A Minimum Viable Product – Ins and outs of MVP app development

20 June 2023
Karol Korzeń
Karol Korzeń
iOS developer
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Contents

  • Intro

Investing huge sums into a potentially game-changing product without determining whether there is an actual market demand for such a solution is risky. The thing is, you can have an excellent app idea, but if it falls short of your customers’ needs, it won’t bring you too much profit.

Testing your new product vision with the target audience can prevent bitter disappointment and loss of valuable resources by providing an opportunity to refine your app based on users’ feedback. But how to do it right?

It turns out that MVP app development can do the whole trick.

Coming up with a Minimum Viable Product before putting massive funds into a full-scale application is the way to verify your idea in next to no time and with a fraction of your budget

Focusing on the primary features enables you to accelerate your app’s development and thus reduce its Time to Market, which may result in a significantly faster return on investment.

Sounds interesting? Stay with us to discover what it takes to develop an MVP and how to do it properly.

How can MVP app development help your business grow?

MVP in mobile app development isn’t anything new on the market. Plenty of companies have already deployed this solution, and their profits have skyrocketed. Uber, Spotify, Airbnb – all these apps started with a Minimum Viable Product and looking at their worldwide success, it was a wise choice.

The enormous popularity of such an approach to building digital products lies in its profitability, development efficiency, and effectiveness in defining market needs. Let’s see how you can leverage MVP to your business advantage.

the benefits of an MVP

Reduce Time to Market

From our experience, building an MVP for a mobile app takes anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks on average. The exact timeline depends on the type of application, its complexity, the technology, the client’s budget, and the size of the development team. But it is still pretty fast compared to full-fledged applications. How is it possible that MVPs have so short Time to Market? 

An MVP mobile app should strike a balance between “minimum” and “viable.” It implies that while creating a Minimum Viable Product, your team should concentrate only on the essential features, providing your target audience with a basic yet functional version of the app.

“The MVP has just those features considered sufficient for it to be of value to customers and allow for it to be shipped or sold to early adopters. Customer feedback will inform future development of the product.”

Scott M. Graffius

A limited number of components means a shorter development process and less time required to release the app, which enables the team to collect feedback from early users and make modifications on the fly.

Start generating revenue

A shorter Time to Market equals more opportunities for increasing revenue.

When compared to feature-rich software, the relatively short development of an MVP allows you to enter the market and start getting payback much earlier. By the time you finish the final product, its basic version has earned its place in the rankings, drawing a fair number of users and earning profit.

If you spend too much time creating the app without first releasing an MVP, you risk missing out on possible financial gains, attracting your desired audience, and establishing your brand presence ahead of your competition. 

Save money

Launching an MVP app enables you to validate your concept before going all-in. In other words, it prevents you from spending money on an application that might not run properly or fail to attract users.

In addition, restricting an MVP app only to critical features decreases its development time and workload which translates directly into your savings.

But there is more to an MVP’s influence on development cost optimization than it seems at first glance.

The most prominent apps, such as the previously mentioned Uber or Spotify, have undergone gradual evolution, adding new features over time. So even though the cost of developing these apps could have been substantial, spreading it over a prolonged period allowed the owners to manage their expenses and reinvest profits from the previous versions.

Starting with an MVP application also optimizes the need for more advanced technologies and tools, preventing the product from becoming overly complicated and thus expensive. Once you gain the users, you can collect data determining the direction of further development and invest more sensibly later on.

Get authentic feedback

A Minimum Viable Product is like a dry run for your app that lets you see how your concept resonates with your audience and adjust your actions accordingly.

After going live, the MVP version of your application is supposed to gain reviews, providing you with valuable insights into features it lacks or actions it fails to perform. With this valuable input, you can continue building your product knowingly, minimizing the risk of wrong decisions and unnecessary costs.

A lack of any response from your audience may signal that the concept is not as brilliant as you initially thought or that the demand for such a product is insufficient to pump money into it, at least for the time being.

Win over investors

If your project largely relies on external funding, starting with an MVP might help you gain investors’ support. 

The decisive factor in obtaining their buy-in is to instill trust in the product and its potential for a quick ROI. Here, an MVP application plays a critical role – it allows you to check your idea in practice and prove the validity of the product to the investors

Based on users’ reactions to the MVP, you can also devise a deliberate plan for future development, which will give backers a solid overview of the whole project.

Having the live presentation of a product with confirmed market potential on the table, stakeholders will be more willing to jump in and throw money into the pool.

How to create an MVP – best practices

To build a Minimum Viable Product effectively, you should follow some predefined steps.

An MVP app design process is similar to that of regular, feature-heavy software. In both cases, you and your development company should start by identifying your business needs and doing market research to determine the users’ pains and find space to address them in your product.

In the next step, you are supposed to outline the features, define performance requirements, and decide on the technology stack. Once you prepare the roadmap for the project, you should enter the product design and then the development stage.

The main difference between the two is the extent and speed of the development. The point of building an MVP app is to swiftly and cheaply test the economic viability of your idea. So to make the most of MVP’s benefits, you should select critical features and construct them in shorter development cycles, decreasing the amount of time required for the app’s deployment.

But first things first.

Ideation

They say well begun is half done. That’s why you should start creating your MVP by clearly defining the vision of the product, the reasons behind its creation, and your business needs.

This may sound simple, especially when you have thought the whole idea through multiple times, but in many cases, doing it properly is one of the hardest parts of the project.

