Lots of the latest developments and breakthroughs reach wider and wider audiences every day. However, it also means that misinformation such as myths and misconceptions spread fast. Busting those myths can clear up the air and reset your mind. Especially, if you are about to dive into exploring your new business idea.
If you are about to start a business, the concept of MVP would be the first thing on your list. In terms of business strategies, it is now number #1. Often, it is paired with the lean approach. But why did it become so popular? There were times when every new software project would have a business plan counting hundreds of pages. It would also involve designing a perfect final product with a hefty investment. But these times are long gone. Now, the web is quick and crowded. There is no time for years of planning. Market research becomes outdated fast. Now businesses need to spend less time and money and go into the market with validated product ideas. MVP can do just that: market-proof your idea with the least costs and risks.
However, the web is teeming with MVP app development myths. It might clutter your informational space. If that happens, your decision-making, expectations setting, and realistic outlook would be compromised. To avoid this, we are going to debunk the most frequent and some of the newer myths.
Table of contents
- Myth 1: An MVP Is A Cheap, Subpar Version of Your Product
- Myth 2: MVP Means No Workable Features
- Myth 3: Release an MVP Only if It’s Perfection
- Myth 4: MVP Is Your Product’s Final Version
- Myth 5: MVP Is A Great Way To Fast Profit
- Myth 6: Failure Of Your MVP Is The aDoom of Your Project
- Myth 7: MVP Is Not Viable For Enterprise Products
- Myth 8: You Don’t Need Mobile App MVP If You Already Have A Web App
- Myth 9: You Can Skip the Prototype Testing Phase If You Are Building An MVP
- MVP Myth #10: It Is An Unfinished Version Of A Web App/ Mobile App
- MVP Myth 11: It Is Only For Testing The Concept You Have
- MVP Myth 12: It Can Contain As Many Features As You Can Afford
- MVP Myth 13: It’s All About Having The Fastest Time-To-Market
- MVP Myth 14: It Should Impress Users With Designs Only
- MVP Myth 15: It Doesn’t Need Too Much User Research
- MVP Myth 16: Such a development follows a rigid and fixed process
- MVP Myth 17: Such a development is just for startups
- MVP Myth 18: It is a shortcut to success
- MVP Myth 19: Such a development is a one-time process
- MVP Myth 20: It is only useful for software products
- Bottom Line
Myth 1: An MVP Is A Cheap, Subpar Version of Your Product
MVP is a strategic step. It’s not cheap and inferior to anything. It sure does have fewer functions than fully-fledged solutions. Even more so, the fewer functions it has, the better. The point is to select core functionality. Then, you should get your MVP to the market to collect feedback from early adopters. MVP must strive to provide an awesome user experience if you count on users leaving their feedback.
Falling for this myth often leads to underinvested MVPs. There is a difference between lean methodology allowing cutting costs and simply a cheap half-working app. The real thing you need is the first one. The myth is the second one.
Let’s take the example of Airbnb. Their MVP is the purest of its kind. Their first website offered to rent out places near the sold-out tech conference in San Francisco. The next iteration: they added host listings in the locations near high-profile events. It was a very well-executed MVP. It was lean, targeted and it worked! Investing in an MVP that meets the needs of early adopters creates a foundation for future success and further iterations.
Myth 2: MVP Means No Workable Features
This is one of the most dangerous MVP app development myths. You can often come across seemingly finished sites. However, when you press a button for some feature, it doesn’t lead anywhere. Or doesn’t do anything. Some developers build the MVP as a fully-fledged solution with just a skeleton of the features. Whether it is pressure from the client or a lack of ability to communicate the goals of MVP. Anyways, they gradually code up a feature one by one while the app is live. No need to say that this kind of app development is turning your customers away. It shouldn’t happen if you work with professionals. It’s OK to have one or two features on your app. The key is that they should work. Ideally, they should represent your business idea.
Dropbox’s MVP included the core value proposition of cloud storage and sharing files. The first feature was drag-and-drop file uploads. This workable feature provided enough functionality for early adopters. It allowed seeing the value of the product and gathering feedback for future iterations. In fact, an MVP should have enough functionality to solve a specific problem or address a particular need for the target audience. It may not have all the features of the final product. But it should still be able to provide value to the users.
Myth 3: Release an MVP Only if It’s Perfection
Fear of seeing the first results might have prompted this myth. Business founders strive to impress investors by releasing the perfect MVP that gets an amazing first response. Yet, MVP is not for making money from the first launch. Airbnb’s first ‘jackpot’ from its MVP was $240. It came from three people who each rented a place for $80 near the tech conference. It should be communicated to the investors that the first response to the product means only data for the next iteration.
