How to design a custom MVP app? – design & development guide
What is a custom MVP app, and how do you create one? In this article, we’ll delve into the world of custom apps and how to design a fantastic custom MVP app for your business.
Whether it’s an iPhone or an Android, pretty much everyone has a mobile phone these days!
Mobile apps make it easier than ever to buy things online, check our health, and communicate with friends. No need to visit the website, just tap the app and go!
In fact, it’s estimated that the average person has 80 apps installed but is using 9 apps per day and 30 apps per month only.
This means if you want to build a great startup idea, creating a kickass custom mobile app is a fantastic way to make your mark on the world.
What’s a custom mobile app? One that’s developed with cool technologies that your customers love, and is scalable over time. By designing a custom app that has been developed in line with what your target audience wants to see, you’re more likely to see success.
And given that about 10% of startups fail in their first year, you want to do everything you can to ensure your app is popular with customers.
When you’re developing an app, you want to launch it as quickly and affordably as possible. This is when creating an MVP, or minimum viable product can work to your advantage.
Still don’t know what do we mean by an MVP? In this comprehensive blog, we’ll not only explain what a custom MVP app is but show you how to build your own bespoke app, step-by-step, using our tried-and-tested method.
Table of Contents
- What is an MVP?
- What are the benefits of working on the design of a custom MVP app?
- The design process of creating a custom MVP app: five simple steps
- 1. Define
- 2. Research
- 3. Create
- 4. Test
- 5. Develop
- Our top tips for developing a custom app
- Choose the right mobile app developer
- Prioritize the right features
- Don’t forget about reliability and usability
- It’s okay to pivot
- Find out more about developing a custom mobile app
- How to design a custom MVP app FAQ
- What do you mean by a custom MVP app?
- What are the advantages of developing an MVP app?
- What are the five steps to creating a custom mobile app?
- What features should a custom MVP app include?
- How can I get feedback from my custom app users?
- How long does it take to build a custom MVP app?
- How much does it cost to develop a custom MVP app?
- I want to know more about custom MVP apps! Have you got any other information?
What is an MVP?
‘The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.’ – Eric Ries
An MVP, or minimum viable product, is a basic, no-frills version of your software.
While an MVP may be basic and have minimal features, it is still fully functional. This means that your customers can use it straight away.
An MVP can be many things, from a landing page to a video that explains how a piece of software works.
However, in terms of a mobile app, an MVP typically means a simple version of your app, focusing on the features your prospective customers most want to see. You can add additional features and content over time in line with the feedback you receive from users.
The concept of an MVP is a crucial part of the lean startup methodology, where the focus is on launching a product or service as soon as possible. It’s a methodology that all startups should use to increase their responsiveness and ensure they get the edge over their competitors.
Most of the companies that you know today started out by creating an MVP. Take for example Foursquare, which launched in 1999.
Before the app expanded into a comprehensive city guide and location platform, all people could do was check in to specific locations and receive badges for doing so. This let Foursquare build up a network of loyal users, as well as get valuable data about which locations people were most likely to check into.
Check out some more examples of MVPs that will give you inspiration
What are the benefits of working on the design of a custom MVP app?
When it comes to launching a smartphone app, you might think that it’s better to go to market with a fully functioning app, that has lots of cool features. After all, the more features you have, the more likely it is that customers will use your app, right?
Unfortunately, this way of thinking is counterintuitive and may lead to your app failing. It’s better to launch with a handful of carefully chosen and researched features.
Here are some of the advantages of creating and launching a custom MVP app for your business:
- You can launch your app quickly, making it easier to get customers on board and get ahead of any potential competitors. 45% of features in software are never used by the end consumer, so you can save a lot of time by leaving these out
- You can build momentum around your app, finding early adopters and building a loyal audience of followers
- You save time and money if your mobile app isn’t successful. Just close your business down and go back to the drawing board!
- You can show your custom MVP app to potential investors, increasing the chance of getting funding
In our experience of designing custom MVP apps, they are 40% less expensive to build, and 35% faster to get to market!
The design process of creating a custom MVP app: five simple steps
At You Are Launched, we have a five-step design process when it comes to creating a custom app for clients. The method may vary slightly depending on the app we are helping to create, but it’s a great starting point!
