Flutter for mobile development

Flutter for mobile development and why should you consider it in 2021.

The trend continues.

The mobile market has been continuously growing and 2021 probably won’t be an exception, hence building a mobile application can be crucial for your business. Cross-platform solutions have proven to be successful, having major advantages and overcoming the disadvantages that come along. Some of the benefits include quick development time, low efforts & costs, easier maintenance and having the same consistency in UI/UX on both platforms. Lately, a new solution has been in the spotlight – within a relatively short period of time, using Flutter for mobile development went from experimenting phase to the norm for cross-platform development in various big corporations, as well as innovative startups around the world.

Flutter has entered the chat.

Flutter is a cross-platform framework, launched in 2017 with a promise for fast development, small efforts and costs while maintaining great performance for your apps. Originally developed by Google (who are actively maintaining it), it became an open-source solution, the community having a great impact in developing the framework.

Big players such as Google itself, eBay, Square, or Alibaba have adopted Flutter for mobile development long before the hype. Some notable applications which have integrated it include Google Stadia, Google Ads, Google Pay, Reflectly, eBay Motors, Philips HUE.

Since its launch, Flutter has been rapidly growing in popularity. Taking a glance at the popularity of its main competitor, React Native (launched in 2015), with 92.7k stars on GitHub, the high adoption rate of Flutter becomes more evident, the latter having 111k stars in a shorter period.

Flutter for cross-platform mobile development

But why use Flutter for mobile development?

Other than the general benefits of cross-platform development mentioned before, notable aspects include:

Fast development & great performance: Flutter features an extensive catalog of different components (called widgets), used to build complex and customizable UIs, shifting the developer attention on building the application’s core features. Flutter approaches cross-platform in a different manner, having its own rendering engine and components that are built entirely from scratch, making it a highly performant solution.

Easy to pick up or transition to: Flutter’s programming language is Dart (also developed by Google) which is a language that can be easily learnt or picked up by developers who are already familiar with programming languages such as Java, C# or JavaScript (TypeScript).

Flutter follows the same principles as other libraries/frameworks such as React and the transition can be easily done. As a bonus point: Google has included tutorials for transitioning from popular technologies such as: iOS, Android, React Native.

Developer’s happiness: Building mobile applications in Flutter is not only easy, but fun as well. According to the 2019 and 2020 Stack Overflow developer survey, Flutter is the third most loved framework – being the most loved framework for developing mobile applications – A 2020 survey by Google Flutter team concluded that 94% participants were satisfied with the framework.

Flutter for cross-platform mobile development

Competitors.

Flutter is a great solution for building mobile applications, but it is not the only one. If we are talking about the cross-platform development, React Native also has a strong presence in the market. Also notable mentions are the native solutions for building applications for Android and iOS.

So, the question comes: Should you use React Native or Flutter for mobile development?

Answering these simple questions might help you in your next decision.

  1. Do you want to build a cross-platform mobile application?

If yes, Flutter or React Native are your go-to options.

If you want to build a performant application for Android and iOS, Flutter might be a better solution for its simplicity and fast pace development.

If you want to build a mobile application and further extend it to a web application, React Native is a better choice since it has the same core technology as some web applications (React)*.

2. Do you want to build a complex, highly-performant mobile app which makes use of extensive features of the phone?

While cross-platform solutions have become more and more stable and performant, native development is still the king in this area.

*It’s worth mentioning that Flutter Web has already been launched, but only time will tell if it will prove successful.

Wrapping it up.

Flutter has been rapidly increasing in popularity in the past few years and proven to be a viable solution for many big players in the industry as well as for many start-ups.

Giving its fast development, ease to adopt and great performance, Flutter is a worthy option in 2021 for your next mobile application.

2021 Web and Mobile app design trends

2021 Web and Mobile app design trends.

With the outside world being partially closed, this year we found ourselves evermore present in the digital universe. This was an immense opportunity for the organizations looking to step up their digital experiences, as well as for those brick-and-mortar businesses who transitioned to the online environment and switched from struggling to survive to thrive within this context.

Reflecting on some of the product design practices that lift the bar in 2020 in terms of innovation and efficiency, in this article I am going to present what are, in our opinion, the web and mobile app design trends for 2021.

As it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which of these trends are going to perform better, we advise that you don’t take the following list as a leaderboard, but rather as inspiration, an appreciation of what it is believed that will dominate the screens in the upcoming year.

Dark Mode.

We’ve all got excited when Apple introduced this feature. Being so widely adopted by most of the users in no-time, it became the norm for big tech companies such as Facebook, Instagram, or Slack, as well as small businesses looking to spice up their digital identities.

Slack Dark Mode

Users seem to find the dark theme adding up a nuance of coolness to their devices, but besides this aesthetic factor, there are a couple of other reasons why this feature has been so requested recently and why we think will continue to dominate the UI guidelines.

· It reduces eye strain

· It provides safety in dark environments

· It allows highlighting and popping other design elements

· It saves device battery power

If you are thinking of adopting this trend for your digital experience too, there are some things that you should keep in mind so you can make the most of it:

Use a dark grey rather than a pure black (#000000); use lighter tones on dark themes, as saturated colors can create an irritating contrast on your UI; test your design in both dark and light appearances and allow your users to switch between regular to dark themes, rather than framing it as the only option.

There are more technicalities behind the simplicity of this sleek feature, but for that, we suggest that you read Nick’s Babich 8 tips for dark theme design.

Bold Typography.

Yet another design trend that seems to have found its way back into widespread practice nowadays, bold typography perfectly blends with pretty much every trend that this article will touch upon. Not only does it add an extra feel of modernness to your overall design, but it also an efficient means of driving users’ attention to certain elements on your web or mobile app.

Remember that when playing around with such heavy fonts, you should avoid overusing them and focus on short bits of text placed on more neutral backgrounds.

bold typography
Mobile Banking Service Website by Tubik

Micro interactions.

Micro interactions have become an essential part of great digital products. Being utterly subtle details, these design gimmicks articulate an enjoyable experience and ignite a priceless sense of excitement for those using your app or navigating your website.

Although the term might seem quite explanatory itself, one must remember that the word “interactions” refers to engaging human moments, that can be grasped within seconds, without overwhelming.

Microinteraction Bookmark interaction by Paarth Desai
Microinteraction Bookmark interaction by Paarth Desai

Beyond conveying an aesthetic aspect, these animations aim to:

· Provide immediate feedback about a completed action, playing on our natural tendency to seek instant gratification in everything we do;

· Teach the functionality of the visual interface through intuitive design elements.

· Or encourage certain actions on the platform, functioning just like a visual Call To Action, but rather an indirect one.

Micro interaction Loading XXI by Oleg Frolov
Loading XXI by Oleg Frolov

Whether you are thinking of a swipe animation, an unconventional loading screen, a delicate call to action, or just a cool button, when designing these micro interactions, you should always put yourself in the user’s shoes, strive for functionality, be as less intrusive as possible and use plain human language.

Neumorphism.

Designers from all over the world seem to have not got over this trend which is somewhat recent, making most of the lists of 2020. Still, researching it could get a bit confusing because some tend to state that neumorphism is just a more recent term coined for skeuomorphism.

But there is a difference.

Skeumorphism, implies designing elements in a realistic and minimal style, focusing on the similarity between the real and digital worlds.

While neumorphism also attempts to replicate the real feel and aspect of elements such as buttons, layouts, or cards, it is more focused on the color palette. Specifically, this trend refers to creating an interface in which the previously stated elements look like they are placed behind the background, and not on the background.

neumorphism Apple Watch UI Design by Sanad Daniyal
neumorphism Apple Watch UI Design by Sanad Daniyal

This is a subtle touch that can be done by manipulating shadow and light.

