A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product made during the development stage. It is essentially a functional prototype and offers a vertical slice of the final product.
A minimum viable product contains the most basic features promised in the final version. This is done to test the product’s capabilities practically, gather feedback from users, identify critical areas of improvement, and incorporate these changes into the finished design.
The concept of developing a minimum viable product was advocated as essential to successful product development by Eric Ries in his book ‘The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.’
The minimum viable product concept has been expanded with much success by numerous leading companies. Some examples include Amazon, Airbnb, and Dropbox.
Characteristics of MVP
If you’re still not clear on a minimum viable product, we can define its critical characteristics in simple terms. The primary purpose of developing a minimum viable product is to gather user feedback to facilitate its development process.
This means that the developers will only include features essential to the basic functionality of the product. To illustrate our point further, we can look at the example of Twitter.
This social media website is extremely popular today, but it started its life as a simple alternative SMS tool designed to develop its internal communications. Today, the features and functionalities that made Twitter a powerhouse were all implemented after the product was initially launched.
Some of these features include the ability to share photos and videos, which are now seen as essential features of any online platform with social elements. However, this approach allowed the company to refine its core business functions and establish a dedicated userbase, which made rolling out subsequent features easier.
The characteristic that led to Twitter’s success by using this model was that it provided its users with a website that had value using only its most basic functionalities. The trick to retaining these customers was the promise of improvements and additional features in future iterations.
Uses of MVP
A minimum viable product has various uses for a company looking to provide its customers with a quality product. The primary benefit of dedicating resources to develop a minimum viable product is that it allows for comprehensive testing.
Since companies want to develop products demanded by their customers, the testing phase can give them a clear picture of consumer demands and their response to specific features.
Since this phase is in the initial stages of the product’s development life cycle, the company can use the gathered information to improve with minimal costs and time commitments.
Feedback gathered from a minimum viable product can also give the development team a clear direction of how they want their product to develop. A positive response from customers can be used as motivation to inspire the team in creating a high-quality product.
Benefits of MVP
There are numerous benefits of using the minimum viable product approach in your design structure.
A minimum viable product’s primary objective is to provide consumers with a basic idea of what the outcome will look like in its finished form. This is done by including the essential features in the minimum viable product only. This can significantly benefit your product as you make sure that it will provide the advertised functions and components out of the box.
This approach also benefits from avoiding feature creep, which means that the developers will not be tempted to add additional features that may not be relevant to the core business or drag down the user experience.
Since the product is still in the development phase, any less than satisfactory components can be easily reconfigured to better align with the desired objectives.
The influence of user feedback can provide a boost of motivation to the developers. It can speed up the entire development process by clearly identifying areas that need improvement, which allows for a solution to be derived faster.
The minimum viable product approach can improve the product after it has been released, as all subsequent features and updates can be designed by keeping the initial feedback in mind.
Testing your MVP
To make effective use of the minimum viable product approach, you need to ensure comprehensive testing. The type of testing required depends on the type of MVP you want to launch.
For instance, if you want to launch a product, you can do this by developing a website with essential information about the products, including its unique selling point and differentiating features. This can be used to determine the demand for your product in the market. The amount of traffic on the website can be a good indicator of demand in the market.
In this approach, it is critical to advertising the features that are not as yet present in the minimum viable product but will be available in the final version. This can help you determine customer response towards these planned offerings, and you can further alter their development by incorporating this feedback.
If you are trying to launch a service, the easiest way to test its viability is to perform that service on a micro-level. This will provide your customers with a vertical slice of your final offering, and it can even build anticipation for your product’s final release.
For example, if you plan on opening a hair salon, you should provide free haircuts to a few individuals to showcase your skillset and build goodwill amongst customers. This approach will also help in marketing your product through word of mouth.
To give a brief overview of minimum viable products and their multitude of uses and benefits, we can see how this approach is being used by modern companies such as Airbnb, Amazon, and Twitter.
The minimum viable product approach goes hand in hand with modern businesses focused on minimizing costs and providing specialized services to increasingly demanding customers.
Developing a minimum viable product can facilitate the process of creating products that consumers want. It cuts out the guesswork of predicting consumer demands by offering them a taste of the final version.
This approach can help you establish a solid foundation for your product. You can expand on this in the future without having to worry about compromising on your core business functions, as all the changes are made by integrating valuable customer feedback.
If you are looking to launch a new product or service, be sure to start with an MVP to achieve superior results and gain a competitive advantage without wasting your money and time. Good luck!