User Story Mapping and More: Feature Selection Methods for MVP

At Purrweb, we take MVP development seriously and believe that the fate of a startup directly depends on this stage. We will tell you how the User Story Mapping and MoSCoW methods can help determine the features for the future MVP.

Wait, wait, what is MVP?

MVP stands for minimum viable product ( MVP -. English minimum Viable product product ), the concept is used to test business ideas. The idea behind MVP is to pack the key functionality into some simple (and, what is important, nice) product version, and then test it on the market. The main goal of this stage is to collect the first feedback.

Let's say you've decided to launch the MVP of an online vegan wedding cake store. To test the idea and work out the recipe, you need to create the first prototype - an ordinary cake, without figures of the groom and the bride and 5 tiers. The dough is the basic component, if it is not tasty, no frosting and lace from the cream will save the situation. This is why it is important to test the “basic” version first and get some feedback.

I want the highest quality feedback! About User Story Mapping and MoSCoW

How to determine the functionality for the minimum viable product? This is always a big question. It is necessary to find a balance between "minimal" and "useful", while not forgetting about quality. We've chosen two tactics to make it easier for your MVP to select features.

User Story Mapping is a method that recreates the user's MVP "path" . Thanks to User Story Mapping, you can track all the interaction options with the product, from the first launch to the targeted action (for example, a purchase).

    The technique consists of 5 steps:

  1. Define a goal . Answer the question "Why am I doing this?" The answer should be short, no more than one sentence. For example, the goal of our wedding cake startup is to create an online dessert shop with vegan dough, delicious toppings and fast contactless delivery.
  2. Think about the user route for your MVP . Where will he push? Which sections to open? What are the steps to take? At this stage, it is important to put yourself in the user's shoes and think over all possible scenarios. For example, to buy a cake in our application, a user goes through 5 stages: viewing, providing an address and delivery instructions, order management, payment and delivery.
  3. Write down the functions for each step. For example, in order to select a cake in the application, you will need a catalog of wedding baked goods, with different creams and sprinkles, as well as a search bar, a settings page and with best sellers (for those who cannot decide), etc. You will need different payment options to pay: debit / credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal. All this must be written down and thought over, a lot may not be included in the first release, however, in subsequent versions of the product, these options may be very useful.
  4. Arrange the functions in descending order from “ MVP cannot be released without this” to “you can start like this”. The main ranking criteria are how much this or that feature will help in achieving the target action. For example, for the same application with cakes, the choice of "the same" table decoration will not be possible without a catalog and a search bar. But the bestseller page can be added later.
  5. Collect MVP. The first version will include high-priority features - something without which you definitely won't be able to bring the product to release.

User Story Mapping is not a panacea. An alternative is the MoSCoW prioritization method. There is no reference to native (and non-rubber) Moscow here. This is an acronym for prioritized functionality - anything that may (or may not) end up in your MVP anyway.

User Story Mapping or MoSCoW - you choose

To separate the important from the “wanted”, you and your team agree on the selection criteria - benefits for customers, complexity of implementation, cost of implementation. All this is very important to find out on the shore.

    Now let's go over the categories that MoSCoW offers us:

  • Must-have is the most important category. This includes features, without which a product release is simply impossible. Find out with the team: will the target user action be performed if we do not add this feature? If the answer is no, feel free to include it in the first release. For example, for our startup with cakes, it is critically important to implement the "Order a cake at home" feature - otherwise why bother with the choice of toppings?
  • If, instead of a clear “yes,” something like “probably yes” pops up, then most likely you have come to the Should-have category. This includes all the features that are important and valuable as well, but the first release can happen without them. For a cake startup, that feature would be filtering for desserts labeled "gluten-free."
  • The Could-have category is also called "nice-to-have". Here we throw everything that “I would like to do”, but due to lack of resources, you will not do this - moreover, you can bring MVP to the market without these features. For example, it would be great to add the ability to select priority delivery for cakes and get your order first. For us, this could be an additional option for profit, but let's be honest - at the stage of testing an idea, this is not so necessary.
  • Will-not-have are absolutely not release-critical features. For example, customers of a cake shop would be interested in adding ratings and comments to each type of filling, such as “chocolate lovers will love this,” “the texture of the vanilla cream is super velvety”. However, for now we do not need this and this idea can be put aside in the far corner and focus on other categories.

The must-have features will be your "test" - this is what will go to the first release. We also advise you to write down everything that fell into the categories with a lower priority - you will return to this later when you bring the MVP to the market and receive feedback. Who knows, maybe 80% of your audience will ask you for priority delivery of cakes? You will know for sure when you get your MVP into the hands of your target audience.

Let's summarize

While you were reading this article, about 126 startups have closed in the world. Don't let your idea fail! We strongly recommend that you treat your MVP responsibly - testing the product and analyzing user feedback. User Story Mapping and MoSCoW will help prioritize and simplify the process of selecting features for a future startup.

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