How Much Will An MVP Cost?

It’s an age-old question, and as a product agency, one of the most asked questions on any client scoping call.

The short answer to the question is it’s variable. 

But we know you didn’t start reading this blog for a noncommittal answer like that. 

To put things into context as a development agency, we have build MVPs for clients ranging from £15,000 to £150,000.

One was a B2C content aggregator application, and one was a sizeable B2B pivot, unbundling its in-house software to create a SaaS application to help the company monetise their in-house product. 

The price of an MVP will always depend on the features of the MVP, the tech stack, in-house resources, timeline and industry.

So, there is no one single numerical answer when someone asks. 

How much will an MVP cost?

Now we know that MVP prices vary the next question to ask is. How do I reduce the cost of an MVP build?

This question is easier to answer and at Jyst, we have created checklists and processes that are common in building a product that is capable of scaling.

Following these processes will save you approximately a third in the cost in development. 

Here is a list of tips to shave off some costs of your MVP.

Plan first.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

Abraham Lincoln

Most people looking for a ball-park price on an MVP build still have a ball-park idea. That’s to say they haven’t invested the time in defining how the product will be used, or if there is a market for it. If this is the case, your idea or concept needs a design sprint.

Plan your Product with a Design Sprint

Design Sprints are the way forward if you want to build a scalable product. A Design Sprint is a workshop that allows you to ideate, refine concepts and start you on your journey to building a digital product.

With Jyst at the end of our week-long design sprint clients receive a high-fidelity prototype. Whilst the prototype is the end goal, the process of building the prototype covers so much more in the weeks’ workshop.

  • Creating personas of your target market, 
  • User testing
  • Research and analysis into user attitudes and behaviours
  • User journey mapping 
  • Customer insights and feedback

As a digital product agency, we can confidentially say if you run a design sprint, you can develop and build an MVP for 30% less.

How can you build an MVP for less?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when building a product is ploughing headfirst into coding and development without doing the necessary pre-planning to construct a modern-day scalable application. By planning and prototyping alone, you can save weeks and months in reduced time development time.

A High-Fidelity prototype provides an end-user or investor with the real-world look and feel of the application. From animated transition to swipes and gestures, clickable prototypes mimic how the user will experience the application. 

There are so many good reasons to invest in a high-fidelity prototype.  At Jyst, we believe they should be a prerequisite before building a product. 

Reasons to invest in a design sprint?

Firstly they can be presented to investors to source funds. In fact, as an agency, we see more High-Fidelity Prototypes invested in over MVP’s.

  • They minimise the need to re-build your post product MVP.
  • They highlight omissions and oversights in your feature set.
  • Allows you to get a firm-fixed-price on the development from an agency.
  • It prevents project creep and will enable you to budget and start building your product roadmap.

Have an MVP in mind? Discuss with the team and start building your Scalable MVP today.

How To Find Product Market Fit

There is nothing more challenging for a business or startup than finding product-market fit. Finding it, or lack thereof can be a complex, lengthy and expensive process.

Until recently finding product-market involved building a variant of your final product. Pushing it around your networks, throw a marketing budget at it, iterating on feedback then investing heavily in rebuilding the product from the ground up with this feedback.

Sounds easy?

It’s anything but.

Following the above process is guaranteed to take time (a rare commodity for founders) and due to lengthy feedback loops is likely to incur higher costs and go over budget.

Hardly the best start for any budding entrepreneur.

Thankfully for those embarking on a product build today, there are a greater range of tools, workshops, sprints and processes available to help you find product-market fit quickly and within budget

Firstly lets address the elephant in the room and debunk one major myth.

Your MVP doesn’t provide product-market fit.

If you embark on building an MVP in the knowledge you will build the real product down the line, you are testing proof of concept, not product-market fit.

Proof of concept is the process of proving that there is a sizeable audience that will consume, utilise or pay for the solution you wish to build.

To find your proof of concept, you can utilise a number of social networks and publish the following:

  • Quizzes
  • Surveys
  • Research Interviews

These are great to confirm or a reject idea or hypothesis, but, do little in providing product-market fit.

