Thinking about starting your own online business? It’s an exciting adventure, but first things first. Before jumping into it, you should make a crucial decision. You need to make a choice: Go with the traditional Minimum Viable Product (MVP) development route or the custom MVP app development?
No need to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’re going to briefly explain what’s an MVP and why it is the only viable option these days. Of course, we’ll support this with quite successful case studies. We’ll dive into the technicalities and business points of traditional and custom Minimum Viable Product (MVP) development. And, finally, showcase the difference using the example of a start-up by breaking it down stage-by-stage. So, sit back and enjoy reading what we’ll prove to be a trump card in building your business from the ground up.
Table of contents
- The Way of Online Business
- Startup Stages & Expertise
- MVP Development
- Case study: a success story
- Case study: re-doing the technical implementation
- MVP App Development & Templated Platforms
- Custom MVP App Development
- Traditional VS Custom MVP Development: Final Score
- Final Words
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The Way of Online Business
In this day and age, in the land of start-ups, a path to multimillion-dollar success isn’t a straight road from zero to hero. Business is expected to have an idea, market research, and a plan; but things change quite swiftly. New trends are constantly coming up. Competition is transforming. Customers are changing their preferences and whatnot. You should certainly follow what you envisioned, but you can’t ignore the environment. That’s why the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has become so popular.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) allows you to strike the balance between your vision and the changing environment. It implements the most efficient version of your product fast and cost-efficiently. The goal is to get to the market fast. Once it is there, you start getting customer feedback and see how your product is performing against the market. You tweak and fine-tune whatever needs to be adjusted. Only after testing the waters, you can opt for a fully-fledged app.
It’s important to realize that an MVP can be viewed differently. Some people feel that it is a basic ugly full of bugs app. Others build a modern-looking lean app. The latter is what you get opting for professional services. The first one mentioned is what often results from amateur development. Of course, we are not against experimentation, but this article is for those who choose a professional environment to launch their startups.
So, an MVP is understood as the leanest version of your initial idea. You take the shortest and most efficient route to the working product. It still has great UI/UX but functionality might be only what is necessary. It still is fast, smooth, and error-free, but needs modifications on the go. The focus is the leanest marketable version of the product which customers will love. Then you take in the feedback of your first clients.
Their feedback is what gets factored in, and you adjust your business strategy. You may choose not to develop some features after all. You might realize that there are one or two features that you haven’t thought of but your customers will love. And you may see that there is an opportunity to cater to an even bigger pool of customers. It refers to the flexibility and scalability of your startup.
Startup Stages & Expertise
We have already established that here we are talking about professional development. Amateur development will be lacking in a range of parameters, which we can briefly discuss. For instance, if you opt for hiring freelancers via freelance platforms, you will need at least 4 specialists: business analyst, developer, marketer, and SEO. This is considering you are doing the leading and cross-communication. First off, freelancers are narrowly specialized: they might not know the latest standards which are essential for integrations. They might feel free to write code they are comfortable with ignoring clean code practices. They will be swaying your decision into the route they tested out and feel comfortable with. This approach might be outdated. It will be straying away from your idea. If you decide to bring in a second coder, they might have different ‘creative’ code-writing styles. They might end up logging in hours trying to understand each other code and solving constant merge conflicts.
Anyway, a point where you hoped to save a couple of thousands, would turn into a few thousands of waste. And where you wanted to speed things up, you would end up losing months. If you consider outsourcing, you can find that professional development can be quite affordable. In our article Startup Services, you can check out what services are there for online business start-ups and get an idea about price points.
So, with choosing professional development, two common options are traditional MVP development and custom MVP development. Luckily, both of them go through the same stages. Here are 5 stages every MVP goes through:
Stage 1 Idea Validation
Your idea gets checked against the market, demand, and competition. Then, your team determines your target user.
Stage 2 Prototyping
Bearing in mind your target user and competition, the clickable version of your website is developed.
