When starting a new business, a startup or just building a new product, it’s very likely that you came across the concept of the Minimum Viable Product or MVP, introduced in 2001 and popularized by Steve Blank and Eric Ries with the Lean Startup movement since then.
Over the last couple of years a lot of knowledge about building startups and products has been crafted and shared. More people started building their own business or product online. Starting an own business became a viable career path during the years and now we have more people building products online than ever before. This led to extremely high competition and makes it even harder to stand out among what seems like an infinite array of products. Products nowadays need to stand out. They need to grab attention. They need to be exceptional.
We have come to a point where many products have reached excellence. The expectation of new products is increasing and the willingness to try new products is declining. With such a variety of good products in many crowded markets, no one wants to test unfinished or unstable products.
Is a Minimum Viable Product still enough?
According to Wikipedia, ”a minimum viable product is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development”. And this is exactly what we want. Building a product to attract and satisfy early users with the least financial and time consuming resources. We want to de-risk to amount of resources to be spent on building the wrong product by collecting valuable data.
But the level of attracting and satisfying users has changed, making it harder to collect this valuable information we need to proceed. While it may have been enough in the last years to build a quick prototype which puts together a rudimentary set of features, nowadays people expect excellent products.
This development has changed my view on how a Minimum Viable Product should look like and how users interact with new products.
Things I think about launching a MVP
This is definitely not a complete guide on how to build a MVP but it helps to frame the product value and decide on the feature-set to build.
What are the barriers for users to adopt the new product?
Getting users to try a product is hard, making them adopt a product even harder. There are a lot of barriers, the most important ones in my opinion are onboarding, user experience and switching costs.
Onboarding and user experience should be a top focus when building new products. We only get one chance to get users to try our product and they better see the value immediately in an easy way.
The second thing I’m thinking of a lot are switching costs. Especially in crowded markets, our potential customers already use an existing solution, therefore there’s always a cost to switch to a new product.
Our responsibility is to think of how we can minimize these barriers.
In 1997 Steve Jobs already said: “This is a very complicated world, a very noisy world and we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember us. No company is. So we have to be very clear about what we want people to know about us.” And this applies to MVP’s as well. Early on we need to think of how we want to position new products to the world and the values we are going to promote. A clear position helps to stay in our prospects’ mind.
What are your thoughts and experiences about building a MVP?