Product Market Fit

I have proof of concept, what next?

Finding product-market fit goes much further and throws up many more questions over and above answering if there is an audience for your product.

If you believe your idea has a market and your research has positively reinforced this, it’s time to go and get product-market fit.

There is no eureka moment or milestone when you achieve product-market fit, but if you can answer the below questions positively then you are well on the way.

What price point would customers pay for this?
Do they understand the value of the application?
Will the customers utilise the feature set correctly?
Can I acquire customers, cheaper than I can onboard them?
Is my on-boarding succinct in presenting the feature set?

Notice how the above questions centre around the products and not the concept.

To answer the above you may think that you need to build the product. This isn’t the case. You should be able to answer the above without writing one line of code or even building a bare-bones MVP

Those who jump the gun and go head first into product development after proof of concept, but without product-market fit or a design sprint, encounter two problems.

Problem 1 – The Product Death Spiral

Diving into development the costs escalate as you encounter a Design – Coding – Test loop. This is the equivalent of a product death spiral for any product or MVP. It’s expensive, time-consuming and developers hate it.

Problem 2 – Founders Fatigue Spiral

You proceed and build a bare-bones MVP know requires rebuilding to scale. You pour your heart and soul into this MVP before learning you cannot find product-market fit with a product that is nowhere close to the solution you set out to build. This we call the Founders Fatigue Spiral

Both problems have common traits, they are expensive, they take time, and they rarely result in a functional scalable product.

Stopping the Spiral

With the advances in prototyping software and user testing software, your audience can test the actual product without the need to write one line of code or pay for that development. In yesteryear, it used to be impossible to test aspects like on-boarding, feature sets and measure user behaviour without physically building the product.

But as Bob Dylan said, “Times they are a changing.”

Today, you can validate assumptions and test features, ideas and concepts then measure exactly how the end user would respond before developing.

A superior way to build a product.

This helps to refine your feature set, but can also highlights feature ommissions, or uncover hidden insights that may go on to become USPS.

A Design Sprint helps you test the product and concept in this manner. It goes deeper than proving a hypothesis as correct or incorrect, it provides tangible feedback on product onboarding, product features set, gestures, swipes and in-app behaviours. Essentially it’s a must in the process of finding product-market fit.

What tools help me find product market fit?

At Jyst we use Figma to build prototypes. As a tool, it provides the required flexibility to ideate and prototype. Post prototype we run user testing with Userberry which allows you to centralise user feedback and relay this to your UI/UX Designers, Product Manager, Researchers and Team.

This workflow allows you to design, test, then code. A far superior workflow flow to, design, code, then test.

At Jyst we predict this workflow saves you over 30% in development time and costs.

So what are you waiting for?

Start building your digital product, minus the fear today

Figma: The New King in Designing and Building Prototypes

Figma recently announced that it has successfully raised $50 million in Series D funding. The acquisition of more funding from various investors has increased Figma’s value, which Forbes now estimates at $2 billion.

The recent announcement is undoubtedly a big deal. Figma is a tool mainly used for designing and building prototypes. Its sales pitch is that Figma is superior by increasing collaboration between development and design teams. The recent funding round is expected to expand features the feature set and provide a better tool across the entire organization.

Figma, the collaborative interface design and prototyping tool, was the brainchild of then 20-year-old Dylan Field and WebGL prodigy Evan Wallace. The tool was built to rival Adobe and its Creative Cloud application suite. It was built to be a genuinely cloud-based tool that promotes collaborations among teams and makes the design process easier – something the “cloud-by-name-only” Adobe Creative Cloud lacks. 

UI and UX Design used to just be an afterthought. In software design, companies used to accomplish the workflows first then added the designs that fit into that workflow. Figma sought to change all that by shifting the focus to design using a design-centric collaborative approach. Today, many similar apps are eyeing a similar approach to make design a critical part of product development.

It all starts with a wireframe.

What is Wireframing?

