The Five Features of a Cost-Effective MVP Development
You’ve already defined the problem you want to solve and done the market research to establish your startup or SMB. You’ve explored your options for custom software development and are ready to invest. You’ve evaluated full product development vs Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and decided to start small and iterate. Cost efficiency is a key benefit of building an MVP. Here are the five features of a cost-effective MVP development:
1. Focus on Core Features
Building a successful MVP takes an almost dogged commitment to simplicity. If you want to release a product into market quickly, you have to distill your business’s core value proposition down to a handful of features that capture its essence. It’s okay to keep a wishlist of features and earmark them for later development. Even features that seem foundational, like billing and onboarding, can be done manually for the initial user base and then developed for automation later on. Prioritizing the most important ones will conserve time and development costs up front and ultimately reduce your risk of failure.
Ridesharing is an example we use often: it didn’t overhaul the taxi transportation model in one fell swoop. Instead, ridesharing companies asked powerful starting questions like, what if we eliminated the need for a phone call with an online booking process?
So, what is your powerful starting question? And in response, what are the one or two features that will set the foundation for a powerful user experience?
2. Define your minimum viability with clear KPIs.
You have a business concept and a set of core features, but how will you know that your product is successful? While MVP development is all about viewing user feedback within the context of learning and improvement, it’s important to define what “minimum viability” means for your business with clear goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Define your KPIs
It depends on the type of business and the intended purpose of the platform, but a few tried-and-true goals are:
Initial User Base
How many customers do you want to adopt your initial product?
Average Revenue per User
Can you earn a certain amount of revenue with the initial user base?
Can you keep them engaged on the platform within a certain time frame?
Define the Cost of Failure
You know how the song goes, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away.” Before you invest in a new business venture and an MVP, it’s important to define the cost of failure so that you, your business partners, and investors can understand the potential risks and seek ways to reduce the “risk footprint” with a lean strategy. Notably, the cost of failure should be less than your total project budget so that you have room for adjustments, pivots, and iterations without straining your financial stability.
Don’t Skip the Analytics
It is crucial to have a mechanism for evaluating user behavior on your platform so that you can measure KPIs, but you’d be surprised how many businesses overlook this part. There are so many amazing tools at our fingertips today that integrate easily into custom platforms to deliver meaningful insights. At a minimum, we recommend integrating Google Analytics, which is free and should take a developer less than a day to integrate.
3. Iterate Constantly
This is the fun part! At least for us developer nerds. Now that we have real-world insights to guide us, we can gain validation on the product features that are working and learn from the ones that aren’t, as well as figure out what’s missing. At this stage, we’re fine-tuning features, enhancing usability, and aligning the platform closer to user needs to drive satisfaction and grow adoption. We’re cooking with gas.🔥
Want to gain even more valuable insights? Customer interviews are a great way to engage them in the development process beyond initial adoption of your platform. Your first customers should know your team’s names, have frequent meetings, and become your friends.
4. Leverage Existing Tech
Listen, we know what we said before about off-the-shelf solutions. Often the problem occurs when looking for a jack-of-all-trades solution. But using smaller, purpose-built tools – especially open-source solutions and third-party APIs – to integrate non-differentiating features like user management, authentication, subscriptions, etc., can be an easy, low-lift way to expand your platform’s capabilities while saving money and time.
5. Simple UX/UI Design
Like we said, a successful MVP takes a dogged commitment to simplicity. Embellishments can distract from the user experience and cause frustration, not to mention the time and money it takes to develop them. It also dilutes user feedback, for example, if an unnecessary animation is causing a bug or interrupting the user experience. Initial user feedback needs to be focused on the core value-driving feature set, so simplicity is paramount. No matter how much your platform grows and evolves, the user experience should remain clean and intuitive.
So, those are the basic steps to a cost-effective MVP software development for startups and SMBs. We’ve found that steps 1 and 2 – defining core features and metrics – are often the hardest for a business, along with accounting for the minutiae of technical requirements. Without the insight from an experienced custom dev partner, there are bound to be some information gaps. At Mile Marker, we’ve honed a proven process for developing product requirements and technical strategy fast: our Strategic Alignment Workshop. Two weeks of collaboration between our teams will create clarity on the resources and efforts necessary to bring the product to market. Curious to learn more? Let’s talk.
About Mile Marker
Mile Marker is your strategic partner for agile software development. Created for founders, by founders, we offer strategic software at startup speed. We specialize in aligning your technical work with your business goals through collaborative planning, offering a multidisciplinary development team, and ensuring ongoing support for your software. If you’re searching for a software development company or need a technical partner, start the conversation with an introductory call.