The image below should be explanatory enough, but if you want to get a crash course into how to properly implement it, we suggest reading this neumorphic design guide.

Shazam Neomorphism Version by Nardi Braho
Shazam Neomorphism Version by Nardi Braho

Immersive 3D visuals.

It is still quite early to tell if VR and AR technologies have gained a maturity level, but what is noticeable is that an increased number of product designers are pivoting similar hyper-realistic visuals onto websites, as well web and mobile apps. This gives brands more immersive touchpoints, an awe-inspiring user experience that could easily translate into conversions.

3d visual Timescope by Peter Tarka
Timescope by Peter Tarka

Successfully jumping on the bandwagon with this trend implies, however, a fine eye for design, but also a series of diligent efforts to increase your website performance. You may have some sleek animations or a 3D visual ready to take up the entire users’ screen and amaze them, but a slow-loading and poorly optimized platform will have them leave your website even before that fancy hero image will pop up, so be mindful about it. 

3d Landing Page by Tran Mau Tri Tam
3d Landing Page by Tran Mau Tri Tam

Abstract data visualization.

With so much data being available online, cluttering both our feeds and our minds, it is imperative that you find more engaging ways of displaying it. Gone are the days when we would get excited glancing at a colorful infographic, consuming the information with more curiosity than we would from a dull spreadsheet.

Indeed, it was exciting to see this abrupt transition from plane tables to creative data illustrations, but just like with every visual feature, we seem to have got used to this too now.

You have to find novel ways of data visualization. Dare to illustrate your information abstractly with a futuristic design that doesn’t necessarily conform to some predefined patterns. Challenging the norms might sound cliché, but when it comes to design it is how you move forward.

Leaps in Space by Bureau OberhaeuserDrowning in plastic by Reuters Graphics
Drowning in plastic by Reuters Graphics

Microcopy & UX writing.

Talking about plain human language, there’s not much to discuss about it, but a simple statement. People demand less jargon, less of those vague standard notions, and more copy that sounds human. The goal is to write as you talk, ideally as less formal as possible, similar to a casual dialogue that you would have with a friend.

Although we were not the fans of the term “human-centered design”, as it kinda feels like BS, to our surprise, it is a thing now. And so should the human-centered copy.

It doesn’t matter whether you are writing an article or UX copy for a new fintech app, you should aim to define a unique tone of voice, based on authentic non-corporate messaging that people can understand and resonate with. Being a content writer myself, I have often fallen into the trap of wanting to sound just as professional as the other players in the industry, but, looking at the engagement metrics, I got to understand that I was heading to a dead-end.

It is fascinating how challenging it is to write just as simple as we talk when most of us were schooled in a specific formal writing style, but, luckily, there are some organizations that are already mastering this art.

Have a look on Ueno’s website to draw some inspiration on what engaging UX writing looks like.

Minimalistic design.

We can’t be sure whether this is just a temporary phase or a long-awaited comeback, but it is clearly happening. With so many distractions, flashy elements, electrifying colors, and nerve-racking pop-ups, going back to the basics of minimalism feels like a refreshing breath of air for most of us who need a break from the distractions of the current always-on life.

Having just mentioned that you should dare to be bold in your design and play with the abstract notions, it might seem a bit contradictory to now encourage you towards minimalism.

I’m not saying you have to ditch your experimental ideas to the detriment of a bare design. What I am suggesting is that you can do both. Simply keep in mind that, these days, as users, we tend to feel overwhelmed and anxious by the clutter we are surrounded with.

No matter the industry, a loosen-up visual interface will trigger a sense of peacefulness which often correlates with increased levels of engagement. Still, this practice is even more effective for those businesses selling complex solutions such as SaaS products or even financial services, as it simplifies their narrative, keeping users hooked on the specific platform.

minimalistic design Finance Mobile App Design by Ghulam Rasool
Finance Mobile App Design by Ghulam Rasool

Final thoughts.

The web and mobile app design area is crowded with ephemeral trends, but some of them determine the industry norm for a longer term. In this article, I wanted to present the popular design trends of 2020, while also anticipating a few more that will gain increased traction in 2021, based on our work here, at RebelDot, as well as an analysis of the already existing articles on this topic.

Although it’s neither of these trends implied rocket science, I hope that reading this piece reinforced some basic concepts and got you inspired to design the next digital solutions that you users won’t get enough of in 2021.

RebelDot Video Live Streaming

How to build a video streaming application for your business.

The big picture.

Video content is king, there is no doubt about this. We have reached the time when video content is in high demand and it seems that this is not going to stop here. Companies around the world are exploring this niche especially now as we are making efforts to socially distance. Events that once happened on big arenas now are happening remote, on Zoom, WebEx, Whereby and other video streaming platforms. eLearning apps are taking the place of onsite learning opportunities and everything that used to happen in person, is now happening thorough a screen via video streaming.

The social distance is not the only decisive factor that creates this increased need for video streaming. Communities are more engaged to use video streaming platforms as a form of expression and communication with their peers. Platforms such as Twitch,Tiktok, Instagram (Reels) are coming to support this need of the market and to offer suitable streaming solutions.

Video streaming, either live or on-demand, is happening right now, while you are reading this.

So today, regardless of the sector you are operating in, if you plan on starting a stream into the virtual world, delivering quality content to millions of people you have 2 obvious options:

  1. Use an existing video streaming platform and comply with their terms, conditions, and prices.
  2. Build your own custom streaming platform using a reliable partner.

Let us focus on the second option and see what it takes to create your own streaming platform, what services you can use to achieve that and what could be the estimated cost. We will go forward in this article with a use case of Microsoft Azure and its related services to achieve our purpose.

Building a video streaming app.

You should know that there are 2 types of video streaming:

  • Live Streaming: a live event which is simultaneously recorded and broadcasted almost in real-time.
  • Video on-demand: broadcasting an existing video when this is requested.

For this specific matter, Microsoft Azure offers support via Microsoft Media Services for both mentioned streaming possibilities.

Let’s dive deeper and look at the operations that must be performed so you can deliver video on-demand streaming, what are the must know terminologies when it comes to videos and how the overall simplified architecture looks like.

Microsoft Azure Video Streaming
Fig. 1.0 Simplified Steaming Video on Demand Components Architecture

Concepts and Services.

A video file contains multiple components such as an audio track, caption track, metadata about the video and many more. All of this are stored in a structured manner inside a container which is described as the video format which can be MP4, AVI, or other types of format. In Azure Media Services any digital video file is described as an Asset. For example, when you upload a new video file this will be stored as an asset item inside the platform.

Before being able to stream a video, an operation called encoding must be done. The encoding operation is responsible to compress the initial file and to prepare multiple quality versions of it. The encoding process is based on a specific algorithm which is called codec such as H264. For the encoding process, Azure Media Services offers an integrated system which helps you process the raw digital files by offering a set of encoding presets and the possibility for custom defined ones.