Find out more about the awesome custom mobile apps we’ve launched for our clients.
If you’re designing a custom MVP app, here’s what you need to consider.
1. How to design a custom MVP App: Define
The first thing you need to do when designing a custom MVP app version is to know why you’re creating it.
You may wake up one day with a fantastic idea for a custom app but before you invest in its design, you need to make sure it’s feasible. Otherwise, you may waste time and money creating something that nobody wants to use.
42% of mobile apps fail because there is no market need for them. So knowing exactly why you’re developing your app will drastically improve the odds of it succeeding.
At this stage, you need to:
- Understand your goals. What do you want to achieve, and what would show that your custom app is a success? It’s also essential to make sure your goals and values align with those of your stakeholders
- Validate your idea and develop a proof of concept. These will help you see if your idea is a viable one before you start creating it
- Know your unique selling point, or USP. What will you do that sets you apart in the marketplace? For example, Canva’s USP is that it wants to make it so anyone, regardless of graphic design ability, can create high-quality imagery. Build your app and its features around the USP you choose
It’s also good to have an idea of the features you want to include in your custom app. Don’t worry if you don’t have a defined list at this point though as you’ll understand a little better as you go through the rest of the steps.
2. How to design a custom MVP App: Research
Once you’ve defined and validated your product idea, it’s time to carry out research into your market, prospective target audience, and competitors.
The best way to do this is through market research. You can use primary or secondary research, but be sure that your data is objective and free from bias. You don’t want to ignore research just because you don’t agree with it!
It’s important to understand your target audience, by which we mean the people most likely to use your app. Ask yourself the following questions to understand who they are:
- What age range is your target audience?
- Where in the world does your target audience live?
- Is your target audience male or female?
- What level of education does your target audience have?
- Does your target audience have children or pets?
- What job role does your target audience have, and how much money do they earn?
- What other mobile apps does your target audience use?
- What social media networks does your target audience use?
These questions will help you understand your key users, and the pain points your custom MVP app version can alleviate for them. Remember that it’s better to focus on a small and engaged target audience than it is to try and appeal to a large one.
When you try and appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.
Also, take the time to identify your competitors in the marketplace. Who are they, what features do their apps have, and what marketing campaigns do they run? If your competitors have experienced some issues getting to market, you can use this information to make sure you avoid the same problems.
3. How to design a custom MVP App: Create
You’ve carried out your research, and it’s shown that people are interested in your custom MVP app version. It’s now time to start planning how it will work. The best way to do this is through a prototype.
Think of your prototype as a precursor to your custom MVP app version. You put it together so you can see how your app looks, feels, and works. A prototype could be a wireframe drawing, a sketch, or a simple version of your custom app. Whatever you can use to get the valuable internal feedback you need to move your custom mobile app forward.
When you create your prototype, think about the user journey. What tasks will your target audience want to complete on your custom app, and how will they go about completing them? You’ll want to consider how they’ll log in to your app, which menus they’ll access, and how they’ll find the features they want.
You don’t have to create a prototype if you’re short on time; you can move straight to building your custom MVP app version. However, we definitely recommend it as it helps you identify any potential issues, and it’s always better that you spot any problems before your customers do!
4. How to design a custom MVP App: Test
Now the fun starts… building your MVP custom app!
At this stage, you should have an idea of what features your customers want to see, and what they are willing to go without. We’ll look at how to prioritize the features you want to see in your custom MVP version later on in this article.
Get your MVP version built, and when it’s ready and has been thoroughly tested, it’s time to launch.
You have the option of a hard launch or a soft launch when the first iteration of your MVP version is ready. We recommend a soft launch just as there are fewer costs, and you can gather feedback from users as you go. If it helps you go for a soft launch, nobody remembers the day Google or Facebook launched!
We’ll look at some ways you can market your MVP custom app version in a future article, so keep an eye on our blog.
Getting feedback from users is vital as this helps you not only see what they think of your MVP version, but what features they want to see in the future.
Surveys are a great way to get feedback as they are cheap, can be sent to customers in bulk, and customized to ask the right questions. Google Forms, Typeform, and SurveyMonkey are good places to start.
