Creating an MVP for Mobile Applications

By Henry Swasey | Jul 03, 2016

Time for a little role play. You the reader, will be a key stakeholder who has been tasked with leading a new mobile application project for your company. Now let’s add a little pressure into the mix: you have a conference coming up with a hard deadline and you want to be first to market with this app. Luckily, your team has enlisted the help of ChaiOne to assist in turning your idea into reality. Seeing as we are a mobile agile development shop, we can make this happen. First things first however, we will need to have a list of critical features that will allow the app to be deployed quickly so that you can begin user testing to see if any tweaks need to be made. In the industry, this list is known as a minimum viable product, or MVP for short. In this article, I’ll post a few tips to assist you in creating this list.

Know Your User

Let’s start with your target user – you should already have an idea about who will be using this app. Here are some questions to think about when you are creating your list:

  1. Are the users technicians working in the field?
  2. Are the users in sales on the trade show floor?
  3. Does upper management need clearer visibility on the bottom line?
  4. Are you a sports team with a legion of hungry fans?
  5. Are the users tech savvy audiophiles with a knack for finding the latest obscure music?
  6. Does your business have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy in place?

Whatever your industry, when it comes to your app the user comes first. The reason is simple: no one wants to use an app that doesn’t tailor to their needs or interests. I have seen mistakes being made wherein a company placed higher priority on a feature because they wanted it done, not the users. Rest assured, this error in judgment will lead to poor reviews in the App Store and Google Play store; I’ll touch on this in the “Feedback” section of this post.

Interaction and User Experience (UX)

One of the key ingredients to any successful app is a great user experience (UX). Here are some tips to remember:

  • The iOS UX is different than Android UX
  • Web application interfaces don’t translate well to mobile
  • When developing for a tablet, consider the extra screen real estate

Interaction design is such a critical component of any new app; so much so that our designers and developers work hand in hand to research what works and what does not for every app. Conventions change at the blink of an eye in this industry and mobile users are quick to pick up on this.

Native or Mobile Web App?

A great question and one that we get asked often. I would, without a doubt, tell you that native is the way to go. However, this question will be better served in a future blog post and more so in a discussion with our team. Seeing as though I’ve already mentioned it, I’ll leave you with a few things to consider:

  • The UX varies greatly between native and mobile web apps, just ask LinkedIn
  • If you’re looking to monetize your app, native offers higher click-through rates (CTR) for your ads
  • User engagement and adoption is much higher on native apps than on web apps
  • Mobile web apps are typically easier on the budget in the short term

Supported Devices and OSs: Which one should I use?

Most definitely not a topic to gloss over when drafting your MVP. Depending on your industry and your users, you may find this to be a tough choice. Right now, iOS 7 is just around the corner and boasts a myriad of enterprise level features that older versions of iOS do not support. A quick look at Android’s infamous OS fragmentation problem and you’ ll easily realize which handsets and tablets would best support your app. If you do decide to develop for multiple platforms, don’t worry it won’t cost twice as much.

Release Early, Release Often

So a list of features has been made, supported devices picked, and designs approved. Now it’s time to develop and test your new app before releasing your MVP to the respective app stores. As I mentioned above, ChaiOne is an Agile shop. What this means is that we iterate quickly so that you can begin seeing the results right from the first week of the project, and each successive week after that. In the course of a project roadmap, we’ll get to a point where user acceptance testing (UAT) is necessary. This is where you’ll get the ever so important feedback.

Feedback

The feedback you will undoubtedly get from your target users as well as the people on your team, will help you decide what changes need to be made for future iterations. This tight feedback loop is also another reason why you shouldn’t try to boil the ocean in stuffing an app full of features that no one will really use.

Summary

As you can see, there are many things to consider when developing a mobile MVP for your business. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  1. Consider your users, you are most likely one of them
  2. Do not skimp on interaction design – a great user experience is key to the success of an app
  3. Go native! Research supports that going native is the way to go for a great user experience
  4. Think about the devices your users are using. There is plenty of research that will support your target audience
  5. Release early, release often. Develop using the Agile methodology to quickly spot issues in the cycle
  6. Get feedback and if it makes business sense, fix the bugs and add any features in the next release

If you need advice or simply want to learn more about ideation, design, mobile development, testing or project management for your app, ChaiOne is here to help!. Henry Swasey is a Project Manager at ChaiOne, an enterprise mobility agency 

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