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Minimum Viable Product- What is an MVP?

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Tolu Folayan

April 22, 2022

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What is the Minimum Viable Product?

The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a simplified version of a product that includes essential features to quickly test and validate its viability in the market.

Think of it as a test drive. It is a lean, agile model that allows you to maximize learning about your business with minimal development effort and the shortest possible time, resource, and cost commitment.

Unlike a prototype or the traditional business model canvas, which is usually created once the idea generation stage of one's startup is finished, the MVP forces you to focus on creating an initial version of your product to test assumptions early.

The information gained from an MVP can be used to guide further development, helping startups understand their customers' needs as quickly as possible and start generating revenue, thus saving both time and money.

Furthermore, Agile product development reduces risk and allows teams to iterate more quickly, rather than building an ideal product only to have it fail.

 Finally, implementing the MVP approach allows a company or business to be more productive by enabling them to use the least amount of features to solve a user's problem.


So what makes the minimum in an MVP? 

The "minimum" in a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is about obtaining the maximum understanding of a business idea with minimal effort while recognizing the constraints of time and budget. When initiating a business or creating an application, the focus is on identifying the essential features that will provide the most valuable insights. However, determining this bare minimum can be a daunting task, requiring a strategic assessment of the core functionalities crucial for validating the concept and meeting initial user needs. Thus, the objective is to strike a balance between simplicity and value, crafting an MVP that efficiently gathers meaningful user feedback while conserving resources.


  Table of Content

  • What is the purpose of the Minimum Viable Product?
  • What are the 3 critical characteristics of your minimum viable product?
  • What are examples of a minimum viable product?
  • What is the minimum viable product definition and example?
  • What is the difference between MVP and full product?
  • How many types of MVPs are there?
  • How do you determine the MVP of a product?
  • What is the product called after MVP?


What is the Purpose of the Minimum Viable Product?

The purpose of an MVP is to gather real-world feedback and test assumptions about your product with minimal investment of time, effort, and resources. At its heart, the MVP is not about launching a product but about validating a hypothesis.

Think of it as a scientific experiment:

  1. You have an idea (the hypothesis).
  2. You build a simplified version of your product (the MVP) that captures its core essence.
  3. You release it to a small group of users (the experiment).
  4. You analyze their feedback and results (the data).
  5. Based on the data, you either iterate and improve your hypothesis (the MVP) or pivot and change direction entirely.


The key benefits of the MVP approach are:

  • Reduced risk: In worst-case scenarios, you fail early and cheaply, minimizing wasted resources and learning valuable lessons before committing significant investments.
  • Increased validation: Real-world user feedback is far more reliable than theoretical speculation, giving you concrete evidence of your product's potential.
  • Faster iteration: You can adapt and improve your product based on actual user needs by learning quickly, leading to a better final product.
  • Enhanced market fit: You gain insights into your target market's preferences and pain points, allowing you to tailor your product for optimal success.
  • Investor attraction: A well-developed MVP demonstrates traction and market potential, making it easier to attract funding and support.
  • Customer-centricity: By placing user feedback at the forefront of development, you build a product that truly solves their problems.
  • Experimentation: You encourage a culture of testing and learning, fostering continuous improvement and innovation.
  • Agility: You remain adaptable and responsive to market changes, giving you a competitive edge.


What are the 3 Critical Characteristics of your Minimum Viable Product?

The three critical characteristics of a successful Minimum Viable Product (MVP) are Functionality, User-centric design or experience, and Feedback Mechanism.


1. Functionality:

Functionality in an MVP is the absolute minimum set of features needed to deliver your product's core value proposition and address the user's primary problem. Why is it critical? Without core functionality, your MVP can't demonstrate its potential, gather valuable user feedback, or prove its reason for existence. It's like the skeleton of your product – you need it to stand upright and function even if it's not fully fleshed out. This is why it's essential you focus on this key functionality first, and then you can build upon it with future iterations based on user insights.


2. User-centric design or experience:

In an MVP, a user-centric design isn't just a feature, it's the foundation. Why? Because your MVP's success hinges on solving a real problem for real people. This means understanding your target users, their goals, and how they interact with your product. For this to work, you need a lean, intuitive interface that guides them effortlessly towards achieving their desired outcome. Think clear "signposts," seamless navigation, and messaging that resonates with their initial motivation. A user-centric approach also helps in eliciting meaningful feedback during the early stages, as users are more likely to engage with and provide insights about a product that aligns with their preferences and needs.

Check out this article on How UI/UX Design Impacts User Satisfaction to learn more about user-centric designs.


3. Feedback Mechanism:

An effective MVP should incorporate a robust feedback mechanism. This can be achieved through analytics, user surveys, or direct communication channels. The ability to gather and analyze user feedback is crucial for iterative improvement. This is because it allows the development team to understand user preferences, identify pain points, and make informed decisions about enhancements or additional features. Additionally, a well-implemented feedback loop ensures that subsequent iterations align more closely with user expectations and market demands.


What are Examples of a Minimum Viable Product?

1. Dropbox:

Dropbox serves as an excellent example of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) due to its initial focus on core functionality – seamless file synchronization and sharing. In its early stages, Dropbox provided a simple and user-friendly solution to a common problem: the need to access files from multiple devices easily. Users could synchronize their files across computers effortlessly, addressing a fundamental pain point. This approach allowed Dropbox to quickly release a functional product that addressed a specific need without unnecessary features. The positive user response and gradual expansion of features over time illustrate the success of this MVP strategy.


