The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is usually a product or service with the bare essentials to test an idea and collect feedback from customers. In the case of a startup, the challenge is building the MVP and iterating to find product-market fit before the money runs out. For an established business, the MVP can be used as a starting point for developing additional products or services, or even as a pilot for a new internal system. Developing software can be a time-consuming, complex process, but low-code development platforms increasingly allow businesses to design applications that meet the needs of their customers faster and with less investment.
This blog will cover how to unlock the potential of low code to develop MVPs. We'll discuss how to scope your MVP, advantages and disadvantages of low code development platforms and how to pick a low-code platform that best fits your business needs. We'll also cover some best practices for prototype-driven MVP development.
What is a Minimum Viable Product?
The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a product or service with the the minimum features required to prove a concept and gather user feedback. It helps businesses save time, money, and resources by limiting the scope of initial development. As well as being a go/no-go assessment of an idea or concept, an MVP can be used to collect feedback from customers to identify areas of functionality that have the greatest potential for growth and development within an existing application or business.
Although in the past, MVPs have commonly been referred to as "low-fidelity" or "bare-bones", these attributes just won't cut it in today's competitive environment. MVPs have to be polished, with a pleasurable user experience. Thus the only way to stay within the specified timeframe and budget is to focus on key features and limit the scope of functionality in the initial version. A successful MVP can be used as a starting point for developing products or services (instead of building everything from scratch). In some cases the MVP can morph into a completed product further down the line.
What is the Purpose of a Minimum Viable Product?
The purpose of an MVP is to get customer feedback and achieve the much sought-after goal of "product-market fit". Typically, this happens through iteration - rarely is the first version exactly what the customer is looking for. An MVP is designed to validate business ideas and help business teams to quickly and efficiently get feedback from potential users. It can be used to experiment with features and functionality of a product without requiring extensive development. This helps business teams to find out what users want, what problem they are trying to solve, and how they are currently interacting with the product.
The feedback gathered through an MVP can help businesses make informed decisions about which features to include and which to leave out. It also helps them prioritize their development efforts and focus on building a good user experience for users. MVPs are great tools for startups and small businesses who want to validate their ideas quickly and cheaply. They are an effective way for businesses of any size to gain valuable insight into the market before investing in large-scale development efforts.
Common Pitfalls of MVP Development
Don’t underestimate the time it takes to consider and incorporate user feedback in the development process to ensure that your product is of high-quality. It is vital to ensure that the user interface is efficient and avoids unnecessary steps. By following UX best practices from the start, you can avoid fatiguing your test users with trivial issues. Moreover, don’t ignore complexity issues. Although you are only building a subset of functionality in the MVP, it is a good idea to know and understand your overall product vision and plan accordingly.
Furthermore, be aware of scalability issues. Make sure that the software you are building is scalable to accommodate future growth and can handle different types of inputs without any difficulty. Lastly, don’t neglect mobile optimization. Ensure that your MVP is optimized for mobile devices as users increasingly prefer digital platforms for accessing information. It will help you reduce development time and cost while ensuring a better user experience.
Advantages of low-code platforms: Speed, agility, collaboration
Low-code development platforms are changing the game by enabling business users and simplifying the development process, saving you time and money. Low-code platforms allow developers to create software quickly and easily, frequently leveraging existing templates, components and libraries. These platforms provide easy-to-use visual interfaces that allow users to drop digital “blocks” together to create apps suited for their business needs. Low-code platforms also enable collaborative development between developers, designers, and business stakeholders. This means everyone can share ideas and work together to create software that meets user needs.
Low-code platforms make it easy to test ideas quickly and efficiently. Low-code makes it easier for organizations to manage software development projects effectively. It can create software applications quickly and easily without needing coding knowledge, which allows teams to focus on creating apps that are user-friendly and functional. In short, low-code has many advantages that makes it a great fit for many businesses today.
Advantages of using low-code for your MVP
The benefits of low code development are undeniable, making it one of the fastest growing IT sectors in today's business world. Low code development platforms allow organizations to simplify workflow management and digital transformation initiatives. With low-code software, developers can automate tedious and manual processes and create custom web, mobile, and cloud applications quickly. Low-code software also allows organizations to make data-driven decisions faster by connecting disparate data sources.