Now we are a couple of steps away until we can stream a video. But first let us see if you and your business have the need to deliver the content in a secure way, to be able to restrict access to specific streams and to decrease the possibility of copyright infringement and piracy. For this specific matter, there is an integrated technology which helps to achieve all of this called DRM (Digital Right Management). Azure Content Policy Service allows you to manage DRM licenses in a convenient way with 3 biggest DRM providers:

  1. Widevine: proprietary technology owned by Google
  2. PlayReady: proprietary technology owned by Microsoft
  3. FairPlay: proprietary technology owned by Apple

Now, when you want to start streaming a video, you are in the position where you have a big video file. This must be sent in small pieces since you do not want to force the user to download all the video file at once. Here, the streaming protocols are coming into the picture and there are 2 approaches:

  1. Progressive download: send small chunks of data to the user
  2. Adaptive streaming: send small chunks of data to the user and select the best video quality based on multiple factors such as network speed. Some of these protocols are HLS, DASH or Smooth Streaming.

After the previous steps has been decided an output locator has to be created and a streaming endpoint. The output locator identifies which asset do you want to stream and under what policies (streaming policy and encryption policy). The streaming endpoint will stream your content to the clients and will provide the streaming URLs. For an easy integration, Azure offers its own player, which has an embed mechanism for the DRM licenses, called Azure Media Player.

How much does it cost?

Now that you have a clear overview on what are the technologies and services that will be used, we can look at what costs you might expect. The following scenario has been taken into consideration and it consists of:

  1. Usage of 1h of HD quality encoding services (done only one when the video is uploaded).
  2. 10GB of assets distributed around the globe using Content Delivery Network for a better network management and availability.
  3. Usage of 10000 DRM protection licenses for each of the 3 provides (Widevine, FairPlay and PlayReady).
  4. The usage of Azure streaming services.

All of these yield an estimated cost which starts from $135.08/month for a scalable and easy to integrate a streaming solution.

DIY Video Streaming Platform Costs

Next Steps.

After the overall picture is painted and the estimated costs are known, most of the unknown variables seem to get more clarity. As a business that wants to get into the video streaming sector, now, you can easily assess if this a suitable solution that satisfies your needs and enables you to provide quality video and audio content for your audience at a large scale.

Digital agile experience

Building digital experiences following the Agile Methodology.

Alright, so technology took over the world. It is at the core of every great big company out there. Microsoft, Apple, IBM, you name it, and as far as I know, this isn’t going to change. At least not soon.

Companies that started as offline businesses a decade ago are now relying on technology to generate revenue and bring more business to the table. Take a quick look at eCommerce, and numerous times it proved the value software brings to the retail scene.

Today, technology helps businesses generate more, bringing exposure and making them more accessible to people like you and me. But to achieve this, software needs to be more than just a few lines of code well kept into a repository. For users to make their lives and jobs depend on it, it needs to be more than just functional. It needs to create emotion, blend into the everyday environment, solve real-deal problems, and tell you a little story while it does all that.

So how do you build digital products that have the power to blend in everyday life?

Some might tell you it’s all in the process, and we are not here to cancel this out. Processes are essential, as they can give you tested ways of doing good work. At RebelDot, we are huge advocates of the agile methodology for building software that is efficient and relevant.

In reality, every digital product is different, and there are times when being wedded to a specific process won’t do any good. Over the years we found out the importance of being able to first understand the particularities of the project you’re working on then try to apply a methodology for developing it.

In this article, I am going to shed light on the agile software development methodology and the way in which we, at RebelDot, build digital experiences by following a few important principles.

What does it mean to follow an agile software development methodology?

Although we have tackled this topic before, for the sake of context, we’ll go ahead and give the entire agile concept another look.

AGILE = the ability to create and respond to change. A way of dealing and succeeding in a fairly turbulent environment; the ability to adapt.

Translating this entire concept of being agile into the product development world, we see how being Agile means adopting an iterative approach to product management and software development, helping teams deliver value for customers at a fast pace.

Instead of big reveals and big bang launches, an agile team develops in small iterations.

We love the concept of agile for the transparency and stakeholder involvement that it preaches. Building web and mobile apps in an agile manner provides a unique opportunity for clients to be involved throughout the project.

From prioritizing features to iteration planning and review sessions to frequent software builds containing new features, working agile allows full transparency over the entire software development process.

This might be our favorite – working agile allows for changes to appear throughout the process. In the ever-changing business environment, we live in today, your users’ needs and wants change as days pass by. Being open to understanding and responding to the evolving behavior of your audience is key to running a successful business.

Last but not least, following an agile methodology helps you focus on your users. We tell you this because we know how easy it is to fall into the trap of building on assumptions, overlooking the expectations of your user base. To fully understand this, you can read the article we wrote, tackling the importance of the Minimum Viable Product when it comes to your startup strategy.

Is agile methodology the absolute?

At RebelDot, we like to take things one step at a time, and we use the agile methodology as a framework, making sure to adapt every time the product we build does not benefit from the exact process structure we have on paper.

We have lived and breathed agile for so long that we have now made it part of our culture, going beyond software development. 

After over a decade of building web and mobile apps, we have created a development process that helps us make sure that whatever the niche, the products we work on benefit from successful launches. Here’s what it looks like:

The RebelDot way of building web and mobile apps

1. Meet and greet

Not going to lie; this might be our favorite step of the journey. We get to meet a lot of people who come to us with some of their craziest of ideas, business goals, and wishes. We sit to talk and ask a lot of questions. It’s because we want to make sure we know all that is about the product and the people we are about to work with.

We write down all the critical bits and bringing up questions like What business goals and objectives are you trying to solve? What challenges do we need to overcome? Who are the target users? We then put it all together in something we call a creative brief or product documentation. Often, we found out that answering these questions brings up misalignments. And when we do find misalignments, we suggest getting into a Product Discovery Workshop with you thick of it like a little intervention.

What is the Product Discovery Workshop? It’s a one to three days workshop in which we take clients through every step of the digital product discovery process: industry and market, competition, user personas, user flow and challenges. It is a mind-melting process between our clients and our team. At the end of it, they have all the documentation ready, together with wireframes and a product timeline that will give a rough idea of all the creative effort involved in building the product.

2. User Experience & User Interface Design

We know our users, and most importantly, we have identified their needs, wants, and frustrations.

Before moving any further, I’ll go ahead and place a little more emphasis on the need factor. From a market perspective, for a digital product to thrive, it has first to find a need and come up with a way to supply it.

At RebelDot, the UX process starts with the same need or problem we mentioned above. Taking a look at the case of Google Maps, they identified a potential problem and came up with a solution. Today, they make navigating from point A to B faster and easier.

In short, the UX process comes with the purpose of asking one question “How do we get the user to perform an action in the most human-centered possible way?”

What looks good tastes good, so we combine practicality with a little bit of art and a pinch of psychology to add some color and spark to the wireframes of your digital product.

3. App Development

RebelDot has 60 developers in house, and we do both web and mobile development. We worked on several different apps from a wide array of industries, and when we get our hands on a project, we deal with it inhouse from strategy, all the way to launching it on the market. 

We make sure that the people working on the project don’t have to deal with big handoffs. Instead, we encourage collaboration and the so-called ping-pongs across teams.

Clients get to meet the entire team that works on the project, and since we’re not fans of great reveals after immersing ourselves in months of work, we’d want them as involved as possible.

4. App Launch

The first development phase is over. By now, clients should have a Minimum Viable Product waiting to be launched and find its way into the hands of users. It’s the perfect time to observe the way users interact with the product and write down the feedback so that we can iterate on it afterward.

We’ll look at how users interact with the app, the time it takes for them to familiarise themselves with it, and if there’s a way to make the entire experience more humane and intuitive, we’ll do it.

Final words

As linear as it might seem, the software development process we follow can become pretty much like a zig-zag or a circular process of builds and tests. It’s because, at times, we have to experiment with building something that has never been built before, or we want to improve what’s already on the market. Hence, in reality, the process we just went through seldom stops with launching a web or a mobile application but carries on with improving the new product.