5. How to design a custom MVP App: Develop
You might think that the work is done when you’ve launched your custom MVP app version, but it’s only just starting!
When you get feedback from your customers, you can make amends to your app accordingly and release future versions with additional features. You should have a constant feedback loop in place.
As well as polling your customers directly, look at reviews of your app in the App Store and Google Play, as well as on social media and online. This can provide you with additional insights.
Also, keep an eye on your stats to see what your customers like and what they’re not so keen on. Some good metrics to monitor when developing a custom MVP app version include:
- Churn rate (the number of customers that stop using your app)
- Monthly recurring revenue (the total amount of revenue generated in a month)
- The average revenue per user (how much money each user of your app spends with you)
- Customer lifetime value (how much money each user of your app is worth to your business)
- Customer acquisition costs (how much it costs to acquire a customer)
Our top tips for developing a custom app
So we’ve looked at the five-step process for creating a custom MVP app, but what else do you need to consider?
Here are our handy hints for building a custom MVP app that everyone wants to use.
Choose the right mobile app developer
Even though your custom MVP app will be simple, you still want it to be high-quality. With this in mind, it’s important to choose the right mobile app developer to create your app for you.
While you might think it will be cheaper to do all the work yourself, a good mobile application development consultant will be more cost-effective.
They will plan, design, and develop your custom MVP app on your behalf, meaning you get a first-class end product that you can launch in a timely manner. Plus, they have a lot of experience meaning you can take advantage of any recommendations they may have.
Prioritize the right features
A Custom MVP App has a limited amount of features in place. This means it’s important to choose the right ones, especially when you’re launching the first iteration of your custom app.
Think of your designed Custom MVP App as a car and the features you want to include as passengers. While you might want to bring everyone along for the ride, you can only invite a few! Not only this, but it’s in your best interests to choose the people who will be the ideal passengers. The good navigators, the people who choose the coolest music playlists and bring the tastiest snacks, and so on.
The best way to see success is to prioritize your app features. Think of everything you want to include and sort them in order of relevance. You can then include the most high-priority features and leave the less-important ones for a future update.
Acceptance criteria are an excellent way to determine which features to include. Alternatively, the MoSCoW method is an easy way of identifying the right features to add.
- ‘Must have’ – what is the one crucial feature that defines your custom app?
- ‘Should haves’ – what features complement your ‘must have’ and provide additional functionality to your app?
- ‘Could haves’ – what features are nice to have, but aren’t critical to your custom MVP app?
- ‘Won’t haves’ – what features are irrelevant to your app at this moment in time?
Here are some of our top tips for prioritizing features for your custom MVP app.
- Listen to your customers. Ask what they would like to see and what they’re not bothered about
- Don’t listen to your own biases. You might love a specific feature or want to include the latest tech (for example, artificial intelligence), but it might be better to leave it until later on. It’s always good to get a second opinion from your team, stakeholders, and even potential customers!
- Save any easter eggs for the final version of your app. You might want to do something cool and quirky to make your mark on the marketplace, but it’s highly likely that your users aren’t interested at the moment
- Look at the features your competitors have included on their apps. If they’ve not included a specific feature, there might be a critical reason why they’ve left it out…
- Remember that it’s okay to use off-the-shelf versions of features rather than creating your own. This can save you time and money; you can always move to a bespoke version later on
- Reassess and re-evaluate your features on a regular basis. Something might be a low priority in the early days, but may become more essential later on as you gather customer feedback
- Focus on one platform if you can. By choosing just Android or iOS, you can save up to 30-40% of your estimated costs. You can always roll out to the other platform in the future
Don’t forget about reliability and usability
Many startups get so obsessed with identifying the right features to include, that they forget to look at the reliability and usability of their app.
According to Google, bad optimization frustrates over half of mobile users.
It’s critical that your app is easy to use and doesn’t crash. If there are significant issues when you launch, it may mean that customers use your app once, and never use it again.
While it’s vital to launch quickly, it’s also essential to carry out thorough testing and quality assurance. While some users do expect minor imperfections with custom MVPs, they don’t want to see any significant issues that will disrupt their app usage.
It’s okay to pivot
When you’ve launched, your data might show that you should take your developed custom MVP app in a different direction, focus on another audience, or change the service you offer. This is known as ‘pivoting.’
