MVP Software Development: Your Ultimate Guide + Use Cases

Christopher Pinski
April 20, 2024
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MVP Software Development: Your Ultimate Guide + Use Cases

The term MVP may make you think of sports (most valuable player!). Yet an MVP in software development has another meaning entirely. So let's learn about MVP software development: its value, examples, use cases, and how it's done.

MVP Meaning in Software Development: Key Characteristics

MVP stands for "minimum viable product." It's a preliminary product, commonly a product with minimum viability, from which to test and develop your product idea.

Basically, you build software with minimum features, just to the point of meeting the core project goals — no extra flourishes. Once you gather user feedback, you'll start to build it out.

MVPs are part of the lean startup approach to building new businesses or products without overinvesting.

Creating an MVP in software development is ideal because it lets you:

  • Get to market ASAP and beat out any competitors that are close behind
  • Test true market viability using an interactive representation of your product but with minimal investment of time, resources, and budget upfront
  • Gather valuable feedback from early adopters and potential customers, allowing you to track monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and other key indicators of success early on
  • Embrace an iterative process without worrying about delivering a perfect product immediately

It's expected that any software product will go through numerous iterations between MVP and its final state — and that's a great thing.

The guidance you get from releasing an MVP helps you get strategic with future iterations. This way, you'll only invest additional resources where there's a true value-add.

And if your idea isn't viable, MVP development means you'll know that before you go too far.

A white pendant ceiling light hangs in front of a teal wall; the simple design evokes the core functionality of a minimum viable product
An MVP may appear simple, but there's plenty of room to build upon it.

But building an MVP in software development doesn't mean that you:

  • Rush to produce a subpar product — MVPs require careful understanding of and adherence to requirements
  • Leave out critical features — you can't gather feedback that's helpful, or judge market viability, by excluding the core functionality of your product idea
  • Have the final product — if the MVP of a product was fully polished with no further work needed, it wasn't a true MVP; you dedicated too much time and budget upfront
    • Exception: If user feedback shows your MVP isn't viable, then it will be your final product — because it's time to try something else

MVP Software Development vs. PoC vs. Prototype

What's the difference between these terms?

  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP): A working version of your software that includes all core features and basic design, designed to test usability, gather user feedback, and validate market demand
  • Proof of Concept (PoC): A technical mockup that showcases basic functionality to internal stakeholders, designed to share technical feasibility only
  • Prototype: A design mockup that demonstrates UX/UI (user experience and user interface), designed to gather internal feedback on basic design and potential functionality

In short, an MVP is a product — PoCs and prototypes are just pre-development mockups.

An architectural prototype of a white multi-story building with expansive staircase in front
An architectural prototype shows you what to expect — but the doors don't open, the paint color isn't shown, and you can't explore each room. In an MVP, you can explore the app the way you would a life-size building — even if more floors and rooms will be added later.

MVP Examples: Famous Products That Started as MVPs

Since the minimum viable product development process lets you test a product idea with low risk, it's no surprise that some incredible products started as MVPs — like these famous examples.

  • Instagram: Instagram's original purpose wasn't an image-sharing platform! Originally called Burbn, it started as a Foursquare competitor, letting users check in at various locations and share a photo if they wanted. This MVP launch revealed that users loved the photo-sharing feature — and Instagram was born.
  • Spotify: Spotify began as a simple streaming service where users could listen to copyright-restricted music. Over the next several years, Spotify added customer-built playlists, podcasting, audiobooks, and custom Niche Mixes (search for a few descriptive words followed by "mix" and Spotify generates a custom playlist).
A gold and white iPhone displays the Spotify app logo
The Spotify app we know today is vastly different from its MVP roots!
  • Dropbox: The Dropbox MVP story is pretty unique. Potential investors felt no one understood or needed synchronous file sharing. Yet, none of them had tried a product in this niche that was "seamless." After a 3-minute video product demonstration by the founder proved the simple, effective functionality of the software, Dropbox was a hit.
  • Airbnb: The launch of Airbnb's MVP was as minimal as it gets. One founder casually emailed another with a money-making idea: turning their apartment into a bed-and-breakfast for designers attending a nearby conference — the "bed" being an air mattress, hence "Air Bed and Breakfast." They tried it out, booked a few guests ... and just a few years later, it was a multi-billion-dollar product.

