NoCode MVP. The Concept

What is MVP and why NoCode is the best fit for creating a pilot product. How to prioritize features, collect feedback, and stop being afraid of failure.

NoCode MVP. The Concept

Let's imagine that you are at the beginning of the path to the realization of a business idea. To test the value of an idea at minimal cost, startups use the concept of MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – a prototype for quickly collecting user feedback.

The publication is the first part of a series of three articles:

  1. NoCode MVP. The Concept
  2. NoCode MVP. The Services
  3. NoCode MVP. After the Launch

In the first article, we will look at the general concept and philosophy of MVP: why a pilot product is so important and why NoCode technologies are super useful for creating a minimum working product. In the next post, we will discuss NoCode services for specific MVP implementations. In the final publication, we will analyze the possible scenarios for the development of the project after the launch.

Why startups use the MVP concept

The MVP goal is to find out the real interests of the users of the product and thereby avoid spending on the development of unnecessary options. Going forward, the company incrementally adds new features to the MVP and tests which ones add value. Iterations of such a production run are short-lived, so any shortcomings are identified early.

An example of a real MVP. In 1999, Nick Swinmourne tested a simple business idea with an MVP: selling shoes online. He set up a primitive website with pictures of shoes from a local mall. As soon as someone ordered a pair of shoes on the site, Nick bought the goods from a local store and sent them to the buyer. So Nick checked that there really was interest in buying shoes online. After 10 years, Amazon Inc. acquired Nick Swinmurne's Zappos for $850 million.

The creation of any product is based on data. An entrepreneur either collects information about the audience and the current state of the market through MVP, or makes assumptions based on open data and previous experience. But relying solely on the past is risky – it is easy to fall into one of the psychological traps.

The pitfalls of experience based business models:

  • Anchoring. It's easier to work with existing data than to collect new information.

  • Status quo. When making decisions, people usually keep the situation as it is. Choosing between A and B is always harder than choosing A.

  • Sunk costs. People find it difficult to admit mistakes and often defend even wrong decisions. The more options you test, the easier it is to accept individual failure and find the best option.

  • Supporting evidence. We tend to pay attention to those data that convince us of the correctness of the chosen plan. The MVP audience is more objective, as they look at the product from the perspective of the consumer.

  • Overconfidence. By underestimating the best probable outcome or overestimating the worst, we miss out on the best opportunities or expose the project to major risks.

The best defense against psychological traps is completeness of knowledge. A minimally working product allows us to collect up-to-date data on the situation on the real market. With this information, we can adequately predict the commercial and technical potential of a product.

How MVP data is collected and processed

A startup is always an experiment to test a hypothesis. As a result of finding working hypotheses, stable business models are born. Eric Ries, MVP promoter and author of bestseller “Lean StartUp”, showed that every startup experiment is based on repeating a certain cycle:

  1. Build. We have an idea for a product implemented in the MVP form.
  2. Measure. As a result of publishing a product, we investigate how this product is accepted by the audience. As a result, we collect feedback data.
  3. Learn. We analyze feedback, update the knowledge base and come up with new ideas. As a result, we abandon the initial idea or refine it in accordance with customer requests.
MVP hypothesis test cycle

No aspect of the described cycle is paramount, the point is to reduce the overall cycle time. MVP focuses on the features of the product that are needed to quickly implement the main function. This approach saves time and money on checking the market.

How to start working on MVP

Define the problem. At the very beginning of work, the main thing is to understand whether a new product or service creates any value. Answer the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of an MVP? What problem does the product solve? Do consumers acknowledge that they have the stated problem?
  2. What benefits do MVP users get? Will they be willing to pay for the product?
  3. Are there competitors? Are there similar solutions? What are they? Why is your MVP better? Will users pay you? Competitor analysis will allow you to determine your strengths and weaknesses, find communication channels with the audience and evaluate the market.
  4. How can you describe MVP user? Gender, age, employment, habits. Specify the image of the client to facilitate the subsequent search for the target audience.

Define a numerical success criterion. For example, the percentage of active users, NPS customer loyalty index, customer lifetime value (CLV) or any other numerical indicator. It is also equally important to specify the deadline when the result should be achieved.

Prioritize. The MVP should contain only what is needed to test the hypothesis. Leave the accompanying functions for the next iterations of the loop.

Prioritization algorithm:

  1. Break the product down into components. Make a list of MVP features needed to achieve the main goal.

  2. Leave only those features without which the main goal of MVP is unattainable.

  3. Sort the resulting list according to the need for features for the main goal of the product.

  4. Check that the top feature on the list fits perfectly with the purpose of the MVP.

Map the customer path. What steps will the client take to take advantage of the main MVP feature? The path should be short, clear and convenient. The product is more convenient, the closer the main MVP function is to the entry point: the home screen of a mobile application or the main page of a website.

