What is a Minimum Viable Product?
Minimum Viable Product definition
Minimum Viable Product or MVP is a product that is released in the most basic form to solve a single problem with the intention of developing further through consumer interactions and feedback.
An MVP is the most initial version of the project that is quickly developed to complete a specific purpose. Particularly, an MVP website is a live site that consumers can visit in order for owners to gather insights to further develop the website.
How is an MVP website different from a traditional website?
An MVP website is significantly different than a traditional website because an MVP is designed to be an incomplete website with the purpose of developing while learning more from and studying consumers. In contrast, a traditional website project is fully developed before it is launched and likely targets all of the business’ goals, objectives, and audiences.
Why use an MVP website?
An MVP website initiates the production process. It is an introductory version of a viable product or site that provides the space to start measuring data, analyzing consumer interactions, and testing concepts. An MVP is a visual representation of the proposed idea that has not yet been fully completed.
Since an MVP website is quickly developed, it saves a significant amount of time compared to traditional websites. In addition, since the continued development of an MVP website is based on the consumers’ opinions and needs, the product will directly reflect the demands of the consumer. This eliminates the risk that the final product may not properly connect with the consumer or effectively sell the product or service, as sometimes experienced with traditional websites. An MVP project focuses on learning and developing as a process after the launch rather than developing a complete product and then launching.
What are the basic MVP Features?
For an MVP website to be launched, it requires only the basic features. While the features vary based on the type and objective of the website, there are a few core MVP features to incorporate.
1. Targeted audience
While an MVP website is not a comprehensive product, it should still target at least one specific audience. Throughout the process the needs and wants of more audiences will be uncovered, although the MVP project should have a limited yet clear initial audience.
2. Definite goal
An MVP website focuses on learning about the consumer through testing variations and acquiring feedback. This product concentrates on measuring the initial question or solution, and from there construct and test additional solutions. The MVP launch should have a definite goal or solution to test before including additional solutions.
3. Clear user experience
With such a simple interface, the user experience should reflect the minimalist value. The MVP website should be simple to navigate, easy to understand, and operate smoothly. Since an MVP project is a process of learning, not all user experience considerations should be incorporated, instead focus on testing one process and building from there.
4. Easy to launch
The point of using an MVP website is it quickens the process of production while saving resources and time. Being able to create and launch in a short period of time is the primary feature of an MVP project.
Overall MVP advantages vs disadvantages
Below is a summary of the overall advantages and disadvantages of using an MVP website.
What are MVP Advantages?
1. An MVP website is low-cost and quick to build.
2. For an MVP website, consumers guide the production, therefore, those who will be purchasing the product are generating exact feedback on their preferences and needs.
3. An MVP website saves the potential time of developing a complete website that ultimately is not approved by the owner
Overall, these advantages save valuable time, money, and resources to develop a website that directly reflects the consumer’s wants and needs, therefore, removing guesswork or biases by the owner or designer.
What are MVP disadvantages?
1. An MVP heavily relies on a positive first interaction and experience, therefore a brand can be devalued if the product is not correctly implemented.
2. It can be difficult to gain support from decision-makers for MVP websites as it greatly differentiates from the widely accepted and traditional process.
Different types of Minimum Viable Products
There are multiple ways to approach using an MVP website that primarily depends on your specific goals, products/services, resources, etc. Although it is not an exhaustive list, below are 3 popular minimum viable product examples and types:
1. Concierge MVP
Concierge MVPs is the manual management of the websites processes. This means you are directly helping customers complete the goal or task the product will later accomplish. So as the name suggests, a concierge assists customers with requests or needs just as the website owner assists consumers along their product journey.
For example, Manuel Rosso, the founder of Food on the Table, started his business using a concierge MVP. The business now operates as an app that curates recipes and grocery stores that correlate to your food preferences; although in the beginning Manuel had to manually interview participants, provide recipes, create grocery lists, etc. for the MVP to operate.
Concierge MVP advantages
A concierge MVP allows the owner to directly communicate with customers at each touchpoint to gather extensive qualitative and quantitative data. By personally interacting with consumers, the owner is able to note facial expressions or have consistent phone calls to extract information that would otherwise be limited to digital analytics.
Concierge MVP disadvantages
This personal interaction can have negative results, as bias factors in when consumers interact with a person versus with an automated system. In addition, the concierge themselves may influence the success or failure based on how friendly or likable they are. These points do not accurately measure the product but rather outside influences.
2. Wizard of Oz MVP
Like in the film, Wizard of Oz, the wizard was actually a man standing behind a curtain pulling levers to control the floating green head presumed to be the great wizard. Similarly, a Wizard of Oz MVP is controlled manually on the backend but on the frontend it appears to be a functioning automated system. The consumers that visit the MVP website therefore believe the process is automated through algorithms, coding, etc. while in reality it is entirely operated by person.
For example, Nick Swinmurn founded Zappos, a famous online shoe retailer that was later acquired in 2009. Swinmurn started the company by photographing shoes at local shops and posting them online for consumers to view and purchase. To fulfill an order Swinmurn would go to the store, purchase the shoes, and send them to the customer, all while giving the impression Zappos was fulfilling these orders through an automated system, not by a person.
Wizard of Oz MVP advantages
Even though a Wizard of Oz MVP is executed manually, consumers have fewer biases as they believe they are interacting with an automated system. While managing a system that supposedly is automated, the owner can quickly grasp the extent and type of systems needed in order to allow the final product to function.
Wizard of Oz MVP disadvantages
Since the MVP website appears automated, the consumers’ expectations match that. The owner controlling the MVP needs to successfully carry out the correct processes in the backend in order for the consumer to have a positive user experience and build a positive brand reputation. Additionally, as the MVP grows, it may require additional bodies to uphold all the moving parts.
3. Landing Page MVP
A landing page MVP is a single page highlighting the product or service, just like that of an actual landing page. The page needs to describe the product/service, include a strong value proposition or the product’s/service’s benefits, and have a call to action (CTA) button to guide the consumer to take an action.
For example, Buffer, a social media scheduling tool, was started by using a landing page MVP. The founder, Joel Gascoigne, wanted to first gauge the interest in the idea before developing the actual product, so he set up a landing page and requested consumers to leave their email addresses in order to be notified when the product was complete. Once Gascoigne realized there was a real interest in the product, he began the development stages.
Landing Page MVP advantages
A landing page MVP provides a platform to highlight the unique value proposition explaining why the product/service is different than competitors and the benefits to the consumer. This method allows the owner to perform A/B testing between different landing pages to determine what resonates best with consumers.
Landing Page MVP disadvantages
A landing page MVP does not actually allow visitors to purchase a product or service, it just allows them to take an action (e.g. sign up for email notifications). While this generates interest in the product, there is no actual conversion factor. In addition, there is no explanation to why a visitor chooses not to take the action, therefore limited data collection.
An MVP is a powerful tool for revealing a new product, service, or idea to the real world while unraveling the details and development along the way. Since an MVP website is the most basic construction of a project it saves the extra time, money, and resources associated with a fully developed platform. As previously described, there are multiple MVP options such as concierge, Wizard of Oz, landing pages, and more, that can help you launch without a fully developed product or service offering.