You made it till here! We took you through our software development process and told you that one crucial ingredient when building a digital experience is building with your user in mind. We do that by extensively researching your users and by adding a little bit of empathy in everything we do.

MVP strategy

Minimum Viable Product | How an MVP can help your startup strategy.

How much time did you spend trying to articulate a long-term growth strategy for your startup? Probably a lot. Why? Because as an informed decision to win, strategy is often a lengthy process of distilling complexity into a relatively simple and actionable plan. That means that to reach that winning plan, you will have to carry out an extensive research phase, internalize vast amounts of information and only then extract the essential onto a single piece of paper, or an engaging deck of slides.

In this article, I will briefly describe why launching your startup with a Minimum Viable Product will provide you with a clear strategic direction for your digital idea’s long-term growth. By the end of this article, you should see that the simpler you decide to start your journey, the simpler the journey is going to get.

You will understand that building an MVP might not entirely substitute your need for additional strategic frameworks. Still, it will definitely help your business strategy development process by establishing an early customer-feedback loop, offering you a head start for navigating the complexity you will have to confront. Ultimately, you will acknowledge that, beyond saving time and resources, a Minimum Viable Product will shed clarity on the entire business processes that must be carried out to achieve profitability.

Minimum Viable Product growth

Without customer feedback, research on its own won’t get you a long-term growth strategy.

Clearly, you will need to conduct research to articulate a value proposition for your digital solution and identify the segment you want to target. Additionally, as part of the same initial research, a competitive analysis will help you define a positioning statement and reach a differentiation level relative to the other players on the market. Even so, as this entire research will be carried out prior to launching your actual product, you can only hypothesize about the validity of your findings, which means that whatever strategy you will define based on those findings, it won’t be 100% reliable.

With a product already on the market, you will have a much more accurate source of insights, as you won’t need to hypothesize anymore, but carefully observe your early-adopters’ behavior. Based on those clear findings, you will be able to validate your initial strategic direction and further augment it with insights rooted in real behaviors, not based on some presumptions.

But there’s a catch.

While it is true that having any version of the product on the market will get you customer feedback, you should wonder which version specifically would better complement your strategic development process? An Agile Minimum Viable Product or a Waterfall 2.0 type of product? 

Minimum Viable Product customer feedback

Sacrificing the Minimum Viable Product for a feature-crowded product will hinder your strategy.

There’s no doubt that the business context will always be complex, due to the many dynamic forces that act on it. However, as there have been developed a series of strategic frameworks, you might have a chance of easing this process by using some of them as tools to structure your thinking and guide you towards accomplishing the missions that you set for your startup. But, even with such frameworks, starting off with a feature-crowded product will make your life harder and most likely inhibit your strategy development process.

Just think about it.

You will be wasting valuable time trying to fully develop a complex product, and by the time it will hit the market, your initial strategy might be at risk of being outdated. Moreover, that valuable customer feedback will reach you after months, if not even years, and that only if you will do some pre-launch marketing, because how should people get on your platform if they have never heard of it?

Such sophisticated product will most likely hinder your strategic development process because you will have to wait for a long time to get that customer feedback that will complement your research. On top of that, as you won’t be working with small, incremental iterations, you won’t be able to refine your strategy along the way and ensure that you are delivering a solution that the users need. 

"As you will build a rather feature-crowded product, the most common customer feedback that you should expect will be users quickly hopping out of your web/mobile app due to being overwhelmed."

A Minimum Viable Product will complement your strategic development process.

Now, you could heavily invest in researching and further releasing a feature-crowded product, or you could spend a fraction of that budget into building a Minimal Viable Product. That will help you validate your hypotheses and ultimately create a solution that would comply with your users’ needs.

Should you go with the latter, you will get actionable customer feedback sooner for a lower cost. You will also benefit from validating your initial strategic pathway by testing your product with real, organic use cases. Each iteration will have the market tell you what works and what doesn’t, based on both quantitative and qualitative data. Accordingly, having more clarity on your business goals, you will be able to set a series of metrics and crucial KPI’s, re-prioritize, and re-evaluate realistic milestones and consolidate your long-term growth strategy.

Minimum Viable Product supports strategy

Strategy is complicated. A Minimum Viable Product will simplify it, bracing your startup long-term success.

Essentially, to define your business strategy, preliminary research might not be enough on its own, as this phase will mainly consist of hypotheses, and committing to a long-term plan based on presumptions might be too much of a risk. Alternatively, having a product on the market will create a customer feedback loop. This, in turn, will support you in crystallizing your strategy by validating all those initial presumptions, as well as enhancing your existing “winning plan” with insights rooted in real users’ behavior.

While you will get customer feedback with every product version you launch, you should aim to benefit from that as early as possible. For that to happen, launching an MVP seems like the best way to go. The reduced time-to-market will eventually translate in a faster and more up-to-date feedback that won’t fully substitute the need for other types of research when developing your strategy, but will definitely complement it.

"A Minimum Viable Product will bring clarity to your overall strategy because, just like the product features, you will be able to constantly validate it and ensure its practicality for the long-term."

Ready to start working on your own MVP?  🚀 Get in touch and let’s explore your product idea together!

Minimum Viable Product Marketing

Minimum Viable Product Marketing will boost your startup growth.

What does Dropbox, Gmail and Foundr have in common? They all started with a brilliant marketing campaign well before releasing an Minimum Viable Product on the market. Growing from 0 to thousands of users overnight, their founders understood early in the process that marketing should not be optional and that deploying a few tactics well in advance might do even more than just generate some buzz.

While there are a dozen of Minimum Viable Product marketing tactics that you could deploy, in this article I won’t be listing them, as you will hardly ever find a secret formula that has worked for a brand and will definitely work for yours too.

Instead, I will encourage you to reflect on why making even a minimum effort in marketing is paramount for your startup. You should understand why you need a pre-launch marketing effort and why doing so will not only create awareness around your MVP, but also help you validate your idea just by measuring the interest generated by your campaign. Ultimately, you will (hopefully) use the drive that will come with reading this article to lay the foundation for a viral loop that has the potential to drive exponential growth for your product early in the process.

Building an Minimum Viable Product to validate your idea.

As strong advocates of the MVP, we guide each of our clients towards starting off with a minimum version of their digital product, instead of heavily investing into creating an overly-crowded experience, risking to misinterpret the real market-demand and lose momentum. The reason we do this is because we want them to reach product-market fit faster, ensuring that their digital solution truly complies to what the users need.

Building an MVP implies significantly less investment, as the product only consists of an essential set of features, incorporated in a visually-appealing design.

Nevertheless, MVP Feature Prioritization will yield much more value than just saving time and money. The users will have a shallow learning curve and in time, based on the feedback gathered from those early adopters, you will be able to gradually add extra features to your product, without risking to create a cluttered experience that will increase the users’ learning curve and ultimately alienate them from your platform.

"With the Minimum Viable Product reaching the market faster, a stream of valuable feedback will be ignited, which, in turn, will support you in validating your hypotheses and adapt the product to what the users need."

Minimum Viable Product Marketing Visual

Your MVP is pointless if you don’t have anyone to use it. That's where marketing helps!

We often get into a lot of conversations about futuristic ideas, which might seem unlikely to get traction. Even so, because just like the iconic Steve Jobs, we believe that “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world usually do”, we normally suggest these clients to test their ideas even prior to launching an MVP.

How?

