no need to worry about entering the appropriate app store. What’s interesting, is that industry giants such as Facebook and Airbnb started out with web apps, and expanded with mobile versions later down the line.
However, if most of your market is mobile, a web MVP won’t serve your purpose because your users are elsewhere. Also, remember the mobile market is split between two major platforms: Android and iOS. If you want to enter both, you may need a technology stack that facilitates multi-platform development (for example, Flutter or React Native).
We mentioned trust before, and this is a good place to highlight it again – after providing the business background for your goals and web project, have faith in your team’s tech recommendation.
MVP vs PoC
To give wider context, let’s explore the differences between an MVP and a PoC.
- A PoC validates assumptions, proves technical feasibility, and asks: Is the concept feasible? An MVP establishes the value proposition of a product and how it works.
- PoCs take days or weeks and have a small budget, whereas MVPs take months and have well-defined funding.
- A PoC is about demonstrating whether a solution could be built. An MVP offers a simple (but effective) version of a product that’s tested with real users.
- PoCs are typically discussed internally or with a small group, whereas MVPs are shared externally with early adopters and investors.
- A proof of concept doesn’t function as a working product, whereas a minimum viable product does, helping see how a product will be used, using basic features.
- A PoC doesn’t grow the customer base or generate revenue, whereas an MVP can.
MVP vs prototype
Now, let’s see how prototypes compare. They:
- show how a product actually functions;
- take weeks and have a medium budget;
- outline how a product will be built and work;
- are generally used internally;
- don’t function fully, but help visualize how a product will look and feel;
- don’t grow the customer base or create revenue.
Optimizing your MVP during website development
To conclude, first off, we recommend you treat an MVP as the best way to test your product. With that in mind, don't be sloppy: Viability is all about usability and the ability to solve problems with core features. Additionally, an MVP isn't an MVP until it sells, but you need to think ahead: If your target market is large, make sure the minimum viable product is easy to scale up.
Also, remember an MVP isn't a prototype. A prototype is a discardable first test, but an MVP is the foundation you build the final version of your product on – therefore, make it solid and future-proof.
Today, with funding more difficult to obtain, it's a good idea to create a robust MVP during website development before jumping into full development and the cost that entails.