It’s a fussy market out there when it comes to new apps.
With so many coming out every day, what’s more disheartening than spending 60k on lovingly developing your brainchild and then seeing it flop?
The sting is more than just in the heart – it hits deep in the hip-pocket nerve. After all, an app is more than a labor of love. It’s an investment that you bet on to yield viable returns. And when your efforts and your money aren’t getting you anything worth celebrating, then what are you doing wrong?
It’s an increasingly competitive industry, and the answer is to work smarter, not harder.
What is the core feature of your product? What is the user base looking for?
Why spend time and money chasing your ideal product while your competitors are releasing a “good-enough” version?
These are the questions you need to be answering. And contrary to popular belief, more money invested in your app ≠ better.
In fact, the team at Appetiser will challenge you to produce a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – and get your app to make money for you faster and at a fraction of the price.
Now, we’re not talking flashy but non-functional here.
When done right, an MVP app attracts an audience and displays the product’s potential to the consumers. All it needs to do is provide the users with a good experience, and bingo.
You have interest. You have attention. You’ve got the ball rolling.
So how do we do it right? Let’s dive into the nitty gritties.
According to Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, an MVP is the earliest version of your product to test your most risky assumptions.
But there are lots of ways to do this, so let’s keep it simple: An MVP is a version of your product that has the minimal amount of features to be usable.
It is the earliest point where you can test your vision and concept.
An MVP isn’t necessarily a market-ready product but a step towards it that you build on over time as your user base grows.
- If your vision is to enable users to meet friends in virtual reality, a technical proof of concept might be enough. You will be testing whether this is technically feasible and whether people would enjoy the experience.
- If your vision is to help users hire cleaners online, then your MVP will have to test whether users are willing to pay for cleaners on the internet and to trust strangers.
The key to the success of an MVP is the “viable” component.
You can’t skimp out on the basic features of a product. The core functionality of the app has to be viable and appealing to the target users to make them believe in its value. Therefore, making an MVP is more than just trimming features. It’s a process of drilling down to focus on your product’s core value and appeal.
Despite being essentially a bare-bones version of your product, an MVP is useful for several reasons.
An app can be a pretty substantial investment. Here’s a breakdown of how much good app development costs.
In creating an MVP app, you don’t have to sink big money into a product before you know if it will do well in your target market.
You only need to pay a fraction of the price it takes to make the full version. And if the potential of the product is conveyed well, you can even use it to build up more funds and attract investors.
A minimum viable product also gives you an opportunity to collect user feedback early in the app development process.
User feedback is the greatest measure of success in building an app that prioritizes user experience. And getting it before you spend money on features that you might not even need in the end can save you a lot of grief in the long run.
You might hit the jackpot right away, but chances are that your product won’t quite hit the mark with early users.
An MVP product allows you to test whether there’s a demand for your product in the market, giving you insights on how to improve and what features to prioritize.
Success is not guaranteed with any product, but an MVP development process increases your chances by allowing you to fail fast.
If the product doesn’t take off after the launch, you have more time and resources to pivot strategies before you’ve sunk your entire budget into it.
Your product is a test of a concept. You have an idea of what you want to achieve with it, but you’re not quite sure if it will work.
This is where your hypothesis comes in.
A hypothesis is a statement that can be tested and proven true or false. In terms of product development, it’s assumptions about your product idea that your MVP needs to answer.
Basically, you need to be asking a question and testing for the answer with your product.
- ❓Amazon: Would people buy books online?
- ❓Airbnb: Would people pay to stay with strangers rather than staying in a hotel?
- ❓Uber: Would people book a black limousine through a mobile app?
Your hypothesis should arise from your research. Once you’ve identified the problem, your target market, and your competitors, you’re probably already subconsciously trying to answer a question.
Say, for example, that you’re opening a bakery specializing in sourdough on x road.
Some questions you may be asking:
🍞 Would people on x road buy sourdough bread?
🍞 Can a store specializing in sourdough bread on x road make me a profit?
Since you’re making an app, the type of questions you ask will be different. But the principle is the same, no matter what business you’re in.
Your hypothesis defines the scope of your MVP. Once you’ve defined it, you can use it to focus your efforts on what’s required for your product’s core deliverable.
Let’s take our little sourdough bakery to the digital age for a sec.
So our core question is: Would people buy sourdough bread online?
With this at the center, we can start thinking about features of the online business like landing pages, payment gateways, etc. Every feature and design decision you make should be driven by the need to validate or invalidate your hypothesis.
For example, do we need a payment gateway to answer the question of “would people buy sourdough bread online”? 🍞
Absolutely! We need to make sure that people can pay for our bread.
Do we need a live chat function for answering customer inquiries? Would this help us answer the question of “would people buy sourdough bread online”? 🍞
Your hypothesis is your guide to keeping things lean. It helps you focus on only the features that are required.
It’s important to get this step right.
Get the latest industry news first.
Your design will form the blueprint for your product and help you get the ball rolling. Without doing the work in this step, your hypothesis is just a question in thin air.
“But a prototype is just a draft, right? It can’t be that big of a deal.”
Wrong! A product can either live or die on the strength of its design.
Steve Jobs built his tech empire based on a solid, user-centered design. He knew that how a product looks and feels will either make users want to come back for more, or never give it a second look.
You want to give your app the best chance it can have of making it big on its debut. So get it right. Dress it up and send it through finishing school to hammer out its kinks.
Things you should focus on:
- Ease of Use: The app should be easy to use and understand. Users should be able to figure out how to use the core features without having to fiddle with complicated menus.
