Your Guide to MVPs for Mobile Apps in 2024 (W/ Steps & Tips)

July 24, 2023

The mobile app landscape has become highly competitive. 

According to Forbes data, there were over 8.9 million mobile apps in 2020. Additionally, there were 218 billion app downloads from app stores in 2020.

With an ever-expanding marketplace and user expectations soaring, crafting a winning mobile app has become a pressing challenge. 

In turn, many aspiring app creators struggle to turn their innovative ideas into fully functional solutions that resonate with users. 

This is where Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) come to the rescue.

MVPs offer a strategic approach to validate your app concept swiftly and efficiently. 

But how do you build one? 

That's what we will discuss in this guide.

So without further ado, let's start covering everything you need to know about MVP mobile apps and how to build one.

What Is an MVP for Mobile Apps?

An MVP for mobile apps is a development strategy where you build and launch the app's basic and essential features with minimal effort and resources. 

Eric Ries popularized the concept of an MVP in his book "The Lean Startup."

The primary goal of an MVP is to bring a functional version of the app to the market quickly. 

This allows the app’s developers to gather user feedback and validate the app's concept before investing significant time and money into a fully-featured version.

Developing an MVP, whether you're building it for a native app or a web app, has so many benefits that even many famous companies like Facebook, Spotify, and Uber started with an MVP. 

Similarly, they used their MVPs to gather user feedback and improve accordingly.

5 Characteristics of an MVP Mobile App

MVP mobile apps have some specific characteristics, such as:

  1. They Only Have Core Features: MVP features should solve a specific problem or address a core need of the target audience. Consider the example of WhatsApp. When it was first launched, its sole focus was on one core feature, instant messaging. All the other features, like GPS sharing, contact sharing, groups, etc., came later.
  2. They Provide Value: An MVP mobile app must offer real value to its users so that they engage with the MVP mobile app and continue using it. Uber's MVP is an excellent example, providing users with a quick and reliable way to book rides. The value here was that Uber addressed the pain point of traditional taxi services' unpredictability and payment hassles.
  3. They Are Cost Effective: MVP mobile app development costs way less than full-fledged software. Cost savings is one of the biggest reasons to build an MVP. You can achieve this by limiting unnecessary features and functionalities. For instance, Airbnb founders had a minimal budget, so they started with a simple MVP app to validate their idea of offering accommodation alternatives.
  4. They Enable Scalability: An MVP app should have a foundation that can accommodate future growth and scalability. While starting with a basic version, the app's architecture should be flexible enough to handle increasing user demands and additional features as the user base expands. Spotify's MVP had such a robust architecture that could handle a rapidly growing user base. As the platform gained popularity, Spotify had to scale its infrastructure to accommodate millions of users worldwide, ensuring smooth and uninterrupted music streaming.
  5. They Have a Simple User Interface: An MVP mobile app should present a straightforward and intuitive user interface. A clean and easy-to-navigate design helps users understand the app's core functionality without overwhelming them with unnecessary complexities. Twitter's MVP, for instance, had a very basic yet intuitive user interface with only the most essential features.

6 Reasons Why an MVP Is Important for Your Mobile App

You probably have heard many experts and successful entrepreneurs say that building an MVP is essential for app success. 

But why is MVP so important? Here are some of the most noteworthy reasons: 

#1. To Validate Market Demand

Developing an MVP allows you to test the waters and validate whether there is a genuine demand for your mobile app before investing substantial resources in a full-fledged product. 

By releasing a scaled-down version with essential features, you can gather data on user engagement, interest, and usage patterns. For example, if you're creating a new productivity app, you can assess whether users find the core features valuable enough to continue using the app.

#2. To Remain Cost-Efficient

Building a complete mobile app from scratch can be expensive and time-consuming. 

By using the MVP to focus on the essential features and functionalities, you can significantly reduce development costs and bring the product to the market faster. This cost-efficiency is particularly beneficial for startups and small businesses with limited budgets.

#3. To Launch the Product Quickly

Getting a product to your target audience as fast as possible is crucial in the fast-paced world of mobile apps. 

Hence, accelerating the app's time to market is vital, and that's where an MVP becomes useful. Launching an MVP allows you to get a working version of your product out there quickly, giving you a head start over competitors who might still be working on their full-fledged apps.