Why Invest in a Minimum Viable Product? 7 Key Benefits

If those household names didn't inspire you, here are the key benefits to building your product idea using an MVP in software development.

1. Swiftly validate product viability

Once you have a functional product with the core functionality and basic design planned for your app, you can get feedback right away.

Gauging true market demand through user input will show whether you're on the right track, reveal new opportunities you may not have thought of, or prevent you from spending further time and resources if the idea isn't viable.

A white man in purple sweater with sleeves rolled up squints as though concentrating on something on a computer monitor just out of view
MVP releases let you gather user feedback and validate product viability early on.

2. Mitigate risk

Because you're launching an early-stage version of your product, the risk is much lower. You'd spend far more budget by pushing a robust, fully realized product right out of the gate — and if it didn't take off or needed significant revisions to be successful, you'd be that much more in the hole.

3. Save development time

You'll hire fewer developers and spend less time developing an MVP compared to a more robust release. So, your team will have more time for additional projects and/or complete the MVP much faster.

4. Save money

Hand-in-hand with saving time, MVP software development saves money. A minimum-feature approach means fewer hours, fewer resources, and lower budget. You'll spend money more strategically in later iterations, since you'll have ample user feedback to guide your decisions.

5. Get unique market feedback

Speaking of user feedback, it's one of the main benefits of building an MVP in software development. You'll learn whether your product idea can satisfy early users. This input helps you:

  • Verify your research
  • Make improvements based on what real users actually want (not just what you think they might want)
  • See opportunities to expand or pivot future development in a different direction
  • Bail early if the idea doesn't resonate with your test market

6. Find investors early

Not only do you save money with the MVP development process, but you also have the opportunity to bring in more money for your idea! That's a win-win.

By releasing a functional product and gathering true user input, you create a compelling story for potential investors.

A white woman with long blonde ponytail, in camel-colored blazer with black sweater, sits in a conference room and holds tablet. She's looking at a Black man in blue blazer and blue striped button-down shirt; they seem to be discussing a business transaction, like a product investment
Investors want to see that your product is effective, in demand, and viable. MVPs let you prove that.

7. Improve time-to-market

MVPs help you launch the initial version of your product ASAP — and no-code MVPs let you do this even faster.

Being first on the market is one of the greatest advantages in software development! In this fast-paced industry, never underestimate the value of being first.

Let’s dive deeper into the advantages of a no-code MVP.

Top 4 Reasons Why No-Code Platforms Are the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of MVPs (Minimum Viable Products)

Anything MVPs can do, no-code MVPs can do faster — and simpler. Here's why.

1. Build Faster Without Code

Without a large development team, servers to manage, and complex code made from scratch, your MVP launch will be lightning-fast.

No-code tools are simple to use and customize — which makes the no-code app development process much more efficient.

This gives you a distinct advantage over competitors relying on more traditional methods to build their MVP.

An East Asian man and white man laugh while sitting in a conference room with laptops. They wear t-shirts, and the casual implication is that they're developers discussing a project
Using no-code tools lets developers build MVPs much more efficiently — and scale them effectively.

2. Lower Investment, Lower Risk

Not every software product takes off. Many of them never make it past the MVP stage.

So if you’re pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars and months of work into each MVP, there’s a huge risk involved. (Even greater if you skip the MVP development process entirely!)

But with no-code tools, your MVP can be built with lower development costs and much more efficiently. Both you and your investors take on less financial risk and can transition more quickly to the next product when one doesn’t work out.

3. Iterate From MVP to Fully Loaded App Without Migrating

No-code tools aren’t just for MVPs. You can modify, upgrade, and build upon your MVP until it’s your dream-state solution without needing to switch tools.

This helps save — you guessed it! — time and money. It also streamlines your tech stack to keep things simple.

4. Scale With Ease

Most no-code products are easily scalable. As your app grows, you'll need to add more resources — and all you have to do is upgrade your plan.

No-code tools handle all the server work, which is a huge benefit. Leave all the tinkering and purchasing new servers up to someone else.

Great MVP Use Cases

Wondering where to use MVP software development? Here are some strong examples.

SaaS (Software as a Service) Project Management Tool

This service-based use case is particularly user-driven. Without early adopters testing the software, it's difficult to understand what users want, how they'll use the product, and what unique features are most important to them.

