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Software MVP Development: What It Is & Why You Need One

Max Babych

Max Babych

CEO

9 min

An MVP, or minimum viable product, is a term often heard in the business and startup world. Even those not directly involved in product development know about MVP.

An MVP concept is a key strategy for startups because it allows them to introduce their product to the public, gain an audience, reduce costs, and attract investors.

So why does MVP matter?

Startups face a high failure rate, with up to 90% not making it. About 10% of startups fail within their first year, and up to 70% don’t survive between their second and fifth years. The main reasons for these failures include:

  • Misunderstood or under-researched market needs (about 40%)
  • Running out of money (30%)
  • Stronger competitors (20%)
  • Problems with marketing, pricing, and design (10%)

Developing an MVP can help startups avoid these pitfalls and successfully launch their projects. For example, Dropbox started as an MVP with a simple video explaining its concept. This approach helped gauge interest and gather feedback before full-scale development.

Another example is Zappos, which tested its idea by posting photos of shoes online to see if people would buy them before investing in inventory.

In this article, we’ll explore what a minimum viable product is and provide guidance on how to create an MVP that stands out, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the MVP development process.

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What is Minimum Viable Product in Software Development?

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in software development is the most basic version of a product that is functional enough to be released to early users.

It includes only the essential features needed to solve a problem or meet a need. This approach helps to validate the product idea and ensure that resources are not wasted on features that users do not want or need.

A study by the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) indicates that MVPs are critical in the product development process, significantly improving the chances of product success.

What is a Minimum Viable Product_

Benefits of an MVP:

  • Reduces Development Costs Focusing only on core functionalities significantly reduces the development cost and time.
  • Validates Market DemandHelps to validate whether there is a market need for the software product.
  • Attracts Early Adopters and InvestorsEarly versions can attract initial users and investors who see the potential in the idea.

Overall, successful MVP software development helps startups navigate the early stages of product development more effectively.

It minimizes risks and maximizes the chances of creating a profitable and impactful product.

Key MVP Characteristics

A Minimum Viable Product helps startups test their ideas quickly and cost-effectively. Here are the key characteristics that make an MVP a vital part of the development process.

Focus on Core Functionality

Typically, an MVP contains only those features needed to address the primary problem or meet the core needs of the target audience.

This focus helps quickly validate the product idea without unnecessary complexity.

Early User Feedback

The MVP is released to a limited audience to gather feedback.

This feedback is crucial for understanding user needs and preferences, allowing the development team to make informed decisions about future development.

Iterative Development

MVP development is an iterative process.

Based on user feedback, the product is continuously improved and expanded in subsequent versions. This approach helps refine the product to better meet user expectations and market demands.

Cost and Time Efficiency

According to Failory, around 70% of startups fail within 2 to 5 years. Often due to running out of funds or facing competition. An MVP helps manage resources effectively and adapt to market needs faster.

By concentrating on the most critical features, an MVP reduces the time and cost involved in product development.

This efficiency allows startups to test their ideas in the market without significant financial risk.

Market Validation

An MVP helps validate the product’s market potential. It ensures that there is a demand for the product before investing heavily in full-scale development.

Scalability

An MVP is designed with scalability in mind.

Once the core functionality is validated and user feedback is incorporated, additional features can be added to scale the product to meet broader market needs.

Key MVP Characteristics

MVP Software Development vs. PoC vs. Prototype

Creating a successful product often involves several stages, each with a distinct purpose and approach.

It’s important to understand the differences between a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Proof of Concept (PoC), and Prototype.

An MVP is a fully functional version of a product that includes only the most essential features.

Its primary goal is to validate the product idea with real users and determine market demand.

For example, Spotify initially launched as an invite-only application with just basic features like music streaming. MVP functionality allowed them to gather user feedback and gradually add more features based on that feedback.

On the other hand, a PoC is a small project designed to test whether a specific concept or technology can be successfully implemented.

It’s not intended for user release but serves as an internal validation tool. For instance, a team developing a new blockchain-based payment system might create a PoC to ensure the security and efficiency of their proposed method before committing to full-scale development.

A prototype is an early model of the product used to visualize and test its design and functionality.

There are many types of prototypes, from simple sketches to interactive digital models, but they are not fully functional products.

