Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Development and Prototyping
When people start thinking of creating their own application and address a subcontractor to create it, there is a number of steps they should start with and this post is all about it.
Usually, if it is a first try, you should think of creating a kind of MVP product that will have basic set of functionality that is intended to test the idea behind the app on the target market. Only when the app proves to be a success, you should go further and develop a more comprehensive and sophisticated product with the extended set of functionality, but that will be done later. So far, focus on the MVP version of your app.
Discovery Phase – Where Products Start
We at Mobilunity start MVP development with the discovery phase where we work closely with the clients get to know more about the products they want to create. The best way of cooperation is when we work with clients on site, as it is the most efficient way of communication for the project, however other options like conferencing, chatting, email correspondence are also possible.
During the discovery phase, we make every effort to understand what customers want to see as their future products, to understand how they are supposed to work and interact with the potential users, which benefits the products will bring to the market and to their owners.
After the initial project kick-off, customers share their vision on their future products and we work as a team brainstorming the functionality, discussing specific screens and windows, user journeys and making sketches in our notebooks. However, don’t think that discovery phase ends up with the pile of papers full of primitive drawings and chaotic notes.
Product Prototyping: UX and UI Uncovered
Our design team is ready to be involved from the very beginning and once we have some specific piece of the future app discussed and agreed on with the client, we forward those notes and drawings to them to create wireframes. As a result of our brainstorm sessions with clients, project managers (PMs) usually receive high-level requirements covering the entire functionality of the future product while as designers have wireframes prepared and presented to clients for approval. Once that is done, we have the UX ready and at hand.
Having the UX mockups ready, we create interactive prototypes to demonstrate customers not just a set of screens, but flows of using the app. We use inVision app which is the industry standard in prototype development. Our customers love it and their focus groups sometimes do not understand they are using prototypes and not the real products.
Here is where we can say we know everything we need to start working on the project. At this point PMs can involve developers for estimations. At the same time, detailed requirements are being written and interactive prototype is being created. We use the InVision app for interactive prototyping. This product allows to easily import the wireframes that we already have and link them in the way they will be linked in the real product. As a result, you will see a set of wireframes that have buttons and links, which redirect you to other screens as if it were for real. But don’t be fooled thinking this is a real design. The screens are usually black and white with fake images and texts that may not represent the actual app, but this is all temporary.
What Happens During the Product Development
Once clients approve estimates and budget, we start developing a product based on the detailed requirements. We strive to deliver the functionality in chunks making it easier for us to bind to the plan and for clients to see their products growing.
We usually start working on the application back-end providing the foundation for the entire application. Simultaneously we continue working with the design team to create application user interface (UI), which is how the real application will look like. By the time our front-end developers get involved in the project, the UI is ready and approved by the client.
The front-end team creates the interface that actual users will see, creates services that will animate controls and bind them to the data that the application back-end provides and expects to receive from the front-end.
Remember that every product is about quality and though there is not a single product without defects, their amount and severity bothers us a lot. That is why we involve our QAs even when we develop back-end. Our specialists start testing the app even when there is no interface available yet through testing application API. This minimizes the amount of defects by the time we have front-end part ready.
During the development we perform periodic product deployments for clients to review them and share their comments and suggestions. Though we are open to every request, remember we stick to the discussed and approved product requirements. Thus, major changes of the product functionality are processed as change requests and are out of the discussed product budget and usually mean change in project cost and timeline.
We at Mobilunity assist our clients on every stage of product development: either you need assistance creating marketing materials, or you need a promo site, you are welcome to count on us in this. Our system administrators will be glad to advise on the best hosting and services providers for you, deploy the server and set it up for you. We also provide maintenance services once the product is developed and deployed. We do literally everything to help you achieve your goals and be successful where that depends on us.
If you think of creating your own mobile app or website, we at Mobilunity are willing to be your partners who will guide you through the entire journey starting from prototype development and till the actual release to your potential users and even further to supporting your product.