#4.To Obtain User Feedback

An MVP provides an opportunity to gather valuable feedback directly from users. 

Their input can be used to identify pain points, understand user preferences, and uncover additional features that users may want. This feedback loop helps make informed decisions on how to improve the app in subsequent iterations. 

For example, a social media app might initially focus on allowing users to share text posts, and based on user feedback, it can expand to support multimedia content like images, videos, GIFs, emojis, etc., just like WhatsApp did.

#5. To Attract Investors

Mobile app development can be costly. For instance, SaaS mobile app development costs can range from $40,000 to $200,000. 

No investor will want to invest such a huge amount without knowing what customer problems your mobile app will solve and how. However, if they can see a proof-of-concept through the MVP, they are more likely to invest in your app development project. 

Essentially, an MVP demonstrates that you've done your research, have identified a real problem, and have started addressing it with a viable solution.

#6. To Reduce the Risk of Failure

Developing a full-featured app without validation can be risky. It's possible to invest significant resources and time into a product only to discover that there is no market demand for it or that the concept doesn't resonate with users. 

By starting with an MVP, you can mitigate this risk by testing your assumptions early on and iterating based on actual user data. For example, a language-learning app could begin with a few basic language courses to gauge user interest instead of creating an extensive course library without knowing if users will engage.

5 MVP Types in Mobile App Development

When classifying MVP mobile apps, there are two primary types, low and high fidelity.

A low-fidelity MVP is a like a basic and rough prototype. It focuses on demonstrating the app's core functionalities without getting into the finer details of design and aesthetics. It is typically created using simple tools like sketches, wireframes, or basic digital mockups.

On the other hand, a high-fidelity MVP is an actual usable version of the app. It includes more detailed visuals and interactive elements, allowing users to provide better feedback to the developers.

We can further classify high-fidelity MVPs into different types, such as:

  • Single-Feature MVP: A single-feature MVP focuses on implementing a single core feature of the app. This type of MVP allows the development team to concentrate on perfecting a key functionality or solving a particular problem, making it a straightforward and lean approach.
  • Concierge MVP: In a concierge MVP, the app development team manually provides the service the app should deliver. It involves a highly personalized and hands-on approach, where the development team works closely with early users, manually fulfilling their requests as if the app were fully automated. This allows the team to understand user needs and behavior directly, helping them shape the product accordingly.
  • Piecemeal MVP: The piecemeal MVP involves building the app in separate pieces or modules and then combining them to create a functional product. This approach helps the development team focus on the quality of individual components, ensuring they work well before integrating them. It's beneficial when developing complex apps or when different teams are responsible for separate parts of the app.
  • Landing Page MVP: A landing page MVP is a simple webpage or website that describes the app's value proposition and features, allowing users to sign up or express interest. This approach measures user interest and demand for the app without having to build the full product. It is an effective way to validate market demand before investing in development.
  • Smoke Test MVP: A Smoke Test MVP involves testing the demand for an app by simulating its existence without any actual development. This is often done using ads, prototypes, or other marketing materials to gauge user interest and engagement. It helps in quickly validating an idea without the need for significant investment.

7 Steps to Build an MVP for Your Mobile App

While an MVP is the basic version of your app, you need to put in as much effort as you would put into the actual app. Think of an MVP as the foundation of your app. If the foundation is good, it is likelier to succeed.

Hence, you must follow the right approach to build an MVP for your mobile app, starting with: 

#1. Identify a Problem to Solve

Identifying a problem to solve is the fundamental and pivotal first step in the mobile app development lifecycle. It requires a deep and empathetic understanding of potential users' needs, pain points, and challenges in a specific market or industry.

In this pursuit of problem identification, developers should remain open to innovative solutions. Using emerging app development frameworks, hardware, and technologies may enable you to tackle the pain points more efficiently.

Another aspect to consider is focusing on niche problems. Sometimes, solving a specific subset of issues can be more effective than addressing a broad and generalized concern. Concentrating on a niche allows developers to tailor their app's features and marketing strategies to cater precisely to the needs of a dedicated user base.

#2. Conduct Market Research

Market research serves as the backbone of this exploration. 

Developers gain valuable insights into prevailing trends, consumer behavior, and emerging technologies by delving into various industries and sectors. The aim is to uncover opportunities where a mobile app can make a meaningful impact.

