4 Steps Before Hiring a Developer to Build an MVP

January 27, 2020

Not having a tech background may seem like a roadblock when it comes to developing an MVP. When having helpful tips from development and design experts comes in, it’s easy to turn your idea into something tangible.

Aspiring early-stage founders can still validate their ideas quickly, even though they need assistance when it comes to building out their concepts. Without a complex product in place, their ideas are just ideas. But those ideas can start the pathway to developing the product, creating a roadmap for developers

Coding and design gurus aren’t readily accessible, but using their helpful tips and experience will get your ideas off the ground and start your journey into building the MVP

To start evolving your MVP, strategize your plan with a few simple tips by using effective tools that will simplify your process.

4 Straightforward Strategies for Building an MVP

  1. Brainstorm ideas  
  2.  Build a simple landing page 
  3. Collect initial feedback 
  4. Create rough prototypes 

Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas 

Start by visualizing your project ideas. This doesn’t mean outlining a detailed business plan that’s 50 pages but seeing the big picture. Evernote is an immensely useful tool for organizing ideas. As seen in the screenshot below, Evernote can be used to create notes and lists.  

Creating notes and lists — this is where Evernote also shines 

The tool also syncs across different devices and integrates with popular solutions. If you’re stuck in a meeting or in a traffic jam, you can easily pull your notes up through the app on your phone. The system works with Google Drive, Slack, and Gmail.

Evernote allows users to drag and drop images and PDFs that can be stored within the program. It is also a very collaborative tool that allows users to share and access information from their colleagues and stakeholders. 

Google Docs is also a simple tool to use for brainstorming. Users can work simultaneously on one document. Everyone can see what changes are being made and what’s being communicated. Users can leave comments and suggestions as well. 

Lean Canvas can be used to break your big idea into tangible core units, which will help your team figure out the holes without your insight. 

Below, I brainstormed as a music app owner that had to figure out what my app needed. 

If you miss something or don’t know — it’s okay. Once you get more details, add updates to the board

If you miss something or don’t know — it’s okay. Once you get more details, add updates to the board

Using Lean Canvas, I broke up the project going into the cost structure, metrics, and revenue streams. This is a helpful tool because it visually represents how clearly you understand the idea. It helps you figure out what step is next. Along with that, the program lets you collect valuable feedback from your team and potential users.  

A major advantage of brainstorming is that users get a better understanding of what they actually plan to do.  When deep-diving into a problem that needs to be solved, define who would benefit the most and collect every single idea that comes to mind before analyzing it. 

Step 2: Build a Simple Landing Page 

Let’s try to attract initial visitors and measure their purchase intent. An easy to use a landing page with a signup form that explains core product benefits and attracts users will be the best bet. 

When it comes to building landing pages, I suggest Unbounce because it’s easy to use. Even if you can’t write a single line of code, their drag-and-drop interface allows users to build stunning landing pages for both mobile and web. Users can build from scratch or a template. 

The tool maximizes marketing efforts by integrating with popular analytic platforms. Be it Google Analytics or Facebook pixels, connecting Unbounce is a matter of a few clicks. 

To attract initial visitors within a short time, you can reach out to potential customers in relevant Facebook or LinkedIn groups. You can also try advertising or throwing giveaway contests on social media.  

Step 3: Collect Initial Feedback 

Reach out to people who’ve already shared their emails and ask them for feedback. All the findings help you determine most loyal users and validate key product decisions. 

When it comes to gathering insights, Survey Monkey and Google Forms are on the top of the list.  

Survey Monkey sets the stage for smooth team collaboration, allowing users to effortlessly communicate survey ideas. The system also allows users to set granular permissions for viewing, editing, and commenting. 

Are you waiting for inspiration when crafting a survey? Survey Monkey has a question bank for your use. Pick a category you need and get access to a variety of ready-made questions and answers. 

Google Forms differs from Survey Monkey by not having a question limit. But both are excellent tools for collecting user feedback if you can’t meet in person. 

Step 4: Create Rough Prototypes

Identify user personas and key functionality requirements. Think about basic user flows. Consider the way similar apps are built in terms of UX. Grab a pencil and start visualizing it all on paper. 

The flow chart doesn't have to be a work of art - the point of this exercise to visualize the different steps.

In this example, I drew several page ideas out with different functionalities within them. This gives an idea of where to start when developing begins. 

Mobbin lets users discover the latest mobile design patterns. To figure out the way real live apps are designed, you just tap a product name, like in the example below for Uber. 

As a free plan member, users can browse mobile app results by searching patterns or app categories.

As a free plan member, users can browse mobile app results by searching patterns or app categories.  

Just as Mobbin, Webframe allows you to discover beautifully created designs for web applications. Results can also be sorted by categories or product names. 

Once you’re done with paper prototypes, quickly snap what you’ve got. Or try scanning. 

After uploading the drafts into a prototyping software, link them together via hotspots. And there you have done prototypes.

Now let’s check out the best tools for making clickable prototypes. 

With Invision, you can achieve streamlined collaboration by creating rich interfaces. It’s possible to create notes, draw, send voice messages right in your browser. This is a really useful feature for product owners who have fellow designers. 

Balsamiq has a huge library of lists, menu bars, search bars or steppers usable in any project. Even if you cannot draw a single line, you’ll be able to build a prototype just by dragging and dropping ready-to-use basic elements. 

Once you share clickable prototypes with the most loyal users, figure out what they actually think about the future product. Figure out which parts they enjoy, what they don’t like much, and what they’d love to improve it. 

Start Drafting Your Dream MVP Today

Before onboarding a development team, brainstorm and organize ideas, build a simple landing page, get initial feedback, roughly prototype the product and then figure out what most loyal initial users think about the way it looks and feels. 

Well-structured ideas, landing pages, prototypes and data received from real users will be super helpful once you decide to knock on the investor’s door.