Prototype vs MVP - Which One Should You Build?

This blog is intended for entrepreneurs and startups looking to launch a successful venture. For decision makers in product development sector, our blog provides a clear roadmap on choosing between prototypes and MVPs.

Prototype vs MVP - Which One Should You Build?

  • Last Updated on November 08, 2023
  • 5 min read

Prototype and minimum viable product (MVP) are important parts of a product development. You spend weeks and months working on a product, spend a lot of money, and later on, find that nobody likes it. Or there are a lot of similar apps as yours and your product gets dumped into the app store. What would you do?

Do you realize that testing the idea is a critical component of product development?

That’s where prototypes and MVP come into the picture. They help you build preliminary versions of the product to help you understand whether it is worth it creating the final product.

Prototype and Minimum Viable Product (MVP) - Both serve critical roles in the process of bringing a product to market, but they serve different purposes and come into play at distinct stages of development.

In this blog, we will explore the key differences between a prototype and an MVP and help you decide which one is right for your specific project.

Prototype: A Glimpse into the Future

A prototype is a preliminary version of a product that aims to visualize and test its core features and functionalities. It's a valuable tool in the early stages of product development, often used to communicate and validate the concept. Let's take a closer look at some key characteristics of a prototype:


Focus on Design and User Experience

Prototypes emphasize the visual and interactive aspects of a product. They help designers and stakeholders get a feel for the user interface, layout, and overall aesthetics.

Low Functionality

Prototypes may lack real functionality or only provide basic functionality to simulate the user experience. They are not intended for production use.

Iterative and Exploratory

Prototypes are highly iterative and can evolve rapidly as new ideas and insights emerge. They are an excellent way to explore and refine the product concept.

Low Cost and Effort

Building a prototype is generally less resource-intensive compared to an MVP. It's an efficient way to test ideas before investing in full-scale development.

Read More: How to reduce custom software development costs of your MVP?

MVP: Testing the Waters with a Minimal Product

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP), on the other hand, is a functional version of a product that includes the minimum features required to solve a specific problem or deliver value to users. Here's what you need to know about MVPs:


Functional and Usable

MVPs are not just mockups or wireframes; they are functional products that can be used by real users to solve a real problem. While they might have limited features, the ones they include work as intended.

Read more: Why build an MVP for your mobile app?

Market Validation

The primary purpose of an MVP is to validate the product's viability in the market. It helps gather real user feedback, measure user engagement, and assess whether the product is meeting its objectives.

Cost and Time Investment

Developing an MVP typically requires more resources and time than creating a prototype. It involves building a basic version of the product, which can be deployed and used by early adopters or customers.

Iterative Improvement

Like prototypes, MVPs can be improved and expanded based on user feedback and market response. The key difference is that MVPs are designed to be used by real customers.

Choosing Between Prototype and MVP

The decision of whether to build a prototype or an MVP depends on your project's goals and where you are in the development process. Here are some guidelines to help you choose:

If You Need to Test an idea

If you have a concept and want to test its feasibility and user acceptance, start with a prototype. It's a cost-effective way to explore your idea without committing to a full-fledged product.

If You're Ready for Market Validation

When you've moved beyond the concept phase and want to assess how well your product will perform in the real world, it's time for an MVP. Building a functional product is the way to gather user feedback and validate your business assumptions.

Use Both in Sequence

In many cases, a combination of a prototype and an MVP can be a powerful approach. Start with a prototype to refine your concept and design, and then move to an MVP to test it with real users.

Consider Your Resources

The decision also depends on your available resources. Prototypes are less resource-intensive, while MVPs require a more substantial investment. Consider your budget, time frame, and team capabilities when deciding which path to take.

In a Nutshell

Prototypes and MVPs are valuable tools in the product development toolbox, each serving a distinct purpose. The choice between the two depends on your project's goals, stage, and available resources.

By understanding the differences between prototypes and MVP development services, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your vision and strategy for bringing your product to market. Remember that both approaches are valuable steps on the path to a successful product launch.


Tej Chalishazar

Tej is an experienced project manager with huge experience in mobile app development. He has worked on a lot of projects for various companies, ranging from startups to large corporations, and has successfully managed multiple projects from inception to launch. With a strong background in software development and project management methodologies, he is able to effectively communicate with cross-functional teams and stakeholders to ensure that projects are delivered successfully.