Everything you need to know about MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

Many startups spend years refining a product idea, developing their marketing concept and investing a lot of money in production: they then go in front of their potential customers to whom they present the finished product. If the target group does not show the expected interest in the product, the young company often disappears from the scene. Without being able to market the product, it is indeed impossible to recover its costs. If you have invested all your means, bankruptcy is almost certain. More cautious founders usually go with a different strategy: They start by designing a minimum viable product, also called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

What does MVP mean ? It is a product that is functional , no more, no less. The formula may seem simplistic, but it reveals a very clear concept. Frank Robinson , CEO of SyncDev Incorporated, first defined the concept of “Minimum Viable Product” in the early 2000s. The concept then spread among business creators, particularly through books like ”  The Lean Startup  ” by Eric Ries. The minimal viable product is a central pillar of the Lean-Startup business philosophy . We’ll show you how, with MVP, you can get the most out of your product ideas, while reducing risk-taking.

An MVP (Minimum Viable Product),  what is it for and why make one? The goal of an MVP is to learn, validate and invalidate initial assumptions made before launching a product. In general, MVPs are associated with Agile methods and Lean UX.

The design of the MVP   is the culmination of an iterative working method . A process often used by UX designers to quickly design a product in order to have a view of its purpose.

« A Minimal Viable Product is … a rolling series of releases that iterate and improve based on a mix of data and vision/judgement. »

Giff Constable, Interaction 2011

An MVP has all the characteristics of a finished product, only they are not completed in their entirety. 

But what exactly is an MVP?

An MVP is above all a method that applies to a creative medium . In the traditional design model, the UX designer proceeds to the realization of the product without intermediate steps. Conversely, with the Agile method , the functional characteristics of the product are called into question every day .

To do this, it is necessary to organize each day a sequence of continuous and measured tasks. Keeping the final objective in mind, the Agile method allows you to keep a sequenced progress of the project. The MVP is made up of the pivotal stages of this development process.

For example, the steps to establish a new specific function in a site:

  1. – establish the technical functionalities
  2. – develop a visual simulation prototype
  3. – develop the service so that it meets its main functions
  4. – test the primary use of the service as a whole
  5. – determine the strengths / weaknesses of the service

By using the Agile and Lean method, changes of plans are inevitable and these stages can be upset at any time. Therefore, an MVP is never finalized: its goal is to provide solutions to a final result.

And these MVPs can just as easily be a product, a concept or an interface.

Overall, MVP is an iterative process, which changes at every stage of a project design. It comes in several research phases:

  • Understanding: (user research) Qualitatively analyze future customers in order to determine the right tools to use.
  • Exploration: (brainstorming) Visually define the concept and develop the beginnings of storytelling.
  • The definition: (the strategy) Set the main objectives and the functional specificities of the product, always depending on the user.
  • Ideation: (prototyping) Create a usable draft in order to have a quick and efficient visualization of the final product.
  • The evaluation: (the user test) Submit the “model” result to several protocol tests in order to draw a hasty but sufficient conclusion.

However, there is no exact methodology for designing an MVP. It all depends on the subject to which it applies. However, all MVPs have one common feature: being focused on a single goal.

An MVP product must have a unique and specific function.

An MVP service must only offer a particular and simplified service.

An MVP interface should be focused on a site / application functionality.

But all must perform their task perfectly well, even if they are still prototypes, necessarily unfinished. Because users will want something that works, and won’t have to experience frustration over a bug or malfunction.

Why make a model when you can have the final product?

The design of the MVP is in line with the working methods of a UX designer. Indeed, involved in a Build-Measure-Learn cycle, this “minimum valuable product” scrutinizes the question of “what we must build”. But answering this question is at the heart of UX, with an additional problem: “What should we build first? “. On this subject, a traditional UX designer will often try to look for a minimum characteristic to the whole of a product. And that approach is just not the essence of an  MVP .

Here’s how to approach different designs of an  effective MVP .

