15 ways you could validate your mobile MVP

11 min read
September 19, 2022

Many developers and business owners live by the “if you build it, they will come” approach.

But things don’t always work that way—especially with your minimum viable product (MVP).

Your job doesn’t end once you’re ready to launch your MVP. On the contrary, it’s only just begun!

To make the most out of your MVP, you must take active steps to validate it with your market. Otherwise, people will overlook it – and waste your effort in the process.

Here are 15 ways you can validate your mobile MVP.

Customer interviews

Interviewing customers is perhaps the simplest and most direct way of validating your MVP.

The idea is that you explain the purpose of the MVP and the problem it’s trying to solve. Then, after the person has evaluated your MVP, you ask them for feedback.

Interviews are great because you get to uncover deeper insights and issues that you won’t discover otherwise.

It also allows you to understand your end user thoroughly so that you can build a better-fitting app.

However, to make the most of interviews, you need to ask the right questions to dig deeper. One good approach is the 5 Whys Technique, developed by Toyota’s founder Sakichi Toyoda.

5 Why techniques in user interview

Source: Enlab Software

The method is simple—when you encounter a problem or feedback, you ask “why?” five times.

This encourages the person who brought up the issue to elaborate, allowing you to get to the root cause.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is an effective barometer for gauging interest in your MVP or app idea, even before you commit to full development.

The idea is that if people are willing to pay you based on your app concept alone, then it’s an indicator that the final app could do well.

Conversely, it helps you avoid wasted time, energy, and money if the app doesn’t resonate as much.

Nowadays, it’s easy to run a crowdfunding campaign on your MVP through sites like Crowdfunder or Kickstarter.

MVP crowdfunding campaign

Source: Kickstarter

The biggest benefit of crowdfunding is that it gives you funds that can help in development.

You also have a ready pool of engaged fans that you can ask for feedback or become your first users once you launch.

But since people have already paid you, there’s added pressure to deliver the app as intended. Not doing so could ruin your reputation and even land you in legal trouble.

So only do crowdfunding if you’re 100% sure your app development will succeed.

Blog

Blogs are a simple yet effective way to promote your MVP and solicit feedback from readers.

Writing a blog costs next to nothing, and you can interact with your readers through the comments section.

And if they’re regular readers of your blog, chances are they could also become engaged users.

Groove screenshot

Source: Groove

But to pull off a blog, you must build your audience first.

The most effective approach is to post regular content long before launching your MVP.

For example, you can post stories about your app development journey, or you can also announce new features as you implement them.

Above all, be consistent. Put out regular articles even after you launch to maintain your readership base.

Social media survey

When it comes to directly interacting with your users at scale, nothing beats social media.

Compared to traditional surveys, social media surveys generally have better response rates. That’s because you’re most likely catching them when they’re not busy doing anything else.

Plus, social platforms allow you to devise your survey in a way that zeroes in on the right demographic.

Facebook group marketing

Source: The Crowdfunding Formula

And it’s easy to do these as well. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have built-in tools to create and analyze surveys.

You should run polls on Facebook groups where your ideal users are for the best results.

For instance, if you want to test an MVP for an app aimed at parents, you can find parenting groups and ask the owner for permission to run a survey.

Better yet, you can start and foster your own group.

Landing page

A landing page is a quick and easy way to gauge how users feel about your MVP or app idea, even before you create it.

You can just put up a website that explains the key features and benefits of your app.

Then, at the end of the landing page, users can either test your MVP or join a mailing list while waiting for your app to launch.

The idea is that people who sign-up or download your MVP are already intrigued enough by your app concept. And that could be an indicator of market demand.

Indeed, that’s how Buffer validated their app idea and got paying customers in only seven weeks.

Buffer screenshot

Source: Buffer

Landing pages are also great if you want to test different pricing schemes. Simply present two to three price ranges, and go with the one the users pick the most.

Emails to potential users

Emails are also a good alternative to landing pages in validating user sentiment on your app idea. And that’s because emails have an added advantage.

Chances are, people in an email list are already highly engaged with your company or brand (assuming it’s properly nurtured and segmented).

So, you’ll most likely get a more positive response than if you ran the landing page to the wider public.

collect save share

Source: App Radar

However, the advantage brought about by the email can also be a hindrance.

That’s because you can only run a successful email campaign if you already have a list to start with. Thus, this approach is not viable for new startups with zero digital presence.

Competitor’s product analysis

Checking out your competitors is an often overlooked but highly effective strategy to validate your MVP.

The idea is to analyze other apps in your niche and see what users think of them.

You can easily do this by going to the app store and looking at the reviews of the apps that interest you.

What are the common complaints users have? What features do they like the most? These can give you insights, so you know what to improve and avoid in your own MVP.

Having an analysis chart helps organize all the information you’ll find.

Competitor Analysis Comparison Infographic Template

Source: Venngage

The best part is that this validation method is free and effortless. After all, your competitors did all the hard work!

Ad campaign

An ad campaign can be an effective strategy to test your app idea on a cold audience.

Using a paid ad, you can evaluate how your audience feels about your app features and marketing materials before launch. That way, you can still make the necessary changes.

