How to create a winning design for your MVP: discussing key stages, best practices, and costs.

Explaining the concept of minimum viable products

If you have an idea for a business, you need to validate and test it as soon as possible. The market is growing too fast and new products appear every day. If you are ready to test your idea, instead of developing a complete product, it is better to create an MVP. This approach allows you to develop a product with basic functionality without spending a lot of time and money on it. By prioritizing the features, you save time and budget on software development — as a result, you reach the market faster and get feedback from the first users.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the advantages of the MVP approach for your business and figure out the specifics of the MVP software design.

How can businesses benefit from building a minimum viable product?

As we said, new products come to the market every day, but, for a variety of reasons, not all of them achieve success. The key problem many young entrepreneurs face is that their product does not meet the users’ needs. As of 2021, 20% of startups fail in the first year, 50% — within five years, and 65% — within ten years. So it’s better to test hypotheses with a minimum viable product before making a full-fledged product. Let’s see the benefits of MVP app development in more detail, and then let’s break down the MVP design process.

Lower production costs. When it comes to software development, lack of funding and huge capital is one of the issues many startups face. That’s why they need to test their idea and launch their digital products using minimum resources.

MVP approach allows startuppers to create an app with minimum functions that are required to launch their app to the market. They can add new advanced features later when the app is tested with first adopters. This provides startups with the necessary flexibility and opportunity to add new functionality and design features when there is a business need for them and when a startupper has enough money to enhance the service. As far as the minimum number of features is concerned, this helps to save costs of building the first version of the digital product.

An Uber’s minimum viable product and a current version
By the way, many popular apps were MVPs once. Here’s how the first Uber version looked

Shorter time to market. As a startupper, you may have a unique idea that no one else come up with yet. That’s why it’s vital to launch the project before competitors manage to do that. MVP app development allows the entrepreneur to release more quickly as only key features need to be implemented.

Idea validation. Some surveys show that 80% of apps don’t survive the first year. Poor marketing might be a reason for that but there can be a less obvious one — a lack of market demand. There is no point in guessing if an idea is a good one. This challenge can be solved with the help of minimum viable product. Using this approach, entrepreneurs can release the product with the necessary features only, gather feedback from early adopters, and understand if there is a demand for their product on the market and if it’s worth investing in this idea.

We believe the MVP approach is the most competitive option when it comes to software development, as you never know how users react until you launch the product.

Comparing MVP software design to creating a pair of donuts
Let’s compare MVP to this pair of donuts. When you release an MVP and prove that your audience needs it, you can release the next version with jam and beautiful decor

Path to investors. If you want to get funding for the development and design of your minimum viable product, you can go to investors. You can write letters or speak at conferences, explaining in words what a badass product you’ve come up with. But the finished first version of your product, which already has users, is more convincing than any words could be.

One of the important parts of MVP development is a user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. An appealing design of MVP software attracts users, while a smart design of user interface helps turn them into loyal customers. So what is the best way to design an MVP?

Key steps in MVP software design

The design process doesn’t really start with a design in the usual sense. To ensure a good user experience design for your minimum viable product, you need to do something else before.

Market analysis

The simplest and most logical thing to start a market analysis with is to look at competitors’ products. Designers look at the products and assess their usability. Is it convenient to use the application? How many steps do the users have to take before reaching the endpoint? What might they stumble on? Competitors’ products help figure out which good solutions already exist and which are not worth attention.

How to run market analysis in the process of MVP app development

Analyzing the market helps you discover a better strategy to design an MVP. To paint a portrait of your target audience, a variety of techniques can be used: including surveys, focus groups, interviews, as well as user stories that help figure out how exactly users interact with the product.

For example, in a pizza ordering app, it is better when the user opens the application and goes straight to the menu. Thus, the user will reach the end goal, to order a pizza, faster. Having analyzed the market, the designer creates a mind map of the future MVP software in order to determine the number of steps users take to get to the end goal. The structure of the app turns into a step-by-step path for each role in the system.

Creating wireframes, prototypes, and design concepts

At this stage of the development process, the designer creates wireframes and thinks through future UI together with the customer. These essences serve as a preparatory step to creating a fully-fledged design.

Wireframes are a schematic version of the interface that shows how the main elements of the interface will be arranged and how the navigation will look like. Wireframes don’t reflect colors or fonts that are going to be used in a fully-fledged design. They help a design team to gather early feedback from the customer and understand if they are designing everything as their customer wants it to be.

What are wireframes and how do they help MVP app development
Here’s how wireframes usually look

After the wireframes are created, there is a need to agree upon colors, typography, and other UI elements. In this situation, there is a need to create a design concept. These are 2–3 screens that show a few main features and reflect the visual style of the future app. The design concept is another stage that helps the team of UI/UX designers and their customers to create a clear vision of the future product and move to the stage of creating a fully-fledged design.

At Ronas IT, we usually create design concepts for our portfolio. Our customers can use them as positive or negative references when thinking through the UI design of their app. For inspiration, you can look for examples of design concepts on our Dribbble or Behance profiles.

What are design concepts and how do they help MVP app development
Here’s a design concept that our team created for a medical app where doctors can manage their appointments

Prototypes are another preparatory essence in the MVP development process. They are a clickable version of the future interface that the customer can test. Prototypes are created to show the complicated flows of the app and give the team and the customer an understanding of how to continue the design process. Prototype can also be shown to stakeholders, so they can see the results of ongoing MVP development.

