Few things are more important to a web designer or developer’s chances of success than having the right workflow. The term “workflow” refers to the set of standardized steps that you or your company use to create, test and deploy designs or products.
Over the years, as developmental processes have evolved, so have the workflows that experts use to convey their ideas. The MVP workflow, or “Minimum Sustainable Product” strategy, is one of the most popular options in 2022.
Here’s what you need to know about MVP workflows and how it differs from some of the other standard workflows that developers might use.
What is the Designer / Developer Workflow?
As mentioned above, the designer / developer workflow is a series of steps used by experts in the web design world to achieve a creative goal. The process includes the steps taken to start, develop and complete a project. Because software is never developed without tools, the technology that you will have access to during the development process is also considered in most workflows.
An example of a standard development workflow could be:
- Scaffolding: This is the stage where you start your new web project, creating a git repo, downloading libraries, preparing file structures, and completing other tasks to ensure your product is ready to roll out worldwide.
- Develop: This is where you spend most of your time writing code for your application or website. The development process may include a variety of specific tools and support from other team members.
- Examination: In this step, you examine the functionality of your code to see if everything works as it should. If there are errors or problems, you can go back and develop solutions to the potential problems. Your code may go through the development / testing process several times before you can move on to the next step.
- Integrate: This is when you merged the code for your part of the development process with the rest of the team. You can also integrate your code with existing websites and apps at this point. If you are working alone, you can skip this process.
- Optimize: You prepare all your assets for use on a production server during the optimization phase. Files are generally optimized to ensure that your visitors can easily view your site or access your apps with ease.
- Deployment: In the deployment phase, the developers push code and assets up on the server and allow the public to see changes.
What is an MVP? (Minimum Sustainable Product)
Now that you know what a developer workflow looks like, you can start evaluating the concept of “MVP” workflow. The term “MVP” stands for Minimum Viable Product.
The idea of a “Sustainable Minimum Product” applies to a range of industries, from education to healthcare and government entities. This term derives from basic initiation practices and focuses heavily on the value of learning and change during the development process.
When you adapt your workflow to focus on MVP, you are essentially adjusting your focus to a point where you can create a stripped-back version of something new – such as an app or a website. The MVP is built right with the core features (the minimum), so you can bring the idea to market and test it as quickly as possible.
For example, if your goal was to create a new attractive website for your clients, MVP would focus on implementing the crucial front-end tools, and nothing else. While you can create Checkout pages, product pages, and other features of the site, you would not add content or start trying out bonus widgets and apps.
So how does this offer a better alternative to the standard workflow?
Simply put, MVP workflows are fast, agile and easy. The idea is that you can validate key concepts quickly, fail quickly, and learn just as quickly. Instead of having to build an entire app and almost restart from scratch every time you find an error, you can go through the iteration and development process.
MVP workflows are also very attractive to start-ups and entrepreneurs looking to validate ideas without a major upfront investment.
Examples of MVP Workflows
Still confused? The easiest way to understand how an MVP workflow works is to look at an example.
Let’s start with a conceptual example. Say you were building a voice transcription service for businesses. Desirable features of this product may include the ability to download transcripts, translate them into multiple languages, and integrate them into AI analysis tools.
However, using the MVP approach, you would not try to achieve all your goals with your software immediately. Instead, you want to focus on something simple at first – like the ability to download the transcripts. Once you confirm that you can do that, you can start a new workflow for the next most important feature of the app.
One great example of a company with an MVP approach is Airbnb. The entrepreneurs behind this unicorn company, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, did not have much money to start a business with. They had to use their own apartment to validate the idea of creating a website where people could share the “space” they had available in a house or apartment with the public.
To begin with, Airbnb created only a very basic website, published photos of its properties, and waited to see the results. After discovering that people were very interested in renting someone else’s house, the company was able to start experimenting with new ideas to create a site where people could list their properties for travelers.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of MVP Workflow
The MVP’s workflow has many benefits – especially when it comes to getting fit and developing new products quickly. However, there are also disadvantages.
- With an MVP approach, you can maximize your learning opportunities and quickly create a more innovative and successful product. You get to test every step of the way.
- You release iterations or versions of your product quickly, which means you discover problems faster, allowing you to resolve these issues quickly.
- You add to the benefits of customer fans, “evangelists” in the market who are eager to help your product or service grow.
- An MVP gives you more freedom to try out unique ideas and “risks” that you might avoid with a traditional workflow.
- Because you are only focused on creating the “viable minimum product”, you do not have to spend a fortune arranging your workflows first.
- Agile work with MVP flow requires a lot of effort to gather ongoing customer feedback and release iterations.
- You will need to commit yourself to many small and frequent releases of products on a tight schedule.
- You may need to review the functionality of your product or app several times.
Creating Your MVP Workflow
If you believe that an MVP workflow may be effective for you, the first step is to define your “Minimum Viable Product”. The app, website or product you design needs to be aligned with your team’s strategic goals, so think about what your company is currently trying to achieve – before you start. If you have limited resources, or specific objectives, such as enhancing your reputation as a trusted company, this may not be the right time to develop a new MVP.
Ask what the purpose of your viable minimum product is and what type of market you will be targeting. You will need to know your target customer to help you test the quality and performance of each iteration of your MVP. Once you know what your ideal “product” is, ask yourself what your most important features will be.
You can base these decisions on things like:
- User research
- Competitive analysis
- Feedback from your audience
For example, if you are producing a chatbot AI that helps companies sort out customer queries, perhaps the most important “start-up feature” is the ability to integrate that bot into Web sites and applications owned by the company.
MVP Approach Guidelines
Once you have a hierarchy of the most valuable features for a viable minimum product, you can translate this into an action plan for development. Remember, even though you are focusing on the “minimum” in development, your product still needs to be “viable”. In other words, it still needs to allow your customer to achieve a specific goal.
- Review your features: Review your priority product requirements and the minimum level of functionality you can deliver with each of the “features.” You need to make sure that you continue to add value to your customer with anything you produce.
- Build your solution: Build your minimum set of features for the product or service. Just remember to build what is needed. You can use methodologies like the agile or waterfall method to help guide your team during this process.
- Validate your solution: Release your offer on the market, and make sure you have tools in place to gather feedback from the early adopters. Use beta programs, focus groups, and market interviews to understand how your solution works for your customers and where you can improve your current offering.
- Issue new iterations: Based on what you learn from your target audience, release improvements to your product quickly. Use your validation strategies to gather information from your audience with each issue.
- Review again: Go back to your product requirements and desired features and start the process again, this time focusing on the next most valuable functionality. Over time, the value of your minimum viable product will increase.
Using the MVP Workflow Approach
While the MVP workflow approach may not be the right solution for every development or design team, it can work very effectively in the right circumstances. The MVP approach does not underestimate the importance of understanding market problems and delivering value. Instead, the focus is on delivering fast value that gradually increases and develops over time.
As many developers and designers know, the most useful type of product validation in most cases is real – life validation. When your customers have had the opportunity to use a product on a day – to – day basis, they can provide much more effective feedback.
Keep in mind that a commitment to the MVP approach also means changing workflows and promising iterations – otherwise other aspects may never be completed. You need to be willing to work fast and in small bursts without getting too caught up in one aspect or one functionality.
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