“As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: remove any feature, process, or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek.” Eric Ries
The hard and sad truth is that your original startup idea rarely survives its first contact with your intended users. Don’t let yourself fall in the typical startup trap: investing too many resources, for too long, in some app features your audience won’t be really using.
So what’s the alternative? It’s called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and it’s becoming an increasingly popular method for startups to test the core feature/ concept of your product or service. Essentially it’s a stripped down version of your product or service in order for you to get real, valuable user feedback. What it gives you is the fastest way into the market without spending all your money on a product that might need lots of iterations to hit that growth curve we all hope for.
Building your MVP these day’s couldn’t be easier. With a huge host of tools and resources at your fingertips you can create a cheap (sometime free) MVP in a matter of hours or days to gain quick and valuable customer validation.
When the original concept for NoCode was born, I created an MVP in a weekend. The NoCode MVP was simply a landing page with an email signup form. This was all I needed to validate my idea. If people liked the concept I figured they would sign up; and thankfully they did!
Gaining early users
To gain some early users I posted my landing page on a few early user sites such as BetaList, Next and BetaPage. These free sites provided great early exposure and netted me about 70 email subscribers which was more than enough to get my started.
You don’t need a lot of users to support learning. You need just a few good customers - Ash Maurya
I also wrote two post on Medium mapping my initial journey which also drove some traffic to my landing page.
I setup a twitter account and tweeted some screenshots in an effort to interact with some further potential early users. I also did some targeted searches based on a few hashtags. This was great for some honest feedback but only drove a few newsletter subscriptions.
After I had a reasonable amount of email subscribers, I used my list to test some of my early mockups and wireframes for the website. The feedback was incredibly constructive and allowed me to makes some changes and before deciding wether to pursue building the site. This whole process only took a few weeks and helped me validate my idea before spending the time and energy building the website, dramatically reducing the possibly of it flopping due to lack of customer validation.
True to NoCode fashion, I have curated a list of tools and resources from some of my personal favorites listed on the NoCode site, although it should be noted there are plenty of alternatives resources for each of my suggestions below.
Weebly: I have been using Weebly for about 5 years now and personally find in one of the easiest, most intuitive DIY webiste builders out there. I built the initial landing page on weebly using an off the shelve theme. I then bought a domain name for £10 from Hover. However for the purposes of the MVP you can just use a free weebly domain.
The NoCode website is also build using weebly. I didn’t need to hire a web designer to build the site, nowadays a simple DIY drag and drop builder can do the job in the fraction of the time and cost. However, should you require more functionality from your website then you might need to consider hiring a developer if you don’t have the technical skills.
No landing page is complete without a signup form. If you are looking for a simple, free signup form then look no further than Mailchimp. It took me about 15 minutes to create an account and embed a basic signup form into my weebly landing page using the weebly embed tool. I also use Mailchimp for creating my monthly newsletter.
I used Canva to create some early mockups and wireframes of my site and sent these to my newsletter subscribers for feedback. Canva is an incredible free online graphics tool for all your basic graphic design needs. Their drag and drop builder is extremely easy to use and they provide a tone of pre-built templates, icons, illustrations and fonts to play with.
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