They help teams explore design concepts and user interactions.

For example, an automotive company might create a physical model of a new car design to test its aerodynamics and aesthetic appeal before moving on to detailed engineering and production.

At different stages of product development, each is crucial in eliminating risks and ensuring that the final product meets user needs.

MVP, Proof of Concept (PoC), and Prototype

AspectMVPProof of ConceptPrototype
Purpose Validate product ideas and market demand with real usersDemonstrate the feasibility of a specific concept or technologyVisualize and test design and user interactions
Scope Core features necessary to solve the primary problemFocused on proving a specific aspect of the projectSimulates look and feel, may not include full functionality
AudienceEarly adopters and real usersInternal team and stakeholdersInternal team and selected users for feedback
Development stageEarly stages, post-concept validationPre-development, concept validationPre-development, design exploration
FunctionalityFully functional with essential featuresLimited functionality, just enough to prove the feasibilityVaries, from non-functional mockups to interactive models
OutcomeUser feedback for iteration and market validationDecision on whether the concept is viableInsights into design usability and functionality
Time and CostModerate to high, depending on the complexity of core featuresLow to moderate, focused on a specific aspectLow to moderate, focused on design and user experience

How to Build an MVP?

Now, let’s move on to the step-by-step MVP in software development.

Here are 5 steps to build an MVP for our clients.

Define the Problem

We start off by identifying the problem the product solves. It is a crucial step that, when neglected, can lead to business failure.

Hence, before starting MVP software development, we are working with the client team to define a strong value proposition that includes three key elements:

  1. A specific audience with a specific need.
  2. How your product will address that need.
  3. The benefits the audience will gain.

To achieve this, we gather insights through thorough research, which typically includes:

  • Market ResearchAnalyze the market size and trends and identify target customer demographics, preferences, and pain points.
  • Customer Interviews and SurveysDirectly ask potential users about their challenges, needs, and opinions on existing solutions.
  • Focus GroupsGain insight into your product concept’s attitudes, expectations, and reactions by conducting group discussions with a small, diverse group of potential customers.
  • Online Polls and Social Media EngagementWe use these sources to gather feedback on public interest and trends related to your product idea.

Then, we move on to the target audience analysis.

Identify Your Target Audience

My product is great for everyone! I target all people around the world!

This is something you will never hear when building an MVP. Simply because you can’t target everyone.

That is why we narrow down the core audience, identifying their needs, problems, buying capabilities, interests, and other features.

All this data will help us create a product that people will more likely buy.

The result of this stage is a portrait of your average product consumer.

Map Out Core Features

Before starting actual development, we identify the main features that will form the core of the client’s minimum viable product.

We create a list of essential features and prioritize them.

An MVP typically includes only the most necessary functions, serving as the backbone of your product.

We clearly define these core features and make a list of additional features to be added later.

This approach ensures you focus on what’s crucial while keeping room for future improvements.

Think of MVP development like baking. First, you make a cupcake. This cupcake is your MVP—simple but complete and enjoyable on its own.

Next, you bake a regular cake, adding more layers and decoration based on feedback from the cupcake.

Finally, you create the wedding cake, a fully developed product with all the desired features and designs.

You test and improve each stage by starting small and building up, ensuring the final product meets everyone’s expectations.

MVP Development Explained

Development and Design

During this stage of MVP development, the goal is to build and create the essential features identified earlier.

This starts with designing a simple and intuitive user interface that provides a good experience with just the necessary functionalities.

Developers then focus on implementing these core features to ensure they work well and meet the primary needs of the target audience.

It’s important to ensure the product is easy to use and navigate so usability testing is conducted to spot any issues.

Feedback from this testing helps identify bugs and areas for improvement. The development process remains flexible, allowing for adjustments based on user feedback and testing results.

This way, the MVP can evolve to better meet user needs while staying focused on its core purpose.

Collect User Feedback and Iterate

Once all the essential elements of the product are developed and tested by professional testers, it is time to launch it to the selected number of users.

For example, you can label features as ‘beta’ on your screens and encourage user feedback through visible mechanisms like a feedback button. Besides in-app surveys, you can also gather feedback on social media and via direct emails.

