Picture this. You’ve got a fantastic idea for a new digital product. One that uses technology in a way that makes people's lives easier, their interactions smoother and solves a problem you know exists.
But what do you do with it? How do you get that idea out of your head and start the process of turning it into a real, valuable digital solution?
In this post, we’ll explain how to do exactly that. Let us guide you through the steps to take to develop your new digital idea into a successful Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
What is an MVP, and Why Does it Matter?
A Minimum Viable Product is the most basic version of your product that you can launch into the market with. Think of it as a barebones solution with just enough features to make it usable in a meaningful way.
But why start with the basics? Why not go full steam ahead, turning your new idea into a feature-rich solution from the get-go?
Starting your digital product development with an MVP
People (mostly) buy a product to solve a problem they face. Testing the waters with an MVP ensures that you’re thinking about the right problem with the right solution. And you're doing it before investing your heart and soul into a fully-developed ‘bells and whistles’ digital product.
Below are some key benefits of launching with an MVP:
You get to market quickly
Reducing your development time means you can launch sooner and learn quicker. Not only can you incorporate valuable user feedback into your digital product, but you also gain exposure to early adopters in your target market.
You focus on the most important bits
You'll prioritise the core features needed to solve the primary problem. This will bring clarity and structure to your idea. And strengthen your value proposition.
You take a cost-efficient approach
Sticking to the minimum requirements keeps the product development process simple and cost-effective. This avoids unnecessary work in the early stages.
You uncover new ideas
Testing the most basic version of your product is a great way to find new ideas. Listen to your customers. Iterate and improve. These new feature and product ideas could end up influencing your business strategy.
You become more attractive to investors
Investors love to know that you’ve done your homework. Launching with an MVP allows you to collect customer insights, identify product improvements and confirm the demand. Validating your idea will only strengthen your appeal when raising funds.
How to turn your idea into an MVP – 4 steps
Now you know what an MVP is and why it matters, how do you go about building one?
Developing a new digital product can be overwhelming and sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Use this list to guide you through the process of bringing your new idea to life!
Step 1 - Do your research
In 2016, Snap (formerly Snapchat) announced the launch of Snap Spectacles - wearable camera glasses that were set to transform the way we capture and share our lives online. Fast forward one short year later, and the company reported a $40 million loss. Not to mention excess product inventory in the hundreds of thousands and a whopping 20% plummet in company share value.
Many factors can be attributed to Snap’s epic failure.
But the core issues boiled down to overestimation of demand, under-delivery of quality and a poorly planned rollout strategy.
Do your research. Know your audience. Understand their problems, behaviours and aspirations.
Even the big companies get it wrong sometimes. But starting with an upfront Discovery phase helps to validate your idea. Ensure that what you create now will set your business in the right direction for the future.
Activities that you should consider engaging in include:
- Stakeholder Engagement and Workshops
- Customer Data Review
- Customer Surveys and Interviews
- Competitive Analysis
- User Persona Creation
- Persona Journey Mapping
Step 2 - Define the key problems and solutions
It’s now time to hone in on the key challenges that your new digital product will help to solve.
Make sure you’re solving the right problem for the right person with the right solution.
You’ve probably got an endless list of features that you want to offer. But it’s impossible to solve every problem straight away. Give your MVP a clear goal and value proposition.
Start by doing a 'brain dump' of potential features. Then review the list with the following questions in mind:
- What is the problem I am trying to solve?
- Who am I solving this problem for?
- How can my digital product solve this problem?
A popular method that we like to use at Bravo to help prioritise your must-have features is the MoSCoW model. This involves splitting your features into 4 categories - must have, should have, could have, won’t have.
By focusing your MVP on your ‘musts’, you can move forward with a clear understanding of your key requirements. Importantly, this helps to avoid scope and budget creep further down the line.
Another nifty tool that can help you to think about your requirements in a more strategic way is a PICK chart. PICK charts are used to map the value of each potential product requirement against the cost/effort to create them.
Start with a simple chart like the one below. Assign each possible product feature into a relevant quadrant, based on how easy or hard it is to do, and how low or high the perceived payoff will be.
By the end of the process, you’ll have 4 groups of features:
- Low Payoff, easy to do - Possible
- High Payoff, easy to do - Implement
- High Payoff, hard to do - Challenge
- Low Payoff, hard to do - Kill
Your MVP should be focused on the features that fall into the ‘Implement’ quadrant. Meaning those requirements that are easy to do and will have a high payoff.
Unless you’re a product development specialist, it’s normal to feel unsure about how much each feature will cost. You'll need a rough idea of costs to assess what the potential returns (payoff) will be. We’d recommend engaging with an expert digital agency at this stage to help you to define, estimate and prioritise your MVP requirements.
Let us help you to get your idea off the ground. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free initial consultation.
Step 3 - Design and build your MVP
Armed with your defined set of features for the MVP, it’s time to start creating your new digital product!
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to product development. But the approach we tend to take at Bravo includes:
Ideating and crafting a solution
We'll start by designing the roadmap for a seamless customer experience. And planning the information architecture of your solution.
Creating a prototyping
Next, we'll build a blueprint for your solution. This can range from a simple wireframe sketch to a clickable interactive prototype. We recommend usability testing for deeper insights i.e. putting the prototype into the hands of real users.
Considering your visual identity
We'll explore ideas for your new brand identity. This includes creating a digital style guide and designing the look and feel of the product.
Building your MVP
Finally, we'll pass things over to our talented technical development team. They'll create a robust, scalable and efficient technical solution to launch with.
Step 4 - Launch and Learn!
Launch your MVP
Once your MVP is ready, it’s time to get it out into the real-world environment. Consider how you’ll let the target market know you’re out there and how much of the market you’ll target.
- Will you opt for an initial soft launch?
- Do you already know some potential users who’d be keen to try the product out?
- Are there any contacts in your personal or professional network that you can get on board?
- Or is more of an effort needed to get the word out there?
A simple marketing strategy and a dedicated landing page could be all you need to get going.
Learn, learn and learn again!
You have already conducted usability testing in the UX stage. But, there’s likely to be much you can still learn about the value of your digital product and how your users are engaging with it.
User feedback is crucial to the success of your product.
Users will tell you where your product is excelling, where it’s lacking and where your opportunities to pivot or persevere are.
And remember that not all feedback is direct. Analyse your data.
- How many new users do you have?
- How are they finding your product?
- What features are they using the most?
Take the learnings on board to improve, test and learn again. And again. And again. Until you have a result that provides the most value for your business and your audience.
So there you have it - 4 steps for turning your idea into a digital product, starting with an MVP:
- Do your research
- Define the key problems and solutions
- Design and build your MVP
- Launch and Learn!
The world is full of opportunities. With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, the market for innovative digital products and services is bigger than ever.
So take the first step today and start turning your vision into reality!
At Bravo, our vision is a world where digital experiences enable meaningful real-world experiences. Let us help you bring your idea to life! Get in touch today at email@example.com