MVP V/s Prototype: Make the Right Choice for Your Project

When it comes to product development and launch, most of the companies going for custom software development find themselves clueless. Whether it is a startup or an enterprise- they have no clear idea about what they must have done to validate their project idea first. Again, this is the most important stage in launching the product!

MVP and prototype are considered as two effective approaches that you can opt for product launch; however, they work at different stages of the development. Many a time people get confused between both the terms. When you will use both of them in the right manner you will be able to ensure that your business concept is accepted well by the stakeholders and the target audience. Additionally, this will even make sure that your product launch is a complete success.

MVP vs prototype

Here in this article we will try to know MVP and prototype approaches in a better way and learn when you can use them in your product development.

What is the MVP?

MVP or Minimum Viable Product is the product with the basic features to get started with. Here the further development takes place based on the feedback received.

Even if you are planning to come up with a product prototype, you need to understand its worth first. This is where you need to come up with MVP as it will save your money and time all the while coming up with a functional product in a cost-effective manner. Unlike the prototype, MVP is a complete product that you can release in the market. By introducing MVP in the market you will be able to know whether it seems to have value for the customers or not. In the case of MVP, functionality can be added later as the requirement arises and so it is open for technical development.

Features of MVP

• A low budget project with higher user retention.
• Developing a project with high value by learning from continuous user feedback.
• You can choose to have just the essential features that may attract users when developing the product.
• It can save you a lot in terms of time and money during project development.
• It can be released in the market quickly.
• Less risky, when trying to know the market and user needs.
• It helps you verify the assumptions and the viability of the idea.
• Let’s you know the market demands better.

What is project prototyping?

In simple words, a prototype can be called a simple model of the product which is in its early stage. It is normally build to test the idea before it can be developed for commercial purposes.

Once you have an idea about a product on the mind, you need to check its viability and feasibility first. The best way to get it done fast is through product prototype. It is even the cheapest way to know whether the product can go with further development or not. This will give you an idea about how your future product will look like and how it will function.

This means that the prototype can be called as the basic version of the full-fledged product that you will develop in the future. However, you need to understand that the prototype is not functional and operational as MVP is. You can even state that the prototype is the sketch you make to explain your idea to the investors in the live form. This will help the investors to understand the idea in a better way with its technicalities.

Now based on the feedback from the clients and stakeholders, the development team can make the needed changes in the prototype or altogether come up with a new one.

Features of project prototyping

• Business users get to validate the flow of the application.
• Can get early feedback on the developed product.
• Complex ideas can be presented in a format that is easy to understand.
• Issues in the design and development phase can be identified.
• It can work well when you are looking for seed funding.
• Compared to full-fledged development, it is less expensive and time-saving.

Benefits of MVP

• Cost efficiency
Products with all the needed and extra features take years of effort, time and money. Here development iteratively takes place for a longer period. So the revenue received from the earlier version can be used by them to build newer versions.

• Test the business concepts with a core set of functionalities
MVP helps you get a primitive version of your product which you can test first to ensure your business concept is acceptable in the market. MVP is all about offering core features at first rather than coming up with a product with full-fledged features. This helps the business to quickly market the product and keep on making improvements based on the user information. Moreover, it also helps to come up with a product in a cost-effective manner.

• Product evolution is driven by the iterative process
MVP is all about coming up with a product that has core functionalities and features. This helps to build a specific user base for you and then work further to know what clicks with them and whatnot. Collecting such information is very crucial for the development team as it lets them decide what to include in the future iterations. They can decide which features to add in and what to drop and accordingly plan out the development budget.

Benefits of project prototyping

• Find new product ideas and work on improvements
You can validate a new idea with prototyping and even have opportunities to find new ideas during the process of development. Any new areas of improvement can be found in the product during the testing phase.

• Involvement of stakeholder and client
When you are carrying out project prototyping, it would be wise enough that you involve the presence of stakeholders in the planning process. This will make sure that the design ideas and the decisions taken in there will have co-ownership of the stakeholders. Bringing the right stakeholders in the designing process will broaden the perspective of the team and will help to make decisions that are efficient and cost-effective for the project.

• Cost-efficiency
When you go ahead with project prototyping, you will be working towards saving money in the long run. When it comes to project development, it is wise enough to resolve the issues at the earliest than getting it done in the end.

