You think you’ve got a great idea, but how can you be sure until you’ve actually built it? Bring your idea to life without breaking the bank with an MVP.

Your business idea could be your passport to fame and fortune, but developing it past the idea stage is a risk. It’s time-consuming and can be expensive. Once you’ve tested your idea in theory, the next step is to bring it to life. A minimum viable product (MVP) is the initial version of your product, containing only its core service. You test your MVP with real users, gaining their feedback. Then, you take what you have learned and use it to make your idea better. Once you’ve established the viability of your MVP, you can build it out and add more features. However, the point of your MVP is to check that viability as quickly and cheaply as possible. Here are 5 steps to follow when designing your MVP.

1 – Identify your customers’ pain points

The only way to sell a product or service is to solve a problem for someone. The first step on your path to an MVP is working out what problem you solve, and who you solve it for.

Who do you think your customer is going to be? Put yourself in their shoes and think about what keeps them awake at night. How is your business idea going to help them? Does it help them save money? Does it give them back their time? Does it make their life easier? If so, how?

The first way to answer these questions is to find a group of your potential customers and ask them. You can also look at the businesses you think will be your competitors. What are they doing? What are they doing that could be improved? What aren’t they doing? How come they aren’t solving your customers’ problems?

Answering these questions will help you figure out your idea’s most essential features. These are what will go into your MVP.

2 – Prioritise your features

Remember that you only want to solve the real problems your customers are facing. Nothing else. Prioritisation is key.

To get this right, write down all the features you think your product might need to have. Then ask yourself one question. What is the most important goal you want your customers to achieve when they use your product? If any of the features you have written down don’t help your customers achieve that one goal, cross them out. They don’t need to be in your MVP.

3 – Sketch your wireframes

Then, it’s time to get practical. Think about the process you want your user to go through as they achieve their goal. You want it to be as quick and easy as possible. You do not want anything unnecessary in your MVP which distracts your user from how great your product is.

The best way to do this is to create wireframes. Sketch out the user journey through your product. If you’re designing software, how will your user get from the first screen to the last? Draw the screens you want your customer to see. This will help you get a feel for the user flow and will give you an idea of the back-end you will need to build too.

4 – Test your idea AGAIN

This is another point in the design process where you need to test and get more feedback. You can’t rely on your own hunches here.

Show your potential customers the wireframes you have designed. What do they think? Firstly, do they believe your process will help them achieve their goal and solve their problem? If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.

Next, the user flow. Can they navigate their way through your process without you prompting them? Are there parts that aren’t clear? Steps they get stuck on? Screens that are actually not necessary to them achieving their goal? What could be improved? Is the style of your product right for their needs?

Take their feedback on board then redesign your user flow and wireframes.

5 – Build a team to design your MVP

OK, it’s nearly time to bring your idea to life with an MVP. Your potential customers love your idea and believe you have the right solution for their problem. However, who is going to build your MVP? You need a team with the right technical skills, in design, coding, content production and more. You can’t do everything yourself.

The most cost-effective way to build a team to design your MVP is by using freelancers. You get highly-skilled people, but you only pay for what you use. You don’t need to employ anyone on a permanent or even a part-time basis.

Use a platform such as Crowdskills to find graphic designers, web designers, web developers and anyone else you need to turn your dream into reality. Brief them thoroughly and let them come up with a basic user interface. Don’t expect perfection, because you need it done quickly. However, there will be time to polish it up later. Right now you just need something, anything at all.

Now you have your MVP ready, it’s time to get it out to as many people as possible and test it!

Top Tip: If you’re building a freelance marketplace MVP and don’t have the funds to hire developers, check out Whitelance to get your marketplace off the ground in 1 day.

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