In late 2017 we launched VeggieGo — a social network for vegetarians, vegans and rawtarians. It was founded by Anna-Maria Udotova, a businesswoman and an artist. She is a vegetarian and can totally relate to the problems of a contemporary city dweller, who has decided to stop eating meat in their every-day life. Her dream is to make their life more comfortable.
IN THIS CASE STUDY WE WILL SPEAK ABOUT:
- how the idea of the product emerged;
- what was included in the MVP — a minimum viable product — and what was postponed till later;
- how the visual style was found;
- what results our collaboration yielded.
«I’d like to bring more comfort to the life of people who choose to eat right»
© Pineapple Supply Co.
ABOUT THE PRODUCT IN BRIEF
VeggieGo — is a vegetarian restaurant guide and communication platform. It helps to:
- нfind and add vegetarian places to eat out;
- read and post comments;
- find friends and communicate with them via personal messages and comments.
Development time: 12 months.
Launch: december 2017 года.
AppStore rating: 4,4.
SHAPING THE IDEA
Anna-Maria travels a lot. On her trips to unfamiliar cities, she has often had difficulty finding a restaurant with truly vegetarian cuisine. Many of them simply add one or two meat-free dishes to the menu, which is enough for Google Map and TripAdvisor to mark them as «vegetarian».
Going all the way to the restaurant just to find out the only vegetarian dish on the whole menu is a vegetable salad feels very disappointing. This situation got Anna-Maria thinking of a product that would make vegetarianism comfortable for all its followers.
What sets this app apart from TripAdvisor and the rest of restaurant apps?? VeggieGo is meant solely for vegetarians, vegans and rawtarians. The app database comprises only the restaurants whose menus include an ample choice of appropriate dishes.
THERE ARE MANY WISHES. WHAT IS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE MVP OR THE FIRST VERSION?
How to decide what to include in the first version of a social network?
- What is a must, and what is optional? In the case of the vegetarian community, a client pointed out the unfairness of the situation, the product was supposed to resolve. Anna-Maria is an expert and knowledge holder of what app is needed. We turned to her with the question of “What is imperative, and what is optional?”. Besides, we studied publicly available results of the research into the life of the vegetarian community.
- What is easy, and what is difficult? Two years before Anna-Maria, Maxim Zakopaylov joined Manufactura in the capacity of a technical director, bringing along a group of developers he used to work with and thus enhancing our team. Their portfolio featured launching social networks as well. So they were responding to the questions about the difficulty of implementing certain ideas.
There’s a great number of aspects that may affect the success of a social network – the core audience, communication opportunities, content, launch time, regularity of updates, the founders’ intuition — it’s impossible to single out just one of them and say, «That is the secret to social media smooth run».
Maxim Zakopaylov, Technical Director of Manufactura
So we joined Anna-Maria’s vision with our work experience to compile a list of requirements for an MVP – an earlier app version, which would comprise the most important and unique functions as well as enable us to test the idea on the real audience.
MVP MEANS MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT
MINIMUM suggests minimal development costs.
VIABLE. Within an MVP, we normally test two hypotheses:
- usefulness hypothesis – a minimum viable product is meant to reveal that the app idea is in demand/ enjoys popularity among the target audience;
- monetization hypothesis – users are willing to pay for the value provided / the product is capable of yielding profit.
It should be noted that this project was Anna-Maria’s dream coming true, so the issues of income and business-productivity were not a matter of top priority. That is why we are not testing monetization models in the first version of the product.
Product. We release a product, not a prototype. A product, ready for use and distribution among your target audience.
In the course of communication with Anna-Maria, we determined functionality which we considered sufficient for testing the product viability.
|We included minimum versions of the following functionalities:||Postponed till update releases:|
Experienced developers know that launching a large-scale, multi-functional product after a lengthy development period is a serious risk. A lot of time and money will have been invested in the product, but once launched, it will fail to meet the users’ needs and fall short of expected results.
This is why Manufactura adheres to a different concept: we launch a minimum viable product and enhance it via regular updates observing the audience response. That was our strategy with VeggieGo, too — we launched an MVP in December 2017 and have continued to release monthly updates since March 2018.
IN SEARCH OF A VISUAL STYLE
VeggieGo was a complex project: MVP development was preceded by naming, and after the product launch we created a marketing package.
