A Software Development Approach
What do successful web services like DropBox, AirBnB, Facebook, and Spotify have in common? They all used an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to start their businesses. We want to show you how you can be successful too, by starting your software development project with a focus on building an MVP.
What is an MVP?
A Minimum Viable Product or MVP is a process by which you develop a product or website that contains only enough features to test it with a subset of your target audience, in order to gain insight into what might work. The process is all about experimentation–essentially finding out which direction to go without first going there. Key questions to ask when building your MVP are:
- Who is my end user?
- What need am I addressing?
- Will my idea actually meet the user’s need?
- Are users willing to pay to have their need met?
- What is the minimum set of features that can be launched to test my idea?
Why Start with an MVP?
None of us wants to waste precious time and money developing something people don’t want or need. Silicon Valley and the top firms use this approach to business because they know it works. We do too! That’s why we recommend you start with an MVP. In following this model for building web software you will do the following:
- Drastically reduce your startup costs by adhering to the tenets of what is referred to as a “lean startup”
- Clearly define your target audience
- Find out what your target audience really wants by experimenting first
- Save yourself from wasted time and money
- Prevent overbuilding features and functions that may not be necessary.
- Save yourself from building a web application that fails in the end
Characteristics of the MVP Process
The MVP process has several characteristics that set it apart from conventional methods of software or product development. Here are some characteristics that define an MVP:
An MVP is iterative which means that you produce several iterations or versions of your software before you create your final product. Unlike the waterfall process which is a sequential process of design-build-deliver, an MVP allows for a number of iterations to help you discover what works and what doesn’t. It is dynamic, the end goal being to meet the user need in the most timely, cost-effective way.
Agile Software Development Process
The MVP process goes hand in hand with the agile software development process. According to Agile 101, developing software with agility values four main principles:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Agile software development is highly collaborative with daily meetings, teamwork, and seeking to understand what the client wants and needs. It includes deciphering the MVP, which in software development is the minimum set of features you can test with to gain user feedback. Agile expects and welcomes change, even late in the development process, and uses the build-measure-learn feedback loop.
Agile software development saves time and money and eventually comes up with software the end user really wants. It provides a platform to engage with real customers early on in the process, who provide critical feedback as to what works and what doesn’t.
Build-Measure-Learn Feedback Loop
The build-measure-learn feedback loop is an essential part of the MVP process and vital to building any successful web service. It is the process by which you create an imperfect, incomplete version of what you’re thinking people want, test it with a subset of your end user, measure your feedback, analyze the data, make adjustments from what you learned, and repeat the process. It looks like this:
By using the feedback loop you pay attention to what your end user wants and what will likely fail. Some entrepreneurs only want to pay attention to positive feedback, not realizing that negative feedback may be even more valuable than the positive, because it keeps you from going in the wrong direction!
The build-measure-learn feedback loop is essential to lean software development when starting an internet business. If you would like to learn more about lean startup, we highly recommend the book, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries.
Hire an Expert for Your Next Web Service!
Do you have a great idea for a new online business? Since 2003 we’ve built thousands of web projects for customers all across the US. We can give you expert insights, suggest how you might approach things, and explain how to drastically reduce your risks. We will take you through the MVP process. Check out our Free MVP Planner to learn more!
At ClearTech Interactive we provide end to end solutions from design, development, launch and marketing advice.
Interested in a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your idea?
Request a Call or contact us at 727-562-5161 to find out what we can do for you.