How to Prioritize MVP Features: 10 Simple Methods


An MVP tries to solve the core pain points of the active users of the product within the target market. Though an MVP is supposed to have minimal features, choosing the right feature to prioritize can be a challenging task.

10 MVP Feature Prioritization Methods You Should Apply On Your Next Project MVP Feature Prioritization

Does your MVP have more than one basic feature? Are you struggling to determine MVP features to prioritize during the development phase?

To relieve you of your burden, today we’ll be discussing the 10 most effective MVP feature prioritization methods so you can focus on the right features to provide the most benefits to your user base.

What Is MVP Feature Prioritization?

Before you start creating your MVP, you need to list all the features that you wish to put in your product. But since it’s an initial version of the product that contains only key features, you will need to focus on which feature to prioritize during development.

To increase the efficiency of the development cycle, the product team uses different methods to find the essential features to start developing by measuring the pros and cons of each.

Some of these methods revolve around designs, others include bringing in decision-makers who can look at the product from a different perspective and help decide on which features to pay attention to the most.

How Feature Prioritization Fits Within Software Development

Research is the most important part when it comes to emphasizing one feature when you build your Minimum Viable Product. With research data, you can tell what the target market and the investors are really looking for, and you can start working accordingly.

Without proper research data to back it up, feature prioritization just becomes a matter of personal opinion, which only hinders the development cycle, since everyone wants something different, and everyone has different opinions.

When the development reaches a stalemate in cases like these, the best way to get out of the slump is to do even further research and tests to find out what works best and continue accordingly.

Why Should You Use Feature Prioritization Methods?

Feature prioritization methods can save you a lot of trouble during the development phase while providing some additional benefits. Here are the main reasons why we think you should implement feature prioritization models.

  • For Creating A Unique Product
  • For Creating A Product That Has Market Demand
  • For Creating A Product That Fits The Business Model
  • For Reaching The Market As Soon As Possible

For Creating A Unique Product

When you’re defining every feature you are planning to put in and prioritizing the right features, it ensures that you aren’t reinventing the wheel. You’re creating something fresh and different, or you’re providing pre-existing solutions in a unique manner from everyone else.

It helps you get more eyes on your product for being unique while standing out of the crowd of other similar products.

For Creating A Product That Has Market Demand

The reason why almost half the startups out there fail is that the founders launch a product that has no market demand at all. When you don’t have any market research going into your MVP development, you don’t know what the users want.

But when you try to determine feature priority, you have to take market research into consideration. That way, you start putting more focus on the feature that will solve the core pain point of your audience. Which in turn, creates a product that has real market demand.

For Creating A Product That Fits The Business Model

It’s not just about creating the product. It’s about delivering what the audience was looking for because that’s the primary condition if you want to make revenue.

When you know what people want, you create a product to give them what they want. That way, your product starts bringing in revenue and it fits your business model by meeting user expectations.

For Reaching The Market As Soon As Possible

The business goal of any MVP is to test the market as soon as possible to find out the viability and feasibility of an idea. When you know exactly what to develop, you reduce your overall development time by only working on only is needed.

With a faster time-to-market, you get the upper hand compared to your competitors who already have a product in the market, or are trying to release their own.

10 MVP Feature Prioritization Methods You Should Use For Your Next Project

Method #1: MoSCoW Method

MoSCoW method is the most basic method of feature prioritization that divides every selected feature into 4 different parts:

  • Must-Have Features: These are the core functionalities that can solve the pain points of your current target audience within your target market.
  • Should-Have Features: These are features that validate the existence of your product even further, and ensure your MVP isn’t a one-trick pony.
  • Could-Have Features: These are features that aren’t crucial for right now, but can be added in later if you have extra time and budget during the development process.
  • Won’t Have Features: These are features that don’t need to be in the MVP at the moment, so they can be skipped altogether during the MVP stage. These are also features that won’t make a difference in the case of UX even when present/ not present.

Method #2: Feature Priority Matrix

Feature priority matrix has a lot of similarities to the MoSCoW method, but it starts with three main questions, with three different factors in consideration:

  • Effort: How much time and resources will you need to implement this function?
  • Impact: How will it affect the users when you implement it?
  • Risk: How difficult it will be to implement the feature within the allotted time?

Once you’ve calculated all the answers, you can divide the features into your own version of the MoSCoW method:

  • The Must-Haves: The key features of your MVP.
  • The Can-Be-Dones: Features that you can add later through updates.
  • The Nice-To-Haves: Attractive features that increase the value of your MVP, but there’s no problem if you skip it for now.
  • Waste-of-Time: Product features that have no impact on the users.

Method #3: Story Mapping

User story mapping is a technique that also involves the stakeholders of the project. This method takes the user journey into account and helps you prioritize the features accordingly.

Story mapping helps you envision how the users will interact with your app, and how the users will navigate through the app. Each navigation starts with a goal, and then reaches an action that will provide value to an active user.

It also gets divided into substeps depending on the importance of tasks. Once all the tasks have been pointed out, the user journey gets mapped.

Each of these individual journeys is noted down as a “user story”. The best part of story mapping is that it’s much easier to pinpoint the missing steps. If a journey is too short with not enough steps, that means the journey hasn’t been mapped out fully.

The only downside is that real-life user journeys can be much more complicated, so you will need to do a lot of maintenance to keep the whole list up-to-date and free of duplicates.