For example, the MVP may launch with task management, deadlines, and goal tracking as core features. Through MVP user testing, the company learns that time tracking, budget tracking, and communication functionality are essential features, too.

E-Commerce Platform

E-commerce platforms can be highly complex, with large feature sets and a strong emphasis on UX/UI.

Starting with just the minimum features is the best way to prove that your technology works and there's a need for your product.

It also helps highlight any functionality or usability issues early on, before the feature list grows and the interconnectedness of each feature makes revisions more difficult.

A white hand holds an iPhone with clear case; a Shopify payment processing page is pulled up on a web browser
Building a minimum viable product with e-commerce integrations like Shopify helps prove API connectivity and other mission-critical functions.


With advanced graphics, intricate storylines, and ever-evolving functionality, modern games can take years to develop.

So offering playable MVP functionality with core gameplay mechanics helps differentiate your idea, demonstrate the experience, and determine if your audience is excited about the concept before you develop the rest of the game.

Legal Research Tool

A tool like this can grow overly complex, and you could waste a lot of time adding features or content that users won't truly need in practice.

So an MVP concept lets you start with a searchable database of legal precedents, statutes, and case law. At testing, users will let you know if the data is valuable and if the platform functions in a way that's efficient and useful to potential customers.

Does Your Project Need an MVP?

At the risk of hyperbole, we'd venture that the answer is "yes" almost 100% of the time.

In the real world, people often use software in a completely different way from what the original developer intended. Remember: Instagram started as a location-based check-in app.

So why would you want to build a software product without valuable insights from early customers guiding further development?

The MVP Software Development Process

The entire development process should work together toward a common goal. Keep in mind that when you build software from scratch, you typically use an iterative process — meaning you'll regularly seek input and revise the product throughout its lifecycle.

1. Identify target audience

When you have a software product idea, you likely have an audience in mind. Are you serving law firms? Medical billing professionals? HR?

Knowing who your target audience is will help you understand what problems they face — and what problems you can solve for them.

A thick crowd of people with various colors of umbrella cross a busy intersection while a bus waits
Your product probably isn't for everyone. So, who is your target audience?

2. Define the problem your product should solve

This is your core value proposition: what benefits your software offers to your target audience. The backbone of a strong value proposition is:

  • Specific user scenarios, which sit at the intersection of your audience and one of their biggest problems
  • How your product effectively and uniquely solves this problem
  • How your target audience will benefit from using your product

Develop user stories to clearly understand your audience and how they'll use your product.

Initially, the problem you identify may just be a hypothesis. You must gather evidence to prove that this is a real, persistent problem that needs a solution.

3. Conduct market research and assess competitors

To connect the dots between a hypothetical problem and your genius solution, you need market research. Learn more about:

  • The size of your target market
  • Recent trends
  • Demographics
  • Preferences and pain points

How? You can conduct research with:

  • Online engagement (polls, social media, etc.)
  • Focus groups
  • Customer surveys or direct interviews

This is also the right time to study what your competitors are doing, what's in development at the moment, and how to differentiate your product concept.

4. Select core features to build

Based on your research, what crucial features does your software need? Make sure to prioritize them, since your MVP will only include essential elements.

5. MVP architecture design

How will your MVP be constructed? Can you anticipate the needs of the fully realized product and choose appropriate tools from the start?

Remember: no-code platforms scale like a dream. If you use no-code to build a successful MVP, chances are you can use the same platform(s) for your final iterations.

Partial look at GitLab interface
While GitLab is known as a tool for coding with programming languages, even they’re beginning to look in the low- and no-code direction!

6. MVP launch: gather feedback from the market

What does your target audience think of your product concept? Do the core features meet their needs? Are user interactions smooth? How are you tracking user engagement and feedback?

This validated learning is the reason you chose MVP development: to learn valuable insight from your market before investing additional resources into a more complete release.

7. Iterate based on user feedback

The software development cycle is often built on the practice of continuous improvement/continuous deployment (CI/CD) — regularly launching new updates and improvements to your software without major service interruptions.

Successful MVP software development takes this into account. By planning ahead, your iterations and successive deployments will be seamless.

Three team members, appearing to be two men and one woman, sit at a white conference table in front of a whiteboard covered in sticky notes, implying a sprint meeting or scrum
What you do with user feedback can dictate the success of your product in future iterations. Meet, discuss, and strategize!