It is recommended that users use free-form surveys, in which they can share which features they dislike and suggest ones they want instead. Responding to this feedback builds trust and loyalty among early adopters.

Analytics tools are also helpful. They track user behavior and engagement, providing insights into how users interact with your MVP and guiding its development. Check out more tools to develop an MVP in our recent article.

5 Steps To Build An MVP

What’s the Average Cost of Developing an MVP?

Now that we’ve explored how to build an MVP let’s estimate the cost and timing of creating a minimum viable product.

At SpdLoad, we offer tailored solutions for clients across various domains. Here, we’ll address the question, “How much does MVP development cost?” using our comprehensive approach.

Estimating MVP Development Cost

Based on the project complexity, location of the development team, and features required, the cost of developing an MVP can vary significantly.

On average, MVP development costs range from $10,000 to $50,000. For instance, a simple MVP with basic features might cost around $15,000, while a more complex MVP with advanced functionalities could exceed $50,000.

Plan your app project budget in minutes!

Use our app development calculator to estimate app cost.

Factors Influencing Cost

  1. Features complexitySimple MVPs cost less, while complex ones with advanced functionalities increase the budget.
  2. Development team locationIt can be more cost-effective to hire a team in a region with lower living costs, such as Eastern Europe or Asia. If you want to learn more about top IT outsourcing destinations, check out this article where we outline 10 best countries to outsource software development.
  3. Design and user interfaceInvesting in a well-designed, user-friendly interface is crucial for user engagement and can affect the overall cost.
  4. Development timeThe duration of the development process directly impacts the cost. Efficient project management helps keep timelines and costs in check.
  5. Technology stackThe choice of technology and tools used can influence the cost, especially if specialized skills are required.
  6. Additional servicesProject management, quality assurance, and post-launch support also contribute to the overall cost.

Check out the full MVP development pricing breakdown.

Typically, the project duration from the discovery phase to release is about three to six months, considering one back-end and one front-end developer.

We also include a QA engineer, UI/UX designer, and project manager in our estimations.

These specialists ensure product quality throughout the development lifecycle and support steady day-to-day work. This way, we ensure smooth communication between the client and our team.

How SpdLoad Approaches MVP Development

MVP web development can be intimidating for startups. Especially those without prior experience or a dedicated team.

SpdLoad can be your MVP development partner to turn your vision into reality.

Our team utilizes agile methodology to build numerous successful products for our clients. We always ensure a streamlined and effective development process.

Feel free to check out our case studies to explore our collaboration approach.

We specialize in creating MVPs within three to six months, helping you quickly bring your product to market.

Our approach relies on years of expertise to guide you to the optimal path. With well-executed MVPs, we’ve helped clients turn their products into six-figure businesses.

Choosing SpdLoad means partnering with a team dedicated to your success. We provide both development services and strategic advice. This way, we ensure your MVP is positioned to make a significant impact.

Whether you’re looking to validate a new concept or streamline an existing one, we have the skills and experience to help you achieve your goals.

Ready to collaborate? Contact us to discuss your project.

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Have a question? Look here

What is an MVP in software development?
An MVP is a prototype product containing only essential features. It allows startups to test their ideas with real users and gather feedback before investing in full-scale development.
Why is creating an MVP important for startups?
Because it helps validate the product idea, attract early users, and gather valuable feedback. This process minimizes risk and ensures that resources are spent on features that users actually want.
How can MVPs help reduce development costs?
MVPs reduce development costs by focusing on the core features needed to solve the primary problem. This approach avoids spending time and money on unnecessary functionalities, allowing startups to test their ideas quickly and efficiently.
What are the key features of a successful MVP?
A successful MVP includes only the essential features required to solve the main problem. It should be functional, easy to use, and able to provide a good user experience. The MVP should also be designed to gather user feedback for future improvements.
How long does it typically take to develop an MVP?
Developing an MVP typically takes around three to six months. The exact timeline depends on the project's complexity, the features required, and the development team's efficiency.
What are common mistakes to avoid when building an MVP?
These pitfalls include adding too many features, neglecting user feedback, not conducting enough market research, and failing to iterate based on user input. Keeping the MVP simple and focused on core functionalities is essential for success.

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