Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
What is a minimum viable product?
A minimum viable product, often shortened as MVP, is a stripped-down, launch able product that is released with basic features for the purpose of gaining customers while gathering the feedback needed to launch a more robust version of the same product.
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to be usable and to allow the team to gather feedback from customers. It is a way to test the market and to see if there is a demand for the product before investing a lot of time and money into development. The evolution of the MVP can be traced back to the early 1990s, when Steve Blank and Eric Ries began to develop the Lean Startup methodology. The Lean Startup methodology is based on the idea of building a minimum viable product (MVP) and then improving and building on the MVP based on feedback from customers or early adopters.
Generally, companies ask for feedback from early adopters with the intention of improving the product, fixing bugs, and adding requested features they might have overlooked. Many big brands have used MVPs to fine-tune their products, such as Airbnb. What was initially launched as AirBed & Breakfast operated on a basic platform with a lot of assumptions on how users would react to it. After collecting feedback, the platform was improved and became the Airbnb we know it as today.
Understanding more about what an MVP is, and its benefit to both company owners and customers, is important to understand when it comes to starting a business or an online store.
Examples of MVP's
Dropbox started as an MVP that allowed users to store files online. It was successful, and Dropbox has since grown into a major cloud storage provider.
Uber began life as an MVP that allowed users to request rides from drivers. The MVP was successful, and Uber has since grown into a major ride-hailing company.
Potential use cases for MVP's
MVPs can be used to test new products before they are released to the market. This can help to reduce the risk of developing a product that no one wants.
MVPs can be used to test new features for existing products. This can help to get feedback from customers and to make sure that the new features are valuable.
Changes to existing products
MVPs can be used to test changes to existing products. This can help to get feedback from customers and to make sure that the changes are beneficial and will enhance the product.
Five main benefits of having minimum viable products
Let’s take a deeper look at the benefits of using an MVP:
01. Cuts down on cost and risk
One of the main benefits of creating an MVP is that it’s a lot more budget-friendly to launch. Instead of investing the entire budget into creating a brand new product, businesses can create a scaled version that costs a lot less. Once the demand grows for the MVP, then businesses can invest a greater portion of their budgets into creating the complete version of the product, taking into account feedback that was provided by early users.
02. Provides greater flexibility
With a minimum viable product and features that are released gradually, businesses have a lot more flexibility in terms of what functionalities to introduce and when. By creating a product with only the basic features they leave plenty of opportunity for the development of new features based on how customers engage with the MVP. By slowly releasing new functionalities, businesses can fully test each feature on its own without having to look at the product as a whole.
03. Speeds up launch time
There are many stages between having an idea for a new product and launching it fully, and an MVP can significantly reduce that timeline. An MVP allows businesses to release a product while it’s still in earlier stages of development.
The benefit of doing this is that it allows companies to see whether they estimated their target market correctly and if the product being launched is addressing their customer’s pain points.
04. Better test usability
Before risking confusing users by loading a product with tons of features, see how they use a stripped-down version of the product first. With an MVP, businesses can study the user experience and usability of a product more closely and look at the usability of each feature as it's released.
Focusing on launching features separately and testing the usability of each one can also help businesses retain customers. A minimum viable product allows early adopters to get used to new features gradually, encouraging them to continuously use the product.
05. Quicker customer feedback cycle
One of the primary goals of creating an MVP is to get direct feedback that can be applied to further versions of a product. The main benefit here is that with a small pool of early adopters using a basic version of a product, businesses can get direct, honest, and unbiased feedback that will help them improve a product and its features so that it offers a more customer-centric solution.
How to build a minimum viable product
Identify the problems the MVP will solve
Define the target market
Research the competition
Map out the user journey
Prioritize the MVP’s features
Develop and test the MVP
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Three mistakes to avoid when launching a minimum viable product
Here are some common mistakes to look out for when launching an MVP:
01. Solving the wrong problem
Having too broad of a target audience or not conducting enough market research can lead a business to solve a problem that doesn’t exist or that isn’t a priority. To avoid this mistake, it is important to narrow down the target audience, pinpoint the clear problem, and then ensure the MVP addresses this problem.
02. Adding too many features
Instead of looking for ways to add more features that are unique or useful to the MVP, look for ones that can be removed. The MVP should launch with a minimal number of features. Trying to add too many can delay the launch, blow a budget, and result in a poor user experience.
03. Not collecting feedback correctly
The purpose of creating an MVP is to get the right feedback. This means collecting both qualitative feedback, which addresses the user-friendliness and quality of the MVP, and quantitative feedback, which provides metrics that gather data on its performance.