2. Airbnb:

Airbnb started as a compelling MVP by offering a platform for individuals to rent out their living spaces. The core functionality was clear: connecting hosts with travellers seeking unique and affordable accommodations. Furthermore, Airbnb validated the idea that people were willing to explore alternative lodging options beyond traditional hotels by focusing on this fundamental aspect. This is why the platform's early success demonstrated the demand for such a service, providing valuable insights that allowed for iterative development and the addition of more features over time.


3. Uber:

Garret and Travis (Uber's cofounders) had a bright idea: hook up drivers wanting customers with people who needed rides, all for a decent price. But instead of building a super flashy app straight away, they were smart. They started with a basic test version called UberCab, like a homemade app, only working on iPhones or with text messages. It wasn't much, just people in San Francisco giving or getting rides. But this little app did something big: it showed their idea had potential! The information they got proved people actually wanted what they were offering.


4. Buffer:

Before building its full app, Buffer tested the waters with basic landing pages. The first simply asked, "Interested in learning about our social media scheduling plans?" Those who clicked "yes" landed on a second page with a surprising question: free, paid plan A, or premium plan B? No features, just pricing tiers. Shockingly, most users chose paid options, signalling a strong market demand for Buffer's solution. This stripped-down, data-driven MVP, barely a glimpse of the future platform, revealed gold - market validation. Today, Buffer dominates the social media scheduling space, proving that starting small and listening closely can be a powerful launch strategy.


5. Spotify:

Back in 2006, paying for music online was a tough sell. Free sites like The Pirate Bay and LimeWire were all the rage. But Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon saw a different tune. They dreamed of a music streaming service that was legal, easy to use, and funded by ads, like TV! The problem? Lots of other music startups have tried and failed.

So, Ek and Lorentzon played it smart. They didn't build a fancy jukebox right away. Instead, they whipped up a simple computer app with just one feature: music streaming. Then, they added a VIP option - pay a monthly fee and say goodbye to those pesky ads! As people started grooving to the idea, they knew they were onto something. Slowly, they added more features, built a better app, and grew, and grew, and grew. Today, their little music dream is worth a whopping $18.7 billion!


What is the Minimum Viable Product Definition and Example?

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a simplified version of a product that includes only the essential features needed to address the core problem or meet the primary needs of the target audience. The purpose of an MVP is to quickly release a functional prototype to the market, gather feedback from early users, and validate the product concept with minimal development effort. 

For example, a social media platform might launch with basic features like profile creation, posting, and commenting, omitting advanced functionalities initially. This allows the development team to gauge user interest, identify key improvements, and refine the product based on real-world usage before investing in additional features.


What is the Difference between MVP and Full Product?

The primary difference between a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and a full product lies in their scope and features. An MVP is a streamlined version of a product, intentionally designed with only the essential features required to address the core problem or meet the primary needs of users. Its purpose is to quickly test the product concept, gather user feedback, and validate assumptions with minimal resources. In contrast, a full product represents the comprehensive and finalized version that includes all planned features and functionalities. 

For instance, in the context of a navigation app, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) might focus on core functionality like providing basic directions from point A to B, omitting advanced features. Once validated and after gathering user feedback, the full product could incorporate additional elements such as real-time traffic alerts, alternative routes, and social integrations.

Essentially, an MVP, with its streamlined features, allows for quick testing and validation before investing resources in the development of all planned features for the full product.


How Many Types of MVPs Are There?

There are two major classifications for MVPs- Low Fidelity MVPs and High Fidelity MVPs. A low-fidelity MVP serves as a fundamental exploration to assess the market demand for your concept. An illustration of this could involve a rudimentary paper sketch outlining the essential features of your mobile app. On the other hand, a high-fidelity MVP represents a more sophisticated approach, focusing on gauging users' willingness to pay for your product. An instance of this might be a single-feature MVP, such as an online food ordering app that exclusively allows users to place orders from various restaurants.


How Do You Determine the MVP of a Product?

Determining the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) of a product involves a strategic evaluation of the core problem or need the product aims to address. Firstly, it's crucial to identify the essential features that directly contribute to solving the primary pain point or meeting the key requirements of the target audience. This requires a deep understanding of customer needs and market demands. By prioritizing these core functionalities, development efforts can be focused on delivering a product that is both functional and valuable to users.

Secondly, determining the MVP involves setting clear goals and objectives for the initial release. Define what success looks like for the MVP – whether it's a user engagement, positive feedback, or specific metrics like user adoption rates. Establishing these success criteria helps in measuring the impact of the MVP and validating the product concept. Throughout this process, it's essential to keep the MVP lean, avoiding unnecessary features that do not directly contribute to the core value proposition. The goal is to release a functional prototype swiftly, gather user feedback, and iterate based on real-world insights, ensuring the product aligns closely with user needs and preferences.


What is the Product Called After MVP?

The product that follows the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is typically referred to as the "Full Product" or "Complete Product." Once the MVP has been released, validated, and feedback has been gathered from users, the development team incorporates additional features and enhancements based on the insights gained. This iterative process continues until the product reaches a more comprehensive and finalized state, including all planned functionalities and refinements. 


CONCLUSION

No fully functional product can succeed without the initial research, strategy, feedback analysis, and iteration that go into an MVP.

Every feedback collected and faults corrected while developing an MVP carries over to future versions and even other endeavours. Hence, with a good MVP, nothing is wasted. As a software development company specializing in agile methodology, we adopt this MVP approach in building successful products for our clients. Are you ready to develop your MVP? Send a message now to Wazobia Technologies and let us build you an effective MVP at an affordable price.

 

author

Tolu Folayan

Content Writer

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