Stage 3 UI/UX Design
That’s the user-facing look of your business: even opting for an MVP calls for a sleek modern look and smooth UX experience. Plus, you might need this in case you need to present your project to potential investors.
Stage 4 App Development
This is where your ‘behind-the-scenes’ are developed to create a fully functional MVP app.
Stage 5 Scaling
First off, you will be catering to a bigger and bigger number of customers. So here, the technical capacity of your app might need adjustment. Second, you might develop only a web app or a mobile app first. After the initial success, you expand the reach by expanding to different platforms.
Let’s consider an example. The fashion accessories business is always an attractive option because there is always a new trend just around the corner. Imagine you want to jump on the bandwagon with an e-commerce platform. You think it will be nice to offer a little bit of every style at affordable prices with the hottest trend at a bit higher prices. This is your business strategy.
In the initial version, you decide to have such accessories as jewelry, handbags, and sunglasses. You develop a modern fast-loading website with a smooth and intuitive checkout process – your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) product. The whole thing takes about 4-8 months to develop.
For the next few months of operation, you gather feedback from your users. You spot a strongly pronounced user pain point: they just don’t feel or know what jewelry will suit them best. Your team translates this into a feature: curated fashion recommendations. Your marketing team already sees a new audience to target. This is where flexible decisions are made, and growth opportunities depend on the ability to scale.
To implement this, you need to integrate a feature to personalize recommendations. It might involve asking users to upload or select the kind of outfits they need accessories for. Or you might even add a gamification feature where they would create their Sim or something like that. Based on one of these inputs, the personalization algorithm will output style recommendations for each user individually. This technical capability is not an easy feat. Technical capacity and freedom to add custom code decide whether it is possible at all. So you see that even with this basic example, flexibility and scalability are essential for the growth of your business.
To sum up, the business first started with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) focusing on a few fundamental points. Upon initial success, the user feedback gets factored in and guides further development. The chance that it will be something related to personalization and customization of UX is pretty high. It requires the technical capacity of your app to be stretched to fit a complex functionality. Let’s now proceed to real-case examples that reached success from scratch. Then, we’re going to look at companies that had real technical troubles because of relying on standardized solutions.
Case study: a success story
The Farmer’s Dog is a company that started in 2014 and achieved great success in just a couple of years when their monthly delivery went over millions of dog food. To date, they have delivered over 100,000,000 dog food. Considering the price per delivery ranging from $2 to $12, it will be on average $600,000,000 in revenues. What did they do right to achieve such success?
They put personalization at the core of their business: each sold dog food comes through a personalized meal plan built from the quiz the owner fills out on the site.
The second strategy that contributed to their success is saving clients intending to leave the page. Not all clients but those who stayed on the site long enough and might have started filling out the quiz. They collect feedback and try to address potential concerns. This feature is an exit-intent pop-up that looks like this:
And once you click one of the reasons, it gives you the information you might be lacking to continue with the website. When you click ‘I want to see the price’, you see the price range for the product. You are also told that there will be price options.
In addition to such features on their site, they have propelled their business to success by:
– offering a trial discount,
– focusing on word-of-mouth marketing,
– efficiently utilizing content marketing, and
– targeting the end user with social ads.
However, they did not start with a perfect solution you can see today. It was a step-by-step iteration.
Overall, the company focused on a seamless user journey with personalization at the core and a subscription model. What stands out as well is that they focused on feedback from their users. They took it in and adapted their web app to focus on every user.
Case study: re-doing the technical implementation
The Farmer’s Dog path seems straightforward. But it is not always the case. You can easily find a bunch of cases online when the company needed to re-do its technical implementation. The reason for this can be simply because of increased traffic. Once users love your website, it might be hard for the website to handle the increased traffic.
For instance, Al-Bahar (a Kuwait-based online retailer) faced issues with the site’s speed, stability, and CMS. The whole site had to migrate to a new solution which was developed over months. It didn’t take the company out of business, but for up to a year, the company faced complicated performance issues and complaints while investing heavily in a new solution.