You can conduct customer interviews, use surveys, and engage with your target audience to identify the pain point you want to solve through the MVP. To top that, you can also analyze online communities and social media platforms and conduct competitor analysis.

Besides those primary research methods, secondary research like extensive literature reviews, industry reports, and market studies can be helpful. They can offer a broader perspective on current trends, emerging technologies, and the competitive landscape.

#3. Understand Your Competitors

The next crucial step in building an MVP for your mobile app is to understand your competitors, know who else is offering a similar app as you have planned, and assess how they operate.

There are many reasons to do this. 

For starters, this can help you identify market gaps. Analyzing your competitors’ apps allows you to pinpoint areas where their solutions may be lacking or not fully meeting user needs. This presents opportunities for your app to fill those gaps and offer a more comprehensive or innovative solution.

Additionally, researching your competitors provides valuable insights into user expectations within your niche. It will also help you with creating a pricing strategy for your app. When you understand the price points of similar apps, you can make informed decisions about how to price your MVP and your final app.

#4. Define the Features List

Defining the features list involves carefully selecting and prioritizing the core functionalities your app will offer to address the identified problem. This step lays the foundation for the development process and helps you focus on delivering the most essential value to users.

When defining the features list, start by revisiting the problem you aim to solve and the market research you conducted. Based on the information you gathered in those two steps, prioritize the most crucial features of the application.

For instance, suppose you plan to build an MVP for a mobile app for task management. In this MVP, you can include features like task management, communication channels, reminders, time tracking and analytics, gamification, task collaboration, etc. However, you cannot add all these features to the MVP. 

Hence, you must prioritize which features are most essential for the MVP.

#5. Create a Prototype

Creating a prototype is the next crucial step in building an MVP for your mobile app. 

It involves designing a simplified version of your app that showcases the core functionalities and user flow. The prototype is a tangible representation of your app idea that lets you gather valuable feedback, test usability, and make informed design decisions before moving on to full-scale development.

To create a prototype, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the Right Prototyping Tool: Select a tool that aligns with your project's needs, your team's expertise, and your budget. Popular options include Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, InVision, and Marvel.
  2. Create a Wireframe: Wireframes are basic, low-fidelity visual representations of your app's layout and interface. They help you establish the app's structure and the placement of key elements such as buttons, menus, and content sections.
  3. Design the User Interface: Once you have a solid wireframe, you can design the app's UI. Focus on creating a clean, intuitive interface that aligns with your brand identity. Use consistent colors, typography, and icons to enhance the user experience.
  4. Add Interactivity: The real value of a prototype lies in its interactivity. Introduce clickable elements, transitions, and interactions that simulate how users will navigate through your app. This allows you to test the user flow and identify potential usability issues.

#6. Build the MVP

This is where all your hard work comes to life. 

Building an MVP involves turning your concept and designs into a tangible product that users can interact with. During this phase, one of the initial steps is to select the appropriate technology stack for your app.

This includes deciding on the programming languages, frameworks, and tools that align with your app's requirements. The technology stack you use can significantly impact your app's performance, scalability, and development speed.

Once you’ve picked a technology stack, the next crucial step is to design the app's architecture and database structure. A well-thought-out architecture will make your app scalable, maintainable, and efficient. Decide on the overall structure of the app, including how different components will interact with each other and how data will be stored and retrieved from the database.

Once the architecture and database design are in place, development can begin. You can either develop your MVP in-house or outsource your app development entirely to an app development company.

#7. Analyze the Feedback

Analyzing your users’ feedback is the stage where you gather, evaluate, and interpret the impressions your app made on read users who tested it. This feedback will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your app, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions about its future development.

To begin the analysis, collate all the feedback received through various channels, such as user surveys, interviews, app store reviews, support emails, and any other feedback mechanisms you have in place. Categorize the feedback based on common themes and patterns to get a clear overview of the most significant user sentiments.

Want to Build an MVP Mobile App?

Developing a successful mobile app in 2023 requires a well-structured and systematic approach. Breaking down the process into stages allows businesses to navigate the complexities effectively and ensures a smooth deployment.

However, tackling this task alone can be challenging. Partnering with a reliable mobile application development company like Make  IT Simple can make all the difference. Our expertise in custom mobile apps can help your company reach new heights.

Contact our experts today to learn how they can help you craft a compelling mobile app that will set your business apart in the competitive market.

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