- Simple Design: Keep the design simple. Too many elements will distract and confuse users. Stick to the basics and only include what’s absolutely necessary.
- Layout: The layout should be easy on the eyes and logical. Users should be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
- Navigation: Navigation should be intuitive and easy to use. Users should be able to move around the app without any difficulties.
When you create your prototype, keep in mind that it’s more than just the visual design of your app. It can serve as a proof of concept for your investors and attract more people to believe in its potential. That’s why you should invest in getting the right team to do the job well the first time.
(Our team is pretty good at that, btw. We’re ranked in the top ten worldwide for it – just saying. Here’s how our client Vello raised over $1 million from the strength of our design.)
Just drop us a hey and we can help you get there too.
App development is where things can get challenging.
You need to balance the need for speed with the quality of the product. A good MVP should have just enough features to be usable, while still being well-designed and stable.
The initial version doesn’t have to have all the features. It just needs enough so that the early adopters can see the value in the app.
The process will vary depending on the features of your app, but there are a few things that you should keep in mind:
- Don’t try to do too much: It’s tempting to include everything but the kitchen sink in your app. However, try your mighty best to stick to the core features that make your app valuable to users and save the bells and whistles for later.
- Aim for quality, not quantity: A buggy app with a million features is not going to be successful. It’s better to have a few polished and well-designed features in the basic version than a bunch of half-baked ones.
- Keep it lean: An MVP should be lightweight and fast. That means keeping the code clean and avoiding unnecessary features (we’ll touch on this later).
The key to coding an MVP is to focus on the essentials and get the product out as quickly as possible. That doesn’t mean getting your development team to cut corners and skimping on quality, but it does mean being efficient with your time and resources.
And while you’re at it, here are 5 valuable questions you should be asking your development team.
Once you’ve built your MVP, it’s time to put it to the test.
User testing isn’t vital at this stage. What is important is ironing out the kinks and making sure that the app is usable.
You should also make sure that your MVP can scale. That means ensuring that it’s built on a solid foundation and can handle an increase in users without breaking down.
To do this, you need to stress-test your app. This involves putting it through its paces and making sure that it can handle heavy use.
You also need to ensure that your app is secure. This is especially important if you’re handling sensitive user data. Make sure that your app is properly encrypted and that there are no security vulnerabilities.
After you’ve put your MVP through its paces, it’s time to take it live.
Now, this isn’t just a matter of cutting a ribbon and inviting people in. A successful launch requires careful planning and execution.
You need to create a buzz around your product, generate interest and excitement, and get people talking about it.
There are several ways to do this, but some of the most effective are:
- Host a launch event: This is a great way to generate interest and get people talking about your product.
- Get media coverage: Getting press coverage is a great way to raise awareness and get people interested in your app.
- Use social media: Social media is a powerful tool that can help you reach a wide audience with minimal effort.
- Give away freebies: Everyone loves free stuff. Offering promotional items or free trials can help attract attention and get people to try out your product.
There are many other ways of creating a buzz around your new app. For more information on this, our guide on how to market your app pre- and post-launch is a good resource to consult.
Launching your MVP is just the beginning. The real work starts now as you begin to grow and scale your app. But with a solid foundation in place, you’re well on your way to success.
It’s all about minimizing waste and maximizing value.
You need three things out of an initial product:
It’s essential to get your product in front of users as soon as possible. You need to be able to rapidly deploy changes and new features—and you need to do it all without breaking the bank.
If there’s one takeaway from this article, it’s that good =/= more features.
But you can do a lot of stripping down without taking out a pair of scissors and snipping off chunks.
For example, your user chatting feature might not need read receipts, but fast instant messaging might still be necessary. Therefore, you might be able to get away with a pared-down chat function in your app.
Think about which levers to pull and what you can adjust to save resources.
Don’t worry, if you’ve picked the right app partners (hint, Appetiser 😉), you’ll be sure to have a council of industry experts to help.
We’ve seen a lot of people try to do too much and end up with something that doesn’t work very well on any platform.
Most of the time, picking one likely won’t reduce your user base by much since workarounds like emulators exist. You can always expand to other platforms later, but in the beginning, it’s important to keep things manageable.
The functionality of the mobile interface might limit the development of the product. For example, you might not be able to sync in the background, do push notifications offline, or use native functions such as Bluetooth.
A responsive web app can be used on basically all devices. This means that your product is not tied to one platform, so you can have your cake and eat it too by expanding to other platforms more easily.
Our article on the pros and cons of native, hybrid, and web apps delves deeper into this matter.
4. Going to a smaller team, such as part-time
Downsizing your team can be a great way to focus your resources and reduce waste, but it only works if you have the right team in place.
The team should be able to work together efficiently, communicate well and have a good understanding of the project.
Don’t forget that even though you’re working with a smaller team, you’ll still need to allocate adequate resources to quality assurance and testing.
I get it – you’ve got a big vision and great plans to change the world with your app. It’s the next Uber or Facebook.
But just know that it took years for those companies to get there – and a lot of money.
Right now, your money is better spent growing your product rather than adding more features too early. Launch lean, learn, iterate, and chase the stars, one leap at a time.
And when you’re ready to launch that rocketship, hit us up. We promise to bring the good wrenches. 🔧👷♂️
Jessica La is a Content and SEO Consultant at Appetiser with 6+ years in the industry. If she's not writing and optimizing content, you can find her with a cup of coffee delighting in literature or sci-fi books.
Get the latest industry news first.