How to Prioritize Features For Your Mobile App MVP
In mobile app development, a minimum viable product (MVP) is used to identify, validate, or invalidate the highest-risk assumptions about your mobile app. An MVP provides immediate value. The MVP development method allows you to learn how your target users react to your app’s core purpose, and with that insight, you can prioritize your product roadmap to expand your app iteratively.
This post will break down how to identify the primary goal of a mobile app MVP and how to select the features that best support that goal.
Establish Product Vision & Strategic Goals
The first stage of the process starts with product design and discovery. At this point, you need to develop a strategy and a plan for what your MVP will accomplish, why, and for whom. The design and discovery process helps you align your product goals with the strategic vision of your business.
Spend time before you start listing features determining your product’s vision, the problem it addresses, its target users, and the value it brings to the market. Establishing the focus for your product will help you nail down the key functionality of your MVP.
Using your product vision, you can determine the product goals that will guide your initiatives for iterative development. Establishing product goals is the step that helps you transform your product strategy into actionable deliverables. Keep your product goals high-level, but linked to a key performance indicator. Here are a few goal examples:
- Mobile Adoption
- Customer Satisfaction
- Increase Lifetime Value (LTV)
- Reduce Churn
- Upsell New Services
Prioritizing Features in a Mobile App MVP
When you begin prioritizing the features for your product, you should start by answering these questions: what is the number one problem my users are experiencing and how will the functionality of my product solve that problem? During the MVP planning process, it’s critical to limit the number of features you’re prioritizing and focus on only what’s necessary to take your app to market.
To identify the features that support your MVP’s core functionality, it’s recommended to create a master wishlist of all the features you want your product to offer eventually. From here, you can now start organizing and cutting features to keep your MVP lean. A common best practice for determining the necessary features for a mobile app MVP is employing the MoSCoW matrix.
MoSCoW is a prioritization method that stands for must, should, could, and won’t. This method is used to determine what features need to be completed first, which features will come later, and which features to cut entirely. Identifying the essential requirements for your product up front dramatically reduces scope creep. Often as a project progresses, more features come into the light, and if you can’t scale back the features in the should have or could have sections of your MoSCoW matrix, it could blow up the MVP. The MoSCoW method keeps the scope of your project on track, and if too many features are unnecessarily deemed a priority, the timeline, the budget, and the ability to achieve business goals suffer.
Another helpful method for determining your MVP’s core features is to use a prioritization matrix.
Using a prioritization matrix, like the example above, can help you make the final decision about what features are necessary for your MVP.
Other Considerations for Prioritizing Features
While you’re planning and prioritizing the features for your MVP, there are several things you need to keep in mind.
What does my user want vs. what does my user need?
Wants and needs are two very different things. Asking yourself this question will help you give thoughtful consideration to each feature and how it fits into the MoSCoW matrix. Implementing too many user-requested features too soon can harm the user experience and take away from the overall purpose of the product.
Which features don’t add value until I reach X amount of users?
If you haven’t grown a substantial user-base for your product, some of your wishlist features won’t be useful yet. Include these features in your product roadmap for future iterations of the app.
Does my product have customer feedback channels in place?
Receiving user feedback is essential for a mobile app MVP. Insight from user feedback helps your product team make research-based decisions about each stage of development, as well as what features to prioritize in future iterations of the app.
Adjusting Your Roadmap Post-MVP
A product roadmap is central for guiding the strategic direction of your mobile app. A roadmap is not set in stone, rather it changes over time, especially in agile development. In fact, your product roadmap should be built to accommodate change.
Once you’ve launched your mobile app MVP, it’s time to start gathering user feedback and making iterations to your product roadmap based on your key performance indicators (KPIs).
Gather Feedback, Measure, Make Iterations
User feedback is a gold mine of information for helping you pinpoint the areas where your product is doing well and what areas you need to improve. This information will help you decide to stay on the track you’re on, or pivot and change direction entirely. Examining user feedback and tracking user behavior will tell you more about what your users want and what they need from your product.
Use Metrics to Support Your Product Roadmap
Metric-driven roadmaps are the foundation for a successful mobile app. It’s crucial to determine your success metrics early on in the development process. Defining your primary KPIs early will give you a firm understanding of what areas to focus on to improve future releases of your product.
The KPIs you choose to focus on will largely depend on the stage of your product, your industry, and type of product. With an MVP, you want to limit the number of KPIs that really matter and only focus on the metrics that move the needle for your business.
Depending on the type of product you release, you may decide to focus on some of the following success metrics:
- Adoption rates
- Retention and churn
- Product quality
- Feature use, or the percentage of users that take an action that matters
- Acquistion costs
- Lifetime value (LTV)
These are actionable metrics that connect back to the strategic direction and initiatives of your product roadmap. At this point, collect the data from your MVP and revise your goals accordingly. By understanding how your users interact with your product with quantitative research, you’ll be able to determine what features and areas of your product need the most attention in the next release.
Analyze the Competition
The goal of launching an MVP is to bring a unique value proposition to the market; however, you can discover a lot about the market you’re entering by examining the competition.
Rather than picking apart your competition’s feature set, look for information on less visible channels. For example, explore different blogs and support pages where users are discussing the competition’s product. Use these channels to learn what users like about their product, what they don’t like, and what they want to see next.
Organize Next Steps Into Themes
Once you’ve determined what direction makes the most sense for your product, organize your next set of deliverables into themes that describe value to your customers and stakeholders. At high-level, themes are groups of similar features, epics, and initiatives that represent a job you aim to help the user accomplish. For example, your theme might be “reduce user time to check out,” and under this theme, you will bucket the initiatives that support it like new features, feature enhancements, or bug fixes. A significant benefit to themes is they keep your product roadmap at a high-level, and you’re able to switch out features in a theme without affecting your entire strategy.
A product roadmap is essential for communicating the strategic purpose of your MVP and guiding each stage of development after you launch your product. The process is inherently iterative, and communication is a significant part of every step. Developing a comprehensive roadmap will help you and your team digest the data you receive from your MVP and make the best decisions moving forward.