At Bixly, there are two different ways to get your project done: Fixed-Bid or Time and Materials. But what are those and how do you know what’s right...
How (and Why) to Make a No/Low Code MVP
We feel that no/low code solutions are an excellent fit for many MVP projects. It keeps the timeline and price reasonable.
We feel that no/low code solutions are an excellent fit for many MVP projects. By keeping the timeline and price reasonable, clients are able to execute the essential goal for their MVP: how viable is this solution? Even if the budget and timeline questions can be settled, its still important to execute your project properly, so we have included key steps below.
What is an MVP?
An MVP is a minimum viable product, but what does that actually mean? The goal of an MVP is to define the minimum features you need to have a viable product. When we first come up with an app idea, we often have a thousand exciting ideas of what it could do. An MVP looks at all of this and asks the question, "Which of these are the only necessary parts to make a complete whole and viable solution?" The goal of an MVP is to validate the application before committing the time, labor, and funds to building the full enterprise app you have in mind. With an MVP you can begin to identify product-market fit, refine your idea, and get user feedback. An MVP is successful when it can tell you whether it has legs or if there's really no desire for the solution.
Why choose no/low code?
At a fundamental level, choosing to use a no/low code platform to build your MVP is right in line with the goals and principles of the lean and agile startup. There are several reasons why entrepreneurs choose this route rather than custom code.
1. You don't have the needed funding (yet).
No/low code can save a lot of money compared to custom programming. If you don't have the funding, and if an MVP will help on your journey to securing that funding, this less expensive option is a great fit.
2. You need to quickly get feedback.
A custom-coded MVP can take anywhere from three to six months to be developed. Depending on the complexity of your solution and how well it fits into the built-in functionality of the platform, a no/low code solution can take anywhere from one to three months.
3. You don't have the necessary commitment from higher up (yet).
It may be that your boss or your boss's boss isn't quite sold on the value of the solution. An MVP is the best way to settle that question. With no/low code, it actually becomes feasible to proceed with minimal time and budgetary outflow.
Key Steps in Your MVP
1. Define your application
Every software solution is a solution to a discrete problem. You must be able to concisely articulate what problem your application solves. From there, you should identify your target users. In other words, your application solves a problem for whom? The answer could be your own company, your own staff, your own customers, or a group of customers you have yet to win. If the target market is not internal to your business, then market research becomes even more important. Thirdly, it is important to understand your competitors. Is there someone providing a solution to this problem now? What makes your solution unique? Why would a customer choose you rather than your competitors?
After you have investigated these questions, there is one key area left to determine: the financials of the application. There are two main ways an application is viable: it makes money or it saves money. Many businesses use a subscription plan, one-time fee, or advertising model to generate revenue. For those who are building a solution that will be used internally to streamline operations, it's important to do a cost analysis to see if the return on investment is actually there. Will the application save you enough money or enable you to generate more business to justify the cost of building it in the first place?
Based on your understanding of the problem, the user base, and your competition, it is now time to formulate your solution. It's important to incorporate not only your original understanding of the problem but to also project the ideal solution for your target audience. They may have a different relationship with technology than you. They may have different scheduling and budgeting needs in their lives. All of this should inform your ultimate implementation.
2. Identify your success criteria
For software development companies like us, it's important that we also understand your success criteria. While completing the project on time and on budget is very important, success criteria should go beyond that. In fact, identifying metrics that directly and indirectly measure the goal of your MVP will give you insight into the fundamental question we are trying to answer: is this a viable solution? Metrics like downloads, transactions, or improved efficiency are often a good place to start.
3. Visualize your idea
Now we get to the fun part: seeing your vision come to life. Begin with userflow. This is a workflow that shows the steps from beginning to end that a user will take within your app. Will they create an account? Login? What's next?
Writing out user stories with your userflow in mind will help define the feature list. It's important to be careful with your feature list. Remember, this is an MVP. What is the smallest feature list we can build for this version?
From there, create wireframes for the screens they need to encounter for that workflow. Then designs fully envision the interface a user will see in your app.
4. Build it and iterate
Finally, we get to build it. It's important to assess the no/low code platform you want to use. Many platforms have limitations. Will it be able to support your key features? Once you have a functional MVP, we get to test it in the wild! What feedback do you get from your users? Are there parts that are confusing? Are there parts that are frustrating? Are there parts that are totally neglected? All of this will help you build a better product.
If all of that sounds like a lot, don't worry. We are experts at partnering with our clients through this process. Whether you're in the tech industry or not, we can guide you through this, ask the key questions, and help you build your MVP. We have found tremendous success by combining our expertise in software development with our clients' expertise in their verticals. We listen to understand your industry while guiding you in the best practices for software development. You can connect with us here!
Benefits of No/Low Code
1. Build an MVP on a shortened timeline and tighter budget
The primary benefit of no/low code is the speed and lower cost. This is a great option for an MVP, where the goal is not to build the most robust, most complex, most groundbreaking technology. Instead, we want to find out if the idea will even work. Regardless of the outcome, you'll be glad you saved money on your MVP.
2. Respond to feedback quickly.
In order to optimize your MVP, not only do you need to get to market quickly to validate your idea, but you need to be able to respond to feedback quickly. With a no/low code solution, it is easy and quick to implement changes. There is fast deployment to get those changes in front of your users for further feedback. Overall, it makes the iteration cycle faster, less laborious, and less expansive than custom code.
3. Lower risk
The risk with an MVP is essentially that after you build it, you'll find out the answer to your question is, "No, this isn't what we want." The risk is that you were wrong about your idea. (Don't worry we've been there before and we've spent way too much money trying to get to that answer.)
No/low code lowers your risk by lowering your starting investment, in time, effort, and money.
Limitations of No/Low Code
1. Many no/low code platforms have limitations. With a few exceptions, there are limited workarounds or the ability to implement custom components. For many platforms, your limited to whatever is out of the box. And if your MVP has a feature that isn't supported, you may just be out of luck.
2. If your MVP turns out to be successful and you are excited to add features and gain more customers, there is a possibility that eventually you will need to rebuild the whole thing with custom code. This may come about as a result of the technology limitations referenced above. Other limitations could come in the form of reliability and scalability.
3. Finally, you're dependent on that platform. If the company closes or has reliability issues, it's outside of your control. Offboarding the heavy lifting of coding to gain the speed and convenience means a large portion of your project will be out of your control.
With these limitations in mind, no/low code platforms are still a compelling option for your MVP project. If you need help planning your project or identifying platforms that would be a good fit for your needs, don't hesitate to reach out!