If you are not ready to determine all those elements on your own, our Product Discovery Workshop can provide a good head-start. It usually lasts 2 days, which is just enough to get a look into a project to specify product goals and business needs it should fulfill.

But this is not enough to start coding your MVP app yet.

Market research

Another purpose of workshops is to research the market. We highlight it here because the MVP should not only align with your company’s objectives but also address the specific pain points of your target users to serve its intended objective.

Even the most brilliant application will not be successful if there is no demand for this type of service on the market. Thus, we’ll help you identify your ideal customers, think of potential problems they may encounter, and answer them in your app.

It is equally critical to examine the competition. Perhaps a comparable solution already exists, which does not mean you should stop working on your product. Quite the opposite, the success or failure of competing brands should make it easier to improve on your concept.

User journeys & features 

Once we have validated the idea from a business perspective and decided what value it brings to your audience, it is time to see your product through the customers’ eyes to map out the user journeys and determine the major features.

We try to predict how people will use your application to satisfy their needs. Then, we create a step-by-step route that a typical user would take to reach their goal. Preparing user journeys helps us pinpoint where your product can provide the most value and what functionalities are required to do so.

Speaking of which. While preparing a list of features, we prioritize them and include in your MVP only those that have a direct impact on the app’s usability to decrease the amount of work and development time to the minimum.

Architecture

The architecture sets the foundation for product development. A well-structured architecture guarantees that the software is scalable and expandable, which is especially important in the case of an MVP project.

It will also impact the app’s performance and User Experience, which is why we carefully assess project requirements to select the best solution.

Overall, we strive for the greatest results in the least amount of time and money, rather than cutting corners to build a substandard piece of software.

Technology stack

The last step before the development stage is deciding on the technology stack. Choosing the right tools and technologies is essential for optimizing Minimum Viable Product development time, cost, and software reliability. What is particularly important here is to bear in mind not just the MVP but the entire target software to ensure easy iterations in the future.

Having features, architecture, and tech stack determined, we can prepare a roadmap for ongoing product development, including project timelines, milestones, deliverables, and cost estimates.

Design & development

With the vision of your final product in mind, our team knuckles down to work. 

Starting from the MVP design, we prepare blueprints representing the layout of your MVP app. Based on the wireframes, the designers create an interactive prototype for developers to turn into an actual product.

The whole coding stage is arranged according to the Agile approach in order to streamline the process and ensure that your MVP reaches the market as quickly as possible.

MVP development process

What are the prices of MVPs?

Alright, you now understand how creating an MVP can profit your business and what steps you should follow to do it right. But for many contractors, it all boils down to the project’s price.

So, how much is MVP? It turns out that calculating the cost of MVP development services is just as challenging as estimating the pricing of full-scale software development.

Based on the previous projects, we may assess MVP expenses to fluctuate between $20k and $250k on average. However, since the range is quite broad, we would like to provide the reasons behind the considerable variation in the rates for MVP app development.

Basic vs. complex MVP

The pricing is largely influenced by the level of complexity of the MVP to be developed. The more sophisticated the software, the more effort and time it requires, boosting the costs.

Okay, but since we stated that an MVP is a stripped-down version of your future product, shouldn’t it be pretty basic? It definitely should. Yet, it may signify different things for distinct types of software.

To illustrate, creating a basic web application MVP can be relatively simple and inexpensive since its architecture is not overly complicated and the app requires only a few features to fulfill its intended purpose. Relying on our experience, the deployment of a similar app costs up to $20k.

MVP product development is not always so simple, though.

To give you another perspective, constructing a core for a casino application might consume from $200k to $300k on average, with an estimated timeline of at least 4 months.

Why is the price of casino software development higher?

While designing an iGaming MVP, we might agree with the client to exclude optional components like push notifications and sophisticated support systems. But even the most basic casino app must have at least a few games, as well as user and payment management systems.

Furthermore, since the app will be dealing with money and sensitive customer data, its components must adhere to strict security standards to prevent any validations. The complexity of such a system calls for a more sophisticated architecture and technologies, extending the team’s effort and the project’s price.

The above examples are the two extremes of the spectrum, but they perfectly illustrate that the cost of an MVP may vary greatly.

The price components

The level of complexity will impact the technology used, the size of the development team, and the timeline for completing the software – got it.

But how exactly does it translate into the costs of an MVP?

The time developers, designers, and testers spend working on the app, along with their hourly rate, are the deciding factors in estimating the price. We calculate the cost of software development by multiplying the number of hours required to work on the project by the established rate.

the custom software development pricing

A transparent cost estimation indicates not only the time certain specialists will allocate to working on different software parts (such as backend, frontend, UX/UI, QA, etc.) but also a breakdown of hours for building specific features.

This way, you will obtain a comprehensive picture of the project’s timeframe allowing you to identify the source of the final pricing.

If the mere thought of spending a fortune on a project gives you a headache, read about the strategies to reduce MVP costs.

A Minimum Viable Product as an efficient concept validation tool

Long story short, an MVP is an excellent tool for determining the fate of a digital product. If done correctly, it can effectively check a concept’s profitability for stakeholders and its usefulness for end-users, thus potentially saving you a lot of time, costs, and frustrations in the long run.

By prioritizing MVP before all-out development, you can test your idea, gather user feedback, and iterate on your product more efficiently and cost-effectively.

In case you are looking for a software development partner to build the MVP, contact us! We have already delivered a handful of successful MVPs for both startups and established businesses in the past and would be delighted to do so again.

Contact us and get a free project estimation!

Let’s talk

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