At Jyst we are often approached with the following questions from people who wish to build an app or application.

I have an idea, can you build the app?

How much to develop this application?

How do I go about building an app?

The answers are, before even writing one line of code you should wireframe and prototype your idea.

Before you can even come up with a blueprint for your software, you will first need to come up with different concepts of the initial design. Initial ideas go through several iterations before they can be used as a final concept for an interface. During these initial stages of design, the use of actual text and images is meaningless and, quite frankly, at such an early stage of product development too tedious. 

Using wireframes as placeholders simplifies these initial stages. It lets you see how an interface would look like without any of the actual information that should otherwise be there. Think of it as the blueprints to your home. You can see what the structure looks like including its electrical and plumbing layout without using actual pipes and wires and interiors.

How did we Wireframe before Software?

The design process doesn’t begin with any software. As part of the pre-design phase, conceptualization starts with brainstorming. One of the most straightforward tools used by design teams is post-it notes. Boards and walls are filled with tons of ideas written on colourful post-its. 

Once a viable idea has been developed, they start to envision the content they want to show to users. They create wireframes on paper, which is later developed digitally, to visualize the content they want to show. The content is then sorted and labelled in a card sorting session. 

When building a prototype, and once the initial wireframes have been successfully created, they are then digitized and developed using Figma or any other prototyping tool to connect the wireframes to the information architecture. 

How Does Figma Stack Up Against Other Products?

Figma is relatively new to the design world, yet it is fast becoming the go-to tool for UI/UX designers around the world. Its success is thanks in no small part to its focus on improving the ease in which teams can collaborate on a project. It has a seamless user interface and a sleek feature palette. Here’s how it compares stacks up against similar apps such as Sketch, Adobe XD, and InVision Studio.

Pricing. All but one app use a subscription-as-a-service (SaaS) pricing model with free and paid plans. Adobe XD and InVision Studio offer free access for one document while with Figma you can have up to 3 projects for free. Figma provides team access at the lowest price at $12 per month. Sketch offers lifetime access for a one-time purchase of $99 per license. 

Platform. Only Figma has a powerful browser-based app that is universally-accessible while the Sketch app has been criticized for being offputting due to it being Mac only. (Does anyone still design on Windows?)

Prototyping and Interactions. Figma offers a powerful prototyping tool that rivals even that of Sketch and Adobe XD

Figma Prototyping

Collaboration. As the “Google Docs of UI design”, Figma follows through on its promise of offering a powerful live collaboration tool with a polished design UI. Adobe XD has only recently introduced real-time coediting at Adobe MAX 2019. With Sketch, you’ll need a plugin to promote collaboration while InVision Studio doesn’t support real-time collaborations at this time.

Figma built for collaboration
A complete product prototype

Is Figma the New King in Wireframing?

The early 2010s brought us a variety of innovative design tools that sought to change the way we viewed design. The introduction of Sketch was a welcome change to a design market that was dominated by design giants like Adobe. They offered innovations that were never before seen on the market, which kick-started a wave of design collaboration changes.

Then came the web-based Figma who many thought would never work. While many of those earlier apps focused on the actual design process, Figma took it a step further and focused on visual collaboration. 

Today, it is one of the best tools for wireframing and prototyping. Designers and design teams all over the world swear by the product. Even the best developers from the likes of Twitter, GitHub, Dropbox, and Microsoft swear Figma. In fact, they consider it to be the ultimate design tool today, as do the Jyst team.

How to Build a Lean MVP

Developers and business strategists aren’t always on the same page and rarely speak the same language or Lean MVP. One person’s pub idea and business plan might be an incredibly complex and expensive exercise when given to a developer. Likewise, a developer’s ideas might be considered too elaborate to scale once looked at in an economic perspective.

It can be incredibly difficult to form ideas to improve an organization when there are differing viewpoints – even when they’re two sides to the same coin. So with this in mind, we put together some quick tips to building your MVP.

