Software development: how to create a winning MVP design
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 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 design process.
What is an MVP, and how it can help in software development
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 an MVP before making a full-fledged product. Let’s see the benefits of the MVP development in more detail, and then let’s break down the MVP design process.
Lower production costs. By demonstrating the basic functionality of the app, the MVP helps you save resources on design and development. As if Uber was just a button to call a cab, without driver tracking on the map and chat. By the way, that’s how it was at the beginning:)
Quick idea validation. There is no point in guessing if an idea is a good one. A proven way is to release the product and gather feedback from users. The well-designed software MVP allows you to quickly develop the first version of the product and to launch it faster. The sooner it goes on the market, the sooner you’ll know if the idea is worth further investment, or come up with something new.
Path to investors. If you want to get funding for development and design of your MVP, 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 software MVP 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?
The MVP design process in software development
The design process doesn’t really start with a design in the usual sense. To ensure a good user experience design for your MVP, you need to do something else before.
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 you figure out which good solutions already exist and which are not worth your attention.
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 user stories 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 and prototypes
In this step, the designer creates information structure and wireframes. In the wireframes, the choice of font or color does not matter, this version of the site is closer to a draft than a finished design of software MVP. The wireframes are aimed at presenting all the necessary content that goes into the interface. A number of factors should be considered, including space allocation, navigation, section separation, etc. Once ready, the wireframes can be transformed into a prototype—at this stage, customers can try the product at work for the first time and assess it.
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.
Once user scenarios are done, wireframes are thought out, and layouts are agreed upon with the client, it’s time to get down to the fun part! Colors, fonts, animations, and styles—all these are involved in the MVP product design. The visual part is the first thing that attracts the app users. If you want a food delivery app, for example, it’s important to make sure that the photos used are of high quality and that the colors match well with the products that will be presented in the app. For inspiration, you can look for examples of shots and finished apps on Dribbble or Behance.
Learn more about the key points of UI/UX MVP design in Stories & Articles.
Testing is an important step when you design an MVP because it helps understand if the design works for users. At this stage, 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.
Best practices to apply to MVP design
When building an MVP, there are helpful tips to keep in mind that may boost 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 MVP design 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 MVP 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 starting any development, 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 product development, there should be user feedback, as there is no reason to iterate unless the next design improvement resolves 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 an MVP, 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 positive reaction from investors. A successful MVP product 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 an MVP 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, 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 proof of concept, prototype, and MVP in the related article.
How much does it cost?
MVP website development will cost many times less than development of a full-fledged product. Of course, it’s not easy to give a universal estimate for MVP development.
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 an MVP 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 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 team designers and developers work hand-in-hand, and a project manager makes sure that everything is done correctly and on time.
At Ronas IT, we can make UI/UX design, branding, graphic and logo design, or develop a web or a mobile product. We will help you to launch the working version of the product in 3 months in order to increase profits or reduce operating costs. If you want to ask for the best application design and development, you can leave a request here.