Making a Minimum Viable Product
The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else
The first website of an accommodation company did not include a map or means of payment. This MVP (Minimum Viable Product) was an experiment. It facilitated learning and shaped what was to become a billion dollar global business.
What is a MVP?
Our product development journey starts with an idea to address an unresolved problem. The problem could be one we have ourselves and/or spot in others. Good Problems for Our Apps to Address identifies characteristics we may seek out.
A MVP is the simplest version of our product we can share with initial users. The functionality should be extremely limited, addressing a key aspect of the user problem. The MVP is not v1.0 of our full product release - that comes later.
We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want. - Eric Ries
MVPs are good because they:
Are a tangible incarnation of our idea which is an asset
Enable us to engage with early users and get their feedback
Help us see what users do with it
Give an insight on whether our idea delivers any value
Are a prototype to iterate from
Enable us to better focus our effort and resources
Making our MVP
As I suggested in How Less Makes us Creative, making a MVP should take days, not months. Hacks that help me are:
Write a brief spec
Time box the spec, e.g. launch in 3 days.
Cut the spec if necessary to tightly focus the scope
Use existing skills and tools
Don’t fall in love with the MVP
Types of MVP
Here are 18 types of MVP worth considering, including video explainer, website landing page and single feature prototype.
DropBox’s founder posted a short video on Hacker News which demonstrated key file synchronisation features. It was laced with tech humour and drove tens of thousands to signup.
You may have guessed who I was referring to in the opening sentence of this post. The first version of Airbnb’s website was built in a few evenings and was very basic. I have simple landing pages for my apps, including a public facilities finder NipTo and game Scarper.
The Lean Startup talk by Eric Ries
How I Build my Minimum Viable Products by Pieter Levels
What is Your Problem? post by Phil Martin
Airbnb grew from a very humble MVP website. Until next Sunday, you may wish to Get Your Own Website and see where it takes you.