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A minimum viable product or MVP has the most important features of your product without the extra bells and whistles.
Building an MVP helps you validate your idea quickly, launch it on the market and test if it deserves further investment of time and money in development. If it turns out that the project has no potential, you can save a lot of time and unnecessary costs by stopping early.
Why should you stick to an MVP?
An MVP will help you test the market and see whether your product is something that customers actually need and want. And, if it turns out that they do want your product, you can learn a lot from how they use and interact with it, which will allow you to decide where additional features would be most helpful—which will help ensure that future enhancements are solving an actual problem and not just making things more complicated.
It's also more cost-effective as long as you keep things simple. And because fewer resources are being spent on the project at this stage in development, you'll have a shorter time to market and be able to quickly gauge whether the whole thing is worth pursuing or not.
Keep core concepts in mind while adding features
A good way of thinking about this is by looking at the features of your MVP as either foundational or supplemental.
A foundational feature provides value directly by supporting the core concept of the MVP and its purpose for existing, such as the ability for Facebook users to make posts on their timeline. Supplemental features enhance the value provided by an existing feature in some way, such as adding tags to a post on Facebook (you can still make a post without tags).
When you're adding features to your MVP, keep these concepts in mind:
1. Add features that support your core concept
When you add a feature, it needs to help fulfill the core concept of your MVP. If you think of an idea for a feature that doesn't help with the core concept, don't add it! It's just going to get in the way of more relevant features and make things more difficult
2. Don't fall down a rabbit hole
There will always be more ideas than there is time or resources to work on them all. Make sure every feature you add is necessary and directly helps the overall user experience for your customer.
3. Make sure every feature fits with your overall vision
Make sure that every additional feature adheres and builds upon your initial vision as well as keeps your customer as the central focus of development.
How to identify when you're going off track
Identifying when you're going off track with your MVP can be as simple as asking yourself: "Do I need this right now?" If the answer is no, then it's time to reconsider what you're doing.
Avoid adding extra features that do not support your user's main goal on the site—they'll only add more unnecessary development time without bringing anything of value.
Building an MVP is a strategy that, by definition, calls for stripping features down to the bare minimum. This can be an intimidating and challenging step in any software development project. After all, you want to add features to make your product the best on the market.
Here are some points that may help inspire you:
- If you release an MVP version with more than one feature at a time, there's no way of knowing which ones were responsible for its success or failure. With an MVP version that includes only one feature, you can quickly assess whether or not it's a good idea.
- An MVP lets you start marketing your product as soon as possible, even if it’s just 5 percent of what the final version will be like.
Keep your MVP focused on the customer's needs
In the end, business success is all about your customer. Getting feedback from them and keeping your website or software focused on their needs are what will establish it as a success.
When developing something new, it's easy to get caught up in innovative technology for its own sake. The purpose of an MVP isn't to test new technologies; it's to validate your idea with real customers as soon as possible.