Alongside the product concept, the client came up with an idea of a visual design for the project – watercolors. Today this style appeals to many app users because of its associations with something natural and light.
Watercolors are not a typical solution for a mobile app. Choosing such a style entails the creation of an individual story, coherently narrated and meticulously performed.
«When a client has their own vision, it always means certain limitations and poses a challenge for the team. However, we don’t take it as a whim or a caprice. If you have the necessary skills, you can work with any limitation».
Art Director of the project
«It was a unique experience of working with a client. Normally during phone calls, you brace yourself for an argument, but here you just tell them how you see it all and they say, «Yes, we entirely agree with you». In this case, there was complete mutual understanding with the client».
In order to implement the idea we devised a special approach. Having assigned the watercolors a stylizing part, we used them moderately and neatly, adding for balance simple shapes, thin lines, low-key fonts and navigation bar style.
NAMING AND LOGO
After the name of the project was confirmed — and VeggieGo competed with such rivals as Vegovan, Get It Green and Vegatu — we embarked on the design of a logo icon. The team proposed several variants, one of which we took a liking to. It was lively and grotesque fruit standing for a mark on the map.
Anna-Maria suggested a more straightforward, comprehensible variant — ordinary, but most delicious fruit — a pineapple:
When the Android-version is released, we are planning to conduct an A/B-testing of these variants.
WEBSITE AND ITUNES DESIGN
We sustained the watercolors theme both on the promo website, created on the Readymag platform, and in the design of screen shots for AppStore, whose target is now in sync with that of the promo site, i.e. to demonstrate all the properties and advantages of the product.
The concept of VeggieGo, proposed by Anna-Maria, did not copy other apps and was aimed at solving the audience’s real problems. In addition, it featured many details conveying the mood and interests of the vegetarian community.
|How can a client contribute?||How can the developer contribute?|
|A customer normally has a better command of their product specifications than the developer, whose task is to decide how much to trust, based on the client’s competence. From that moment on, the developer’s mission is not to contradict with the customer’s vision, but to find ways to test it via analytics and facts.||A customer, as a rule, has no expertise in mobile app development. The developer’s duty is not to take advantage of their ignorance, placing limitations on how their vision should be put into practice. On the contrary, such a project becomes an excellent opportunity to reveal one’s planning and developing expertise in full.|
|A TRULY UNIQUE PRODUCT||TURNING AN IDEA INTO A PRODUCT|
MVP LAUNCH RESULTS
We developed and launched the VeggieGo app in accordance with the client’s vision, having enhanced it with our ideas of proper development. Let us have a look at the initial results.
Upon the launch, the key functionality proved totally useful: users spot locations and set routes to them.
The social activity level at the start left much to be desired: users have hardly turned to the functionality of adding comments, searching for friends and communicating.
Excellent! What can we do about it?
AN UPDATE SAMPLE
Among the first updates after the MVP launch, we released onboarding, which improved the interaction level and increased engagement rates. Take a look at what was included and what results we achieved.
The outcome of the update release:
- +4% of users added personal information, which means they will be receiving useful content about new places opening in the area;
- +28% befriending increase;
- +13% bookmarking for later use;
- +14% location rating.
Moreover, the onboarding tool gives the user insight in the app’s key features and provides guidance about how to rate locations, subscribe to interesting bloggers or personalize their profile.
This affected the quality of content the users added.
Check the MVP figures and compare them to the results obtained through the following updates.
|MVP version 1.0, December 2017||Version 1.4, July 2018|
|Monthly Active Users, MAU||587||3000|
|Browsing location pages||57%||62% +5%|
|Searching for friends||3%||16% +13%|
|Using a messenger||0%||10% +10%|
|Retention rate||12,2%||20% +7,8%|
When we launched the MVP, we observed a positive response among the audience, which was confirmed by both analytics and reviews. Our current growth strategy for VeggieGO consists in testing ideas on a small audience. Now it is important for us to make the app key functionality useful – both for navigation and interaction. During further iterations, we are planning to experiment with virality and marketing, which is supposed to draw still larger audiences. Only after this, will we start experimenting with monetization.
MVP FOR YOUR PRODUCT WITHIN A MONTH
VeggieGO development took 12 months. An MVP for a social networking site is a large-scale task. But not every minimum viable product takes so long — the development process may take as long as six months, or as short as a couple of weeks.