Best Practices and Biggest Challenges of MVP Development

What should you focus on, and what pitfalls can you anticipate and avoid?

Be Strategic: Define Goals and Stick to Scope

  • Best Practice: Even though you'll continue to iterate on your MVP, establish your goal, core value proposition, and basic scope upfront. Don't deviate unless market research reveals that something needs to change.
  • Challenge: It's easy to get distracted by software development trends and new ideas along the way. Reference your initial goals and project scope regularly to avoid getting off track.

Understand Your Target Audience & Market

  • Best Practice: Research, interview, and develop user stories to ensure that your MVP and subsequent iterations are built with them in mind.
  • Challenge: You may assume that you know your target audience already. But chances are, the specific problem you're solving — and the specific way you're solving it — appeals to a unique audience outside of your existing context.

Follow an Established Development Process (ex. Agile Methodology)

  • Best Practice: Define your MVP development methodology upfront and stick to it. This ensures everyone understands what to expect, in what format, and when.
  • Challenge: Some may prefer to use a style they're familiar with from previous projects. It's up to the project manager to establish and enforce use of the process for the full team.

Prioritize UI/UX

  • Best Practice: Your UI/UX dream state can inform the technical feasibility of — and the right technology stack for — your minimum viable product. It also drives usability and user engagement, so keep it front and center as you build.
  • Challenge: Stakeholders, users, and even other project team members aren't necessarily familiar with UI/UX best practices. So don't forget to filter all suggestions and feature requests through a UX/UI lens.
A man stands at a whiteboard wall, sketching UX concepts while a woman gestures at the sketch as though explaining it to a man of color sitting at the conference table
Even the coolest, most useful features can flop without proper UX and/or UI design, so keep this a high priority.

Anticipate Legal & Compliance Requirements

  • Best Practice: From law firms to healthcare, most industries face compliance requirements. Outline and understand these requirements before you build to avoid roadblocks.
  • Challenge: Legal and other compliance requirements can impact essential features, usability, and even the viability of your product. You may want to race ahead with your idea and tackle compliance later, but we wouldn't recommend it.

Engage Stakeholders and Early Adopters; Iterate Strategically

  • Best Practice: Gather early feedback, then keep gathering it regularly. Make adjustments accordingly using evidence and data.
  • Challenge: It's tempting to insert new ideas without testing or dismiss feedback you don't agree with. But remember: early adopters are your customers, so build what they want vs. what you think they want.

MVP Software Development FAQs

What does this iterative development approach involve?

What does MVP stand for in app development?

An MVP in software development stands for "minimum viable product" — a basic working version of software designed for testing, feedback, and iteration.

What is an MVP in Agile?

In lean startup methodology (agile development), a minimum viable product (MVP) is the first iteration of a software application that includes its core features and meets the goals and value proposition of the project.

An MVP in agile is designed for iterative development based on user feedback.

What are the 3 elements of MVP?

An MVP in software development:

  • Has sufficient features to solve the core problem
  • Is exciting enough to satisfy early adopters
  • Is designed for improvement — it's not a finished product

What is the difference between PoC and MVP?

A PoC (proof of concept) is an internal mockup designed to share technical feasibility behind the scenes.

An MVP (minimum viable product) is a working software application with an interface and core features. It's designed to be tested by early adopters.

Is an MVP the same as a prototype or a proof of concept?

No — an MVP is a working product, while both prototypes and PoCs (proof of concept) are pre-development mockups.

A woman with curly brown hair in a white ribbed sweater looks closely at a helmet prototype. She sits at a cluttered desk with laptop, keyboard, tools, and paperwork
This prototype or proof of concept isn't ready for market — it's not a complete, working helmet. However, it may be enough to show the possibilities for a new design or new approach to construction.

Which two aspects of a product do minimum viable products (MVPs) test?

MVPs test whether the product is effective and possible to achieve (viability/feasibility) as well as whether users actually want it in the way you conceive it (desirability/usability).

Summary: Achieve Your Business Goals with a No-Code Minimum Viable Product

The results are in! MVPs save you:

  • Uncertainty (will it be viable/desirable?)
  • Resources
  • Time
  • Money

So if you need a custom solution for your business or clients, an MVP software development team is the way to go —

And that's what you'll get with Crispy. We're MVP-as-a-service, with an emphasis on "service." Make your dream state a reality!

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Last updated
November 25, 2023

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