5 Steps to creating a great mobile app MVP

Dave Erickson, Thursday, June 22, 2022

CEO Message

Building a mobile app can be an exciting yet challenging process. You may have a great idea that solves multiple problems and creates an engaging dynamic with users, but what if it doesn’t work out the way you expected? It would be a loss of money, time, and effort. 

As a development company, ScreamingBox has dealt with many companies who came to us looking to build digital products at some level. Websites, mobile apps, internal back-ends, hardware products, we have seen them all. 

One of the biggest challenges for a successful project is finding an initial product development scope of work that is the right size for the resources available. Most new mobile app projects have too large a scope of work for the initial production build.

That is why a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a better alternative for starting a new project, and in this case, a mobile app. MVP comprises developing a product with basic features to test their feasibility and people’s opinion.

What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

A Minimum Viable Product is a project management term that comprises developing and launching a product with the absolutely most needed and basic features to collect feedback from the users and prove out the core technology. It should have enough features to be appealing to users, but it shouldn’t be too complicated. 

The idea is to create an affordable product that creates a learning experience and can verify the basic business and technology concepts. The key to doing this is creating a Scope Of Work (SOW) and feature set that comprises only the absolutely most critical and needed features and technology tests.

The information you get from the MVP will be used to develop a stronger and more efficient final product with additional features based on users’ feedback. This way, you will save money and time. If you had built your product entirely without launching an MVP, you would probably have to go back and rebuild a couple of features or your entire mobile app. 

Now, let’s think about a couple of popular mobile apps we know that started out as MVP:

Instagram: This social media app started with a different purpose than it has today. Its first name was Burbn and started out as an app for sharing geo-located pictures, filters, and a bunch of other features. Eventually, its creators realized people were mostly using this app to share photos and using filters, so they focused on those features instead, and that’s how Instagram was born. 

Amazon: This platform’s purpose was only to sell books. Since it had such a major success, Jeff Bezos decided to expand its approach and become the world’s largest marketplace. 

Uber: In the beginning, Uber was a platform that connected users with taxi drivers and allowed them to pay with credit cards. Because of massive public acceptance, Uber took its platform to the next level and added more features, such as taxi tracking and far estimates. It also addressed a major problem in the taxi industry: high costs and speed. 

How to create a mobile app MVP:

The following is a step-by-step guide on how to create your own MVP mobile app based on successful models in the market. You can use these to create your MVP scope, development plan, and production development planning.

1- Identify business needs

The first step to building a Minimum Viable Product is identifying business needs. You could do this by spotting gaps between your competitors and their users. You should think of an idea that will solve a problem. During this research, ask yourself a couple of questions:

-Is your product able to solve a particular problem? How?

-Will your product be part of a market category, or will you create an entirely different type of business?

-How can you monetize your product?

-How can you measure your app’s success? It would be a good idea to create a checklist with these metrics and create your product based on those goals. 

-You need to have a good understanding of your Product Market Fit. Our podcast on that subject can help you out: https://podcast.screamingbox.com/episodes/product-market-fit

2- Find opportunities

If you’ve gotten to this point, it means you are ready to spy. Research is part of every MVP’s development process. You will eventually have to investigate your competitors and target personas to identify opportunities based on what needs your competitors cannot meet. 

One of the many keys to success is differentiation. Your digital product needs to differ from the current solutions/products in some valuable way. The only way to know how to be different is to study the competitors’ products. From that, you can put together a detailed competitive analysis, and then survey potential users/buyers to understand what the market really needs and what are the priorities.

Once you have this data and understanding, you can then create an efficient product that provides solutions and differentiates you from your competitors.

There are many Competitive Analysis tools and templates out there. Here is a good one that is easy to use: https://miro.com/templates/competitor-analysis/

3- Decide on which features you’ll be using

This is where tech specialists and designers collide. You will need to create a list of features and prioritize those that are more focused on solving problems for your target audience.

Remember, the biggest problem with most MVPs is that the initial SOW is too large. You really need to focus on exactly which features are most critical to test, verify and provide enough value to get users or paying customers. When reviewing features, ask yourself, is this feature really critical, or just nice to have?

4- Prototype and then Build

Once you have your feature set, SOW, product roadmap and basic User Experience defined, you can make a mock-up prototype you can use to walk potential customers through the product screens and features. It doesn’t have to be perfect because it is still a prototype, but it’s still important to identify potential technical issues before officially building and launching your MVP. You can ask friends and relatives to test it, as well as finding potential customers and get their feedback on your mock-up/prototype.

Once you have that, you can start building the MVP, either coding it yourself, using No Code or Low Code platforms, or hiring a developer or development firm.

5- Test and Improve

Once you have the MVP ready for release, make sure it is thoroughly tested by friends, relatives and potential customers. There are several ways to let people use the app before actually launching it on the stores.

Take your time on this, and really analyze the feedback and bugs to make sure they are really things you need to change or add before launching.

Final Thoughts

An MPV mobile app is the best learning experience you can have to develop your final product. You will get honest feedback from your potential users before investing in the final project, so it’ll minimize risks and reduce production costs. MVP apps are perfect for checking the market fit of your product.

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