The Art of MVP Planning


For new companies, MVP planning is crucial. It lets you get your name or products out there with less time, cost and effort.

What Is an MVP?

MVP stands for Minimum-Viable-Product. This is a product that has the features that are central to your idea, and that’s it. This isn’t meant to be confused with a lower quality product.

Every feature in your MVP should still be executed to the highest quality possible. But you want a very limited feature set, and you want to get to the simplest versions of every feature.

The Purpose of an MVP

Your MVP helps you get feedback more quickly from early adopters. That quick feedback helps you validate whether this product is something worth investing more time and money on.

Creating an MVP can also help you get to market faster. The value of this can’t be understated as companies that are first to market are likely to own the market.

Validate Your Product Ideas

As with any other type of product planning, MVP planning should start with research into your product ideas and the market. This essentially lets you confirm there is a need for your product and people want it.

Research what specific issues people have with the current solutions. Then, create a product roadmap that addresses those problems. Remember, the biggest reason startups fail is they create a product without any market need.

During this research phase, you can start thinking about how your product meets previously missed needs. Ideally, you will have a list of ways your product adds value. This can come in handy later for advertising. It will also help you identify the core features to include.

Here’s further reading on ways to validate your product ideas.

What Would Your MVP Look Like If You Had Less Time?

Take some time to think about what your roadmap would look like if your product development cycle lasted varying lengths.

If you had a year to develop the MVP, what features would you include? What your MVP roadmap look like if you had 6 months? 3 months? 2 weeks?

This helps you stress test whether the features that you’re including are truly crucial.

You’ll be surprised how much you can execute in a short amount of time.

Consider the MVP of Every Feature

You can have varying complexities for every single feature. For example, if you’re building an e-commerce site, you can get a one-click check-out solution. But this would take custom development and several weeks of work. The alternative is PayPal Express which will get you check-out in just a few lines of code.

Anaylze every feature in your roadmap through the release cycle exercise. What would the feature look like if you set aside 6 months to it? How about 3 months? 2 weeks?

You’d be surprised how many bells-and-whistles you can trim from a feature while still making it valuable for your users.

Set Goals for Your MVP and Final Product

Your MVP is meant to serve a very specific purpose. Yes, at a broad level this is to test the market waters. Is there a need for this?

But unfortunately, the market won’t give you a simple yes or no. You’ll need to establish metrics that help you answer this question.

This can look like engagement, downloads, purchases, time-in-app, daily active users. It very well might be a combination of these.

A Simple To-Do List Can Go A Long Way

Ultimately, when you’re planning your MVP, you’re just creating a to-do list. Items at the top of the list are the most important.

First, you’ll start with high-level items. An MVP for an e-commerce site can be as simple as:

  • Products
  • Cart
  • Check-out

Then, as you dig into every feature, each will get their own to-do lists.

Products will include:

  1. A way for end-users to review and add products to their cart
  2. A way for admins to create, edit, delete products

From there, you might make a list for #1:

  • Product List UI design
  • Product Card UI design
  • Product List & Card development

And it’s really that simple. MVP planning is simply the act of creating a really focused to-do list.

If you are unsure which to prioritize, consider a prioritization matrix study. Organize this chart based on the urgency and importance of a feature. Survey your team and/or potential users. The output of this will be a prioritized list.

Say No Relentlessly

As you’re working on your MVP, you will get tempted to introduce new features. Or make some features more complex. Don’t.

Go back to the original goal of the MVP: Get feedback from the market.

Scrutinize every feature that comes up against this goal, and the MVP roadmap.

Test With Real Users As Soon As Possible

Find people who are willing to interact with your product as soon as you can. If you have no other options, ask family and friends to do so.

You can make this part of MVP planning easier by building products for a community.

You’ll make products that serve the needs of that community. In return, community members will give you feedback so you can help them better.

A Landing Page With a Spreadsheet

Your MVP can be as simple as a landing page with a spreadsheet. That is, a page with some copy and a lead capture form.

This can help you measure whether there’s interest for what you’re making.

Remember to keep the website simple. You want the MVP website for your MVP product.

You Might Not Get It Right On The First Launch

Remember that the minimum viable product you launch might not work. But that’s ok.

That’s part of the process. You might need to go through several iterations before you find a compelling solution for your market.

The goal is to go through the smallest iterations possible to save time, money and energy. The MVP is the vehicle that helps you get there.

Need help planning your MVP?

Contact us for help with your MVP planning.

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