How to build a low cost MVP

building an MVP
really cool image that has absolutely nothing to do with building an MVP

What is an MVP?

MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It’s a way in which you learn more about your concepts place in the market without spending loads of time and money. A good MVP can help you determine if your product is a unicorn or a white elephant. With a well thought out MVP you can determine if your concept has the correct features required to make you money.

As a web development Agency manager i find a lot of customers start by building all the features they “Think” their users will want. This is not often the case. What actually happens is they end up building a lot of useless or sub-par features that no one uses.

Is Low Cost the same as Cheap?

When building an MVP one of the fundamental considerations is cost. Low cost is the objective but people end up with cheap. This is because people don’t realise that “Low” cost does not mean “No cost” and cheap is well, pretty cheap. Cheap is what you get when instead of getting someone to build professionally you attempt to build it yourself DIY, even though you have never written a line of code in your life. How hard can it be you say to yourself. So you spend 3 months learning to code in python two months learning basic CSS and HTML and finally emerge as an inexperienced two bit developer. You see, low cost costs you money, cheap cost you both time and money and gets you zero viable results

When looking for a developer don’t automatically sign up with the cheapest. If cost were the only consideration in building websites the internet would be a graveyard for half baked, poorly thought out, incomplete and abandoned MVP’s

How do you determine your core features?

Core features

So you have found the lowest cost option, now it’s time to determine which features are absolutely essential to your project. This is my approach. First of all, list all the features that are nice to have. Out of that list remove all the features that are not “core” or needed in the very first iteration. For example you’re building a web app that allows people to send invoices to each other, the ability for people to pay for the invoices is a core function, adding on a payroll module is not. Strip the application down to its most basic form, build it fast share, take feedback and build again.

Design with a purpose

Great design that delights is at the heart of a great MVP. There is a difference between good design and great design. Good design happens when you hire a designer and then flood them with your own ideas. Great design happens when you hire a designer, share your ideas, and give them the creative freedom to turn your ideas into a stunning concept. Easy enough, you would think right? trust me for many, this is Rocket Science.

Great design is not simply about the aesthetics. To achieve it you need to communicate your ideas clearly to your development team and give them the space to do what they do best.

Finally…

  • Remember the “minimum” in MVP. Strip it down to only the most useful features then reduce it to only the absolutely necessary. Keep it simple but still viable.
  • Low cost does not mean “No ” cost
  • Find a great team of developers, communicate clearly, then let them get on with it

Alfy Opare-Saforo

Alfred Opare Saforo is the CEO of Masoma Logistics, and the creative director for teamalfy.com, a web design agency based in London, Ohio and Accra.

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