Another company Burrow (a B2C furniture retail online shop) had to re-do its technical implementation as soon as its revenues hit $3 million in sales. When you go for a solution that is not scalable, you will have to spend months building a new solution and migrating to it. All the while, your customers will be experiencing issues with the website.
In today’s fast-paced world of online business, flexibility to personalize the product and scalability to cater to large numbers of users are key to staying ahead of the competition. These days, entrepreneurs and startups scramble to create the next big app. As such, it’s crucial to have a development process that can adapt and grow with your evolving business needs.
MVP App Development & Templated Platforms
Traditional Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Development aims to fast-track your business to launch by utilizing existing frameworks and reusing previous solutions. In such a kind of development, there is often a heavy reliance on pre-built templates. The reasoning is simple: to cut down on development, the team takes ready-made solutions and tweaks them to match a new project.
As an example, a team can reuse code from previous projects. For instance, take the same front-end code which is similar to your layout. You will get a newly developed logo and brand colors. But seeing as that the web frameworks and browsers are updated incredibly fast these days, the re-used solution is bound to have outdated or deprecated code. Following this principle, anything can be reused. It can be a previously created CMS, but it will be updated to fit the requirements of your new project. But you will still be stuck with things that will slow down your overall web app performance. Just bear in mind that 1 millisecond of load time saved increases web performance on average by 8.4%. Every millisecond matters!
The next point is also about speed. The pre-built solutions often come with a standard set of functionality. It might not be easy to clean up unnecessary ones so your project code will be heavier than it needs to be. This too puts limitations on how you can reduce the load times and increase processing speed.
In today’s digital landscape, it is almost impossible to implement any solution without the support of third-party services. It has become the norm, the standard way of doing things. After all, why waste time and resources developing a payment system or a delivery tracking system from scratch? That’s where third-party services come in handy.
However, when it comes to traditional MVP development, they run a serious risk of overdoing it. While they do expedite the development process, the problem arises when these services are integrated into a single, standardized platform or an old solution. The risk of bugs and integration errors that have the potential to seriously hinder the user experience become a looming threat. It’s time to reassess the balance between relying on third-party services and ensuring a seamless and bug-free user experience for your app.
In some cases, the vendor might utilize low-code or no-code platforms such as Shopify, Wix, or WordPress. Low-code or no-code platforms may offer a quick and easy solution for traditional MVP development. But they come with several significant drawbacks, particularly when it comes to flexibility and scalability. Such platforms may be great for small-scale projects. They will make a very strong use case for that. But as a startup or entrepreneur, your goal is to grow and expand. With low-code or no-code platforms, you are often confined to pre-designed templates.
Novel marketing/SEO approaches
One of the major limitations of traditional MVP development is its lack of flexibility in supporting novelty solutions. Due to the presence of outdated code and a standardized set of features, traditional MVP platforms often struggle with this. It might be hard or even impossible to accommodate the implementation of new marketing or SEO tools. For example, if you may want to incorporate a cutting-edge marketing strategy like a quiz funnel. It has been found to engage users and drive conversions. But the rigid nature of a traditional Minimum Viable Product (MVP) platform may hinder your ability to do so.
This limitation hampers your ability to stay ahead in the competitive market. Also, it restricts your potential to explore and implement new and creative marketing techniques. Your marketing will be tied up, and so will your potential to attract customers and reach higher conversations. It altogether can significantly impact the success of your app.
Finally, it is worth noting that all the solutions developed through the traditional MVP development approach are built as monoliths. It means that each component is tightly interwoven with one another and the app as a whole. This approach has been an effective solution for many years. However, in the age of AI, it has emerged as a significant security risk. Hackers don’t need to learn how to code anymore. Cybercriminals can easily exploit vulnerabilities in monolithic applications. They are able to launch security breaches that can be difficult to contain. While traditional MVP development may be cost-efficient and quick, it cannot disregard the importance of effective cybersecurity measures. Therefore, it is crucial to always weigh the potential risks and benefits.
