Proof of Concept (PoC), Prototype, and MVP (Minimum Viable Product) are three very unique concepts in the app development that several new business persons seem to get confused around.
But before you understand them and get to the point of making a decision between PoC vs MVP vs Prototype, there is a sea of information that you need to swim through; we'll guide you through it and help you find out how these concepts are important to understand.
Most of the companies that provide products or services in the digital space like websites and mobile apps have to go through several confusing and important decisions whenever a product or service is launched.
To launch a digital product like website or app, startups, as well as other organizations, need to make some small yet essential choices. Starting from creating the mockup to app design and budget revision; everything is extremely crucial.
But before starting anything else, the toughest thing to decide is whether developers should develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) or a Prototype.
It is not that tough a decision. The only reason why it feels tough is the lack of understanding of what they are and how to choose them. It is of utmost importance to know the difference between these three to choose the best approach.
Remember a golden rule of product or service-based business ideas. Your product or service should be built around a problem and rely on technology as a tool to solve it, and not the other way around.
Here's the post-it notes definition of all three approaches.
Proof of Concept (PoC): A Proof of Concept is a small project used to verify that some tech concept (method, technology, integration, etc.) is implementable.
Prototype: A prototype isn’t a functional app yet, but a preliminary visualization of a working product.
It’s not built with code and doesn’t process any data but is only for a visual idea of how the app would look and overall User Experience (UX) design. With a prototype, you can present your idea in front of investors and potential users to catch their interest.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP): A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a basic version of the app that revolves only around the core features.
An MVP aims to address the problem that it seeks to solve and meet specific criteria that the users must've set from the app, nothing more. You can think of an MVP as a prototype that’s powered by code. An MVP is to satisfy the early adopters of the app market and build a reputation for the .
The dilemma of choosing between an MVP, PoC and a Prototype can still be confusing to you, and an incorrectly choosing from the three will end up leaking your organization's finances, wasting your efforts, time and other resources affecting your business' overall growth.
Now it's time to learn in detail about the differences between all the 3 approaches and how to choose the right one for your organization.
What is a Proof of Concept?
A PoC is like doing a small research on the app concept that shows you whether the idea is worth pursuing or not.
When you aren’t sure if your app idea or a particular app feature will work, you build a Proof of Concept. For example, when you don’t know if a feature can be built, you test the idea’s feasibility by creating a PoC.
A PoC is built to verify some minor technical assumptions before getting down to the actual development. It will cover a small part, not the entire system. The users will never get to see the PoC because its used inside the company just to clarify which way to go with the app development.
PoCs help you save money; by helping you know if a particular approach possibly works — leading to a lower risk of failure. A PoC can also help you in getting the seed-stage funding from investors.
Key Features of PoC
Demonstrates feasibility and confirms potential
Helps in realistic implementation of small portions of the project
Less cost and time for detailed feature validation
Explore innovative ideas in the initial stage
Discloses errors, bugs, and risks involved at an early stage
Gives clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ viability of your project
What is a Prototype in app development perspective?
PoC and Prototype are often used interchangeably, but they really mean different things. Just like the PoC, a prototype’s main purpose is to help you make the right development decisions and reduce the number of mistakes and save your product. But a prototype does it differently than a PoC.
While a PoC offers you a model of just one aspect of the app, a prototype is a working model showing several aspects of the app. The development team usually uses PoC to find errors in a concept while prototyping to discover errors in the entire system.
Prototypes are created for the sake of finding those errors and often are far from being perfect. By building a prototype, you can test the product’s design, functionality, and usability.
Key Features of Prototype
Early feedback on the product
Identification of mistakes in the design and development phases
Less expensive and lucrative and faster
Simplifies complex ideas into an understandable format
Application/System flow validation by business users
What does MVP mean?
If a prototype feels like a draft, then an MVP is more of a separate product itself. The MVP version of an app has just enough features to stay viable but not more. Simply said, an MVP doesn't pack dozens of cool features but only has the core functionality.
The main reason startups fail is that they end up launching a product that absolutely no one needs. The purpose of building an MVP is to get the minimum version of the product to the market and find the most cost-effective production method.
With the MVP approach, you can build a working app without spending a fortune and compromizing app development timeline, and you'll get to know whether it has any value at all. And if the app idea does have value, you can start making money right away from your first customers, the early adopters.
An MVP is delivered to the market right away, so it has to be simple and well-polished, without any bugs or other problems, especially none in UI/UX.
Key Features of MVP
Increased Production Readiness
Offers the right subset of features to keep users satisfied
Continuous feedback and improvement creating value for customers
Gives valuable insights to grow gradually keeping customers in mind
Garners high retention in a small investment
Helps in preventing wastage of time, money and efforts
Sets the path for increased feasibility and value
It’s better if we understand this with an app development example.
The first step would be to confirm an idea; let's say a location-based clothing exchange platform. You can find other people who are interested in exchanging wardrobe in a 20-mile radius.
So, you research about the same, how interested would people be in such an opportunity, what would be your target audience; certainly not the rich one, but the youth that wants to try new clothing but can't afford to buy many.
Your research may show that it is a fantastic idea.
Then comes the part where you will test the feasibility of the technical part of your app idea. Here you’ll use PoC. As per the definition we discussed above, a PoC is used to verify that some tech concept (method, technology, integration, etc.) is implementable; in this case, the location-based service.
Once you have proof that the technical aspect can be developed and achieved as you have planned, next comes the step to check the user acceptance of the app. This will be done with a prototype. We already talked that a prototype isn’t a functional app, but a preliminary visualization of a working product.
Now a prototype can be just static images of the app screen, or you can cook up an "interactive" experience that doesn't do anything except give a touch and feel of the app to the users.
Finally, after taking all the reviews from the users about the UI/UX of the app, you can move ahead with creating a basic version of the app, or the MVP. The definition states that an MVP is a basic version of the app that revolves only around the core features.
So, in this case, the app will only have a couple of features like geolocation, search bar, and a product like viewing window of the clothes — only the most basic features needed to fulfil the main goal of the app.
After getting positive response from the early adopters and confirmation from your investors, you can go ahead and start developing a complete wardrobe exchange app platform with all the top features that you have planned for.
Many web and app development firms label MVP, PoC, and Prototype as the same service, but after all our discussions it is clear that each of the processes has its own use and place in the development cycle.
All three approaches have somewhat different goals and definitely unique in application. So, it is better to talk to an expert business analyst before deciding on which approach at the time is right for your app idea.