By turning to marketing as a relatively cheap (yes, you heard that right) vehicle to test their hypotheses.

We made it clear that launching an MVP will save you a lot of budget that you could then redirect in other crucial parts of the start-up such as business development and marketing. While it is a common belief that marketing has to be a costly activity, we tend to disagree. You could, indeed, pump a considerable amount of money into producing a cinematic video and buying a lot of media space, but you could also simply rely on actionable copy and a few behavioural psychology tactics to craft a landing page, an e-mail campaign, or a referral scheme.

We know that, if you are at the beginning of your journey, you might not have a dedicated marketing team. Perhaps you are struggling to make some efforts in this direction, whilst juggling between business development, product development and other parts of your startup which all seem crucial. But you should still aim to do it.

Why?

As a startup founder, committing to Minimum Viable Product marketing efforts prior to even launching the actual MVP will support you in establishing a solid user base. This community will function as an initial testing body of whatever crazy idea you have. While it might seem like a hassle, it is more a matter of doing some preliminary research and then going through a trial and error process to find out what works best for your product and what communicates the most value to the users you are trying to reach. Even more, doing so will help you ensure that the users that you want to target are the right ones. From Coca-Cola to Microsoft, we’ve seen a lot of businesses articulating distinctive solutions that failed to scale up due to targeting the wrong market. Although these major brands managed to bounce back and rethink their strategy consequently to such major failures, for a startup that does not benefit from such considerable budgets, a move like that could mean the end of the story. 

"Pre-launch marketing will allow you to test your product without even having a product."

How marketing could deliver maximum results for your Minimum Viable Product?

Dropbox has made a name for its ingenious growth hack. Offering its early-adopters incentives for completing tasks, like sharing a file or referring other people to the platform, the creativity of this technique relied on gamifying the onboarding process. Even more, by gifting new users with more storage for linking their Dropbox account to platforms like Twitter or Facebook, they managed to grow exponentially with little to no investment, getting no less than 70.000 users overnight.

Foundr, on the other hand, turned to Kickstarter to validate their idea without having to invest ridiculous amounts of money into a pre-launch marketing campaign. Relying on the power of a crowdfunding platform, they decided to publish their first book there and fuel the buzz with a few relatively low-cost tactics like influencer marketing, social advertising and email marketing. Soon, Foundr reached their Kickstarter goal, attracting hundreds of backers and even more early adopters.

Although you can now create a Gmail account, actually numerous accounts without any hassle, when this platform launched, it used an invite-only system to drive growth. Back then, the product was a disrupting e-mail service, containing many of the features we now take for granted, but because it didn’t benefit from a considerable awareness, it needed a tactic to not only generate buzz around it, but quickly drive people towards starting to use the platform. The ingenious growth hack in this situation was based on the Fear-Of-Missing-Out, which is a technique useful to this day. In a matter of days, this tactic generated so much interest that invites were being auctioned on eBay.

Minimum Viable Product Marketing tools
Image source: Linkedin

Ready to take your Minimum Viable Product to the next level?

Just like the founders of these three businesses took their time to carry out clever marketing efforts even prior to having an actual product, as a start-up founder yourself you should follow their lead. Launching an MVP will support you in acquiring valuable feedback from the market and validate your initial hypotheses about the product and the customers you are targeting.

But how are you going to reach those early adopters and have them test your MVP if you are nowhere to be found?

Yes, taking a small fraction of time to develop a marketing strategy and execute it as a pre-launch campaign will get your product the awareness it needs to reach those first hundreds, or even thousands of early adopters. The best part is that you won’t have to invest too much money in it. Besides that, such pre-launch marketing campaign will add up to your crucial research efforts, since you will be able to gather feedback only by observing how your target segment will react to the messaging and content you will develop around the product.

You won’t be needing any ridiculous budgets or expensive tools. Just a solid vision and trust that even a minimum marketing effort should do the job. So why not give it a try? Gather your people around the table and let them think about the craziest marketing tactics to match your even crazier product idea.

"Gather your people around the table and let them think about the craziest marketing tactics to match your even crazier product idea."

🚀Ready to start working on your own MVP? Get in touch and let’s explore your product idea together!

mvp feature 3

Building a Minimum Viable Product | Prioritize features to fully achieve your vision.

In this article I am going to draw from our experience as Rebels and talk to you about a healthy practice that supported many of our clients in achieving product-market fit fast and with a demonstrated demand for it.

Specifically, I will try to demystify a myth about the MVP and its vital stage of feature prioritization, by showing you that, although this process entails starting off granularly, it does not require detaching emotionally from your initial idea, or diverting from the scenario that made you so excited in the first place.

On the contrary, by the end of this article you will learn that developing an MVP does not have to be a buzz-killer due to its overly simplistic nature. In fact, you will understand that the higher your ambitions, the more important it is to start with building a Minimum Viable Product.

Building a Minimum Viable Product idea

Start with building a Minimum Viable Product or struggle to deliver value with no strings attached!

No matter if you are a serial entrepreneur, or an emerging  founder, there is no doubt that you will always invest yourself in each one of your ideas. Besides time and resources, you will be investing passion which, as opposed to the first two, might be particularly difficult to limit.

Eventually, you will become emotionally attached to your brilliant idea, relentlessly envisioning how that small eureka moment, be it at the desk, at your favorite pub, or in a ridiculously random moment or place, will, one day, unfold in a big wave that will take over the world.

And we cannot blame you for that.

Why?

Because we know that this emotional attachment will be fueling your drive towards materializing that idea, allowing other people to experience what once was only a what if.

Building a Minimum Viable Product launch

Can a small MVP iteration contain your immeasurable hype?

To paraphrase from our previous article, where we have explained How to build an MVP, having a framework to formulate the essential features of your product is paramount. Beyond reducing the time to market, by periodically testing assumptions, you will also minimize the risk of wasting resources on functionalities that the users don’t need.

On top of that, working with incremental releases that will generate constant feedback will mean that instead of heavily investing in a stand-alone R&D stage, you will now have extra budget to support other crucial parts of the business, such as business development and even advertising.

Although we’ve seen founders preaching the Agile Product Development methodology, many of them are reluctant to begin their journey with a rather of their digital product  and optimize along the way.

In such scenarios, these founders do not engage in a process of feature prioritization, while pushing technology partners towards releasing a feature-crowded  product on the market. As a consequence, most early adopters become overwhelmed, choosing to go for something that is more  and comply to their needs, rather than their wants.

On the other hand, deciding to hit the market with a simpler version of the product would yield immediate value for both yourself, as a founder, as well as your target market. Not only that users will experience a shallow learning curve, but, by giving them time to adjust and learn your platform, you will ultimately set the context for building the product that you have dreamed of early in the process. Even better, you will build a product that your clients truly want!

"Simply put, building a Minimum Viable Product will have you shift focus from delivering what you feel would work, to creating what the clients will certainly enjoy."

Building a Minimum Viable Product feature prioritization

Prioritize to build what the users need.

Having collaborated with founders activating in a variety of industries, developing geo-location & navigation, property technology, networking, green tech and many other web and mobile applications, we came to a realization that we subsequently embedded within our ethos.

It became clear to us that, just as important as the actual development of their product, another crucial aspect of fostering a successful partnership relies in preserving the clients’ thrill throughout the entire process.

How do we do that?

Essentially, by getting our clients on board with the idea of feature prioritization and its impact on user behavior and ultimately revenue.

As you probably already know, there are a bunch of matrixes and methodologies that are often being used to map out the key features of a digital product.

