How a Low-Code Approach Can Scale to Building MVPs (Part 2)
Learn more about low-code tools and use cases for successful product development.
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Editor's Note: The following is an article written for DZone's 2021 Low-Code Development Trend Report.
In part one, we explored the idea of MVPs and important attributes, including validation of the hypothesis, low-cost model, and less need for technical expertise. Additionally, important questions about the MVP such as customer feedback, product readiness, and scope are critical for startup founders looking to enter the market and scale quickly. Now, let us get to the details of an MVP lifecycle.
The Lifecycle of Building an MVP
The first cycle of building an MVP is product conceptualization. This initial step involves understanding the idea before releasing the product to the market. The product conceptualization phase of MVP building consists of brainstorming sessions where you write down ideas and narrow down ones you think will take off once the product launches in the market.
The second cycle of MVP building is user journey mapping. This step is where the startup founder visualizes the movement of the product with the end goal of meeting customer demand. For example, a startup that specializes in food delivery should understand the process of the customer from calling to make an order, packing the food, and delivering the food. This is mapping the customer journey.
The third cycle of building a low-code MVP is a focus on core features. This cycle requires the product to meet certain criteria — including basic attributes — that will make the product usable by customers. For example, a startup involved in moving customers from one apartment to another must create a simple website with their phone number, email address, and a customer chat before adding more features.
The last cycle of building a low-code MVP is feedback and iterating. This final cycle involves getting responses from customers and using the information to advance product development. A startup that launched a product but did not realize a flaw in their product concept prior to launch can take advantage of feedback from customers to revise and correct the product to meet market needs.
Building the Low-Code MVP
Step 1: Market Research
The success of a low-code MVP depends on market research. This means going further and doing an extensive analysis of your market. Making decisions and conceiving new ideas come in this step, as the MVP reflects the needs of the target market. Detailed market research will give you an idea of your MVP’s chances of taking off once the product release time comes. Be cruel with facts and use information obtained to make decisions.
Step 2: Core Features
Without the basic features, building an MVP makes no sense. You have to build core features that will enable customers to use the product without many complexities. Most entrepreneurs executing their MVP models are stuck at this phase because of striving to perfect everything. Experienced startup entrepreneurs admit to experiencing the obsessive trait after scaling their operations. Rather than introducing many features during launch, introduce basic operational features that customers can use and offer feedback.
Step 3: Metrics of Product Success
This step is critical during the implementation of the low-code MVP. Metrics help measure the probability of success once product conceptualization is complete and the product launches in the market. Every business must measure success metrics, as this benchmark speaks volumes about the anticipated performance of the product in the market. For example, a startup involved with pet food and deliveries must study competition, prices, and customer demand. These metrics offer indicators to enable them to prepare for the battlefield once their competitive product launches.
This is an excerpt from DZone's 2021 Low-Code Development Trend Report.
Read the Report
Types of Low-Code MVP Models
1. Prototype Model
This MVP model involves developing the prototype and then launching to understand market reception and interest of the product.
2. Single Feature Model
The single feature model of MVP means sticking to one core feature of the product instead of adding too many product features during the early days of the launch.
3. Crowdfunding Model
Crowdfunding means putting your idea out there and waiting for people to invest in your concept. The same applies to the MVP where the startup first focuses on idea selling rather than launching. The crowdfunding model is less costly and gives the entrepreneur time to organize product features and refine them as launch day approaches.
4. Landing Page Model
Under the landing page model, the startup creates a web page, which outlines product features and serves as a performance indicator of customer interest in the product. Buffer used this model with success.
5. Email Model
Email is a powerful marketing tool and serves as a perfect MVP model that startup founders can use to measure the interest of their product in the market. This involves sending out emails to prospective customers and asking for feedback about products.
6. Customer Chat Model
The customer chat model suits websites in which startups can create customer service chats where they seek feedback about their anticipated product. Customers freely offer feedback through these chats on websites and assist in product refinement.
Why Use a Low-Code MVP?
Many ask this question as the low-code culture keeps growing in 2021. From our previous discussion, one thing stands out — a low-code MVP is a less costly way to launch and scale a startup compared to the traditional approach of accumulating resources to fund operations. With a low-code MVP, startup founders sleep better knowing that there is nothing to lose even if the product does not succeed in the market. Above all, the feedback from customers is a learning process for startup owners and they can use the experience to innovate now that cost fears are out of the picture.
Drawbacks of Low-Code MVP
MVP implementation requires making hard choices about the product concept and often leads to rushed decisions, which could turn out costly. For example, a startup in the transport industry that ignores the number of car owners in their target market and goes ahead to launch could be making a serious mistake. Common sense means that the startup will do well in areas where the target market owns fewer cars and likes using cabs for movement. Startup founders are stuck with their ideas and make assumptions that the concept will work when, in reality, the prospects do not look good.
MVP models face the challenge of mapping user journeys characterized by startups missing important aspects of their target market leading to product failures. When implementing the MVP model, chances are that startup founders assume many things about their customers that end up costing the business. Lastly, prepare for continuous and long periods of customer engagement as the startup continues to use feedback and improve. Remember that your startup using the MVP does not compare to an experienced business with years of market operations.
Common Founder MVP Mistakes
Lack of a solid product vision comes on top among common founder MVP mistakes. Startups are not set up for success when their founders launch products without first designing a vision of the product. It makes less sense to launch a product without understanding important metrics such as the lifetime of the customer and competition. Secondly, product obsession faces many startups who fail to expand horizons and use new ideas to improve their current product prototypes. Take a breath and listen to new ideas rather than sticking with your own ideas as this could save you from making a costly mistake. The last mistake founders make is undermining feedback from customers and instead use their own versions of the truth, which can lead to disastrous results.
The Culture of MVP Models in 2021
The startup culture is at an all-time high compared to previous years. The expansion of the venture market and global adoption of startup funding outside the United States speaks volumes about the future of startup funding and MVPs.
Businesses have found MVPs as good tools for launching their product ideas in the market without undergoing the strain of raising large cash resources and hiring technical professionals to assist in coding capabilities.
The low-code MVP model is here to stay with low-code tools becoming widespread, empowering non-technical entrepreneurs to conceptualize their ideas and launch products in the market. The use case of Dropbox and their demo videos to measure the interest of the market for cloud storage is a perfect example of how entrepreneurs planning to use the MVP model can learn from and become successful in their ventures.
This is the best time to revisit the startup idea you have been brainstorming thanks to low-code MVP tools. With low-code tools, you can launch that concept into a successful venture. The good news about a low-code MVP is less hassle as you have technology guiding you, experimenting ideas, and freedom to pivot while you scale your operations.
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