Below you can see the screenshot of the Airbnb MVP back in the day. It was already the second or third iteration. So, 16 listings, not much functionality. Quite plain. Surely, not perfect. But it did its job. So focus on that in your MVP journey and, hopefully, you’ll reach similar heights!
There is an even more extreme example of a custom MVP app development. The Buffer example. Its MVP was a simple landing page. It showed what Buffer is and the pricing plans. Once users signed up, they got the message that the product isn’t quite ready yet. The team used emails to start talking to these potential paying customers to get their feedback. It was risk-free and surely far from perfection. Through the following iterations, Buffer managed to improve on the MVP and become a successful social media management platform.
In conclusion, it is essential to understand that the very essence of an MVP is to be minimalistic and imperfect. It is a concept designed to gather early feedback and validate a product’s value proposition. So focus on fulfilling these goals and creating functionality for this. The rest will wait until it becomes a low-risk and validated development plan.
Myth 4: MVP Is Your Product’s Final Version
This is one of the common MVP app development myths. It states that the MVP app is the final version. It makes some entrepreneurs and businesses mistakenly believe that the MVP they launch is it. No need to change anything. Once it’s out in the market, there’s no need to make any further improvements or iterations. They only experiment with marketing and social media ads.
One example that busts this myth is the story of Spotify. When Spotify first launched its MVP, it had only one feature. It was an option to listen to a song without downloading it. However, through continuous iterations and improvements based on user feedback, Spotify expanded its feature set. It introduced playlists, social sharing, personalized recommendations, and more. These ongoing refinements and additions have contributed to its tremendous success as a music streaming platform.
Customers demand new features. With time, they want enhanced functionality. Standards of user experience increase over time. Failing to meet these expectations can lead to a loss of market share. Launching an MVP is just the beginning of the product’s journey. Continuous improvement is essential to meet the demands and preferences of users in an ever-changing market.
Myth 5: MVP Is A Great Way To Fast Profit
Profiting fast from the first launch is one of the common MVP app development myths. Many entrepreneurs and businesses believe that launching an MVP will immediately bring in profits. An MVP is not designed to provide quick returns on investment or generate profits in the short term. Instead, it is intended to reduce the risk of a full-scale launch. Plus, it validates a product’s value proposition through early feedback.
One example that dispels this myth is Uber. Uber’s MVP was focused solely on the idea of on-demand rides. They started with a web app programmed in PHP. The CEO personally managed cars and gave an access code to the app. It had a barebones interface with limited features. Initially, Uber’s MVP generated little profit. But you know now that Uber turned out to become a household name around the globe.
In addition, according to a study by Statista, 21% of startups fail because they have an inadequate business model. Focusing on quick profits for an MVP approach is a flawed business model. This faulty approach will only steer your business away from success. Revenue generation and profitability are meant to be developed over time through continuous iteration and improvement.
Myth 6: Failure Of Your MVP Is The aDoom of Your Project
Many believe that if their MVP fails to gain traction or meet expectations, it means their entire project is doomed. However, this belief overlooks the role of failure and learning in the MVP process. Failure of an MVP is not the end of the road; it is an opportunity for learning and refinement. In fact, many successful products and businesses have experienced failures with their MVPs.
Embracing failure and making necessary pivots in the product strategy is crucial for the long-term success of a product or business. There is a famous quote from LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman:
“If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
The launch often corrects a lot of things. Some of your assumptions would be wrong. Real users would want slightly different things. Don’t delay the onset of the customer’s feedback loop. Dive into it and embrace it.
However, sometimes, this myth partially holds true. Often, businesses waving the white flag at failure are spot-on to call it quits. In some cases, MVP failure is just the tip of the iceberg. When your MVP falls apart due to a lack of market research, not doing the due diligence, hiring unprofessional developers, and/or burning through funding – it is a failure of no return. Read through our article “Common Mistakes of Custom Mvp App Development” to make sure you avoid these.
Myth 7: MVP Is Not Viable For Enterprise Products
The concept of MVP is not limited to startups. Enterprise products can benefit from an MVP approach. By focusing on the core value proposition and validating assumptions early on, enterprises can:
- mitigate risks,
- reduce development costs, and
- launch products faster.
An MVP is a valuable tool for every business, regardless of its size.
One example that dispels this one of MVP app development myths is Slack. Slack started as an MVP focused on in-game chat for a gaming company. It was called Tiny Speck. At that time, they were developing an online game called Glitch. You can see it in the picture below. Through iterations and continuous improvements based on user feedback, Slack evolved into a highly successful communication platform that is now used by millions of users worldwide.