If you are curious about that, we suggest that you look into the applicability of The Feature Buckets and The Feature Priority Matrix.

However, as we are collaborating with founders coming from various industries, we cannot really pinpoint just one method, since different products require approaching different perspectives.

Even so, while there is not a golden formula that we use for every client, when it comes to our feature prioritization process, we strive to establish it following a UX-first approach. Specifically, we start off by conducting extensive user research, iterating on user personas, aiming to map out their needs, motivations, frustrations and goals and then carry on with of them interacting with the digital product.

Listing the actions that the users will have to undertake to reach their goals will support our team in the next stage of the process. In this phase, together with our client’s input, we design the user-flows and create the actual interactions to ensure that achieving user goals will lead to fulfilling business goals. By doing so, we make sure, early in the process, to validate that the direction where the product is going is right and that it can flourish gradually.

Building a Minimum Viable Product UX first

Want a lovable MVP? Just go UX first!

It is no secret that, lately, the internet has been cluttered with plenty of nuances to concepts that should be rather straightforward. You have probably already noticed that, when searching for the term MVP, a few other variations to this term will pop up in the very first pages of the search engines, such as Minimum Marketable Product, or Minimum Lovable Product, just to name a few.

While it is not a bad idea to be constantly in tune with the current language, we propose that you don’t fall into a void of useless jargon and, just like you are doing with your product, focus on what is communicating the most value to the target users.

Building a Minimum Viable Product that users will enjoy experiencing, a lovable MVP, should not be that complicated. All that you have to do is allow yourself to Prototype first and Fail fast, while approaching an UX-first mentality. This is what we have been doing in every project so far and what has provided satisfactory results for us and our clients. Developing products through an iterative user-centered design process and validating hypotheses with minimum effort.

"Now sit back, relax and watch the early adopters enjoying your MVP like it’s the 2.0."

No, building a Minimum Viable Product won’t dampen your enthusiasm.

Starting off with a minimal version of your digital product idea doesn’t have to kill your enthusiasm. Indeed, you will have to nurture some sense of objectivity in order to map out the essential features, but, in the long run, this approach will only ensure that you are well on your way towards delivering on your users’ needs and ultimately add those extra features.

Sort of like first bake the cake and then put the cherry on top. 😊  

🚀Ready to start working on your own MVP? Get in touch and let’s explore your product idea together!

Agile Methodology for startups

Agile Methodology for startups and enterprise companies.

In this article, we are going to talk about Agile Development and its advantages and disadvantages in comparison to a Waterfall approach. We will give you enough insight to help you decide on the best plan for your next big digital product.

Before getting started, we feel it is important to give you a quick overview of our history and expertise as a company.

RebelDot started as a tech subsidiary of a large product company in Washington, the USA, in 2008. For a few solid years, we worked on building digital products for large & renowned insurance companies, as well as Fortune 500 companies. We spent four years perfecting and solidifying our approach to building digital products. Later in 2012, we decided that we wanted to use our product knowledge and experience in helping companies, startups and enterprise, accelerate their way towards digitalization and technology innovation. Fast forward today, our cross-functional teams have helped more than 50 companies bring digital products to the market.

Today, we are lucky enough to have experienced a lot of different scenarios and approaches when it comes to building products. Our interactions with various companies & business scenarios have once and for all showed us the importance of being Agile when it comes to both startups and enterprise companies.

What is Agile Methodology?

Before getting any further with Agile Development, let us take a look at the meaning of it.

AGILE = the ability to create and respond to change. A way of dealing and succeeding in a fairly turbulent environment; the ability to adapt.

It is our understanding that the authors of the Agile Manifesto went for Agile as a label for this idea because the word represents adaptiveness, which is so important to the entire approach.

Translating this entire concept of agility into the product development world, we see how being Agile means adopting an iterative approach to product management and software development, helping teams deliver value for customers at a fast pace.

So instead of big reveals and big bang launches, an agile team develops in small iterations. Product roadmaps, requirements & features are evaluated continuously, creating a natural mechanism for quick response to change. Pretty cool, huh?

Customer feedback is extremely important in building digital products following an Agile approach, and both testing and development are done based on customer feedback and response.

Agile Methodology & Waterfall — which one should you choose for your digital product?

While Waterfall is a linear model for software development, Agile is an incremental and iterative approach to building software. Although with more recent history, Agile development has gained a lot of popularity, especially in the technology startups scene, where openness to change and adaptability to market demands is vital.

Below are a few of the most important points you should take into consideration when having to choose between Agile and Waterfall for new product development.

agile methodology vs waterfall

Taking a quick look at the history of Agile Development, this new methodology came to solve some of the most evident problems and challenges product teams faced when following a Waterfall approach.

Customer feedback & being open to change.

agile methodology for startups

Planning to launch new digital products in today’s ultra-competitive technology scene, needs to come with an extraordinary ability to adapt to change and customer feedback. If you have been following us for a while, you know we place great emphasis on customer feedback for an important reason: it helps stakeholders make sure that what they build responds to real customer needs. By encouraging incremental development, agile development provides a framework for avoiding big product reveals after immersing in months, maybe years of development.

Agile development helps stakeholders prioritize the features that they want to include in their product, by encouraging product teams to think about the challenges and the problems the digital product is solving for the market they are launching on.

While a Waterfall approach places great emphasis on extensive planning before immersing into development, being Agile might mean you are not 100% sure of how the digital product might end up looking. Still, you are sure that what you build is what your customers want

Does being Agile mean less financial predictability?

Short answer, yes. Still, you will be surprised to find out how less budget predictability might work to your advantage. Here’s why:

You have a great product idea, that is (we hope) based on a problem you have identified, and you wish to solve for your customers. For the sake of this story, let’s assume that you are planning on building a platform that aims to connect artists with art collectors with the scope of purchasing art pieces. The main and first to be developed features of your digital platform will be centred around solving this exact problem: creating a way for art collectors to connect with artists. Now, you might have an idea of other interesting features that might suit the purpose of your app, but you can’t know for sure if these features add value to the entire experience of your users. Following an Agile methodology, you will release the first version of your digital product or an MVP, collect feedback from the way users interact with the applications, and only then decide on which features will go into the second version of your digital product.

Since there is no full visibility over the entire product roadmap, development teams will find out it is almost impossible to accurately estimate the entire development effort of your app. Instead, they will create a ballpark estimation, highlight the minimum effort for developing your app as well as the maximum amount of effort, with the mention that if the scope of the application changes, the estimates will end up being changed as well.

Let’s think of the same business scenario, following a Waterfall methodology for product development. We would look at all features imagined for this specific digital platform and estimate everything with greater accuracy.

The risk? Since in the case of Waterfall product development, customer feedback is deferred until very late in the project, you might fall into the (very dangerous) trap of building a product that your customer base doesn’t need. It’s because you build on assumptions and not on real feedback, as in the case of Agile Development. So, you end up having a clear overview of the entire development effort that might end up being pointless once you realize your customer base needs something else. Getting into changing the whole system is like jumping into a pitfall.

Time to market.

agile methodology for startups

If you wish to place a product on the market as soon as possible, then, without any doubts, Agile Development is the way to go. Encouraging feedback based iterations and incremental development, and Agile Development team will advise fast releases, followed by rapid improvements.

In the case of the Waterfall Methodology, you might have to wait for months and years to have your product on the market.

User Learning Curve.

Although there’s not that much discussion around this topic, our years of conducting development for companies have shown us another important, user-centric aspect when it comes to Agile product development: fast, and incremental releases help users adapt to the behaviour of your mobile or web application on the go. You want to first launch a product with fewer features, slowly upgrading the experience to ensure a short learning curve for your users. The more seamless and minimal the first version of your product is the higher the adoption and usage rate.

