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How To Build A Minimum Viable Product That Works


What happens between discovering a great business idea and launching the product?

Perhaps you’re imagining steps like market analysis, product design, and initial testing. They are all important parts of the product development process. But unless they’re oriented towards a clear goal, they may not guarantee the outcome you intend.

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That outcome should be a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). It’s a basic version of your product, which has the important functionalities that solve your target audience’s specific problem. If you have this, you can quickly ship it to the market, get feedback from early users, and iterate until you have a product that really works.

What Is A Minimum Viable Product?

As we’ve already hinted, a Minimum Viable Product is a product that has just the features needed to solve a specific problem for your potential customer. In other words, it demonstrates your value proposition, and little else.

Here are a couple of examples of an MVP:

Facebook’s Minimum Viable Product connected students and enabled them to post messages on an online board. That’s all it did. Although Facebook now has a much broader range of functionalities, the ability to connect with other people and post messages on one’s own page is still at its core.

Amazon’s MVP was a simple online store that sold low-priced books. Over the years, it’s added several other products and functionalities. But making goods available online remains the basic principle undergirding all of this.

These two examples illustrate the importance of an MVP. It’s typically about presenting the core of your potential product to the market, testing it out there, and building on that core based on user feedback over time.

If you want to make a successful product, you should follow this route.

Steps To Building A Minimum Viable Product That Works

Here are some steps to creating a Minimum Viable Product that ticks the right boxes.

Understand The Problem You Want To Solve

You need to understand a problem if you’re going to create a solution for it. This often means that you’ll have to study it in detail.

Coming up with a potential business idea may be exciting. The idea may even look set to be an instant hit. But you shouldn’t run with it until you’re sure that it can solve the problem you aim to tackle.

Find out as much as you can about the nature of the challenge you’re taking on. Ask questions like: “why does this problem exist?” “Who does it affect?” “What resources will be required to solve it?”

It’s important to determine the demographic you’ll be designing the product for—their age group, location, economic class, and so on. This information could influence the sort of product you come up with.

Examine Your Potential Competitors

Analyzing your competition can provide you with insights into the nature of the market, the strengths and weaknesses of existing solutions, and the people who buy them (who could become your customers).

Look at the products they make. How well are they meeting the customer’s needs? Are there shortcomings you can improve upon in your own offering? The answers to these questions should determine the shape your product takes (in terms of features and functionalities).

Learn what the public thinks of existing solutions by checking the comments they leave on review sites and other platforms.

Define The Process Leading Up To Purchase

You have to conceptualize the customer’s journey from coming on your platform to the purchase or delivery. Your aim should be to make this as straightforward and pleasant as possible.

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This is an important part of the product design process. The convenience of your user flow could be the difference between acquiring numerous customers and losing them before they make a purchase.

User flow design is a well-known aspect of software product development, but it can also apply to other kinds of products. As long as you have a platform that takes a potential customer to a point of purchase, you’ll want to make it work efficiently.

Prioritize The Features Of Your MVP

Having mapped out the product stages or user flow, your next step should be to rank the features of your product. Order them from most important (‘must have’) to least important (‘don’t need’).

Do this for components of each production stage. If they all have multiple features (as is often the case), you can rank them from most useful to the customer at that stage to least useful.

Let’s look at an example involving an online fashion store. The user flow may begin at the visitor entry point and welcome stages, and go on to task selection, viewing details, and finding specific products.

The prominent tool at the search stage could be a search bar, which allows the visitor to look for specific products. However, they could be filters that enable advanced search for wears according to colour or size. These advanced features may be accorded lower priority compared to the simple search function.

By prioritizing features and functions, you can decide which ones should be included or prominent in your MVP. Remember, the aim is to come up with a basic product that solves the potential customers’ problem.

Launch The MVP

This means you’re making the MVP available to the market. At this point, you have an MVP prototype ready, and you’re letting the world test it. A limited release may be a good idea. You will want to track the product’s performance and collect feedback from users. These will be useful for future product reiterations.

Work With The Feedback You Receive

Customer feedback is valuable, especially if it comes from the precise demographic you’re targeting.

Watch out for suggestions that show up repeatedly; they could point to changes that the wider market would like to see. But even one-off comments can be helpful too if they contain good insights and note possible tweaks.

Incorporate the best unique and widespread suggestions for functionalities into your product, and launch it. Ideally, you should do this periodically even after the ‘final’ launch. This ensures that the product remains relevant to customers despite their ever-changing tastes and preferences.

Final Words

The road to a successful Minimum Viable Product can be long and difficult. But it will be worth the effort if you take the right steps en route to the final launch; your product will be fit for your ideal customers, and a solution that they’ll gravitate towards.

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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