In conclusion, an MVP is viable for enterprise products and can provide significant benefits. It allows businesses to:
- test assumptions,
- gather feedback, and
- reduce risks before investing heavily in a full-scale product launch.
Examples like Slack have shown that an MVP can lead to the creation of successful enterprise products.
Myth 8: You Don’t Need Mobile App MVP If You Already Have A Web App
When you are just starting out, it is reasonable to develop only one kind of app. Often, you start with a responsive web app. It can be as nice on the desktop as it is on a mobile device. However, it does not mean that web apps can replace mobile further in the product life cycle. Developing a separate mobile app MVP can provide significant benefits that a web app cannot offer.
We’ve already mentioned an example of Uber whose MVP started as a web app. It is safe to bet that if you use Uber today, it is a mobile app. Mobile app usage continues to grow globally, with over 6.8 billion smartphone users in 2023, according to Statista. In addition, 79% of total digital minutes in the US were spent on mobile while only 13% of that was browsing the web. Developing a mobile app MVP can help businesses tap into this growing user base.
Myth 9: You Can Skip the Prototype Testing Phase If You Are Building An MVP
Skipping the prototype testing phase in an MVP is both a myth and a common mistake to avoid. It is a sure recipe for failure. When you build an MVP, you are aiming for the process of trial and error. This can trip people over when they do not understand what kind of trial and error MVP aims at. So business owners sometimes decide to cut costs thinking that MVP anyways should fix errors. However, MVP’s trial and error process is meant in the context of testing working features. Testing them on real users and validating their product-market fit.
Skipping prototyping means you are skipping debugging usability issues. And when you skip that, you are turning users away and the feedback is solely about bugs and the convolutedness of your app.
Investing resources in development only to then redevelop what could have been easily avoided is not a process of trial and error. It is a process of waste. Prototyping is a critical step in the MVP development process that should not be skipped. It will most definitely cost you time, money, and reputation.
MVP Myth #10: It Is An Unfinished Version Of A Web App/ Mobile App
Contrary to Myth 4 that MVP is a finished version product of your app, some fall into a different extreme. Some believe that MVP is a half-developed final version of the app. They follow a common misunderstanding that assumes MVP is a less-polished or incomplete version. However, MVP is a strategy that focuses on delivering a product with the minimum features. Only those which are needed to satisfy customer needs and gather feedback. This makes it a complete and different product all onto its own.
One example of a successful MVP is Zappos, a popular online retailer. The company started by selling shoes. However, instead of spending resources on building a massive inventory, the founders created an MVP that used drop shipping. Actually, the first version of the MVP web app was just a page with photos of shoes the business owner took at the local store. When he got an order, he would buy these shoes at the store and send them. It surely wasn’t a half-baked current app. It was a completely different app, bare and minimalist with one working feature. The MVP allowed Zappos to test their assumptions about demand and the customer experience. Eventually, it led to a highly successful and influential eCommerce company that sold for $1.2 billion.
In conclusion, MVP is not an unfinished version of a web app or mobile app. MVP is its own product however minimalist it can be. It is all about delivering the minimum needed to satisfy customer needs and gather feedback.
MVP Myth 11: It Is Only For Testing The Concept You Have
This myth partially holds true. Even more so, it would be perfectly fine if you go with it. However, MVP is also about pivoting. What if you come up with a different concept that is easy to test? Should you ignore it or give it a try? Maybe as a part of A/B testing? MVP can fulfill a range of other functions. If you wish to unlock the full power of an MVP app, you need to go beyond testing only the concept you have.
While you are iterating over your MVP, you get a lot of analytics. You can set a good number of metrics to track. Optionally, you can focus solely on testing the concept, or you can dive deeper. You can unearth new pain points, untapped preferences, new target users, and more. Testing the product in real waters can do more than just see if it doesn’t sink. You can observe and learn.
The concept of A/B testing has exploded over the years. If the company is successful, you can be sure of the regularity of its A/B testing efforts. A study by TechCrunch revealed that 74% of startups who measured and analyzed their metrics achieved success faster. The deeper you dive into analytics and A/B testing with your MVP, the more insights you can get. A data-driven approach to business often results in quite tangible business outcomes. So, don’t fall under the spell of this myth and go above and beyond.
MVP Myth 12: It Can Contain As Many Features As You Can Afford
Sometimes, the business idea is exciting and investors are really generous with the budget. Enthusiasm can be contagious, you know. It is good to have strong financial backing, especially for big projects. However, sometimes founders might treat the opportunity of an extended budget as a necessity to shop for all the features in the world.