To better illustrate this, let’s take a look at Facebook and the eight main features of the first version of the app — released in 2004:

According to Adam D’Angelo & Business Insider, they are:

  1.  User accounts (with real names required), restricted to @harvard.edu email addresses;
  2.  Friends, including friend requests;
  3.  Invitations (no contact importer; you had to enter each email address individually);
  4.  Profiles, with a single photo for each user;
  5. Ability to list user metadata like gender, birthday, dorm, phone number, favourite music, favourite books, “about me,” courses (structured);
  6.  Search by name, class year, courses, other metadata;
  7.  Some privacy restrictions to limit who could see your profile (friends only, only people in my class year);
  8.  A feature to visualize a user’s friend graph, which was later cut.

Today, Facebook is a sea of complex functionality that takes a lot of time and energy to learn, and reaching this level of complexity required a lot of user feedback and analyses that are still undergoing.

Placing an over-complex, feature-crowded product on the market with giving your users time to adjust to lear your platform will eventually kill your user base.

To build or not to build a Minimum Viable Product.

agile methodology for startups

As an Agile Development team, we encourage startups as well as enterprise companies to first build a minimum viable product (MVP). 

Being Agile will help you identify the problems you wish to solve for your customers, before identifying the features. 

We know how tempting it is to talk about the killer features and functionalities of your new product but make sure not to hurry into this. We’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs who just want to go out and build a bunch of things without a clear objective, and that’s just money thrown out on the window.

Nonetheless, an MVP is a huge part of being Agile. We covered everything you should know about building an MVP in this article about  how to innovate with minimum viable products and rapid customer feedback

We hope this article gave you a good overview of what it means to build digital products — the Agile way. If you feel like there are some aspects we did not cover,  reach out and we’ll be happy to spend time in conversation with you. 

minimum viable product

Minimum Viable Product | How to innovate with rapid customer feedback.

In this article, we are going to shed light over what an MVP is, how to innovate with Minimum Viable Products, why you should start with an MVP, and we’ll help in finding out how much your first version of the product might actually cost you.

Having been in the world of digital products for more than a decade, we had the opportunity of interacting with an impressive number of entrepreneurs looking to bring innovation to their sector. We’ve seen established businesses looking to digitalize their processes with the help of technology, enthusiast startup founders at the beginning of their career investing all their time and money into building something successful and, last but not least, serial entrepreneurs already accustomed to the startup scene, trying to make their way through the competitive world of technology startups. 

The clients we interacted with differed not only in their entrepreneurial journey, but technology understanding and business scenario. Hence, it became pretty clear that when it comes to helping business owners bring new products to the market, a one size fits all approach fails unquestionably. Processes are good, but we’ve learned it is just as important to know when to put them aside for the sake of immersing into the particular business story and scenario.

In a world of adaptability, flexibility, and particularities, one thing remains true. For a startup to have any chance of launching a successful product, research, and MVP (Minimum Viable Product) creation is mandatory. Aaaand, we couldn’t stress this enough. 

In this article, we are going to shed light on what an MVP is, why you should start with an MVP, and we’ll help in finding out how much your first version of the product might cost you.

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

A minimum viable product is the first version of a product that contains enough functionality to satisfy the early adopters of your digital product, while collecting valuable feedback from the market.

minimum viable product

An MVP comes to help you validate your idea early in the process of product development. In the case of Agile Development, it should help your product team validate and iterate your product based on input. 

Taking a straightforward look at the entire Minimum Viable Product concept, you want to test the market with a first, minimal version of the product, to make sure that before investing a lot of money into more design and functionality, your idea is validated and approved by the market. 

Why build a Minimum Viable Product?

Although we already touched down on one of the most important reasons for building an MVP, which is, validating your product idea, we are going to shed some light on other important aspects of why you should start by building an MVP. 

We’ll start by reminding you that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The legend says that builders were there laying brick-by-brink, every day. Just the same, we advise owners to look at the MVP as being a process and not a product. Building an MVP is a journey that allows you to test, optimize, and grow your web or mobile applications in sync with market demands. Listening to what your customer’s desires and wishes are is probably the most important step of the process. Translating all this valuable input into features and functionalities is where the fun part begins. 

A Minimum Viable Product gives you the framework to essentialise on the features that have the most priority in alignment with the problem your product aims to solve. Let’s say you are planning to build a product that gives dog owners access to online dog trainers. Although you might have tons of ideas on how your product should look like, it is important to identify the core functionalities of it. A live chat might be a correct answer for this specific use case. It is important to remember that an MVP is a first release that is stripped right back to the core of the digital product, and you should keep it like this.

An MVP saves great amounts of money that could go into the prelaunch advertising of your product. Because building in small iterations is all that an MVP is about, releasing a small version of the product, testing, and improving on feedback helps you not fall in the trap of investing money into functionalities users don’t need.

minimum viable product

How to build a Minimum Viable Product

Now that we have touched base on the theory behind building MVPs let’s take a look into how to build an MVP

  1. Start with identifying the problem you are solving for your customers.

If you’ve been in touch with the product & startup world, this might already sound like a cliche. Still, it is the most important item to tick off your list before getting into building anything. 

Looking at some of the hottest startups, they all started with identifying a real problem, and engineered their solutions around that. 

  1. Research, research, and research!

It is important that you take the time to conduct extensive research on your buyer persona, competition, and the advantages their products bring on the market.

Find answers to some of the most important questions in product development: Why are you building the digital product? What is the problem that your product solves for the market? Who is your targeted market? Who are your competitors? 

  1. Identify the core functionalities of your product.

As you already know, as many interesting ideas you might have, the entire point of building an MVP is releasing a minimal version of the digital product, without adding too much functionality to it. Ask yourself, what is the single-most-important action that I want my users to accomplish? Then, categorize all features into nice-haves, must-haves and don’t care.

  1. Start working on user flows, user stories, and the user experience of your MVP.

With research as a strong foundation, it is now time to think about the user flows within your web or mobile application. You know what the core functionalities of your product are, so it is a good moment to think of the experience of the users within the app.

  1. Prototype!

The user experience of your mobile or web application is extremely important in the way your first users will interact with the digital product—imagine real-life scenarios of users interacting with your application and start designing with their expectations in mind.

Last but not least, add the branding elements of your company and think of ways in which to enhance your user’s experience with the help of colors, animated transitions, and interactions. Remember that to attract users; an MVP should not only be functional but delighting as well. 

Once you have it all done and ready, we advise you to gather all application screens and build an interactive prototype using InVision – this way, you will get a feeling of what the app feels and looks like. 

  1. Build measure learn – repeat. 

Once you have the entire app design in place, start coding your MVP. We recommend startups to make sure that the application screens that go into development are what they want, eliminating the risk of making major changes while in the development phase of the product development phase. 

Launching the first version of an application is just the beginning of the process. Placing it into the hands of your users will give you the feedback needed to improve the experience, making it even more existing and engaging for your users. 

minimum viable product

How much does it cost to build a Minimum Viable Product?

Before jumping to asking this question, make sure that you have done your research so that you know the main problem your product solves, your competitors, and, last but not least, your potential user base. 

Estimating the development effort for building an MVP gets even more accurate if you already know what some of the core functionalities of your application will be, as well as the complexity of the UI. 

