Delaying release dates, wasting time on expensive bug fixes, losing sight of your original business goal, and ultimately, spending a fortune on a product that’s doomed to fail from the start – a familiar script?
Well, the sad truth is that only 5% of digital products make it past the launch phase.
One key reason?
The unsuccessful execution of a critical product development technique: the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
Let’s uncover why a well-planned MVP is instrumental to your digital product triumph and how you can craft one that converts!
What is an MVP?
Before we jump to the perks of a rock-solid MVP, let's break down what exactly we're talking about in plain and simple terms.
Popularized by Eric Ries, creator of the Lean Startup methodology, an MVP is a basic version of a product or service, covering its fundamental components and features targeting the core requirements of users.
To validate customer needs and demands before developing a fully featured product, identifying those functions and features that will make your offer stand out of the crowd.
Why is a well-defined MVP the cornerstone of your success?
A well-planned MVP holds immense significance in the Product Design process.
It allows you to:
1. Validate market demands
When you're about to embark on a journey to create a dazzling digital product, what's the very first step you usually take?
Making assumptions, right?
You start picturing your target audience's pain points, envisioning the perfect design, and scheming up the ultimate monetization strategy that'll keep your creation afloat.
However, your product won’t thrive unless those assumptions are validated.
Therefore, the primary reason for crafting an MVP is to test the viability of your new product. This iterative process allows you to get feedback from customers, see where the product is lacking, and make the crucial tweaks that’ll transform it into a masterpiece that sells!
2. Accelerate your product launch and cut down on expenses
By streamlining the development process and concentrating efforts on core functionalities, MVP development allows you to save both time and resources.
Creating a functional UI Prototype that demonstrates the core value proposition enables you to quickly test and refine your product or service, allowing you to invest your resources smarter.
3. Mitigate risks
A well-designed MVP helps you spot those hidden obstacles and potential roadblocks in your product or market way before they become real problems.
No more guesswork or vague assumptions – just concrete insights into what users prefer, how they behave, and what floats their boat.
4. Gain early user engagement
Did you know that businesses that embrace stellar design see a 32% boost in revenue compared to those who miss the mark?
Besides the above factors, one of the key reasons is that a carefully planned MVP allows businesses to capture the hearts of early adopters. When you treat their input as gold, this community becomes a valuable source of feedback, insights, and word-of-mouth buzz. That bond of ownership and loyalty enhances user satisfaction, product usage, and retention.
Best practices to craft an MVP that has it all
As a tech-driven Product Owner, you've got a galaxy of responsibilities swirling in your head – juggling roadmap priorities, aligning stakeholders, keeping deadlines, nailing those KPIs, and above all, figuring out what users want. The only way to stay ahead of the game is to follow a strict process.
Let’s take a look at how the SCALER Framework of Product Design helps you achieve your goals!
1. Conduct a comprehensive research
When it comes to crafting a killer product, it all starts with digging deep into understanding your customers’ needs, preferences, pain points, and desires.
Make sure to leverage both quantitative and qualitative tools and techniques for your research. Surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and market analysis reports can provide rich and varied insights. Crafting User Personas, Journey Maps, and Service Blueprints will help you gain a deeper understanding of the user's experience.
All this research will form the bedrock of your MVP, reducing the likelihood of failure.
If you want to learn more about the process, make sure to tune into our super insightful podcast episode where we dive deep into the power and intricate tasks of Stakeholder Mapping and User Research!
2. Define the problem to be solved
Before diving headfirst into solution development, make sure you fully understand the problem your product is designed to solve. This problem should be significant and relevant enough that users see the value in having a solution.
During the process, try to have a realistic view on the complexities and technical feasibility of the project. Make sure to never lose sight of your business goals and customer needs. Furthermore, keep an eye on the latest technological advancements to stay ahead of the curve!
3. Implement strict testing processes
Once your Screen Flows are set, Wireframes are in place, and your UI Design is shining bright, it's time to bring your interactive UI Prototype to life and test it with representative users.
Forget about chasing pixel-perfection for now – focus on showcasing the core value proposition of your product!
The goal is to identify any usability issues early in the design process to improve the overall user experience without coding and publishing.
4. Prioritize user feedback
Once Usability Testing has been completed and insights have been gathered, don’t forget to conduct an MVP Workshop to review and analyze the findings.
Nailing down which features and functionalities take the lead, making sure your product is a match made in heaven for both your customers and your project goals.
An efficient tool you can use here is the Impact-Effort Matrix which helps to prioritize features based on their impact on the business and the effort required to complete them.
5. Embrace iteration
Continuous improvement should be at the center of your MVP development process.
Tweaking features here, adding new ones there, or maybe doing a complete 180 in the direction of your product – the key is to get it better with every round!
To maintain consistency and continuity throughout the development process, make sure to create a Design System, that is a collection of reusable design components and guidelines. This involves defining the core design elements, such as typography, color schemes, and layouts like various sections, tables, or forms.
Where do most companies flub it up?
A surprising yet common mistake is that businesses don’t have a Product Vision to start from. In this case, their feature set just doesn’t make any sense: it’s chaotic and incoherent.
Remember: the Product Vision paints the grand picture of what your product could be after some serious amount of time spent on learning and iteration. MVP? That's just the initial step on this epic adventure.
As a Product Manager, your task in this case is to take your Product Backlog (yep, extracted from the Vision), and use the Kano Model to group the tasks and features as:
- Basic functions (must-have features to be competitive);
- Performance functions (linear satisfiers that make users comfortable); and
- Delighters (nice-to-have exciting stuff).
Your goal should be to identify the feature set that’s minimally enough for gaining attention to your newborn product. Grab the core functions, sprinkle in some satisfiers, and top it off with an exciting delighter – voilà, you're set!
A well-crafted MVP is your compass to launch with confidence. Armed with the right techniques, it allows you to validate market needs, slash development costs and time, mitigate risks, and gain early user feedback and engagement, locking in that long-term success!