We are all familiar with Amazon, one of the giants in the e-commerce industry. But did you know that Amazon started off as an online bookstore? This was back in the 1990s when online shopping wasn’t as prevalent and accessible as it is today. At that time, Amazon started with a very basic webpage to sell books. Over time, as their business started to grow, they expanded their operations and are now an established and leading name in the industry.
What Amazon did was they built an MVP or Minimum Viable Product and sent it out in the market. Once the MVP gained traction and a positive response from the public, they began to add new features and make it holistic, thus expanding their business operations.
In this post, we will be learning more about the concept of MVP and how to test and make the generative most out of it.
MVP (Minimum Viable Product) testing is the process of building a new product or feature with the least amount of work to see if it’s viable in the market. The goal is to gather feedback and learn if your idea has merit without spending too much time or resources.
Steps involved in building an MVP
Here is a pictorial representation of the general approach that goes into building an MVP.
Benefits of building an MVP
You must have heard of stories where startups tank and might wonder what difference would the MVP route bring to this reality. Most of the big names in the market today, like Amazon, Airbnb, Instagram, Dropbox, and Spotify, had initially started out with MVPs. The essence of this approach is that it allows you the opportunity to test the waters before taking the plunge.
How so? Let me explain.
Focus on the core functionality
What is the intent of building this product? Quite often, in an attempt to sell in the market, businesses tend to adorn too many bells and whistles to the product, which can distract the users as well as the development team from the actual reason for building the product – to solve a particular user problem. This technique of building a viable product rather than a full-fledged one is a great way to stay focused.
Being in touch with the target audience
A huge benefit of building an MVP and testing it is that it allows you an honest insight into the market. If you’ve chosen your target audience well, then their feedback and experiences pertaining to your product can be valuable in further gauging the feasibility of a full-blown launch.
Better understanding of the business problem
You might think that your product solves a very critical problem. However, only after getting authentic user feedback will you learn if what you think is also the reality. Just because you’ve concluded that your product makes a difference doesn’t necessarily mean it does so for the audience. Using the feedback, you can tweak your product and develop a clear vision for it.
Quick product launch
If you focus on developing the bare minimum, you will naturally deliver faster. The quicker your product hits the market, the sooner you are likely to receive feedback and will have the vantage of revising your product.
More room for adaptability
The MVP route of product development is a flexible one that allows you the opportunity to explore and add updates to your product in an incremental fashion that need not necessarily be done systematically.
Growing but with low risks
Working in this incremental fashion reduces risks and allows you to work with minimal risks. You can add a feature at a time, see its reception, roll back if needed, and then move on. This may be challenging if you start out with an extensive product that includes a ton of features. Firstly, you would be overwhelming your customers as not everyone would look at your product with the same lens as you intend them to, thus leading them to miss the entire point of having this product. Secondly, you can experiment and add one feature at a time, at your own pace, while being attuned to the audience’s sentiments throughout the process.
To sum it up, opting for the MVP approach to product development can benefit you in the following ways.
Why should you test your MVP?
If you have decided to opt for the MVP route to product development, then you’ve made a wise choice. This approach is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. I am listing them below.
Different strategies for MVP testing
Let’s look at the different ways in which you can take your MVP for a test drive before committing to investing completely.
Releasing an MVP to a limited group of users, either internally for alpha or to a select external group for beta, to gather feedback and detect any bugs is alpha/beta testing. It serves as a preliminary test for the MVP. For example, a new photo editing software is released as a beta version to a small group of photographers who can provide specialized feedback.
Landing page testing
Creating a website or landing page that explains the product’s proposition to see if potential users show interest is another strategy used to test the popularity of the MVP. It is often measured through sign-ups or inquiries. For example, before launching a new online course platform, a landing page can be set up to gauge interest through email sign-ups.
Direct user interviews
Interacting with potential or existing users of the MVP through one-on-one interviews to gather in-depth feedback is a classic way to assess its success. An example of this could be that after releasing an MVP of a grocery delivery app, the developers conduct interviews with a select group of users to understand their experiences and challenges.
Surveys and questionnaires
Distributing structured forms to potential or existing users to gather feedback about the MVP is another way to gauge the audience’s response. For example, after launching a new fitness-tracking wearable as an MVP, users can be asked to fill out a survey about their experience and the features they’d like to see in the future.
Observing users while they interact with the MVP to understand how user-friendly and intuitive it is indicates how the MVP will be received when launched as a full-fledged product. An example of this could be that for a new mobile banking app MVP, testers are observed as they try to navigate the app and perform basic functions like checking their balance or sending money.