At RebelDot, we make sure that before delivering any estimates, we have a very clear idea of what we are going to build and that we have immersed ourselves in the vision, goals, and challenges of the business we are dealing with. We do this because we want to be able to offer good financial predictability for our clients, especially startups that are, in many cases, seeking investment. 

The tricky part of building MVPs and digital products in general, is that the amount of money that they will end up costing you is highly dependent on the hourly rate of the company you are in conversation with.

The scope of work and the innovation level within the application are two very important factors in the overall cost of your web or mobile Minimum Viable Product. Web and mobile apps involving blockchain, machine learning, and any AI or VR components cost more that applications with standard functionality. 

As you might assume, it’s hard, nearly impossible to place a number on a digital product we know nothing about – pretty much like guessing in the dark. If you want to know how much a Minimum Viable Product will cost you, our advice is that you seek the help of a development team. 

You made it this far!

We hope this article helped you in finding some of the most important aspects of why you should build a Minimum Viable Product for your startup, and offered important insights on how to build an MVP. If you have any other questions on how to bring your digital product idea to life, reach out –  we’re here to give a helping hand.

Before you go, we recently launched our own startup, Visidot, and wrote an article about the entire process of building the digital product, from idea to launch and … pivoting? We’re leaving the story of how we built Visidot, the contact tracing and visitors management application, here for you to read it.  

Visidot-image

Building a contact tracing and visitors management system. The story of Visidot, a product of RebelDot.

Hi there,

We are starting this article series to share the story behind Visidot, our own startup, with you.

As you might already know, this is the first article of the series. We are going to take you through the journey of building Visidot from the very first moment we identified the need for a digital visitor log, the decision to build it and everything in between. Ready?

A look into Visidot, the visitors’ management system

If you have been following us for a while now, you might already know that we are a bunch of creative, solution-oriented Rebels. We blame it on our twelve years of experience in building various digital products, as it nurtured our entrepreneurial thinking and spirit*.

*always looking for the next problem to understand and a solution to develop kind of mindset

Just in the right moment, this spirit was the fuel needed when the opportunity to develop Visidot (back then named ‘’we have to find a solution for replacing the paper log”) arrived.

Identifying the problem

We’ve all paid a visit to another company or business centre. Most probably, we’ve all been asked to write our name, purpose of the visit, and signature to a notebook or some random A4 format pages left out there in the plain display.

Of course, this wasn’t considered to be something extremely sensitive until the GDPR kicked in. That was the moment when displaying our data on means that were available for all the other visitors and everybody from the company, we were paying visits to became prohibited.

Everybody could see that you were coming to an interview, at exactly 12 a.m when you were supposed to be on your lunch break. *Busted*

As 99% of the companies in Romania, we at RebelDot had the same pen & paper log that was not compliant with the new regulations. So, we had to come up with an idea to make it both digital and compliant.

“We started with a clear vision in mind: to transform our visitor’s experience in a smooth, hustle-free and GDPR compliant one.’’

The challenges

Building a startup, and especially a new product comes up with multiple challenges. No matter how much experience you have, bumps in the road will always come to teach you some valuable lessons.

  1. What should go into the MVP — One of our challenges was prioritizing what set of functionalities will go into the MVP — trying to balance the features so we can create enough value and get the feedback we needed from the market.

In order to make the decision, we conducted user interviews, with the aim to understand their needs and behaviour better. The data was translated into several prototypes that helped us decide the set of functionalities that will deliver the main value for the targeted pain-point. When building the MVP, we also had to take two different perspectives into consideration: one of the building administrator and one of the visitors.

2. Designing for business centres — We initially designed Visidot for our internal use. Once we started to dig deeper into the need on the market, we had an epiphany — business centres.

Business centres have thousands and thousands of daily visitors, and keeping track is essential for safety reasons. Once we realized the opportunity, we started to think about how we can adjust the app’s flow to satisfy the business centre’s needs.

The solution

Our solution is pretty simple and straightforward: A digital visitor log to help you track, measure, and improve your visitor’s experience — all in a 100% compliant environment.

Apart from the visitor’s flow, we also developed an administrative interface where users can customize the application, gather statistics, and manage multiple locations.

The process of building Visidot

As you might already know, at RebelDot we have a well-defined software development process in place, and our product was no exception to the rule.

01. Creating the user personas

First things first, we had to understand our users and what are their main problems to solve. After having a couple of users interviews, we managed to come up with three types of users:

  • The receptionist, responsible for welcoming visitors and smoothing the registration process;
  • The delivery guy that is recurrently coming to the company;
  • The admin supervising everything that is happening;
  • The visitor.

02. User Flows

After we understood more about our user personas: their needs, behaviours associated with the actions, and how they envision the app, we started to sketch the user flows.

We’ve covered different scenarios: check-in, check-out, recurrent visitors, group check-in and check-out.

03. Wireframes

User personas — checked.

User flows — checked.

What’s next? Wireframes. Right.

Wireframes Visidot

 

Early-stage wireframing sessions of Visidot.

Our team took the sketches and translated them into black and white wireframes.

We must admit that we love colours. However, at RebelDot, we have a different approach. We first bring black and white wireframes to the table so you can ‘’judge’’ the prototype by the functionality and not by the shade of the blue on the bottom left corner. This is the common approach for teams that have UX methodology in place.

04. User interface

Once we agreed on the user flows and wireframes, the next step was to select the colours, iconography, and typography.

Following our vision, we decided to keep it simple and as minimal as possible.

– light shades of colours on the corners of the screens;

– clear icons for the admin interface;

– intuitive input fields.

Visidot - tablet
Visidot Tablet 2

05. Prototype

Once we had the elements in place we built a functional prototype and run some tests to gather feedback and adjust the functionalities and flows.

06. Coding

Once we have completed the UI/UX phase, and we agreed on the plan moving forward, we’ve started coding.

Using the Agile methodology, we gathered daily to discuss the progress and the bottlenecks that came on our way.

07. Usability tests

Once we released our first version, we showed it to the world. Making sure we gather insights and observing the user’s behaviour when using it.

08. Launching Visidot

The truth is that, as Buffer wrote in one of their articles until you get that one customer you are blind. You don’t know exactly if what you’ve built reached the problem-solution fit stage.

So we leapt faith and launched Visidot.

Our first client is Cluj Business Campus. One of the most well-known business centres in Romania with an excellent appetite for digitalization.

Visidot - Announcement

 

Announcing the launch of Visidot on social media.

We were so excited when we saw their first visitor using the app and getting fantastic feedback for the user experience.

We must admit that we got butterflies.

 

Visidot’s first day at Club Business Centre.

09. Improvements

Following the Lean Methodology, after we launched the first version and we gathered feedback from the users we’ve made improvements by adjusting some of the functionalities and wording within the app.

What’s next?

Immediately after launching Visidot, COVID-19 kicked in. Since our product is a solution designed for visitors and the restrictions applied meant ‘’no visitors allowed,’’ it shook us a little bit. We had so many plans, and we were talking with lots of potential clients for our solution.

However, like Rebels, we are adaptable and look every time for solutions. Plus, we built Visidot as an easy to pivot solution so we took advantage of the lockdowns to continually work on making the app better and think about other functionalities that would help companies adjust to the new normality.

As we speak, countries around the world are ‘’back in business’’ and implementing all sorts of solutions to prevent the spread of the new, COVID-19 virus.

Visidot is here for them and for you. We help you with contact tracing in COVID-19 times, making sure you have access to real-time information, across all your offices- all in a 100% compliant environment.

Looking for more information on Visidot? You can visit the Visidot website and get back to us if you have any other questions.

Visidot - extract