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Web Application Development: How to Create a Successful MVP? A Checklist of Good Practices

If you’re planning to build a digital product, you should think about how to address your future users’ needs and predict potential risks early. Building a minimum viable product will help you learn how or if your app’s core idea serves real users. You will get valuable feedback and solidify your business strategy. Read our list of good practices for building a successful MVP. 

Why is it worth creating an MVP?

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 feedback while minimizing development costs. 
  • If certain features need to be changed or removed, you can do so efficiently and without wasting resources. You’ll be able to learn more about your users’ behavior and your market. And crucially, mistakes made now are much less costly than the same mistakes made with a more complex app.
  • MVPs are fantastic tools for early testing. Based on your observations, you’ll be able to better plan for future development. You can also use your MVP to devise strategies that’ll help you gain and expand your user base. 
  • If you’re looking for funding – either through investors or crowdfunding – having a working model of your idea will go a long way in helping you gain support
  • Finally, an MVP makes it easy to pivot, as shifting your focus and changing the core features of the app won’t be too costly.

The difference between creating MVPs for web and 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. However, because an MVP is meant to be a fast and easy first step towards further development, it’s best to know which market and platform you want to explore first. Otherwise, you risk splitting your focus.

Launching a web MVP may, in some cases, be faster because there are no certification and acceptance procedures to go through. There’s no need to worry about entering the appropriate app store. What is 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. Remember also, that the mobile market is split between two major platforms, Android and iOS. If you want to enter both, you might need a technology that facilitates multi-platform development (e.g. Flutter or React Native).

Good practices for developing MVPs

1. Define your business needs and conduct market research

First, you need to define the business needs that the MVP is supposed to meet. This can be very difficult, and a process such as the Product Design Sprint can help you avoid mistakes at this stage. It’s a good general rule 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 to speak to people (investors, users, experts, etc). There’s a good chance that a solution like yours already exists. This doesn’t mean you should give up on your idea, but you need to learn from, and improve upon, existing solutions. Additionally, consider filling a specific niche – that kind of focus can be all the advantage you need.

2. Define which features are essential, nice-to-haves, and addons to your product

The next step is listing all the features you want your product to have which will 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 needs to showcase what makes your product special.

Once you have a list of features, you may want to do even more grooming and divide them into three categories: the essentials, the nice-to-haves, and the addons. Such a division may be helpful with extracting the bare essentials for your product. With this, you will know what you want to build and be ready to hire the right team (including marketing, sales, project management, and project development experts). 

3. Consider building a proof of concept

A PoC (proof of concept) created before you start working on an MVP can be a fantastic tool for early-stage practical verification of your business idea. It will also help you build belief in your product among your own team, stakeholders, and investors.

4. Define your MVP’s success criteria

Define the MVP’s success criteria with your web development company – the KPIs that will help you decide when it’s a good idea to invest more time or resources into the development.

5. Measure your progress

Once all that’s done, development can begin.

Don’t forget to measure your progress and learn from it 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 always ready to make a good impression.

6. Remember that minimum does not mean sloppy

Throughout the entire development process, your focus should be on building the minimum viable product. Remember, however, that minimum doesn’t mean sloppy.

Your team should build the core functions of your app that are necessary to solve a defined problem, and very little else – but these core functions need to be well-designed and compelling to users. In this context, viable means usable and effective in attracting a user base.

7. Don’t compromise on expertise and don’t cut corners

Don’t cut corners thinking you’ll come back and deal with issues later. Likewise, don’t compromise on 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 new functionality to it – that’s simply not the point. Don’t go overboard with fancy functionalities, either. There’ll be time for that after you perfect your core features. Track user behavior and use what you learn to improve your initial ideas.

Final thoughts

  • Treat an MVP as the best way to test your product.
  • Viable means usable and able to solve problems with core functionalities
  • An MVP is not an MVP until it sells, but you need to think ahead. If your target market is large, make sure the MVP will be easy to scale up.
  • Remember that an MVP is not a prototype. A prototype is a discardable first test version, but the MVP is the foundation on which you’ll build the final version of your app. It needs to be solid and future-proof to serve that purpose.
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