Create a Detailed Brief

A product brief is a document that provides critical information about the product’s attributes and goals and will serve as the central source of information before, during and after the product launch. Many businesses, big or small, consider the product brief as one of the most important elements in doing a project as it helps minimize unexpected errors.
Spend twice as long on the brief as you need. Put a little more effort in throwing it together even if that means you have to pull in outside help to write your brief. Your product vision is golden and if done right, this document will help keep it that way all throughout its launch and execution.

  • Introduction to your company
  • Product name
  • Release date
  • Product description
  • Target audience
  • Customer value proposition
  • Launch plan
  • Timetable of important events
  • Sales talking points
  • Customer service talking points
  • Pricing
  • Resources

What are the next steps after a design sprint?

Have a Roadmap

A product roadmap is a live document (meaning it can be subjected to changes) of your vision to where your product is headed. Since a Lean MVP is a full-blown enterprise software ready for sales and marketing, it makes sense that you figure out what you want it to accomplish in the future and put it into writing. Making a roadmap for your Lean MVP will have the following benefits:

  • Describe the vision and strategy of your product to everyone in your company as well as your first few customers
  • Serves as a guiding document that will put your product’s vision into focus
  • Manages overall product backlog

Additionally, the following are the best practices in creating a product roadmap:

Be visual – Don’t just ‘tell’, make your roadmap a visual representation of your plans.

Have different versions – Each department in your company has a unique role which means that every department should focus on something different. For example, the Sales department will want the details about when the product ready for customers or when new features will be released. On the other hand, the Marketing department will want to focus on how product features will look and behave so they can market it properly. Usually, the sales team will use the same roadmap that all the other teams are using which risk them aggressively committing to unreleased features to win the deal without consulting the developers on timing and probability. This is why Google Developer Expert Shrinath V advises making a different version of your product roadmap for your sales department to prevent your roadmap from being hijacked.

Make it flexible – When you maintain flexibility in your timeline, you and your team will be able to react to roadblocks calmly and adapt your product strategy to fit changing needs. In fact, Todd Olson, the Founder, and CEO of Pendo recommends that you write “SUBJECT TO CHANGE” on all of your product roadmaps.

Don’t include dates – Additionally, it is not advised put dates in your internal and external roadmaps. Dates make the document less flexible because you are constricted to release your features on a certain date. Your timeline should have the broadest scope possible to make room for future modifications. “Don’t fall into the trap of specifying dates for anything that’s not already a work-in-progress or that isn’t well defined and well understood. Any attempt to set a date for something that’s outside the 1-3 month time horizon is not only a mistake but is bound to fail,” says Cliff Gilley, technologist, and product manager of The Clever PM.

Continually edit and update – As stated above, your roadmaps are live documents that change as your company grows. Make sure to set aside 10 minutes of your time a week to review them and make the necessary alterations if there are any updates on the features of your product.

Do a Quick Focus Group

When it comes to selling your app, there is no point in spending the money on the application if you do not make the money back in the service it offers. Therefore, assess the market a bit before you dive in. 90% of applications are to solve your own pain, but are there thousands of people out there like you and are 100% willing to pay for it to make it a viable investment.

Remember the following points when you conduct your first customer focus group.

  • Make sure participants represent your target market. It would be completely pointless if the people in your focus group is not even from your market of interest.
  • Keep them few – in fact, it is advised to keep the number of participants under ten. This way, you will get to interview them properly and every person will have a chance to share their insights.
  • Ask probing questions like “What do you mean?” and “Why is that?” to help the participants expound and clarify their points.
  • Audio record the sessions so you don’t have to take notes.

A man pin pointing something website page

Be Open to Pricing Model Change

Coming up with a pricing strategy is a challenging task for any business. Your product’s price needs to be high enough to cover its costs so it can generate profit but it also needs to be within the range of what customers are willing to pay. After all, the price is one of the most important factors customers consider when choosing between different products and services.
One thing to keep in mind is that pricing always changes due to the constant shifts in supply and demand.

Be open to changes to your pricing model. This will allow you to adjust the price of your products to adapt to accommodate a changing business climate. Lean MVP