Creating a fully-fledged design

Once user scenarios are done, wireframes are thought out, and key UI elements are agreed upon, it’s time to create a detailed design that will become the working interface after coding. At this stage, the design team will create a detailed interface mockup and make a UI kit. The UI kit is a set of UI elements like buttons, bars, icons, and others that can be used to enlarge the design upon the request of the startupper. All the new elements that are needed to create the design are put into the UI kit, so that they can be later reused, saving time and resources spent on expanding the design.


Testing is an important step when you design an MVP because it helps understand if the design works for users. At this stage of the development process, the team tests the product with both stakeholders and end-users. Through the testing phase lies the path to providing users with a better user experience. What are some testing methods?

A/B testing. The designer creates two versions of the app design and compares the results of how users interact with both of them. It takes the guesswork out of deciding what will work best: instead of hoping you choose the best version, you have accurate data to confirm which version works better.

Usability testing. Testing, where users can try the product in real-time, can answer many questions, including the following:

  • Do the objectives of the tested product meet the customer’s requirements?
  • Is the navigation convenient?
  • Is the functionality understandable for users?
  • What bugs can appear when using the product and how to fix them?

In the MVP design, it is crucial to remember that user experience is just as important as a pretty interface. When we go into an app, we don’t think much about the steps we take, it happens intuitively. That’s what a good UX designer’s job is all about.

Design handoff

After the UI/UX design is completed, you will need a team of developers to turn it into a fully functioning tool. It’s important to note that the handoff should happen only when all the above-mentioned steps are completed. The dev team needs to receive a fully accomplished design file to start coding. Rebuilding something at this stage of software development is really expensive, that’s why the customer and the design team need to make sure that all the needed features are added and nothing needs to be changed in the design mockup.

Best practices to apply to MVP design

When building a minimum viable product, there are helpful tips to keep in mind that may boost the development of the product. The following are some of them to consider.

Check similar MVPs. To win the competition, it is unnecessary to reinvent the wheel. Rather than that, you can enhance something that has always been there by redesigning or adding a very special feature. That’s why, as we’ve said earlier, you should start software development with market analysis: consider existing designs – figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Keep it simple. Integrating unique features is great, but the navigation should be intuitive and familiar. In this way, utilizing existing design patterns won’t do any harm. It is also important to keep in mind that the minimum viable product should be fully functional yet still easy to use. A great combination of simplicity and functionality will help your product stand out from the crowd.

Analyze sources of users. Good MVPs are user-centric. Before delving into the development process, it is crucial to understand who the target users are and how to get more of them. For example, conducting user personas, focus group interviews, surveys, and analytics data — all help indicate who the product should be designed for.

Mind feedback. Between every iteration in the process of software development, there should be user feedback, as there is no reason to iterate unless the next design improvement resolves the problems of the customers. User feedback is the only way to check if you get positive perceptions and to prioritize what to optimize next.

Define metrics and KPIs. Without properly selected metrics and key performance indicators, MVP results can hardly be measured. While designing MVP software, create a list of metrics that evaluate user success –– they should reflect the user’s progress, reaction to tested features, and overall experience. This is the only way to get a clear understanding of the importance of each feature and how well the product is doing.

UI design is important. There is no minimum viable product without a minimum viable design. Testing without, or with poor design, may reduce the likelihood of a positive reaction from investors. Successful MVP software should first and foremost look complete and polished, as this makes people and investors interested. Taking care of details like font, contrast, and color palette is important to create a unique and affecting design.

Don’t skip phases. Developing a minimum viable product is not the very first stage in creating a product. In the context of the full product cycle, MVP is the third step. It is preceded by the proof-of-concept and prototype stages. The first one shows arguments proving the feasibility of the idea, and the second tests the potential user flow. Developing an MVP gradually helps to save money in case the project turns out to be nonviable.

Read more about or proof of concept, prototype, and MVP in the related article.

How much does it cost?

MVP development will cost many times less than the development of a full-fledged product. Of course, it’s not easy to give a universal estimate for software development of any kind.

A rough estimate for mobile or web MVP development at Ronas IT is 3–4 months and $40–50K. Ronas IT Services will help you develop web or mobile apps from zero to hero. We can create user experience for your digital products to solve real problems and improve important business metrics with awesome interfaces.

To sum up

If you design a minimum viable product thoughtfully, your product will easily win the hearts of users. To develop and market your product FAST, in most cases, it’s easier to hire an outsourced team. What are the advantages of hiring an outsourced team?

  • You don’t have to hire each person separately because you already have all the people you need in an outsourced software development team: project managers, designers, developers, testers, and even more.
  • The work in the outsourced team is more coordinated than if you hire freelancers from different parts of the world.

If you hire a freelance designer and a freelance developer, for example, you may face the problem of technical feasibility. So, if the first one makes a complex design, it doesn’t mean the second one can develop it. Being the communicator between them and making sure that the project goes smoothly will be up to you. In an outsourced software development team designers and developers work hand-in-hand, and a project manager makes sure that everything is done correctly and on time.

Ronas IT is a full-cycle software development company, we can make UI/UX design, branding, graphic and logo design, or develop a web or mobile product. Our team will help you to launch the working version of the product in 3 months to increase profits or reduce operating costs. If you are planning to build your own MVP software, delegate this task to us.

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