A founder comes up with an idea.
He thinks it’s a great idea. It solves a burning problem for a certain set of people and it will make people come back to it again and again.
He sees long-term potential. He is excited.
So, the founder sets up a team and starts building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). After a few months, once the MVP is ready, he realises users are not really impressed with it.
There are no early adoptions, there are a bunch of complaints, they don’t share the same enthusiasm as the founder.
Perhaps it was a bad idea, the founder thinks. And dumps the project.
What if it WAS a good idea but the MVP could not capture its essence?
That’s why an MVP is. It has the power to build on a great idea or fracture it.
In this article, we’ll go over some common mistakes that are made while developing an MVP.
But first, let’s agree on what an MVP actually is.
What is an MVP?
An MVP is a product that solves a burning problem a group of people faces, with enough value for people to want to continue using it.
Anything more, or less, and it’s not an MVP.
An MVP is used to validate the product idea, gain crucial insights from your target users and to figure out if it will be useful in the long run, before proceeding with the actual development phase.
Why is an MVP important?
An MVP allows you to test your ideas in the real world, without having to put in all your time and resources into your idea.
It’s akin to just dipping your big toe in the ocean to check the temperature before diving right in.
An MVP helps you to:
- validate your business idea
- get feedback from a targeted user base and tweak your strategy accordingly
- find early adopters and build up a potential client base,
- save your time, money and resources
- test whether users are willing to pay for your product
- ascertain whether users will engage with your product over the long term
5 Common technology mistakes while building an MVP
Please note that for the sake of brevity, only a few mistakes among many are covered in this article.
- Unclear product strategy
Many times, teams are not focused on the value they are providing to the end user and instead work hard on something that is not even a part of the vision.
If the product strategy is not crystal clear, the MVP is bound to reflect that and as a result fail massively.
Take Instagram for example. They knew very clearly that they were building an app where people could share beautiful pictures. That’s why, even when all the other apps had the chat feature, Insta chose to forego it initially.
Their entire focus was on building an app where people could share pictures, as was the product strategy. There were no ifs or buts.
Another great example would be how Whatsapp hasn’t opened up for companies completely. They know the bad rap text messages got. They are practically obsolete owing to the number of unwanted messages we receive on text messages every day.
Whatsapp’s product strategy was clear: they wanted their product to be a chatting app for people who know each other. And they stuck by it.
So, an important part of product strategy is not only knowing what you want, but also what you absolutely do not want. That, in fact, is a good starting place for a product strategy.
- Feature overload
The success of an MVP depends on how fast you move.
It’s a common mistake to prioritise features over speed. As we discussed in our definition, an MVP needs to be this light, uncluttered product that solves one big problem.
However, many companies think the way to attract early adopters is by adding a ton of features.
What they end up doing in this pursuit is spreading themselves too thin. While the team could have been perfecting the one core feature the MVP is supposed to have, the team focuses on five features and in the process gets none of the features right…not even the one that mattered.
So, feature overload directly leads to resources not being utilized judiciously, an adverse effect on quality, a longer time to build the MVP and running out of budget quickly, without achieving the targets.
One of the prime rules to follow in the MVP stage (and even otherwise) is to build usage, not features.
Another important fact to note is the User Happiness Curve, which proves after a user is happy with a certain number of features, any extra features actually turn them off.
- Overengineered MVP
There is a huge difference in the way a product is engineered for speed and a limited user base and the way a product is built for thousands of users.
Many companies think that since the MVP is a prototype, they might as well engineer it for things to come in the future. That’s a disastrous line of thought.
All such thinking leads to is a waste of time, cost and resources.
It’s important to note that while scalability is an eventual goal of any business, the MVP stage is not the time to worry about it.
Teams are often guilty of overengineering the code for configuration, for diversity of clients, or for scalability, none of which is required at this stage.
Also, it’s important that the technology team is willing to throw away old codebase once certain milestones are reached and the product demands it.
- Lack of discipline in your requirements
Often, many teams keep changing the requirements of the project intermittently.
This can have a disastrous effect on your MVP, as constant changes not only demoralises and demotivates your tech team, but it can also lead to a complete failure of the start-up.
It’s best to think through your requirements through numerous sessions with all parties involved and then start building the MVP.
The more clarity about the requirements a team has, the higher are the chances of an MVP’s success.
- Slow iterations
When it comes to the success of a product, speed in the MVP stage is critical. You need to gather feedback quickly and make the necessary tweaks on the fly.
Look at any successful company and you’ll notice the breakneck pace at which they functioned in the MVP phase. The quicker you make the changes, the quicker you reach product market fit.
Companies that are slow with their iterations in this phase are more often than not left behind. If you want your product to be successful, your iterations need to be quick.
A major factor influencing the speed of your iterations is the software development process you chose to build your MVP. There are basically two most popular and the most effective options: Agile and Waterfall. For start-ups, Agile is the perfect methodology, as it enables you to get weekly results and offers much more flexibility than the more traditional Waterfall methodology.
Building an MVP is a foundational step for any start-up. Getting the MVP right ensures you are on the right track, gives you the confidence for the development phase and provides you with a rough skeleton that works fine on its own.
Although there are numerous mistakes that a team can make while building an MVP, the ones mentioned in this article are the most common ones.
Knowing these mistakes would hopefully help you steer clear of them and save time, money and resources in the process.
If you have any other questions about MVP, please feel free to get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help you solve them.
With over 10 years of experience helping clients build their MVPs, our skilled team is aware of all the nitty-gritties when it comes to building successful MVPs. What’s more, we love having these discussions with people who are as passionate about technology as we are.