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MVP Development Framework: 6 Steps From Idea to Final Product

January 11, 20218 min read

You’ve come up with a brilliant idea of making the world a better place and eager to make it a reality. One small problem, you’re not even sure where to start.

For most startups, MVP development is a too chaotic trial and error process that takes precious time and resources. Gradually some of them gain more experience and figure out the nuts and bolts of the product development and become successful. The rest, unfortunately, just run out of budget before figuring it out.

What if there was a shortcut? A high-level blueprint with all the necessary steps to execute your idea or fail fast without spending too much effort on it.

Step 1: Market Research

No market need is the number one reason for startup failure. Starting with an MVP would validate that for sure, but there’s also a way to estimate it much faster.

Before even starting the MVP development process, ensure that the users need your product. You should know who are your future customers, so conduct surveys and do the mom test during an early stage. The more information you have about your audience, the higher your chances of success.

Research your competitors and what they are doing. What problems are they solving, and how? What do their users think about them? Is there anything that can be improved and how you can be better and stand out?

Every user has different factors that influence their purchase of a given product. You must have a clear understanding of what’s important to your users and what value your product brings to the market.

MJ DeMarco calls it value skew:

It’s important to set long-term goals for your business and what it’s trying to achieve. For McDonald’s’, that might be checkout time and consistency.

Step 2: Find the Opportunities

Thinking as a User

After doing market research, you’ll have a good idea of your user’s needs and wants. You’ll understand what end goals they are trying to accomplish. How they will achieve those goals with your product would play a significant role in their buying decision.

Let’s look at your product from your users’ perspective and try to make the app intuitive and convenient. You may have more than one category of users. For example, for an e-commerce marketplace app, it might be shops and customers. Each of them has different goals.

Create a table with three columns and write down all the goals to the last column. Now add corresponding user categories to the first one. What’s left in the middle are the user’s actions to do in your app to achieve those goals. Optimize those steps to make the user experience as smooth as possible.

UserActionsEnd Goal
ShopSign in
Create a product listing
Upload product photo
Fill out the description
Set the price
Get new product listed

This table is called a User Journey.

Let’s make the user experience even better by addressing the difficulties users might have when completing each step. Write down all the actions together with problems and inconveniences someone might have when trying to do them. Competitive products might help you find those.

ActionPainGain
Upload product photoNeed professional photos of all productsAutomatically suggest pre-made photo by barcode

You can extend this pain and gain map even further by adding priorities and weights to each problem and address more important ones first.

Now you can summarize this information into opportunity statements and features that allow your application to be unique and stand out from competitors. Answer questions like “How we might make action better?” with pains and gains from the previous table and translate them to unique features and benefits. For example,

We have a huge database of professional product photos, so you don’t have to make your own.

Step 3: Create a roadmap

You shouldn’t fit everything into an MVP. The whole purpose is to launch it fast and learn from it, so you have to pick critical features that would make the product remarkable.

Create a roadmap so that the product will be usable as soon as possible, and you can make development adjustments early on. Leave the majority of features to the final product. You’ll learn even more about your users after launching the product, and this information would be crucial to prioritize all of them.

Divide your features into groups by priorities: must-have, should-haves, could-haves, and wish-to-haves. Too many must-haves and should-haves isn’t a good sign, be honest with yourself. If the list is still overwhelming, you can assign development complexity to all of them and postpone what’s hard to implement but not that important.

Remember, this list is only for the MVP. The rest of the could-have features won’t magically disappear, and they would remain on top of the list for the final product roadmap, at least until you get more feedback to drive the product more accurately.

Step 4: Build an MVP

Building an MVP

With the feature list and user journeys mapped out, it’s just a matter of time to get the designs ready and start engineering the MVP.

Keep in mind that MVP is not a low quality, quick and dirty version of the final product. It has fewer features but still an utterly usable product with the same look and feel - less quantity, not quality.

Founders often make mistakes during this stage too. You should hire great developers or trust the whole process to a professional team. And never, ever compromise on core features that you’ve so carefully selected from everything that came to your mind. These would make or break your application, as they are the ones solving severe problems for your users.

Development usually takes up to three months, depending on the complexity of the product.

Step 5: Launch an MVP

Once the product is ready and well-tested, it’s not that hard to launch from a technical standpoint.

You should be thinking about marketing your product at this stage. Just deploying it to a public domain won’t work. No one will ever know about its existence, except maybe your friends and family.

Start the prelaunch campaign soon before the planned launch date. Put a landing page, get listed into directories, build an email list.

Gain as much traction as possible before launching.

Wouldn’t it be great if the whole world would know that you’re launching a fantastic product?

Step 6: Build Measure Learn

The lifecycle of your product doesn’t end on MVP launch. It only starts there.

Now that you have real users solving their problems with your product, it opens a unique opportunity to learn from them. From now on, your users should drive product development, and your responsibility is to guide them in the right direction.

Learn what other features they need, what difficulties they have when using your application, what should be improved and simplified. Did they have their A-HA moment early on?

You will get new ideas and insights based on feedback from your customers. Use it to make the best possible product on the market.

This process is the core of Lean Startup methodology that aims to reduce market risks of product development by validated learning from iteratively testing business hypotheses with short release cycles.

Conclusion

Success Possible

In the early days, startups had to go through difficult roads of trials and errors to succeed. Now when the startup movement matured, everyone can learn from their mistakes and leverage their experience.

The framework in this article isn’t a to-do checklist to success; don’t search for one. It doesn’t exist. Hopefully, this framework gives you an understanding that you should listen to your users when building the product and allow them to guide you on every step. After all, you are building a product for them, and they will be the ones using it.

While you can find enormous amounts of information on the internet on MVP development, sometimes it’s so overwhelming and conflicting that it’s easy to get lost in analysis paralysis. Feel free to contact us for any help.

Oh, by the way, LeanyLabs can build your MVP too.


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