How to build quickly a Minimum Viable Product

As a product owner at Linagora, I have the objective to release a workable product within a tight schedule. In this article, I would like to share some tips in order to get to a testable Minimal Viable Product (MVP) as quickly as possible.

A Minimal Viable Product (MVP) allows the product owner to test his hypothesis and have quick feedback for future development. Below are some tips to optimize the designing and development process of a MVP.

Prioritize the needs of the users

It’s essential to first hear out the opinion of your stakesholders. The most efficient way would be to organize an ideation workshop and have people agree collectively on a common story map. It’s important to remain neutral and not hesitate to ask them to draw sketches to precise their ideas. These will help you save significant time later on.

Organize an ideation workshop and have people agree collectively on a common story map

In case it’s not possible, you will need to conduct interviews. It’s important during these sessions, to get their opinions and perceptions on different global features. The questions can be formulated in both functionnal and dysfunctional forms to get not clearly expressed expectations (Kano method) :

  • The product has feature A, what do you think ?
  • The product doesn’t have feature A, what do you think ?

Sometimes your stakeholders might not be the end users of your product. In this case, you also need to look at your competition and study the market, to verify your business potential.

With the above, you should have all the information to create user stories and organize them in a priority backlog. You should concentrate on describing only Must-have features (MoSCoW method).

Agree on the mockups as soon as possible

Drawing functional wireframes for your MVP is essential to explain the story map clearly and quickly. It’s easy understandable by both stakeholders and developer team and introduce the right questions. Graphical mockups might not be necessary.

Drawing interactive wireframes of your MVP is essential to describe the story map clearly

Be prepare to give precisions on input fields to your team as these have direct implications on the application architecture :

  • is it mandatory to fill ? what is a valid input data ?
  • is it a a link to an existing element ? can there be multiple elements ?
  • can it autofill ? what is the action if it’s left blank ?

Before beginning the development, you should choose an existing graphical theme with all elements on the menus, sidebars or tabs. Of course, your client should not be too difficult as changing the existing theme might take longer than building from scratch. If you don’t have an UX/UI designer, you can get inspiration from existing similar designs in particular from Google Material Design.

Simplify the work of your development team

Once the product backlog has sufficient essential user stories, it’s time to start the sprints. For a MVP, it’s important to keep things as simple as possible to move forward as quickly as possible. This means the development should concentrate on :

  • Illustrating the most common scenarios and leave out exceptions or rare situations
  • Skipping unnecessary constraints on objects and on the relationships between them
  • Favors reusable development patterns in technical tasks
For a MVP, it’s important to keep things as simple as possible to move forward as quickly as possible.

Please note that some of the recommendations above might not be suitable if you plan to release your MVP to the general public.

Make early adopters count

If the goal is to have the most people using your MVP, you should take care of your end users :

  • Ensure that your MVP has an attractive and intuitive interface with no apparent bug
  • Collect automatically user inputs and provide a form for feedback and suggestions
  • Fake functionalities which you haven’t developped to measure user interest

With the above, you are now ready to attract more and more users while making improvements to your MVP.

The goal is to have the most people using your MVP