The concept of a minimum viable product (MVP, an early version of an offer with minimal functionality that solves at least one problem of a potential client) is often interpreted incorrectly, which leads to its incorrect use. In addition, due to limited resources, most businesses focus exclusively on the part of creating the minimum functionality required to enter the market.
However, MVP is not just a version of the product with a minimum of functions, but the least resource-intensive tool for validating the economic feasibility of a business idea, which also serves as the basis for the final offer.
In fact, MVP has quite a lot of interpretations, therefore, to understand the essence of this concept, we will familiarize ourselves with the opinions of experts about what an early version of an offer is, how to use it and how to create it.
Enterprises use MVP as a starting point for creating a successful software product. Focusing on a minimum set of key functions, companies are developing a product foundation that is used to scale the offer and create a full-fledged business.
However, many of the concepts that guide businesses in determining the components of MVP are not correct. For example, the common misconception that an early version of a product is created with the aim of entering the market.
In fact, as mentioned earlier, a minimally viable solution is intended to validate economic feasibility, therefore development speed can be prioritized only if the goals of MVP analysis and testing are quickly achieved.
We derive the main goals of MVP:
- Testing product hypotheses at the lowest cost.
- Faster acquisition of information required to create a solution.
- Saving development time.
- Promptly delivering a product that solves at least one problem to early users.
- Entrepreneurs and developers should form their own understanding of the purpose and essence of MVP, in which the opinions of experienced experts can be useful.
What do opinion leaders think about MVP?
Eric Ries, a co-founder of IMVU (social entertainment site), MVP supporter
Eric defines MVP as an early version of a new product that allows you to get the most information with minimal effort – a quickly created offer with a minimum set of functions, suitable for testing interaction scenarios with the target audience and hypotheses about customer needs, makes it possible to abandon expensive marketing research and impressive investments in development of the final solution when the viability of the idea is not confirmed.
Cindy Alvarez, a user experience specialist at Yammer and Former product manager KISSmetrics
According to Cindy, many make the mistake of believing that MVP must be a product. She claims that the goal of MVP is to maximize the information received while minimizing risks and investments, therefore the offer should not be the only way to achieve these goals. Considering a minimally viable product exclusively as a solution with a minimum set of functions, many teams begin to create the final product and cut its functionality, instead of doing research.
As one of the solutions to this problem, Sidki recommends following the Cupcake Model, that is, creating a complete product, but with a minimum of key features.
Cindy also provided some tips on working on MVP within the team. According to her, there are 2 tasks:
1. The correct formulation of expectations. Nobody wants to create a base product, feeling that it can not be improved. The emphasis should be on the fact that MVP is created so that the team does not waste time developing unnecessary product/functionality. In addition, developers should be aware that they can improve their products based on test results.
2. The correct definition of the target user. You should not develop a product for the mainstream audience – if its representatives do not like MVP, incorrect feedback will be received. Instead, you should find the target group with a specific problem and present it with an early version of the offer.
The quality of a product is determined not only by the time spent on its development, but we also understand the users, the nature of their work with the product and the factors that negatively or positively affect their perception.
David Garvin, Harvard School of Business professor, wrote exhaustive material on how to determine product quality and 8 planes for evaluating it:
- Performance. Key product performance.
- Additions. Everything that complements the basic functionality.
- Reliability. The probability of a malfunction during a certain period of time (this factor is best assessed as the probability of failure).
- Conformity. The degree to which design and performance meet established standards.
- Durability. The duration of the vitality (taking into account the economic component) of the offer.
- Easy repair. Feasibility, speed, convenience and ease of repair.
- Aesthetics. Assessment of the product by the senses.
- Perception of quality. Image/ reputation of the offer.
- Play on emotions – satisfy first users
Many experts, including Steve Blank, believe that in order to create an interest in a product, it is important to attract not only consumers but also authoritative personalities with influence in the niche – otherwise, it will be extremely difficult to attract due attention to the offer. Moreover, experts should be attracted not only by little-known startups but also by large campaigns with developed distribution channels and eminent entrepreneurs with a large base of followers.
However, neither a huge subscriber base nor the attention of experts will save a mediocre product, therefore, as Rand Fishkin advises, MVP should be improved until it perfectly fulfills its key function.
As an example, consider the feedback from usability specialist Brian Donohue about using the Magic Mouse (Apple’s mouse) and the solution to configure the MagicPrefs computer mouse.
Brown’s expectations regarding the Apple product were not high, but he was very pleased because he tested the value of functions, the need for which was not even suspected. According to him, Apple managed to make an amazing product by limiting the functionality to the extent that the consumer receives key value.
MagicPrefs sets higher expectations in terms of features. Technically savvy users will adapt to the advanced MagicPrefs functionality, while ordinary consumers will rather prefer the simpler Magic Mouse, whose functionality is limited, but which has a distinct advantage over other products.
Add logical value – help users act
Dropbox product designer Josh Puckett claims that quality assessment depends on MVP goals. Let us quote his words:
The only task of a minimally viable product is to help users understand what value the offer will bring to their daily lives. Do not bother them. If quality (or lack thereof) prevents users from gaining value, MVP is not at the required level.
From this point of view, it is useful to test MVP for design efficiency:
- Does the design cause a friction effect?
- Are the design and user experience consistent with the level of the final product?
If the design does not pass one of the tests described above, Josh advises to return to its completion. He does not claim that the design should be perfect but focuses on the importance of eliminating significant shortcomings that could adversely affect the interaction – if users are annoyed or uncomfortable when testing the product, the data obtained from the tests will be of poor quality, regardless of the duration of the experiment.
Brandon Schauer, executive director of the Adaptive Path (usability consulting firm), spoke about two MVP development models – the “Dry Cake” and “Cake” models.
Following the first concept, the teams create a basic and not very interesting product (something like a dry cake), and to make it complete, they gradually add functionality (cream and glaze). This approach, used by most businesses, is quite rational from an operational point of view, but problematic from the point of view of competition and customer satisfaction – a mediocre product will not attract the attention of the audience.
The essence of the second concept is to create a small but full-fledged product – a cake, which, unlike a dry cake, initially has cream and icing. Such an offer will be in demand among consumers, because it is valuable, and will stand out against mediocre alternatives.
DICEUS delivers MVP
Cost saving and reaching the best product quality are the key vectors of DICEUS company. We know what factors influence the outcome of software development process and how to benefit from using MVP. Reach out and drop us a message about your ideas and we’ll get back to you in a short time.