I build web, mobile and desktop apps, produce screencasts, write ebooks, and provide pairing and training

Why launching your product is so important

Aug 23, 2013 - Elliott Draper

Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the MVP

An MVP, or a minimum viable product, is a key part of what we work with clients to achieve on brand new apps and greenfield projects. The idea behind an MVP is to isolate the smallest amount of work you need to do to get your idea in front of people, so you can see whether it works, and how it works (or doesn’t), and see what direction to take it in next. The reason we always look to advise clients to go down this route isn’t because we want to work with clients for the smallest time possible (we hope that we’ll cultivate a working relationship that continues for lots of development iterations to come!), but because we know how important getting a version of your product out there is, and how important it is to businesses like yours that it can be done quickly and affordably.

If you’ve been following along with our other posts, you’ve probably already done some legwork to research and prepare your ideas. You may have even collected a lot of interest on a pre-launch page. But the actual product still might not be as useful or profitable as you think, at least in the incarnation of it you have in your head. The absolute best way to put that to the test is to go ahead and put it in front of people. You’ll sometimes see people refer to a prototype, and there are times where a prototype of your idea is the best first step - especially useful with engineering physical products. However prototype implies that it’s transient, temporary, something that is there to be replaced with the real thing once the specifications are fully explored and buttoned down. With an MVP, while we’re making sure the project stays agile and open to change based on feedback, we’re still building the product in a meaningful way, so that it can be built upon and extended for years to come. We’re not delivering something to be thrown away, it’s simply the first stepping stone.

So how do we go about defining an MVP? The idea is to boil your idea down to its simplest form - the phrase KISS (“Keep It Simple, Stupid”) comes to mind. Figure out the core ethos behind your idea, what really makes it tick, and then ascertain the smallest amount of features needed for a user to get that in front of them. With every system, there are some tasks that ideally would be automated, but in the beginning can be manual tasks without too much effort. This means that any dev work to automate them can be excluded, to start with. As soon as the manual work becomes burdensome, then that’s a nice problem to have, as it means the app needs to scale, and that’s generally as a result of user engagement and growth. No point scaling before then prematurely though, as you’re simply burning dev cycles, and you’re not even really sure if that feature is something the users will love, hate, or be indifferent to. By focusing on the minimum amount of work to get something in front of a user, you’re minimising your exposure if it turns out to be something they don’t want, and making sure you collect great feedback to help build on it if it’s something that they do find useful.

We’ll work with you to pare down the feature set in this way, and with our KickOff packages can schedule work based on how small the idea is, and the length of time required. We can then work with you to build it out very quickly, with a constant feedback loop along the way, and then we help you to launch to your users - whether that’s a closed private beta, an open public beta, whether you charge for it or not from day one, those are all things that are up to you. But getting it into users hands, so that their feedback can drive you towards a successful product, that’s the key part of the process, and it’s what we focus on and deliver when you engage with us to build your idea.

Some people might worry as well that by trimming the feature set to define an MVP, it could result in shipping an imperfect product, and what if that results in your vision not being fully grasped by users, or even worse, small issues or imperfections damaging your reputation? The bottom line however is that no matter how hard you try, how long you work, or how much you spend, your first launch of a new product or idea will almost certainly not be perfect, and more importantly, won’t be exactly what users need. You might be in the right ballpark, you might solve a problem for the users, but to do it right, you’ll need to work with them to find the sweet spot that your product can reside in. So knowing that, surely it’s better to start that iterative customer development process sooner rather than later?

Why not get in touch with us today for a free 30 minute chat about your idea, to see how quickly and affordably we could build your dream app?

Check out our macOS apps, AppTrack and WordTarget.

If you're looking for bespoke development for your own apps, using Ruby on Rails, RubyMotion, React Native or Unity, you can hire @ejdraper - visit ejdraper.com to learn more.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Back to blog

Building Mac OS X apps with RubyMotion

Learn how to build Mac apps with using Ruby with this ebook, currently in early access, and with the finished version coming soon.