If you're a small to medium business looking to move online with a smartphone app, you might be wondering what the best way to make this move, especially as you have an existing website.
One common strategy is Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
An MVP strategy is one that allows you to easily test and refine your app offering at a relatively low cost before investing significant resources in its development of a fully featured app.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or a manager looking to build a new app for your business, an MVP strategy may be the best way to confirm your ideas and gain valuable feedback to improve your app offering, product or services, and app marketing strategy in later app iterations.
What is MVP?
An MVP app has a minimal set of features that delivers your communications, services, or products online and solve your customers’ problems and needs. But it also needs to have enough features and be attractively designed to draw and hold your customers’ interest.
The term MVP was first coined by Frank Robinson in 2001, but got more popular thanks to Eric Ries, the author of "The Lean Start-up" book. However, MVP apps are not limited to start-ups and can be used by any company and managers looking to move part or all their business online.
MVP Apps are not just for start-ups
An MVP app can help businesses of all sizes to test the market for their product or service offered through the app and improve the way you communicate with clients online. It's easy to get the wrong idea that only start-ups should consider developing an MVP app.
What's the truth? There is no doubt that MVP is a perfect solution for start-ups. First, they often need to show the value of their apps as soon as possible, so they can attract investors. Secondly, when you build the first version of an app, your knowledge about the target market is limited and the need to be able to learn and pivot is greater to attract customers.
More experienced organizations know their customers better, so they have an advantage. But it doesn’t mean that they won’t profit from an MVP strategy. An MVP app would give them a chance to analyse the market from a new perspective and discover opportunities unseen before. An MVP app can even inspire changes in the existing offerings and sales strategy - so it's worth trying also for larger companies.
Website vs Mobile App
When it comes to moving your business online via an app, an MVP app can be a great solution. Some reason for an app over a website is that costs of acquisition of new customers can be lower via a smartphone app as well as the value bought by being able to communicate and engage with customers with tailored messages in the palm of their hand via push notifications and in-app messages.
If you have been using a web app for years, you likely have a lot of insights about your customers’ behaviour and preferences. However, with the growth of mobile, it’s important to consider what your customers want when they are using a dedicated app on their smartphone.
An MVP app can help you collect data about how the experiences differs for your customer when used on a smartphone or tablet compared to your existing website. Do you see any engagement benefits? Are you seeing word of mouth increase and therefore cost of acquisition fall?
Additionally, there are some features that are specific to mobile apps, such as push notification, and should be considered when creating your MVP. So, when creating your MVP, focus on the features that are most important to your customers and not easily available through a webapp and the data will help with the decision to continue investing in an app. In my experience and with the right approach, an app can be a more powerful tool than a website for engaging with customers and growing your business online.
MVP vs Prototype
You might be wondering if you need an MVP or prototype before going online. We'll sort out this jargon, so the difference is clear.
In short, an MVP allows you to verify the idea for an app which is being used by real customers, while a prototype allows you to verify the user interface. However, it's still good to take some time creating a prototype and conducting some tests. This will help you avoid silly mistakes – mostly concerning the choice of features and information and security architecture.
It's best to show the prototype to potential customers (5 or 6 people is often enough) and observe their behaviour. If some problems show up repeatedly in the UI then the designer should make changes. This way the final app will have a better experience and it means the MVP app is testing the business concepts in the app and not just the intuitiveness of the app to use.
The process of improving the app never stops, and users of the MVP app will supply feedback which can be incorporate to improve the user experience in latter iterations of the app.
Is an MVP an unfinished version of the app.
MVP is not an unfinished version of the app. An MVP app is an app that business owners can use to test out their app offering and see if it is something that their customers will engage with and find useful. The app is completed and helps business owners achieve their goals, but it may be missing some features that users may expect.
After releasing the MVP, business owners can then add features and refine the UI for their customers based on customer feedback. The MVP strategy with the feedback loop will help business owners create the best user experience for their customers.
Whether an MVP app or you are at version 5 of your app there is always more to do to improve the app. The best way of improving it is based on customer feedback. This process of combing customer feedback into new iterations of the app is a necessary habit you need to get use too as it will happen throughout the entire life of your app. This will ensure you keep up with new design and functionality trends and produce a great users’ experience.
If you're a small to medium business looking to move online, you'll need a solution that delivers, maintain and run an app for you. An MVP can help speed up the process of getting your app to market, with the minimum cost possible, to prove your ideas and take your business online. The customer feedback you receive will allow you to perfect and added features down the road.
At a time when digital transformation is critical for business success, a strategy to build an MVP app can provide you with the solution to design and build an app quickly and at a lower risk. Whether you're looking for coding or UX design or expert support in app development, there are companies out there who can help guide you every step of the way.
So, if you're thinking about moving your business online via smartphone apps, consider an MVP strategy as the perfect first step towards achieving your goals. With the help of experts and a streamlined approach to app development, you can reduce the financial risk and work to ensure your app will meet your essential requirements for success.