Presenting the product concept on crowdfunding platforms to see if potential users are willing to fund its development. For example, an inventor has an idea for a revolutionary new kitchen gadget. Before manufacturing it, they launch a Kickstarter campaign to see if there’s enough interest to warrant total production.
Feedback boxes and live chats
Implementing tools on digital platforms to gather real-time feedback or queries from users. For example, on the MVP version of a new e-learning website, a live chat option is available for users to ask questions or provide immediate feedback.
Social media and forum engagement
Use social media platforms or relevant online forums to discuss the MVP, gather feedback, and engage with potential users. An example of this could be that the creators of a new tabletop game post about their MVP on Reddit’s board game community to gauge interest and gather feedback.
It is a usability testing method where random people, typically individuals unfamiliar with the design or functionality of a product, are asked to use a product to identify usability issues. The name ‘hallway testing‘ comes from the idea that you could pull someone from a hallway and have them test the product. These individuals don’t have any prior knowledge or biases about the product, and their fresh perspective can reveal insightful information about the product’s intuitiveness and usability.
Explainer video or concept video
This type of MVP involves creating a video explaining the concept or demonstrating the value proposition of the product, even if the product doesn’t exist yet. Dropbox famously validated its idea using a simple explainer video.
Wizard of Oz MVP
In this type, the customer believes they’re interacting with a functional product, but behind the scenes, humans are carrying out the function. This is a way to validate the idea without building the complete infrastructure or tech.
Similar to the Wizard of Oz method, the customer is aware that humans are delivering the service. The idea is to provide the service manually and understand customer needs and reactions.
This MVP uses existing tools and services to deliver the product or service. The objective is to stitch together different components to mimic the final product’s functionalities.
As the name suggests, this MVP focuses on building and releasing a single feature that is believed to carry the primary value proposition of the final product. It helps to test the desirability of this primary feature.
This method involves manually doing tasks that the final product will do automatically. It’s useful for testing if there’s demand for the end product.
What should you consider when coming up with an effective MVP?
Now that you know how to work on an MVP and the different ways to test it, here are some tips to help you ensure that your MVP is a success.
Never skip market research
Having an idea is not enough. You need to ensure that there is a need for it in the market. Only then will it sell. Invest time and resources in doing thorough market research.
Pick a relevant audience to test your MVP
This ties into market research and testing of your MVP. You need to be smart when it comes to choosing your test audience. They should add value through feedback and their experiences.
Be open to, yet cautious with feedback
This may seem like an oxymoron and, hence, confusing. Let me explain what I mean over here. When you review the feedback received during the testing of your MVP, you will find positive as well as negative feedback. Through positive feedback, you can assess what you are doing right.
Now, coming to the negative feedback. These can serve as a learning and give you a list of things you need to improve or incorporate into your MVP. However, not all negative feedback is classified as an action item. Be cautious here and sift through them. Whatever you decide to act upon should be prioritized and then implemented.
Use market analytics to be relevant
Make use of various tools that help analyze market trends so that you can ride the wave rather than being drowned by it. Based on the trend, you can update your MVP and release it for testing.
For example, suppose your MVP is for an app that allows creating to-do lists for older adults, and as per market research. In that case, if you see that voice recordings and voice assistants are becoming more popular amongst your target market, then it is time for you to add this feature of allowing voice recordings to the MVP.
Change course if necessary
By this point, I don’t mean to say that you should abandon the ship at the first sight of a storm. In fact, you should be thorough with your testing, efforts, and research before you decide to change course so that you are sure that there is no other way ahead.
Introduce and test one change or feature at a time
It’s common for developers or businesses to assume that more features equate to a better product. However, this mentality defeats the purpose of building an MVP. Through the MVP, you are supposed to emphasize the primary business problem that your product is trying to solve.
Hence, when it comes to an MVP, you should ideally pick just one change in each iteration as an update, enhancement, or fix and get that tested by your audience.
Choose relevant metrics
Based on the kind of approach you decide upon for testing your MVP, you can set certain QA testing KPIs that help you measure your success. This will help you share the ground-level picture with concerned parties.
Choosing the correct type of MVP testing often depends on the product’s nature, the STLC phase’s goals, and where the product is in its development lifecycle. Often, multiple methods can be combined to gather comprehensive insights. Whatever method you choose, the ultimate goal is to validate demand and get feedback with minimal effort.
Once your MVP has gone through a few iterations and is accepted in the market, you can automate test cases for those test scenarios using a modern, generative AI-based tool like testRigor. This will help you achieve speedy and accurate test execution with bare minimum test maintenance efforts so that you can continue to focus on enhancing your MVP. The best part is that by investing in such a tool, you can cut down other costs, like hiring a dedicated engineering team for automation testing, as this tool allows easy test creation in plain English language and, hence, can be used by anyone in your current team.