Basically, your MVP development will be fast-tracked by utilizing expertise and existing solutions. Following the traditional approach, your business idea will still be validated. You will still achieve some level of customization. And, overall, it does really work. But up to a point as showcased by the case studies above. In case of success, your business will be struggling to adapt to growing numbers of customers. New marketing techniques including fancy social media integrations as well as security issues are things you might be sacrificing
Custom MVP App Development
Custom development offers greater flexibility and scalability. It focuses on creating a solution from scratch that allows full control over the design, architecture, and user experience. Business ideas these days often require the freedom to create unique requirements. When you build the majority of your functionality from the ground up, you ensure your product can go in the direction you need it to.
For instance, the Farmer’s Dog has a customer-facing page that is extraordinarily simple and sleek. However, a lot of complexity is hidden away at the back end. Fast and reliable CMS that stores data about each pet, their preferences, feedback, suggestions, reminders, etc. It might well have synchronization with production facilities, stock, delivery systems, and whatnot. For the user, it looks simple, easy, and thought out. Behind what looks like a simple one-page application, there is a very cleverly designed architecture to suit business needs.
It won’t be a long shot to imagine for the Farmer’s Dog business that soon somebody will come up with watches for dogs. They might be wearing them on one of their paws and it will be synchronized with the owner’s smartphone. A business will have to adapt to be able to take in huge amounts of data to personalize their app for dog owners. Some companies will fall behind or fall out of business. Others will take a leap forward growing to bigger heights.
In custom MVP app development, each solution is viewed as a unique project. It is not made to fit into previously developed molds. The focus is on what you need to develop for that unique app. Still, code reuse can be applied across small particular code areas. For example, you saw an exit-intent pop-up. It can be safely utilized with running no risk of limiting your tech capability. Projects often consist of hundreds of coding files. A very localized application of code reuse is still very advisable. But, here a separate function/component are reused instead of a full package.
The difference can be illustrated with Lego. With traditional Minimum Viable Product (MVP), it is like taking an assembled Lego thing and reattaching bits into different places or taking out some. You cannot take out from the middle, only from the sides. Same as with reattaching. But with custom MVP development, you get a set of pieces with which you can create anything. Plus, you might use some small assembled parts. And you build from the ground up.
In technical terms, when programmers write separate functions or components, the body of it might take only 10-15 lines of code. But for an app to run smoothly, each function needs to run error-free. So imagine if the internet connection breaks or the system takes longer time than necessary to respond: shall the app break or retry? And it is not a rare case of bad internet. A user is browsing from a mobile: when the call comes through, the internet shuts down. So, system interruptions are frequent issues. When you reuse previously written simple components, you focus on the skeleton of that feature with reliable error handling. It is a crucial part of a smoothly running application. Often, it is the main reason for reusing previously tested bits here and there under custom MVP development.
Custom MVP APP Development also utilizes libraries and third-party tools to some extent. However, the key parameter is often the options for integration: can you use just the necessary bit or do you have to copy in the entire thing? This is a key criterion for custom MVP development so that load speed and site performance can be really optimized.
This isn’t normally used during custom MVP app development.
Novel marketing/SEO approaches
With custom MVP app development, your business isn’t concerned with what is possible by platform limitations. Whether it is customized marketing funnels, sleek UI/UX, or outstanding branding; your business has room for maneuvering.
There is a trend of going away from monolithic structures when possible. For custom apps, it is easier to break down an app into stand-alone APIs which will decrease the surface area for cyber attacks.
Traditional MVP development can be more cost-efficient short-term. But, long-term perspectives might just sway you in favor of the custom route. And actually, even low-code platforms hit the need for customized coding pretty fast. The difference in prices for traditional and custom MVP app development isn’t prohibitive as one can imagine. Especially, since they all go through the same stages which we talked about in our article 5 startup stages.