Method #4: Kano Model

Kano Model is named after the professor who invented it, Dr. Noriaki Kano. It’s a user-oriented model to help start founders prioritize the features of their products. The model requires you to perform potential customer research and interviews to know what they want in the minimal version.

Once you have a clear idea, the model divides all the found features into four major categories:

  • Threshold Features: Feature requests that your users expect the most, and are necessary for your application to function. In other words, your core features with basic functionalities.
  • Performance Features: These are features that can increase user satisfaction, but they are not something you must include in the MVP project roadmap right away.
  • Excitement Features: Features that the target users are not expecting, but will get excited about when you include them in the app.
  • Irrelevant Features: Unnecessary features that won’t provide any additional value for potential users.

Method #5: Feature Bucket

The feature buckets technique follows an old saying “don’t put your eggs in one basket”. Like the proverb, you don’t put your features in one basket either. The classic feature bucket method has 3 baskets:

  • Customer Requests: This is the feature list that your customers are asking for, and something you must implement as core features so the user goals are met.
  • Metric Movers: These are the parts of the app that will affect certain metrics like your ROI (Return On Investment), KPI (Key Performance Indicators), revenue, etc. The contents of this basket are essential for business success, and something you should always keep an eye on as a business owner.
  • Delights: These are small features that the customers are not demanding, but would still make using your app more fun and accessible.

Method #6: Relative Weighting Prioritization

The relative weighting method is a combination of MoSCoW, Kano, and numerical assortment (discussed later on). Here, the value of each feature is calculated numerically, and the numbers give the development team a solid idea about how important each feature is.

The method takes the risks of not implementing a feature into count, as well as the benefits of one. The method considers the following aspects:

  • Benefits: The advantages of a certain feature that the users will experience.
  • Penalty: The negative implications of not putting in a feature.
  • Costs: The necessary costs of developing the key feature.
  • Risks: Potential challenges of developing the feature.

The formula to calculate the importance value of each feature is (Penalty score + Benefit score) / ( Risk score + Cost score). The resulting value will be a number from 1-9.

Though the value is calculated by the developers, the method requires input both from the developers and the client.

Method #7: Bubble Sorting Method

The bubble sorting method compares the functionalities of different features and assigns them a higher/ lower priority. The method starts by writing down the features of an application in an array where it compares to adjacent features.

The importance of the feature decides how high it will be placed within the array. With each different iteration, the features with the most functionality start moving to the top like bubbles in a cup of soda. Hence, the name “Bubble Sorting”

Let’s take a look at a table to get a clear idea about how this works:

Step 1

User profileThe search function is more important than the user profileSearch
SearchUser profile

Step 2

User profileUser profile needs to be introduced before statisticsUser profile

Step 3

Final Features List
1. Search
2. User Profile
3. Statistics

Method #8: Effort And Impact Method

This method prioritizes different features based on their complexity. The method will determine how complex the development of each feature is, and the amount of value they will bring after you go through the trouble of implementing a feature.

The features get put into different classes, and the value of these features gets measured by considering both developer and user feedback, along with the product owner.

The four major classes are:

  • Quick Wins
  • Major Projects
  • Fill-ins
  • Features To Reconsider

Method #9: Opportunity Scoring

This is a method that involves the audience and relies on their opinions and feedback. For this method, you conduct surveys that will inquire from the users about the functions and features they want to see the most in the next iteration of the MVP.

Then, the survey asks them about similar features that already exist in products created by your direct competitor. After you get a detailed idea about the features that offer the most customer satisfaction. Those are the features that take priority during the development phase.

Method #10: Numerical Assignment

The numerical assignment method divides all the features into three major categories.

  • Critical Priority
  • Standard Priority
  • Optional Priority

You can label the groups any way you like, but make sure that the group name clearly defines what it’s all about. Once done, you assign a number to each feature. The lowest number usually means a feature that takes the most priority.

Which Method Should You Choose?

We’re not saying that all of these methods are the best, or none of them are useful. It entirely depends on the current scenario of your development, like:

  • The current size of your development team
  • The size of the project itself
  • Stage the business is in

Pick the method that fits your product development process the most, and go along with it to achieve project success.

To Wrap It All Up

To revise quickly, here are the 10 most effective MVP feature prioritization methods:

  • Method #1: MoSCoW Method
  • Method #2: Feature Prioritization Method
  • Method #3: Story Mapping
  • Method #4: Kano Model
  • Method #5: Feature Bucket
  • Method #6: Relative Weighting Priority
  • Method #7: Bubble Sorting Method
  • Method #8: Effort And Impact Method
  • Method #9: Opportunity Scoring
  • Method #10: Numerical Assignment

Are you unsure about which method to use to determine MVP features? Allow Impala Intech to help you on your journey by consulting our developers.


How Does an MVP Feature Prioritization Method Work?

An MVP feature prioritization method takes all the features of an MVP into consideration and then depends on various metrics to determine the most important feature that should get priority during development.

Why Is MVP Feature Prioritization Important?

During MVP development, without prioritizing the right features the development process doesn’t have a goal to achieve. As a result, the development can get sidetracked easily.

Which Method of All the Methods Mentioned Above Is the Most Effective?

Each priority decision method works differently and is suitable for different situations. There is no sure way to declare only one of them as the best method.

How Does the Opportunity Scoring Method Work?

The opportunity scoring method works based on user feedback.

What Should I Consider When Choosing One of These Methods?

The first thing you should consider is the current size of your development team. Based on your team, pick a method that will suit the development cycle the most.


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