MVP Development Best Practices & Common Mistakes

Anna Buczak
12 January 2021 · 6 min read

Developing MVP (minimum viable product) can be extremely challenging when you are doing it for the first time. Fortunately, MVP term is not new on the market and founders have been developing it for many years. They were succeeding and failing, obviously. Therefore, now have some knowledge about the common mistakes people often make when building MVPs in order to avoid them. In addition, it is very useful to know the best practices as well and following them is a simple way to keep development on track.

Best practices for developing an MVP

Best practices for developing an MVP - Ulam Labs
Best practices for developing an MVP - Ulam Labs

Have a clear goal in mind

In order for your minimum viable product to succeed you need to have a clear goal in mind when developing it. One thing you should remember here is that you should understand everything there is to know about your MVP including what it is supposed to accomplish and how it functions. You should also be familiar with who your targeted audience is for the product.

No matter how much passion and hard work is put into your MVP if your team doesn’t have a goal to strive for they are unlikely to succeed. Having everyone on your team united in accomplishing a goal will help keep the development of your MVP on track.

Know your budget and timeline for product launch

Its imperative to understand the budget and timeline for the product launch of your MVP. Understanding your it’s functional requirements can help you figure out your product’s budget and release schedule. Minimum viable product should be aiming to meet the bare minimum requirements to satisfy your customers.

Understanding the minimum requirements of your early product version can help you to accurately budget and schedule its development process. In addition, you’ll know early on the costs of MVP development and decide if your build it or not.

Figure out what features your end-users will find valuable

At the end of the day, your end-users need to receive value from your MVP. It’s important to remember this during development. When building an MVP you should figure out what the most valuable features will be for end-users and focus on developing them.

In order to pinpoint which features end-users will find the most valuable, you should understand what problems they are facing, what features can be integrated into the MVP to solve these problems, and how end-users will find these features valuable.

In addition, it helps to check if competitors are already offering a similar solution and see what their product is missing or does poorly.

Know your target audience

Identifying the right target audience is integral to the successful development of an MVP. In order to understand your product’s target audience you should know who you’re developing your product for, where they are located, and the psychographics and demographics of this group. Knowing what the motivations and values of your target audience have can also help in MVP development.

Make use of user data

MVPs can generate a ton of data. Tapping into the value of this data may seem like a no-brainer but it is something that is often neglected. For example, you should make sure to save user details in order to contact them in the future for promotions or updates to your product.

It’s also possible to learn a lot about how users interact with your product. This data can help you improve your product or figure out what features should be added in the future. Studying feedback from early adopters can help you gauge the future success of your idea.

Choose an experienced technology partner

To get your product created fast and effectively, find a technology partner experienced in MVP development. This is someone who can handle the additional work without letting it affect your core team. That’s the advantage of an outsourced development team; they work independently and let your day-to-day operations run as usual.

The goal here is to make things easier, and to do so, you need to rigorously filter for the best partner. This means looking at past work they’ve done, ensuring they’re proficient in the appropriate technology, and mapping out the deliverables. Doing all of this will make sure that expectations are clear for both sides, thus resulting in a successful partnership.

Common mistakes when building an MVP

Common mistakes when developing MVP - Ulam Labs
Common mistakes when developing MVP - Ulam Labs

Neglecting to take into account market research

Not conducting market research or conducting it but disregarding the findings is the source of failure for many MVPs. If you don’t take into account market research you are likely to end up with an idea that is not validated. Or you may find out that there are many similar offers on the market and that your product has no competitive advantage.

Its imperative to understand your market when developing an MVP. You should know your customers’ desires, needs, and wants, and if there is already a similar product available on the market.

After conducting market research, do not fall into the trap of ignoring the results. Unfortunately, it is common for those developing MVPs to do just this. Nine times out of ten ignoring market research comes at a cost.

Not solving a problem or choosing the wrong problem

Ultimately successful MVP has to solve a problem of the target market. If it doesn’t or solves the wrong problem—aka a problem that isn’t relevant to consumers—then it will likely fail because of a lack of demand from consumers.

Overbuilding the product

This is probably top position one of the list of popular mistakes to avoid. MVPs are meant to be bare-bones products. They are not final products and that’s ok. Unfortunately, some business owners aren’t satisfied with minimalistic products and seek to add additional features to it. Often the extra effort put into perfecting an MVP is wasted when the concept doesn’t work out. This is a misuse of time and resources.

There are three common unnecessary features that people often include in their MVPs.

  • One is features that are meant to make the MVP look better but don’t add any real value to the product.
  • Another is features that you think you need to include because competitors do. Competitive analysis can be beneficial to an MVP but you need to stay focused on your own project’s goals. Trying to keep up with competitors can put the development of your MVP off track and waste resources.
  • The last type of unnecessary feature for MVPs is features that early users request. It is definitely important to listen to early users. However, it can be an error to include every feature that early adopters request. It’s ok to add these features but first make sure they are vetted via market research and analysis first.

Neglecting to prototype

Often the prototyping stage is skipped so that the product can enter the development phase sooner. This is a mistake.

A prototype is a visual representation of the MVP that can help make the development process easier. It bridges the gap between your idea and a final product. Prototyping involves identifying and validating the riskiest assumptions you have about your MVP. It can also eliminate any doubts or concerns that investors have about your business idea.

Prototyping goes beyond improving the aesthetics of your MVP. It also ties potential features to the value end-users will receive from them. Make sure to include the right features in your prototype as not doing so can mean failure for your MVP.

If you are still not sure about it, read article describing differences between MVP and prototype.

Failing to pivot

When you begin a new product or service, you make an assumption that this product and business model is something that your customers will love. Unfortunately, it's not always the case. When your assumptions are not welcomed by our target users, you need to pivot. It is time to redesign some elements, change the business model, and start again. However, keep in mind that not seeing the writing on the wall and failing to pivot in time can lead to the failure of an MVP.

Conclusion

Nowadays, both startups and SMEs treat MVP as a gold strategy to hit the market. Businesses value getting feedback from the early users that can be received with the releasing of a tentative product. As more and more businesses choose the MVP approach, not only we can follow the best practices provided by successful companies abut also we can learn about common development pitfalls and be aware of them.

If you need to create MVP for your startup or SME, get in touch for consultations, strategy building, and development.

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Related blogposts:

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