Many businesses start off offering one product or service, only to change it up later down the line.
For example, Wrigley’s started off selling soap in the 19th century, offering chewing gum free with every purchase as an incentive. Chewing gum became more popular than soap, and as a result, the company pivoted to become the brand we know today!
If you do decide to pivot, it’s important to try and do it as soon as possible in order to save time and money. Also, make sure that pivoting provides you with the right growth opportunities. You don’t want to pivot into a new industry, only to find that the marketplace is too competitive, or the customer base is too small.
Find out more about developing a custom mobile app
Our blog is full of fantastic resources if you’re looking to design, create, and launch a custom MVP app. Here are some articles we think you’ll like:
- How to develop a B2B marketplace app
- How to develop a car rental app
- How to design and develop a custom marketplace app for nannies
- How to develop a fitness app
- How to develop a restaurant reservation app
Got an idea for an amazing custom app but are not sure how to go about it? We specialize in creating customized mobile apps; everything from personal finance to personal health!
Send us a message, and let’s see how we can work together.
How to design a custom MVP app FAQ?
Got any additional questions about creating a custom mobile app? Here are some of the questions we’re often asked.
What do you mean by a custom MVP app?
A custom MVP app is a basic, ‘no-frills’ version of your mobile app where you focus only on the necessary features. This means you can build your app more quickly and get to market sooner. What’s more, in comparison with junky technologies, your developed custom MVP app can be scaled later on.
What are the advantages of developing an MVP app?
There are lots of benefits to creating an MVP version of your mobile app. Here are three of the key advantages.
The first is that you can launch faster, meaning you can stake your claim in the marketplace sooner, build product loyalty, and get the edge over your competitors.
The second is that as you’re not launching a fully developed mobile app, you’re saving time and money. This money can be used on other aspects of your startup or in the worst-case scenario, you can wind up your business without taking too much of a financial hit.
The third is that you’re developing something tangible you can show prospective investors. This increases the chances of getting that all-important funding you need to take your startup to the next level.
What are the five steps to creating a design of a custom mobile app?
At You Are Launched, we have a five-step process when it comes to developing high-quality mobile apps. Those steps are:
- Define. Brainstorming an idea to make sure it’s viable
- Research. Looking at the target audience, general marketplace, and what competitors are doing
- Design. Creating the first prototype of the mobile app
- Test. Thoroughly auditing the app to make sure it works correctly and getting feedback from users
- Develop. Updating and refining the app using feedback received
What features should a custom MVP app version include?
You need to choose the features that will most engage your target audience and keep encouraging them to come back to your app. This means prioritizing the features you want to include and choosing the ones at the top of the list.
You can always include additional features in a future version of your app.
How can I get feedback from my custom app users?
There are lots of different ways you can get feedback from your app users, including:
- Emailing them
- Sending them a link to a survey
- Asking them questions in-app
- Looking at app reviews on the App Store and Google Play
- Checking out comments and posts on social media
- Looking at reviews on websites
It’s also important to look at your app stats and review the data. For example, how many times a day people use your app or how many users have uninstalled it.
How long does it take to build a custom MVP app?
It depends on the complexity of the mobile app and the features you want to include. In our experience, it can take between three to five months to build a minimum viable product.
Remember that you want to launch your custom MVP app version as soon as possible. If you’ve been working on your MVP app version for a year and you’re still not ready to launch, you are moving in the wrong way and you need to reassess what you are doing.
How much does it cost to develop a custom MVP app version?
Again, it depends on the type of custom MVP app version you want to create, how many developers you use, and how complex the features are.
A custom MVP app version can cost anything from $25,000 to $150,000. It’s important to think of your custom MVP app version in terms of return on investment. If the financials show that a $100,000 app will lead to $1,000,000 in yearly revenue, then it’s a worthwhile investment!
Remember that you can reduce the cost of developing a custom MVP app by focusing on the features that are high priority. You can also reduce costs by using off-the-shelf features rather than coding them yourself, and focusing on one platform.
I want to know more about custom MVP apps! Have you got any other information?
We sure do. Here are some articles that we think you’ll like. Remember that if you need any support developing your custom MVP app idea, we’re here to help!