When it comes to MVP development, low-code platforms offer a low-cost, flexible way to get started developing software applications. They allow organizations to focus on business functionality rather than coding itself. This increases business agility and enables organizations to rapidly develop new products and services. The low code approach allows them to quickly iterate and respond to user feedback, making it an ideal approach for entrepreneurs and new businesses. Low-code development is particularly advantageous for startups and small businesses that don't have the budget or resources for traditional software development methods.
Low code platforms also bring standardized functionality for things like user authentication, basic page templates, data persistence patterns, etc. If your goal is to build an MVP to prove a new application concept, you don't want to be wasting your time developing those things from scratch. Other advantages of low code may include helping developers more easily target a variety of platforms, eg web and mobile.
Best Practices for MVP app development
The first step in the MVP process is to get a good understanding of the product vision, including the overarching application concepts and ideas. The starting point for this discussion could range from a sketch on a napkin to an in-depth requirements document, including visual mock-ups of the proposed application. Fundamental questions like "who is this app for?" and "what is the user trying to achieve?" will drive the discussion here. This is at the core of our Envisioning process, and we like to capture the output of these types of discussion in the form of concept maps.
The next step in the ideal MVP process is to identify the differentiating feature(s) of the application and what makes it special. This may not always be easy. Some examples might include:
- A specific UI that combines two types of data together in a unique way
- A data structure that allows items to be linked together in a unique or unusual way
- An innovative way of visualizing or presenting data
Once a few candidate features have been identified, we will typically brainstorm approaches to achieve them in the MVP, and perhaps sketch a few lo-fidelity mockups for how UIs might be structured. This is the stage at which it is quite common to start producing high fidelity design mockups of the user experience. Be wary of getting involved in long discussions about colors or fonts at this stage. We have also found that most people have a hard time imagining a user experience from static pictures. This is why we strongly suggest you get to functional prototypes as soon as possible to confirm (or deny) assumptions in the requirements.
Prototype driven low-code MVP development workflow
Low code development allows developers to prototype ideas quickly and inexpensively to explore, test and discuss specific features that may end up part of your MVP. A functional prototype can rapidly prove (or disprove) assumptions about how a specific part of the application (ideally your unique feature identified in the step above) should work.
What is a good prototype for a successful MVP? A good prototype should be functional and highly focused on your unique feature. It should have only the capabilities absolutely necessary to support testing of the unique feature. This may or may not include things like user login, menus, etc. This is the time to leverage low code to iterate rapidly and focus on creating an optimal user experience. If the UI includes selections from lists, how many items will be in the lists? 10? 100? 100,000? If the layout is tabular, how many rows and columns will fit on the average user's screen? Is that enough to complete the task at hand? Questions like this may never occur to someone reviewing a static mockup, but become immediately obvious when testing a functional prototype.
Establishing the feasibility of your low code MVP prototype should be a pre-requisite to going forward with the MVP itself. Once you are confident in the prototype, specifying the other features to be developed as part of the low code MVP should get easier.
How to pick a low-code platform for your MVP
Look for a platform that is customizable and extensible. Customization will allow you to create unique applications, components, and dashboards that are tailored to your business needs. Ultimately you want the platform to be able to support your business needs by providing great user experiences and functionality.
Research the platform's security features. When choosing a low-code platform, make sure it has robust security measures in place to protect users and businesses from potential threats. Look for platforms with features such as user authorization, access control, and log-in validation to better secure applications on the platform.
Evaluate the scalability capabilities of the platform. Before selecting a low-code platform, evaluate its scalability capabilities and how it can handle large volumes of users and transactions. Also consider how easy it is to scale the platform once it is established. Make sure you assess cost, features, and support offered by the platform provider. Its no secret that most low code platforms are cheap to start on, but can get very expensive when you scale. Check the cost of end-user licensing for apps built on the platforms you are considering. If your MVP goes viral, you don't want to be worrying about the cost of keeping it running.
Finally, to create an effective digital MVP, you should choose a tool that aligns with your business objectives such as mobile app development or web application creation.