Pain killer

The minimalism and possibilities of the MVP will make it possible to lighten and simplify its use: an MVP can simply be a button with a single action. This also applies during production, shortening development and focusing on the concrete.

Easy money 

If the product or service is intended for users who pay to be able to enjoy it, it is important to look at the basic revenue model and that of premium subscribers. If you are providing expert advice, do you really need to build a site with a content management system, before testing if it really matches customer demand? In this case, the MVP is simply a newsletter. Or, if you are selling a product, can you do it without the online shopping cart, just taking orders over the phone for example? There are a lot of features which are often considered  “must-haves “, but which are not really necessary to appeal to the customer., or do not meet their needs. You have to look at all the features and ask yourself if they are really what the users need or if they are willing to pay for them.

Imaginary 

In many cases, you may be able to manually simulate characteristics that will eventually be performed by the computer system. This is what is known as a mechanical trick , in which you enter a certain request, which is then sent to someone who performs the task and delivers what appears to have come out of the system . This mainly works when the product or application requires a complex algorithm to perform a task (eg geographically searching for a person within a measured radius based on their positioning). In the case of an MVP , it is advisable to simulate manually first . 

Dumb, ugly & nasty

Users are often attached to the design of the interface they have in hand or in front of them. So the good strategy is to disregard the design that will dress your product, when designing your first  MVPs . Because unconsciously the design of elements will influence the choices of users. However, during a technical test, this is not the objective pursued.

The aim is to find the right technologies and to focus on the technical and functional aspect of the product. Here UXs will have to limit their desire to design an interface designed for the user.

Futuristic 

Last but not least, this approach has become popular thanks to the Lean startup and its very tight deadlines. Rather than trying to build a real product, we imagine that the product exists and we will try to sell it . So we have to think about after-production. How to distribute and publicizethe product ? And therefore imagine a commercial place to sell it. So in the case where we want to measure how many passers-by would want to enter inside, we must think of the creation of a physical storefront without having a real store. Likewise, if users are not interested in the product sheet, they will be even less interested in the product itself. Or it means that the description or the functionalities are not complete enough . In both cases this implies a modification of the product through the marketing department.

These strategies, of course, are just a starting point , and you will likely have used a combination of them. But most importantly, remember that there is no one right way to design an MVP . It is a profession and an art like any other. And in my opinion, this is one of the essential skills for an aspiring Agile UX or Lean designer.

But above all, remember that an MVP is made to make mistakes and make mistakes. And what matters is to draw conclusions and provide solutions. And always keep your head up .

FAQ

What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

A minimum viable product, or MVP, is a product with enough features to attract early-adopter customers and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle.

What is an MVP?

Eric Ries, who introduced the concept of the minimum viable product as part of his Lean Startup methodology, describes the purpose of an MVP this way: It is the version of a new product that allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least amount of effort.

What are the benefits of an MVP?

A company might choose to develop and release a minimum viable product because its product team wants to: Release a product to the market as quickly as possible Test an idea with real users before committing a large budget to the product’s full development Learn what resonates with the company’s target market and what doesn’t In addition to allowing your company to validate an idea for a product without having to build the entire product, an MVP can also help minimize the time and resources you might otherwise commit to building a product that won’t succeed.

What are your goals?

Are you working toward a revenue number in the coming six months?

What are the benefits of this product?

Will it attract new users in a market adjacent to the market for your existing products?

What are the V in MVP?

Note: It’s important to keep in mind the V in MVP the product must be viable.

What is an MVP?

It must be a working product that your company should be able to sell.

What Solutions Can You Write?

These solutions, which you might write up in the form of user stories, epics , or features, do not represent the product’s overall vision only subsets of that vision.

What are the benefits of user feedback?

You can base these decisions on a number of factors, including: User research Competitive analysis How quickly you’ll be able to iterate on certain types of functionality when you receive user feedback The relative costs to implement the various user stories or epics

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