Prioritizing Features for MVP: A Strategic Guide for Product Owners

Yulia Darmorez

Yulia Darmorez

March 7, 2023

MVPs typically have between 1-3 core features, allowing teams to focus on what’s most important for their users.

As a product manager or product owner, you know that delivering the right features to your users is crucial for the success of your product.

However, with so many ideas and features to choose from, it’s easy to feel lost in a sea of options.

It’s important to keep in mind that misreading market demand is the number one reason for 42% of startup failures, according to CBInsights.

To mitigate this risk, starting your project with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is vital for business success.

An MVP helps to validate ideas with minimum losses, gather feedback on products from users, and test product-market fit.

Applying a prioritization method can help you prioritize features for your MVP, and this article will delve into various models and strategies that can assist you with that.

By following these approaches, you can develop a successful product that meets your users’ needs and expectations.

MVP vs. POC: Understanding the Difference

First things first, let’s clear up some confusion between MVP and Proof of Concept (POC). A POC is not the same as an MVP, and they serve different purposes.

During the product development process, a POC is usually developed as a prototype or model that demonstrates the viability of an idea or concept. It’s created in the early stages of development and is not intended to be a fully functional product.

An MVP, on the other hand, is a working product with a minimum set of features that allows you to test and validate your assumptions.

Building an MVP is a crucial step for any product team or startup. However, with limited resources and an endless list of features, deciding which features to prioritize can be a daunting task.


7 Strategies for Prioritizing Features in Your MVP

Are you struggling with figuring out which features to include in your MVP during the design phase of building a new product or feature?

It’s a real headache, especially when you’re trying to build something that will actually take off and make users fall in love with it.

But don’t worry!

In this section, we’ve got you covered with seven strategies that will help you make smart choices about which features to put in your MVP.

So let’s dive in and make your life easier!

1. User Wants vs. User Needs

User needs are the essential features that solve a user’s problem, while user wants are those little extras that make the experience more enjoyable, which can also be indicated in a user story.

Putting user needs at the top of your priority list ensures that your MVP solves their problems and delivers real value.

Once the core features are in place, you can focus on incorporating additional elements that differentiate your product from competitors and make it stand out.

Let’s say you’re building a food delivery app. The user needs would be the core features that solve the user’s problem, such as the ability to browse and order food from different restaurants, track delivery, and make payments. These are the essential features that the user expects from the app to solve their problem of hunger.

On the other hand, the user wants would be extras that enhance the user’s experience, such as personalized recommendations based on their previous orders, restaurant ratings and reviews, and the option to customize their order.

These features are not necessary to solve the user’s problem of hunger, but they make the experience more enjoyable and convenient.

So, by prioritizing user needs in your MVP, you can ensure that your product solves the user’s problem and delivers value.

And then, you can add the user wants as you develop and improve the product to differentiate it from competitors and make it more appealing to users.

user wants and user needs

2. Feature Value to the Number of Users

By prioritizing features that provide value to the most users, you can create a product that’s useful and enjoyable for as many people as possible.

For example, when deciding between adding a feature that tracks daily water intake or one that recommends personalized workout routines for a fitness app, prioritize the workout feature as it provides value to more users.

3. Third-Party Services

When building your product, don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own. Take advantage of third-party services that can make your life easier and help you launch your MVP faster.

When creating a mobile app solution for an e-commerce platform, there’s no need to devote a significant amount of time to developing a payment gateway from scratch.

You can integrate with a reliable third-party payment service and focus on creating features that will make your platform stand out to customers.

This will save you time, money, and headaches and allow you to focus on providing the best experience possible for your users.

4. Use Metrics to Drive Your Roadmap

When you track how users are using your product, you can see what they like and what they don’t.

This helps you focus on the most important features that will make them happy and keep them coming back.

By prioritizing features that boost user engagement and increase revenue per user, you can ensure that your product delivers the value that your users expect.

Let’s say you have a social media app that allows users to post photos and videos.

By tracking user behaviour, you notice that a majority of your users spend a lot of time watching videos posted by other users.

This tells you that video content is highly engaging for your users.

Based on this data, you might prioritize adding new video-related features to your app, such as the ability to create and share short video clips.

This would help to keep your users engaged and coming back to the app.

Additionally, you might consider implementing monetization features that increase revenue per user, such as in-app purchases that allow users to access premium video content or buy virtual gifts for other users.

5. Set Up Some Feedback Channels

To build a product that users love, listen to their feedback by monitoring functional customer feedback channels like customer request messages, customer support tickets, user reviews, and social media comments.

Prioritize features that are repeatedly requested by your users to provide the most value to them and ensure that your product meets their needs. This creates a loyal user base and provides value over time.

Those are some possible feedback channels that you can monitor to collect customer opinions:

  • Customer support tickets or emails
  • User reviews on app stores or review websites
  • Feedback forms on your website or app
  • Social media comments or mentions
  • User surveys or polls
  • Customer interviews or focus groups
  • In-app analytics to track user behaviour and usage patterns

6. Do Competition Analysis

To make your product stand out, analyze your competition to find gaps in the market.

