Prototype vs. MVP: What Should Be the First Version of Your App?

App development
Thursday, February 8, 2024 (5 months ago)
8 minutes
Marketing IBTIMarketing IBTI#Marketing IBTI
Prototype vs MVP
Prototype vs MVP
Table of contents

    In the fast-moving world of creating apps, deciding between a "Prototype vs. MVP" for your first version is a big choice that can decide where your digital project goes. Imagine standing on the edge of launching your app, and now you have to pick between a well-crafted prototype and a carefully planned Minimum Viable Product (MVP). It can get confusing, right?

    Let's break it down: The first version of your app should be a prototype if you aim to test basic ideas and gather initial feedback on the design. Choose an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) if you prefer a functional version with core features, ideal for real-world user testing and feedback.

    This article is all about practical considerations, helping you figure out the best first version for your app's journey.

    What is a Prototype?


    A prototype is like a preview of your product. It's an early version made to show the basic functions and how your idea looks. Imagine it as a picture or a model that lets the people involved and the developers understand how the final product might appear.

    Key Features of a Prototype:

    Picture Focus: Prototypes emphasize how things look, giving a clear idea of the product's design.
    Basic Functions: They might not include everything but showcase the main features.
    Feedback Collection: Prototypes are excellent for getting input in the early stages of making the product.

    What is an MVP?


    On the flip side, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is more than just a sneak peek; it's a working version of your product with the basic features needed for it to be used. An MVP goes beyond how it looks, letting users try out the product and use its main functions.

    Key Features of an MVP:

    Basic Functions: An MVP includes the necessary features to make the product work.
    User Testing: It's not just a show; real users can try it and share their thoughts.
    Evolving Design: MVPs are made to change based on what users say and how the market responds. 

    Prototype vs. MVP: What’s the Difference

    So, what's the difference between MVP vs. Prototype?

    • A prototype checks if the idea works, while an MVP checks if the product works.
    • A prototype tests the basic idea; an MVP tests features, assuming the basic idea is already proven.
    • An MVP is practical; you can use it (though in a limited way). A prototype mostly shows how the product might look.
    • Sometimes, a prototype can be the starting point for MVP development. It makes sense to confirm basic ideas with a
    • prototype and then build an MVP to move the project forward.
    • A prototype of an app is an interactive, working model of the product, made to find problems in how it's designed.
      An MVP app is the essential version of the product, focused on providing value to the market as quickly as possible.

    Here's a table to make it even clearer between minimum viable product vs. prototype:





    Checks if the idea works.

    Checks if the product works.

    Testing Focus

    Tests the basic idea.

    Tests feature, assuming the basic idea is proven.


    Mostly shows how the product might look.

    Practical and usable, though in a limited way.

    Starting Point for Development

    Can be the foundation for MVP development.

    Often follows the prototype to progress the project.

    App Representation

    Interactive, working model to find design flaws.

    Essential version; focused on providing quick value.

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    Digital Prototypes in Software and App Development

    Digital-Prototypes-in-Software-and-App-Development (1).webp

    A digital prototype is like a detailed sketch showing how a software or app will look. It's made before the actual development starts to visualize the design.

    Think of it as making a visual map for your software or app. It displays where buttons, features, and information will be, giving a clear picture of the user interface.

    Prototypes may not do everything the final product will do. They might just show some parts or be partly interactive. They're mainly made to display how things will look and get feedback on that.

    Think of prototypes as giving a sneak peek of the product's appearance. They help show how the product will look before it's fully developed. People, especially those interested in the project, get a first look and can share their thoughts.

    Prototypes are a budget-friendly way to test how the design ideas work. It's like trying things out on a smaller scale before spending a lot on building the whole product. This helps in fixing any issues early without big expenses.

    Prototypes are a helpful way to talk about how the product will look. They are useful for discussing and getting feedback on design elements with the people involved in the project. It helps everyone understand and agree on how the final product should appear.

    MVPs in Software and App Development

    Let's simplify the benefits of Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) in software and app development:

    • MVPs are like the first versions of a product (software/app) that real people can use. This helps developers learn how people actually use the product. Getting feedback from users is super important. It helps developers understand what people like and need, which guides them in making the product even better.
    • The main job of an MVP is to test the product with real users. This helps figure out if the product can be successful in the market. By watching how users use the product and how much they like it, developers can see if it has a good chance of success.
    • MVPs follow a step-by-step development process. Developers keep making the product better by adding more features based on what users say and what the market needs. This makes the product flexible and able to change with what people want.
    • Releasing an early version of the product helps find and fix problems early on. It's like catching issues before they become big. This way, developers can make sure the product is a good fit for the market and that people will like using it.

    Wondering, “What Does MVP Mean in Product Development?” Give our insightful blog a thorough read. 

    So, Which Should You Use While Choosing the First Version of Your App: Prototype or MVP?

    Choosing the first version of your app depends on your goals. A prototype is a visual preview that is great for testing basic ideas and getting design feedback. An MVP, a functional version, is ideal for real-world user testing and feedback on core features.

    • If budget and early feedback matter most, start with a prototype. 
    • If you need to compare how a feature performs against what users want, build an MVP.

    Choosing between them depends on what you need. Do you want detailed feedback or just a quick reaction? Do you need support from investors? There's no clear winner. The best choice depends on the project stage and your audience.

    If you're unsure about the best choice for your project, you can use our IBTI App Cost Tool—a handy tool that helps users estimate the cost and time needed for their web platform applications. By using this tool, users can easily understand the financial investment required for their projects.

    Contact IBTI to Build Your MVP with Confidence

    Choose IBTI for MVP Development Services for a smooth experience in creating software or apps. Our focus on saving costs ensures that important features come first, using step-by-step development for efficient spending.

    Get the benefit of our quick approach, delivering top-notch MVPs without losing quality. With a skilled team in relevant technologies, we offer standout expertise. Following a user-friendly approach, we value feedback, leading to constant improvements in our MVP development services.

    Enjoy ongoing support, clear communication, and teamwork, making IBTI the perfect partner for your software or app development journey.

    Wrapping Up

    So, to sum it up, deciding between "Prototype vs. MVP" is a big choice that shapes where your digital project goes. Each has its own role: Prototypes give a preview of the design, while MVPs provide a version that works for real testing. Prototypes focus on how it looks and initial thoughts, while MVPs provide features you can use. Your choice depends on what you want, your budget, and where your project is at. Whether you go for the clarity of a Prototype or the features of an MVP, it marks the start of your app's exciting journey.


    Is the prototype the same as MVP?

    No, a prototype is a basic model for design and feedback. An MVP is a functional version for real testing.

    What does MVP stand for?

    MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product, an initial version with essential features for early users and feedback.

    What role does user feedback play in MVP product management?

    Getting feedback from users is crucial. It makes the product better, guides changes, and ensures it meets customer needs.

    Marketing IBTI

    Marketing IBTI

    #Marketing IBTI

    IBTI is a technology company that develops IT-as-a-service solutions and provides technical teams for software development. We have been working with IT services for over 12 years, developing software and mobile applications for clients throughout Brazil. In recent years, we have engaged in an internationalization process and started to serve foreign customers, always with a view to the quality of the service provided.


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