How to pick a low-code development partner
If you're interested in finding a partner to help with your low-code MVP development, it's vital to consider the factors below before making a decision. This will help ensure that you pick a partner with the relevant experience and expertise in the field. An experienced partner will help you make good decisions about what you should (and should not) include in the scope of your MVP as well as producing high-quality code. Additionally, you should consider the development partner's capability to scale up your project if required, and their ability to help you establish your own cloud infrastructure if needed.
A partner with design experience will help ensure that your MVP is user-friendly and functional on various platforms. Also, it is important to assess the development partner's ability to integrate existing systems (if you have them) with your MVP. This will help them create a seamless experience for users of the MVP software. Finally, it is vital to consider the development partner's commitment to quality assurance and testing. This will help ensure that your MVP meets all coding standards and user expectations.
Low-code software development platforms are revolutionizing app development by providing developers, business users, and non-developers with a faster way to develop new software. In addition to saving time and cost involved in app development, low-code platforms also help developers create applications that are user-friendly and context-sensitive, offering a better user experience. Besides business users, low-code platforms can also be used by developers for app development.
Want to see if low-code application development platform is right for your business? Apex has years of design, prototyping and MVP development experience using our own low-code platform, Apex Designer. Schedule a no-obligation consultation to see if a low code MVP is right for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the key features of a successful low-code MVP development platform?
If you're looking to develop an MVP quickly and efficiently with low-code development, then you should be looking for the following key features in a platform:
1. Flexible graphical UI designer - a low-code platform should provide users with the ability to design all kinds of interfaces for different tasks. Basic UIs should require minimal coding knowledge, making it easy to create applications without any hassle, while flexibility to develop customized UIs should be included.
2. Flexible hosting options- the platform should offer secure, reliable and scalable hosting options that can support applications of different sizes and complexities.
3. Wide range of customization tools- the development platform should provide users with powerful tools for customizing and scaling applications as per their needs and requirements. This includes tools for app integrations, automation, user management, analytics and more.
How does low-code MVP development help businesses save time and money?
Low-code systems allow businesses to quickly create prototypes and MVPs for their products, reducing the development time, cost, and risk associated with development projects. Additionally, low code MVP development enables businesses to focus on customer feedback, update the MVP in rapid iterations, and improve user experience without having to spend too much time or money on coding or app development. Overall, low code development can help businesses save money, time, and resources while developing a product that is user-friendly and in-line with customer needs.
How can I choose the right low-code platform for my business needs?
Picking the right low-code platform for your business needs is key to taking advantage of all the automation capabilities that it offers. Here are a few tips on how to choose the right low-code platform: - Evaluate the features, cost, scalability, and security of the available low-code platforms. Make sure that it meets your business needs and budget. - Consider the specific needs of your business when evaluating platforms. Think about which features are most important for building applications for your business needs. - Research how easy it is to use each platform and if users require any kind of technical knowledge or coding experience. This will help you decide how much time and effort you need to invest in training users. - Speak with a software development expert to get advice on which low-code platform might be best for your business needs. Their experience can help simplify the process and provide valuable insights into choosing the right platform.
Are there any potential drawbacks to using low-code development platforms?
Yes, low-code development platforms do have some potential drawbacks. Firstly, many platforms lock you into licensed run-time environments that are generally more expensive than straight up cloud hosting. Always consider eventual run-time costs when selecting a platform. Secondly, many low-code development platforms do not offer the same level of customization as traditional coding. So if your project requires custom features or integrations you might be stuck. Make sure you choose a platform with built-in extensibility, so that any specialized components can be built with code but maintained in the low code platform. Thirdly, low code platforms have a certain level of training and ramp-up required to become fully productive. Consider how long it will take you or your team to gain the technical expertise to achieve full productivity. Overall, low-code development platforms can help speed up development process, but you should consider all the potential drawbacks before deciding whether or not it is the right platform for your project.
We believe Apex Designer has the right combination of speed and flexibility, with infinite extensibility and no run-time licensing costs. Apex can help you get started too, with support ranging from on-demand help to full MVP build.