Billguard FB ad

Source: Apptamin

Platforms like Facebook allow you to become hyper-focused with your targeting, providing countless demographic and psychographic metrics to narrow down your ideal audience.

This can even be a great research tool. For instance, running Facebook’s audience tool can tell you how many people fit certain criteria, helping you estimate your app’s market size.

Explainer video

Explainer videos are highly effective at validating your MVP idea and generating interest.

Videos are generally more engaging and entertaining than simply talking about your product using words. Plus, some app concepts are better demonstrated than discussed.

In fact, this is how Dropbox approached its MVP.

DropBox Demo 1

Source: Tech Crunch

Using an explainer video, Dropbox founder Drew Houston showed how innovative and useful his idea was.

And it worked exceptionally well. DropBox got over 70,000 users to sign up as beta testers in just a day. That was a big sign that the app idea would be a hit.

And you don’t even need extensive production to create an explainer video. In Dropbox’s case, the founder simply used a video capture tool to record his screen while using the software.

Digital prototype

A prototype is an early version of your app that looks like the final version but where all the functionality is simulated.

For example, in the prototype below, you can only interact with areas in the blue boxes. Clicking on these would generate a pre-scripted action to simulate chatting with a doctor.

doctor booking app prototype 1

Source: Marvel App

Prototypes are best used as usability testing tools to gather feedback on the user’s experience with the app.

It can help uncover UX problems like clunky navigation, confusing copy, or unnecessary steps.

A/B testing

An A/B test (also called a split test) is a tool for validating two or more variations of your MVP.

The idea is that you present each MVP variation to a small subset of users and see which gets the better response.

B test for a mobile application

Source: Sophia Martin | Medium

A/B testing is a great approach if you can’t decide which direction you want your app to go. You can use it to test anything—be it a feature or a UI element.

For example, is it better to go with a hamburger menu or a sidebar? Performing an A/B test gives you the data to decide.

And since it’s based on what users think and not just your gut feel, it’s much more accurate.

The only drawback to A/B testing is the added commitment, since you need to take more time to develop and analyze multiple variations of your MVP.

Single-feature MVP

As its name suggests, a single-feature MVP focuses only on one feature, thus allowing you to validate it exclusively.

This is ideal if you’re already sure of your app’s core idea and want to check if it will resonate with the market.

For instance, Uber’s core offering is online ride-hailing. That’s why they chose to validate their idea with a single-feature MVP.

How Uber started with an MVP to become a 68 billion unicorn

Source: Enlume

An advantage of a single-feature MVP is that it’s simple to develop since you’re only focusing on one function. The turnaround time is also faster, so you can validate your app much earlier.

The only drawback is that users might find your MVP very limited.

Piecemeal MVP

A piecemeal MVP is built using existing third-party tools and libraries.

This approach is ideal if you want to create an MVP with advanced features but don’t have the time or money to do so.

Probably one of the most popular piecemeal MVPs is Groupon.

Groupon Piecemeal MVP Minimum Viable product 1

Source: Techuz

Instead of creating the system from scratch, Groupon founder Andrew Mason used existing solutions like WordPress, FileMaker, and Apple Mail.

This approach gave his MVP a semblance of automation, minus the time and effort to build it.

In short, using proven solutions can be an effective shortcut to validating your idea with an MVP.

Concierge MVP

A concierge MVP is one run entirely by a human.

The idea here is that creating the backend of a complicated app is expensive and time-consuming.

But by doing it manually, you can accomplish similar results with minimal expense.

A good example of an app that started as a concierge MVP is Airbnb.

one of the more famous apps that started as a concierge MVP is Airbnb 1

Source: Logan Merrick

The Airbnb founders wanted to test their idea quickly and cost-effectively. So they put together a makeshift site and put their living room up as test accommodation.

There was no automation involved—the founders responded and booked the rooms themselves.

Wizard of Oz MVP

A wizard of Oz MVP is similar to the concierge MVP setup in that most of the backend work is done manually. But here, the user doesn’t know about it.

Many successful tech companies today started as wizard of Oz MVPs. The two most notable ones are Amazon and Instacart.

Amazon.com MVP 1

Source: Dittofi

In both cases, the operations were the same. When an order came in, the founders would personally go to a store and buy the product.

They would then ship the item to the customers themselves.

Both the concierge and wizard of Oz MVPs are fantastic ways to bootstrap an app idea short term despite being very inefficient.

Which MVP validation strategy should you use?

We hope you’ve learned something about validating your MVP in this article.

Admittedly, this list is pretty long and could be overwhelming. It might not be easy to know where to start.

But our advice is to focus on just one or two strategies first. That allows you to optimize them and get better results.

Once you’ve done that, gradually implement more approaches from this list.

If you need help developing or validating your MVP, we’re here for you! Schedule a free consultation session with us today, and let’s discuss the best strategy for your project.

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Written by

Ante Baus

Senior Team Lead

Ante is a true expert. Another graduate from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, he’s been a DECODEr from the very beginning. Ante is an experienced software engineer with an admirably wide knowledge of tech. But his superpower lies in iOS development, having gained valuable experience on projects in the fintech and telco industries. Ante is a man of many hobbies, but his top three are fishing, hunting, and again, fishing. He is also the state champ in curling, and represents Croatia on the national team. Impressive, right?

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