What is MVP Prototyping & Why Does it Matter?

July 15, 2020

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) prototyping should be an important part of every product development strategy. MVPs provide a fast, cost-effective way to test out a new product idea and get valuable feedback from customers before spending too much time or money developing a final product.

Starting with an MVP allows you to nurture your understanding of customers’ needs and develop your product through constant iterations to achieve a winning solution.

Join us as we explore what MVP prototyping is, why it’s important and share some tips on how to create an MVP that delivers value to customers.

 

What is MVP?

“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” – Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup.

An MVP, by definition, only contains the essential features to help you test and validate your ideas before further investments or development cycles. With each development cycle, you gather customer feedback to identify ways to further improve your design until it reaches its full potential.

MVPs are a vital part of agile development as the first step, or starting point, for agile methodology. Agile development requires software teams to use a flexible and adaptable approach as additional insights come to light.

Image source: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/minimum-viable-product-mvp-and-design-balancing-risk-to-gain-reward

 

What’s the difference between MVP and prototyping?

While MVPs and prototypes may sound similar, they are actually quite different. Prototypes are sample designs used to explore ideas and test the functionality of the product to detect any bugs or glitches before bringing a product to market. However, it’s important to remember that not all prototypes will become the final product. 

MVPs, on the other hand, allow you to deliver a product to the market for testing and engage with early adopters to learn what works and what needs improvement. Once you’ve brought an MVP to market, you can then go through several cycles of prototyping until the launch of your final product.

 

Why is MVP prototyping important?

MVPs play a vital role in product development as they allow entrepreneurs and developers to gather valuable insight to inform the developmental process and create a product that appeals to customers. With an MVP, you can test product ideas before spending too much time or money on product development.  

Entrepreneurs might also choose to use MVPs to:

  • Win over stakeholders by proving that your product has real value.
  • Deliver value to customers by responding to their feedback and adjusting your product to meet their requirements.
  • Stop competitors from ‘stealing’ your idea by being the first to release your product.

An MVP prototype also minimises risk as you learn early on in the process and quickly discover whether your product will work.

 

Challenges to MVP Prototyping

While MVPs provide many benefits to the development process, MVPs also come with some challenges. 

One of the biggest risks stems from working with the wrong app or software development team. Software development teams that don’t fully understand the purpose of MVPs may end up focusing too much on delivering a product quickly and forget to deliver the right product. Developers may also put too much focus on the minimum over the viable part and produce an MVP that lacks the necessary viables to accurately assess its value to customers.

Our MVP prototyping service focuses on delivering core value to end users, as efficiently as possible. As such, we limit our feature set to the absolute core and have developed a suite of off-the-shelf tools to reduce development time. By underpinning our development process with agile methodologies, we work in short cycles or iterations with regular feedback, demos and updates. 

How To Create an MVP Prototype

Before creating an MVP prototype, it’s important to set a foundation by making sure you: 

Align your MVP with business goals

Before starting the development process, you want to consider whether your MVP aligns with your business objectives. Take a moment to think about:

  • What are your company’s strategic goals? 
  • What resources do you have available? 
  • What would you like your MVP to achieve? 
  • Do you want to attract new users from an adjacent market to your existing products?
  • Do you want to offer functionality to your current customers?

Once you’ve determined how your MVP aligns with your business goals, you can move into the strategy stage of developing an MVP. 

Find a market gap

When planning your MVP, take a moment to understand your customers’ pain points and look for gaps in the market that your product could fill. Understanding these pain points then allows you to position your product in a way that increases its value and allows you to outrank the competition. After all, the last thing you want is to waste money developing a product that lacks market value.

Keep it simple

MVPs are only the basics of your final product, so keep it simple. Before you get started, make a list of your product features and divide them into groups based on importance. Then choose the essential ones. You can add the rest at later stages of the development process.

 

Examples of MVP Prototyping

Airbnb

Airbnb app image

In 2007, the founders of AirBnB decided to use their own flat in San Francisco as an MVP for validating whether there was a market for short-term, peer-to-peer rentals. They aligned the launch with an industrial conference in San Francisco, which meant most hotels were booked. The founders bought three air mattresses, created a minimalist website, and published photos and property details to test their idea. 

After the initial success, Airbnb went through a long process of releasing new MVPs to gather more insights and further refine their idea. Today, Airbnb has a net worth of $38 billion.

Lindemann Healthcare

Lindemann MVP

We started our project with Lindemann Healthcare with an MVP before launching into a full design process. We trialled the platform across the care group and then used the feedback to make improvements to make sure it fit their needs. 

After several design cycles, the platform can now replicate their unique processes and is perfectly aligned to employees current understanding and ways of working. 

 

Discover MVP Prototyping from GearedApp

At GearedApp, we excel at helping innovators create MVP prototypes to test their product ideas before continuing the development process. We help founders create a roadmap to navigate product development and successfully launch their product. Head over to our MVP Prototyping page to find out more.

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