We recently discussed why agile and mobile were a match made in heaven. We know that when it comes to developing great mobile apps – agility and speed are paramount. With such incredible demand for mobile development capability within today’s enterprise, app developers must be able to move quickly, whilst enabling efficiency and quality at every stage of the project. Today we’re focusing on how to create a great MVP for your mobile project.
What is an MVP?
Marty Cagan defines an MVP as “the smallest possible product that has three critical characteristics: people choose to use it or buy it; people can figure out how to use it; and we can deliver it when we need it with the resources available—also known as valuable, usable, and feasible,” and the ‘delightful’ element can be added into the mix as a pleasurable UI is important in an MVP, the same way it’s important in a finished product.
Focus on essential features
When developing an app there’s a foolish assumption that you need to develop as many features as possible in order to satisfy users. The Lean Startup by Eric Reiss dismisses this idea and suggests app projects must launch initially as an MVP (minimum viable product). This entails focusing on features that are crucial to your users experience. By focusing on essential features, this offers a risk managed approach (both commercially and technically) that enables you to minimise the level of investment in an app prior to launch in order to test it’s potential traction in the marketplace.
Develop a lightweight product
Adopting a lean approach to app development works on many different levels. App solutions that are overly engineered are wasteful, costly and fail to delight your customers. Developing an MVP is about accelerated learning and enables you to ‘road test’ a solution through real customer use. The objective is to minimise waste. This approach enables you to avoid developing an app with a bloated and overly engineered feature set. You can learn faster by creating a lightweight product designed to delight customers.
Focus on the solution
It’s essential that your app provides a solution to a real world problem for your customers. Developing an MVP is about creating an experiment that you can test effectively, quickly and at minimal cost so that you can understand if your app is helping address the needs of users. You need to be ruthless when developing a concept for your MVP and eliminate the elements of your app that are overly complex and costly in terms of development resource. The faster you can put a lightweight MVP in front of real customers – the better.
By adopting an agile approach you can learn quickly and make decisions based on evidence rather than subjectivity. Once your app is front of real customers and you’ve had an opportunity to gather feedback, there are three things you can do:
1.) Stick to your guns
Assuming your initial hypothesis was correct, you can persevere and stick to your original game plan. There may be some minor modifications and tweaks you need to make based on market driven evidence. But if users react well to the first version of your app it proves your business model was viable and suggests a requirement to continue based on the original plan.
2.) Try something different
If app users don’t respond to the MVP in a way that’s consistent with what you originally planned, you need to think about an alternative approach. Remember this about adopting a data driven approach to development. Analyse the data that you have to understand exactly what went wrong and identify the elements that need to be changed to deliver success in the next iteration of the product.
3.) Abort the project
This sounds harsh – but if the outcome of your MVP experiment is drastically different from your original hypothesis, then it might be time to can the project. Maybe your app isn’t actually helping to solve a problem? It could be that the problem you identified isnt actually a real problem, or significant enough to merit using the solution you’ve developed. Either way if you’re dealing with a turkey, you need to be honest with yourself and the stakeholders associated with the app. It’s better to fail fast and cheap and move onto something with better potential.
Depth and complexity follows initial success
Using a lean MVP development methodology does not guarantee success, it allows you to accomplish your goals without over investing. If the initial development hypothesis was reasonably sound, the most likely outcome is that you’ll be forced to pivot and challenge some of the initial assumptions that were made regarding the desired impact of your project. The ultimate goal is to explore as many solutions as possible with the minimum level of expenditure. Exploring the maximum number of possibilities gives you the maximum probability of uncovering the right solution. Once you’ve discovered the right solution, then you can consider adding depth and complexity to your feature set with increased confidence.
If you’re a business or brand seeking to develop an MVP for mobile, contact Waracle today to kick start the conversation.