Time might be a concern too: if you still go through the same stages, why do it twice? Of course, with traditional MVP development, you will be in the market with your product a couple of months earlier. But then you might be stuck for up to 6-12 months redoing the solution. And while at the early stage, your business doesn’t lose regular customers, it will be at the redevelopment stage. It will be an inescapable evil when it comes to migration to a more suitable architecture.
Traditional VS Custom MVP Development: Final Score
First off, let’s look at potential business factors you need to consider when making your decision. Here, we provide a comparison in terms of scalability and flexibility. We also add extra considerations such as cost-efficiency, time, security, and revenues.
If we compare, let’s say our fashion accessories example according to 5 startup stages in terms of time and costs, it might look like as follows:
To sum up, the win at the first stages is quite marginal. Yet, the scaling stage and possible migration to a newer architecture would make your app fall behind in time and costs in case you opted for a traditional approach.
In conclusion, if you’re looking to launch an app that stands out in the crowd, the traditional approach isn’t your best bet. If you want to have the potential to scale and adapt to your business needs, custom MVP app development is the way to go. Don’t settle for rigid and templated options that lack flexibility. Instead, invest in a custom solution that offers limitless possibilities for growth and success in the ever-changing online business landscape.
While traditional MVP options may offer a quick and basic solution to launch your app, they often come with limitations. These ordinary Minimum Viable Product (MVP) options are rigid and templated, offering little room for customization and scalability. However, if you want to build a successful app that can scale and adapt to the changing needs of your business, it’s best to opt for custom MVP app development. And the question one inevitably has: is it even possible to build a simple straightforward app today? The answer is that it is very unlikely. Even if the app looks simple and easy for the customer, there is a great chance that all the complexity is hidden away. And super sleek and easy UI/UX – is not an easy thing to implement. There is always more than meets the eye.
Custom MVP app development allows you to tailor your app’s features and functionality according to your specific requirements. It offers the flexibility to bring your vision to life. Moreover, scalability is crucial for any online business looking to expand. As your user base increases and your app gains popularity, a custom solution ensures you can seamlessly integrate new features and functionalities. All without compromising the overall user experience.
Did you like the article? We would recommend diving through:
- Common Mistakes of MVP App Development;
- 20 Myths About Custom MVP App Development: Busted;
- How to Evolve Your Mobile MVP App Development?
- 10 Signs You Should Invest in Custom MVP App Development
- How to design a custom MVP app? – development guide notes
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It’s the initial version of a product that focuses on essential features to quickly bring it to the market, allowing for testing and adaptation based on user feedback.
An MVP allows startups to strike a balance between their vision and the changing market environment. It enables the development of a lean version of the product, fast and cost-efficiently, with the goal of getting to the market quickly and gathering user feedback.
There are five stages:
– Idea Validation
– UI/UX Design
– App Development
Traditional MVP Development relies on pre-built templates and frameworks, while Custom MVP Development involves creating a solution from scratch, offering greater flexibility and scalability.
Yes, “The Farmer’s Dog” is a successful case where personalization and user feedback played a crucial role. They started with a personalized meal plan based on a quiz filled out by the owner.
Challenges include limitations in flexibility, scalability, potential security risks with monolithic structures, and difficulties in accommodating new marketing or SEO tools.
Custom MVP App Development offers flexibility, scalability, and control over design and architecture. It allows for the creation of unique solutions tailored to specific business needs.
While Custom MVP App Development may have slightly higher initial costs, it often proves more cost-efficient in the long term due to avoiding potential issues and the need for later redevelopment.
Custom MVP Development can break down apps into stand-alone APIs, reducing the surface area for cyber attacks. This approach enhances security compared to traditional monolithic structures.
Custom MVP App Development is recommended for those seeking an app that can stand out, scale, and adapt to evolving business needs in the competitive online market.