Make an MVP development plan. Choose a method for tracking progress and managing the process. In its simplest form, you can use Kanban board. There should be no more than three entries in each active column on the board. Then the tasks will not hang in one of the columns and the hypotheses will be tested faster.

Present your idea with a blog post, landing page, or video. Use surveys to collect feedback — these tools are often built into publishing platforms. Or use the service for creating forms: Google Forms, Typeform, JotForm. They will automate the  received data processing.

In the early stages, the project may be managed manually, but as it grows, the most frequent operations need to be automated. They form the core of practically fixed knowledge.

What can you do with NoCode

Regardless of MVP type, you need somehow to implement the idea and deliver the product to the client using a website or application. This requires to interconnect several services. The main benefit of NoCode technologies is the simplicity of such an interconnection.

Supplement. If you are still unfamiliar with the world of NoCode technologies, take a look at our ”Mapping the NoCode Landscape” review.

During the MVP development process, you will need various tools, most of which already exist as NoCode services:

  • Platform for distribution of the product. To build a connection with the audience without pushing customers to buy, a one-page landing is enough. If you need something more, sites with complex mechanics and mobile applications are also available.
  • Sales services: product pre-order, subscription service or regular sales through an e-commerce site. The choice of sales model also affects the choice of tools, approaches to distribution and testing of MVP.
  • Data collection can be implemented either using parsers or through customer surveys using electronic forms. Incoming data can be processed automatically immediately after receipt.
  • Storing and processing data in the world of NoCode is usually implemented using tabular databases, which are much easier to view and edit than SQL and NoSQL databases.
  • Integration with other services. In our previous post "How to choose the NoCode workflow platform" we looked at 5 platforms that will allow you to connect a product to thousands of services, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, and more.

We will consider specific NoCode tools for each of these areas in the next post – “MVP on NoCode. The Services".

Benefits of building MVP with NoCode tools

For non-tech startups, NoCode is the only way to test a business idea on their own. Compared to traditional digital project development, NoCode also has several advantages.

NoCode increases the speed and reduces the cost of creation. Connecting ready-made blocks takes significantly less time than writing code. In traditional development, the synthesis of MVP takes 2-3 months, with NoCode it’s only 2-3 weeks.

It's easier to avoid mistakes. Subroutines and interconnections of NoCode services have been repeatedly tested. As a result, you do not have to waste time looking for possible errors. However, if you find a problem, then the speed of the fix depends on the developers of the NoCode tool.

Higher level of abstraction. Compared to low-level programming, NoCode technologies allow you to implement an idea without going into details until it is necessary for the development of the project. In traditional development, it is easier to dig into the subtleties and forget for a long time about the global goal.

Independence and reduced communication time. Even a small MVP usually has several people working on it: founder, programmers, designers, managers. With the help of NoCode, you can implement MVP alone without coordination with the team. This gives a quick start to the project, and when the team is involved, the visualization of the idea contributes to a clear vision of the product and meaningful discussions.

Disadvantages of using NoCode

The advantages of NoCode development have a downside.

The prevalence of NoCode technologies does not mean that outsourcing is easy. If you want to give unfinished job to end it by another person, you will face the problem of finding NoCode developers. The market has given birth to hundreds of NoCode services, but not every tool has enough experts interested in commercial development.

Overtemplating. Customization is a particular challenge. For example, adding JavaScript code. At best, services provide APIs that allow access to internal data.

Scaling difficulties. In the case of a successful MVP, the number of clients will grow, and productivity increase will also be needed. This factor must be taken into account in the business model. You have to compare pricing plans of NoCode tools of the same category.

Platform dependency. You do not own the source code of the NoCode software. If a service leaves the market, you will have to look for an alternative solution or make the service by yourself.

However, the disadvantages of the NoCode approach appear not at the MVP level, but in projects that have crossed the border of about 10k users. For testing the idea, NoCode seems to be the best option. We will consider the issue of project scaling in the third part of our story – "MVP on NoCode. After the Launch".

Conclusion

The main advantage of MVP is the high speed of testing the market with minimal investment. NoCode services are best suited for implementing an MVP strategy in the field of digital products and services. Which ones – we will discuss in the next publication.

Resources for further study

  • Eric Ries. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
  • John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, Howard Raiffa. Smart Choices. A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions
  • Edward Russo, Paul J. S. Schoemaker. Decision Traps: The Ten Barriers to Brilliant Decision- Making and How to Overcome Them
  • Max H. Bazerman. Judgment in Managerial Decision Making
  • We built an MVP during a 2-day no-code hackathon