Remember the examples of Airbnb, Uber, and Zappos from before? Each of these companies literally started with one feature. And you should also know that Amazon bought Zappos for $1.2 billion after its own similar product failed. Amazon surely didn’t have a problem with funding for their MVP development.
Focus is precious with an MVP. And the fewer features you have, the easier it is to decouple the analytics for better interpretation. Imagine you get a sudden spike on your website after you’ve introduced several changes. How to be sure which one was the most beneficial? Plus, with releasing new features, there is often a tendency of impacting previous functionality. We’re not talking about bugs, which also happen. We’re talking about users’ attention and how it starts getting divided. You can’t assume each functionality is a standalone element: everything works together.
MVP Myth 13: It’s All About Having The Fastest Time-To-Market
For software products, you don’t need to set up manufacturing, source the materials, hire specialized staff for the factory, and have your prototypes approved by government agencies. This is why app development operates at much higher speeds. This is also why there is a real rush to bring your idea fast to the market. However, it is not all about speed. And falling for the myth ‘the faster you get to the market, the better’ is a serious misstep.
Launching an MVP without proper validation and sufficient user feedback can lead to:
- wasted resources,
- missed opportunities, and
- dissatisfied customers.
It may increase the risk of developing a product that does not meet market needs or performs poorly in user experience. A study by Bain & Company found that businesses that invested in customer experience outperformed their competitors by 14 times.
In conclusion, while time-to-market is a factor in MVP development, it should not be the only focus. Building a valuable and user-centric product is essential for success.
MVP Myth 14: It Should Impress Users With Designs Only
The look of your app is the first thing that users subconsciously evaluate. Early adopters are those who follow the trends and embrace novelty. This can give the wrong idea that investing in fleshy modern UIs is all that matters. However, while early adopters can be impressed with the looks, they can be engaged only with the functionality and value your product brings.
And going back to the role of MVP, you need to gather feedback and iterate. For this, it is best to observe the behavior of the return customers. If you fall short to deliver functionality, you will be missing the point of MVP altogether. And with the examples you’ve seen earlier – they aren’t impressive in their designs. None of them were.
Lastly, if you are at odds with how much to invest in UI, go for the minimalist look. A clean demure UI that looks professional and allows focusing on functionality will always be a win with the users.
MVP Myth 15: It Doesn’t Need Too Much User Research
This is a common myth that assumes an MVP can be developed without the need for proper user research. However, user research is a critical component of MVP development. It plays a vital role in understanding user needs, preferences, and pain points. Conducting user research has proven to increase website conversions.
Moreover, it helps in discovering insights that would otherwise be missed. It helps identify user personas. It helps to learn their behaviors and preferences. This information allows businesses to tailor their MVP to specific user segments. This increases the chances of attracting and retaining users. Plus, targeted efforts mean cutting costs and using resources efficiently. Who doesn’t want that?
MVP Myth 16: Such a development follows a rigid and fixed process
The MVP development process typically involves five key stages: Ideation, Prototyping, Testing, Iteration, and Launch. However, the exact process can vary depending on the product, industry, and business goals. Each stage requires different approaches, techniques, and tools. They all can and should be tailored to fit your product’s unique requirements.
The rigidity of MVP development was common at the beginnings of IT industry growth. Founders didn’t have much choice or consumer power. So they had to agree with the available processes. However, once the market became saturated with development agencies: the power shifted. Now businesses can dictate what is best for them. Development agencies that wanted to succeed became agile and flexible. Each company deserves a custom solution.
MVP Myth 17: Such a development is just for startups
As the world gets more and more complicated, people tend to simplify stuff and get all ‘specialist’ about them. You know how it goes – when things get all tangled up and complex, we tend to cram them into neat little boxes.
- If you hear MVP term – it goes into the “startup” box.
- Take feedback loops – and you might immediately think that it has something to do with engineering.
- As soon as the word storytelling hits your ears, you naturally think about literature.
However, all of those concepts are universal and can find application in a variety of fields. For example, storytelling is popular in UX design, not only in literature. Feedback loops are there not only for designing a product but also for writing a book or improving communication.
MVPs can cross the boundaries of different fields. An enterprise can utilize this concept in its R&D department. An established website can launch MVPs for its expansions. Especially, innovation can benefit from MVP methodology. MVP development provides an effective way to experiment, innovate, and validate ideas without investing significant resources upfront.
