We've already discussed the different types of Minimum Viable Products and the steps required to build a Minimum Viable Product from a development standpoint in previous posts. Now it's time to reinforce a few key points that can ensure that your MVP is able to serve its intended purpose and be an effective part of your product development strategy.
Minimum Viable Products: A Quick Summary
There always seems to be some confusion when it comes to the concept of the Minimum Viable Product because it is often subjected to various interpretations. Essentially, a Minimum Viable Product provides all the core features needed to solve the core problems that your proposed business model is trying to address.
The main purpose of an MVP is to speed up product development and get your product in the hands of users quicker to get feedback as far as what works and what doesn't. A Minimum Viable Product is more than just a stripped down version of your final product – it's only one component of a much larger process.
Validating the Market and your Product – Failure is an Option
In traditional product development, you commit your available resources for a long period of time in trying to perfect a prototype. If the final product doesn't turn out to be a success, you may not have the luxury of going back to the drawing board to address the major issues or pain points your customers are facing.
On the other hand, incorporating the principles of the Minimum Viable Product in your development strategy means you'll likely go through several iterations and user testing phases before eventually producing something that will truly resonate with your target audience.
After each build of an MVP, you should test and measure how close you are to reaching your goals based on the feedback you receive. Using these results, you can either move forward and further refine your design, or move in a completely different direction to address the pain points and change what doesn't work. This feedback loop is often referred to as the Build-Measure-Learn model.
Keep in mind that that unless you have an infinite amount of resources or unlimited funding at your disposal, you'll still have to prudent with your release and testing cycles and have realistic limits. This is also a good time to determine if there is an actual market for your product, and if that market is going to generate any revenue upon release.
An MVP Should Always be Viable
Just because an MVP is minimal, it doesn't have to be devoid of features. It should have no bugs and be fully functional. Even if you're still working on the first iteration of your product, it has to appeal to your target audience and be something they can actually use and find value in. The feedback you receive should help you learn how to improve your MVP's features.
Gaining insight from user testing is what makes an MVP viable. If it's not viable, then it doesn't serve any real purpose in your development strategy aside from being a demonstration of what you're trying to accomplish. If you're unable to build your MVP as a fully working product, then it would be better to limit the scope of your design and focus more on its core features.
Avoid an Overly Complex MVP
Adding extra features to an MVP that don't directly address the core problem doesn't automatically make it a better product. Wasting crucial development resources for features that barely sees any use can make your MVP more difficult to use and distract early adopters away from its main purpose. It's better to focus your efforts on doing one thing and doing that one thing well so that it can stand out among your potential competitors.
When a Minimum Viable Product is used properly in product development, more often than not, you'll end up with something that's much better than what you had in mind in your original vision. This is because your design decisions are driven by real feedback that you wouldn't otherwise have access to when following a one-sided product-centered approach.