Prioritize unique features that provide value to your users, but also consider essential features that your competitors offer.

This way, you can create a product that meets the needs of your users and stands out in a crowded market.

7. Stay Flexible

When you’re building a product, don’t be afraid to shake things up and adjust your plans as you go.

Things can change quickly, and it’s essential to stay flexible to meet your user’s needs.

For instance, let’s say you’re developing an e-commerce platform, and you thought your first priority would be creating a fancy product recommendation feature.

But after checking user feedback, you realize people are struggling with the checkout process.

It’s time to shift gears and focus on fixing that issue first before working on the recommendation engine.

By staying open to change and adjusting your roadmap as needed, you can create a product that your users will love.

MVP Feature Prioritization Models

When building your MVP, it can be overwhelming to have a long list of features to include. But don’t worry, there are models available to help prioritize your features and create the best product for your users.

Let’s discover the 3 most common prioritization models:

Kano Model

When creating a product, it’s important to ensure that it not only has basic functionality but also provides a delightful user experience.

That’s where the Kano Model comes in handy! It’s a fancy way of categorizing product features into three groups: Must-Haves, Performance Attributes, and Delighters.

  • Must-Have Features are the essential features that are necessary for the core functionality of your product. These features are crucial to the success of your MVP, so make sure you get them right!
  • Performance Attributes are features that can improve customer satisfaction. While they’re not essential to the core functionality of your product, they’re important for keeping your users satisfied and engaged.
  • Delighters are features that exceed the expectations of real customers. These are the features that make your MVP stand out from the competition and create a positive user experience. Implementing these features can help create brand loyalty and generate positive word-of-mouth.

RICE Scoring

Another model that can help you prioritize features for your MVP is the RICE Scoring method.

RICE stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort.

You can use this method to score each feature on a scale of 1-10 for each category and then multiply the scores to determine the overall priority.

For example:

  • Reach: How many users will this feature affect?
  • Impact: How much will this feature improve the user experience of your target audience or drive your business goal?
  • Confidence: How confident are you in your estimations for reach and impact?
  • Effort: How much time, resources, and manpower will it take to implement this feature? 

After rating each feature in each of the four categories, you would calculate a score for each feature by multiplying the ratings. This will give you a prioritization score for each feature, allowing you to focus on the features with the highest scores first.

MoSCoW Model

The MoSCoW Model helps prioritize features by urgency and importance. Using the MoSCoW Method, you would categorize each potential feature into one of four categories:

  • Must-Have: An essential feature of the core functionality of the product.
  • Should-Have: These are important features that are not essential, hence should only be included if possible.
  • Could-Have: Features that would be nice to have but are not necessary for the MVP to succeed. You can consider including this attractive feature only if time and resources allow.
  • Won’t Have: These are features that are not a priority at the moment and can be postponed or eliminated from the MVP.

By categorizing the features this way, you can ensure that you focus on the Must-Have features first, followed by the Should-Have and Could-Have features.

The Won’t Have features can be postponed or eliminated, allowing you to focus on the features that are most important for the MVP.

Fail Fast & Learn Faster

Failing is not always a bad thing, especially when it comes to building an MVP.

In fact, embracing failure and learning from it can help you create a better product that meets your customers’ needs.

Here are some tips on how to embrace failure and use it as a learning opportunity:

  • Set clear goals.
    Ensure that you establish a clear product vision with specific goals for your MVP and what you aim to accomplish. This will help you focus on the most important features and avoid wasting time and resources on things that don’t matter.
  • Test early and often.
    Don’t wait until the end to test your product. Test it early and often to get feedback from a potential customer or your current active users. This will help you identify issues and make changes before it’s too late.
  • Listen to user feedback.
    Be open to feedback from your users and stakeholders. Even negative feedback can be valuable if you use it to improve your product.
  • Fail fast, learn faster.
    Embracing failure and learning from it is an essential aspect of the MVP process. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back, as the quicker you experience failure, the quicker you can gain insights and make improvements to your product.
  • Iterate.
    Use what you’ve learned from failure to iterate and improve your product. Each iteration should bring you closer to meeting your customers’ needs.

Remember, failure is not the end of the road but a stepping stone to business success. By embracing failure and learning from it, you can create a better MVP and a better product overall.

fail fast, learn faster

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, prioritizing the right features for your MVP is critical to your success.

By following the steps we’ve outlined, you can create a product that meets the needs of your users while standing out in a crowded market.

And if you’re looking for a partner to help you prioritize your MVP features effectively, Ralabs is here to help!

At Ralabs, we understand how crucial it is to prioritize the right features for your MVP. That’s why we take a collaborative approach to prioritize features.

We work closely with our clients to understand their goals and build a target market’s user persona and user needs. We use techniques such as story mapping to identify the basic features and most critical functionality required for their MVP.

Our expert development team brings years of experience to the table and helps any project prioritize features that deliver maximum value while minimizing cost score and time-to-market.

Know more about us by clicking here.

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