Minimum viable product is a term that has been used and abused, to the detriment of many startups.
Here’s the full definition, according to Google:
“A minimum viable product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product's initial users.”
The definition makes it pretty clear that the point of developing a minimum viable product is to conduct market research. You want to validate the idea by having people use it, provide feedback, and confirm there really is a demand for the product. Then, you want to use their feedback to finalize the end design and features, to ensure you’re building something that gives people exactly what they want.
But why are so many businesses missing the mark on this?
TRYING TO SAVE MONEY
Countless startups have attempted to use the MVP stage to save money, and jump ahead to building the prototype long before they’ve gotten any feedback from the actual users. They are hoping the prototype will serve as the foundation for the end product, which completely negates the point of creating the MVP in the first place.
FOCUSED ON MEETING DEADLINES
Some startups or managers are more concerned about meeting a launch date than creating a quality MVP. They skimp on good quality and design, just to get something in the hands of users to test. If the product people are presented with isn’t good enough for people to want it, again it’s a complete contradiction to this entire process. Quality and design really do matter at this stage, because that’s part of the feedback you want from end users as well.
FORGETTING THIS IS ABOUT BOTH MARKET RESEARCH AND PRODUCT FEATURES
Some managers get tunnel vision and forget there are many variables that need to be considered when creating a solid MVP that will be able to do its job. You can’t focus on just deadlines, features, or market research. You’ve got to remember there is an entire puzzle here, that should be satisfied through the development and delivery of your MVP. If you leave one piece out, you’re not getting the full benefits from your efforts.
How To Get The Most From Your MVP
Decide on a goal and focus for your MVP. This will help you to distinguish and prioritize the most important aspects of this particular product or application, and ensure everyone is on the same page. With a common goal, it’s easier to fit all the puzzle pieces around the center piece.
Here are 3 common types:
MVP-M: the main goal is to test the marketing and find out if there’s any demand for what you’re offering.
MVP-T: the focus here is a technical demonstration when you want to ensure your proof of concept will work the way you want it to, and you need to explore design options.
MVP-L: this option is for when only the most important features are prioritized. This can be either useful or an all out war when multiple stakeholders are involved, but can work if you’re able to decide on your “must haves” over a short period of time.
Many people out there feel like the MVP process is completely broken. We need to get back to basics, and remember why we’re doing this in the first place. It’s not to rush something to market, or to save on design costs. The point is to ensure that there’s a demand for your product, and find out what features and design elements matter most to the end users. Remember this, and you’ll be ahead of the pack.