How the Product Design Process Helps in MVP Development

Sunscrapers Team

22 April 2020, 6 min read

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Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the best step any startup founder can take if they’re looking to quickly validate their business idea and build a successful product. But how to approach MVP development? What are the best industry practices for developing an MVP that does its job

At Sunscrapers, one of the proven tactics we use to help our clients in product development is the Product Design Process. It’s an essential part of our software development process.

In this article, we take a closer look at the Product Design Process to show you its value in MVP development or expanding existing digital products.

What is the Product Design Process?

To put it simply, the Product Design Process as an essential part of the process a software development implements to help its product teams gather and define requirements, as well as prototype and test the solution with end-users. Thanks to its structure, we can keep full control over the future shape of the product or service we are going to build. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of its phases.

Phases of the Product Design Process

1. Understand 

The purpose of this stage is to identify the client’s level of expertise and assess the consistency of their business fundamentals. It usually involves a Project Manager or Product Designer, with minimal involvement of the team. 


Questions we usually ask:

  • Is the vision clear and consistent?
  • Are the business objectives well-defined and realistic?
  • Does the client know what they want from us?
    • How well is the client prepared from the business standpoint? (business model and product strategy, competition)?
    • What has been done until now? What can we use?
    • What needs to be done? In which areas?  
    • What are the constraints regarding budget, time, and scope?
    • What are the technological constraints and opportunities?
    • How do other competitors position themselves in the market? Which customer needs do they address? Which problems do they solve, and how well are they doing it?
    • What are the best practices in terms of industry standards?
    • How do people solve the problem that the product aims to address?  

Depending on the product’s complexity, this phase may take 1 to 3 days to complete. The key objective of this phase is analyzing the information provided by the client and gathered during the previous phase, in combination with research.

Product strategy

This sub-phase can take the form of workshops if there are some areas that need to be clarified first.

Questions we usually ask:

  • Do we have a clear definition of the value proposition? 
  • Do we have a well-defined segment, target group, and product positioning? 
  • Who do we need to partner with to deliver seamless service to the users? 
  • Do we know what the scope of the MVP quality level is?
  • Who are the business & non-business stakeholders?
  • How are we going to measure project success? How are we going to measure business success? How do we know that we are going in the right direction?

Read this too: Outsourced product development – or how to build a product without IT expertise

2. Define

During this phase, we start to gather the requirements and ideas about solutions. We begin to build a project backlog with functional and non-functional requirements. Also, this is the moment when we start brainstorming the solutions that would cover the requirements.

Questions we usually ask:

  • Which areas are well covered by requirements and ideas for the solutions?
  • Which features are must-have?
  • Which requirements are core for the value propositions?
  • How many resources will they consume? 
  • Which solution delivers more business value? 
  • Which technologies can support the solution we want to build best?
  • What are the constraints around the platforms on which we want to build our solutions?
  • Which areas are most critical for delivering the best user experience?
  • How well does the solution cover a requirement? Is it hard to implement?
  • Who are the projected users of the product? How, when, and why do they interact with each other?
  • What are the common pain points and needs of our users? How can we map them?
  • What is the minimum set of features that allows us to deliver a value proposition with a seamless experience? 
  • What did we miss previously? What do we need to go forward with the design?
  • Which of the areas attracts more risks, and how big are the risks? How can we mitigate them? 

3. Design & Test

This phase is usually divided into three sub-phases. Each of them aims to deliver a more granular picture of the end product.

Paper prototyping

This sub-phase is dedicated to rapid prototyping and testing the solutions - and iterating based on the gathered feedback. It involves all of the stakeholders.

Low-fidelity prototype

This is where the design team creates and presents a full system (application) for the first time. During the presentation, we cover all user scenarios for the MVP and show how they are reflected in system logic and user interface. After the presentation, we gather feedback. During this sub-phase, user testing is usually recommended.

High fidelity prototype

The design team presents the final look and feel of the updated product. This is the final point from which its development starts.

A note about testing: There is only one best practice regarding tests. Test wherever you can! Having this in mind, together with the client we can define what, when and with whom we are going to test the design.

What’s next?

4. Develop

Once the high-fidelity prototype is accepted by the stakeholders, the team can move on to developing the MVP. 

But before developers set out to write the code, you might need to update the roadmap and product backlog. Once the product backlog is ready, the team can create a sprint backlog on its basis and commit to complete a given number of tasks during each sprint.

What you need to do during this phase?

Get more insights in this article: Product development explained: Why your product requires different models of support in each lifecycle stage


The Product Design Process is a valuable guideline for building a Minimum Viable Product because it eliminates all the risks that may crop up during each of these phases. 

As a result, it allows teams to ask the right questions at the right time and avoid building an MVP with a poor product-market fit.

Are you looking for a development team that knows how to build digital products? Reach out to us and create an MVP that drives innovation while reducing business risk.

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