How adopting an MVP development approach will greatly improve your likelihood of your application being a success

8th December 2017

Over the last fourteen years I have built hundreds of web applications. Applications of different sizes with completely different budgets and timeframes.

But there was one major difference between the businesses that went on to succeed and those that didn't... it all came back to the development approach.

The businesses that succeeded had one thing in common - they all took an MVP approach to development. This fact has been so overwhelmingly powerful that I now look to implement MVP development with every client I work with.

This article is going to explain what the MVP development approach is and how you can start implementing it in your application today.

What is MVP?

MVP is one of those buzzwords that gets thrown around in acronym format. It stands for minimum viable product - in other words, it is the intention to build something with the minimum amount of features possible to launch.

How does this apply to software development?

MVP development is about asking this question whenever a feature is talked about: "do we need this for [insert goal here]?". In the startup space, this is most common when looking to launch an application. Asking yourself "do we need this for launch?" as often as possible will result in the application getting built faster, because you will be focusing specifically on the features that are actually needed now.

It is important to note though, that MVP development isn't about taking shortcuts. This approach doesn't mean that things like quality code and application tests should be ignored. It also doesn't necessarily mean cutting back on the look and feel (the application should still be slick and work well) - it is about cutting down on those features that aren't going to make a difference for the next phase that you are looking to get to.

Let me give an example. Let's say the task is to build a complex search page. The idea is to display the search results and return them according to relevance. Ideally the page should have infinite scroll and various filtering available. You can quickly see the list of features is starting to add up - we are looking to develop:

  • Complex search functionality to order by relevance.
  • Pagination and infinite scroll.
  • Ability to filter by various fields.

The first question I would ask, before even looking to start developing this search page is "how many items will be available to be searched for the initial launch?". In 90% of cases, the answer will be less than 1,000 - so the question comes back to “how many of these features can we implement later?”

For now, building a basic search page which returned the results with a simple search will be more than sufficient. And the development time would be likely 20% of what it would have been had we implemented the full features.

By adopting an MVP approach, features can be versioned accordingly. We effectively prioritise based on impact and break a feature down into smaller tasks which can be implemented as they are needed.

Have you tried MVP development? I would love to hear your thoughts on how it has helped your application get to the next phase faster!

My name is Michael Houghton and I have been helping companies build rapid software applications for nearly fifteen years.

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