• UX validation
It is not easy to come up with a product that works well in terms of user engagement. One of the best ways to validate the UX and usability of the project is running the prototype through a user test. Several users tend to leave the app after one use and it is important that users just not stop at downloading the app. You need to provide continuous value to the users if you want to retain them. This can only be accomplished when you excel at app engagement.

Reasons to use MVP

1. Reduces development costs: MVP development needs less amount of money unlike developing a full-fledged project. So even if your MVP fails to impress the users and stakeholders, you will end up losing only a small amount of money.

2. Gets you the first set of customers: Developing an MVP will help you interact with the first set of users. Once they will like the app they will spread the word. So by the time your app is completely developed, you will have your first set of customers ready to use them.

3. Test the business idea: Whether your business idea will work in the market or not can be known by building an MVP. Building MVP will let you know whether the users are interested to use it or not. This will help you plan your further development process.

4. Attract investors: Having a business idea is one thing but to make it happen, you need to have enough budget. You should look for investors if you have no money to invest in your project. You need to build an MVP to explain your idea to the investors in a better way. Building an MVP will let you have a better chance to get noticed.

5. Don’t put in your efforts unnecessarily: Building MVP will save you a lot of money and time, and at the same time, will save you from unnecessary efforts. MVP will help you scale your project based on user feedback.

6. Save your time: What will be your response if you find that the app you developed by spending all your years of effort and money does not mean anything? What if your app failed drastically? There cannot be the worst nightmare, right? You can avoid this situation completely by taking a different step. Build an MVP for your app and collect user feedback. This will help you make the right changes and improvements.

Reasons to use the prototype

1. Helps you know the issue better: People generally skip prototyping just because they think that they know the correct solution. So stop thinking that way and start working on your prototype. Remember that your first developed prototype may not be the perfect solution but it will lead to more questions for improvement.

2. Saves you money: Prototyping will help you save a lot of money during the development process. This means you will have a shorter development cycle. Again, compared to complete project designing and development, you will need fewer resources for project prototyping. In the beginning, you can have a single person to build the prototype and later once it is approved, you can have the whole team to work on project development.

3. Saves you time: When compared with the real-life implementation, prototyping is faster. So try to stay in this mode as much as you can. Build your project in prototype and keep on testing and evaluating it continuously. This will help you know more about the issues in design and solve them quickly. This will lead to faster implementation later.

4. Start working quickly: When you are working on something at the organizational level it involves a lot of ideas and many opinions. All such issues get resolved with prototyping. They help you get started on the project quickly. Even if your first developed prototype may not come out as expected, it will help you know what can’t work for your project. With continuous prototyping, you will be able to get a good result.

5. Get feedback fast: For the success of any project, feedback plays a key role. Feedback can be collected from clients, customers, and stakeholders. The sooner you will be able to collect the feedback; you will be able to start implementing them in the project. It is important to collect the feedback as you are developing the project for the users.

6. Build a better product through several iterations: It is true that the more you work on something, you will make better changes. When you are developing a product you will have to go through multiple iterations of “development-testing-improving”. The more you do that, the better you will develop your project.

Difference between a prototype and a minimum viable product

Both of them are used by the development team before the development phase of the project to decide its viability. The prototype is more like a draft while MVP is kind of a product itself. MVP is a product with minimum features that you can release in the market directly. On the other hand, you need to start working on a prototype once it has been approved by all stakeholders.

When to use MVP?

• When you have to come up with a working product for the customers.
• When you are trying to get a higher retention rate at a very low budget.
• When you are planning to monetize your product.
• When you want to improvise the product by understanding the market well.
• When you want to have an error-free and bug-free application or website ready to be used by the people.

When to use a prototype?

• When you need to come up with the design and look instantly.
• When you want to explain the functioning of the product visually.
• When technical availability is limited.
• When you have to show a product to the stakeholders within a very less budget and time.

Final thoughts

It is a fact that you can validate and verify your startup idea using MVP and prototype approaches. Both approaches can help you decide what to build and how you can carry out the development. Still, in the design flow, both of them are said to play different goals. A project prototype is used to show and explain the different functionality in the project, and it cannot work on its own. On the other side, MVP is a complete product with simple features and is ready to market.

You can keep adding more features to it later during development iterations. So, if you want to be sure about the value of the product by introducing it into the market, you should go with MVP. If you want to test the idea and present something new to the stakeholders, you should go with the prototype.

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