MVP Myth 18: It is a shortcut to success
An MVP is not a guaranteed shortcut to success. While it provides a structured approach to product development and helps validate assumptions early on, it does not guarantee instant success. Building a successful product requires:
- hard work,
- a strong value proposition,
- market fit,
- effective marketing,
- compelling user experience,
- continuous improvements
Launching an MVP is just the first step in the product development journey, and success depends on multiple factors beyond the MVP itself. If you want to Develop Custom MVP app, make sure to find a hard-working development team.
MVP Myth 19: Such a development is a one-time process
We’ve mentioned that MVP goes through 5 stages: Ideation, Prototyping, Testing, Iteration, and Launch. They are important to launch the MVP. However, once it’s launched, a different kind of work begins. MVP is an ongoing journey. In our article “How to Evolve your Mobile MVP App Development”, we have discussed the metrics that can signify that it is time to scale and finish the MVP stage. If to look at average numbers, MVP can take between 1 and 3 years to reach success and be ready to evolve. The 5 stages mentioned above shouldn’t take longer than half a year.
Statistics demonstrate the importance of continuous iteration in product development. According to a study by McKinsey, companies that continuously innovate and refine their products achieve 126% more revenue growth than companies that don’t. Compare it with 62% of companies that consistently follow the doctrine of continuous improvement. There is pretty much no choice. You have to do it too. At present, there is no one-and-done approach to product development as well as there is no standing-still option. You have to move with competition and the market, which is constantly becoming better. So should your product.
MVP Myth 20: It is only useful for software products
The idea that MVP development is only useful for software products is a common misconception among entrepreneurs and businesses alike. While MVPs are a popular solution for building software products, their value extends beyond the software industry. Any product, whether it is physical or digital, can benefit from MVP development.
In our previous article, “Common Mistakes of Custom Mvp App Development”, we looked at the case study of Quincy Apparel. They did MVP first and followed the lean methodology. Their MVP was trunk shows demonstrating clothing lines. It was no app.
Debunking MVP app development myths is vital for approaching MVP development with a clear mind. An MVP is not just for concept testing, but a tangible product with core features. It requires user research and iterative improvements. It is applicable to businesses of all sizes. By understanding the true nature of an MVP, you can leverage it effectively to build a successful and user-centric app.
An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in app development refers to a strategic approach where a product is developed with the essential features required to meet user needs and gather feedback. It is not a cheap or subpar version of the product; rather, it focuses on core functionality and user experience.
No, an MVP is not a cheap or unfinished version. While it has fewer features, it aims to provide the core functionality necessary to deliver value and gather user feedback. It’s about delivering a valuable user experience.
No, an MVP doesn’t need to be perfect. The goal is to collect feedback and validate assumptions. The first response is data for improvement, not an indicator of perfection.
No, an MVP is not meant for immediate profits. It’s about reducing risk, validating product-market fit, and gathering feedback. Quick profits are not the primary purpose of an MVP.
No, an MVP approach is beneficial for businesses of all sizes, including enterprises. It helps mitigate risks, reduce costs, and launch products faster.
No, a mobile app MVP is not a replacement for a web app. Both platforms have their unique advantages, and a mobile app MVP can tap into the growing user base of mobile device users.
No, skipping prototype testing is a mistake. Prototyping helps identify usability issues and gather valuable insights before moving forward with development.
No, an MVP should focus on the core features that address user needs. Overloading it with features can lead to complexity and hinder user feedback collection.
No, an MVP is not a guaranteed shortcut to success. While it provides a structured approach, success requires dedication, hard work, and continuous improvement.
No, the MVP development process can be tailored to the specific product, industry, and goals. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Yes, an MVP approach can be applied to a wide range of products, both physical and digital. It’s about testing assumptions and gathering feedback.
No, MVP development is an ongoing journey. Continuous iteration and improvement are essential for long-term success.
No, while design is important, an MVP should prioritize functionality and value. User engagement is driven by functionality, not just aesthetics.
No, user research is critical for MVP development. It helps understand user needs, behaviors, and preferences, leading to better products.
No, MVP development is not limited to startups. It’s a universal concept that can be applied in various fields to innovate and validate ideas.
No, while time-to-market is important, building a valuable and user-centric product is equally crucial for success.
No, an MVP is not the final version. Continuous improvement and iteration are necessary to meet user demands and preferences over time.
No, user research is a vital component of MVP development. It helps identify user personas, behaviors, and preferences, leading to tailored solutions.
No, an MVP approach can benefit both software and non-software products. It’s about validating ideas and gathering feedback, regardless of the product type.