Minimum viable product (MVP)
A minimum viable product (MVP) is the earliest version of a product that an organization feels is ready to be introduced to customers, especially early adopters. Many top organizations you know and use today were once MVPs, from Amazon and HelloFresh to Microsoft. Product teams use MVPs to get a product out into the real world, validate whether or not it’ll provide value, and gather insight and feedback to help improve their product. By testing MVPs with your target audience, you’re ensuring you’re building the right product at just the right time—and gaining valuable user feedback that’ll mitigate risk.
What are the components of creating an MVP?
To get started, you’ll need to know the answers to the following:
- Who is my audience? Your target users can also be referred to as a customer persona, a partially fictional model that represents the main characteristics of a majority of your audience. If you understand your customers, you’re that much closer to understanding their needs and expectations of a product.
- What do customers want or need? What are their pain points? By having a strong understanding of your users’ needs and frustrations, you’ll learn what might be missing or lacking in their daily lives—which can directly inspire your MVP. For more, lean on the UserTesting needs and frustrations discovery template.
Next, decide what type of MVP you’re creating, whether it’s a landing page or a sketch. Ideally, you’d use technologies or platforms you’re already familiar with to keep this stage quick and to the point.
Finally, the last step requires multiple rounds and cycles. Once your MVP is launched, you’ll want to collect user feedback to determine how it can be improved—and whether or not the idea is worth pursuing. Live Conversations or unmoderated tests can be used to get qualitative feedback on MVPs quickly. But don’t forget; this step shouldn’t stop with one study alone. Your MVP will continuously be refined by collecting user feedback, implementing new changes, launching, and asking for feedback again (and again).
What are the types of an MVP?
An MVP with potential is what comes before the automated processes, expansion, complex features, and funding (you get the idea). Below are the common types, which range from low-fidelity to high-fidelity.
- Prototype: A representation of a finished product; prototypes are a way for designers and developers to test the flow, interaction, content, and general feasibility and usability of a product before building and designing a fully-functioning product.
- Landing page: Leverage a landing page to introduce your product and assess how interested people are. Using this type is a simple way to gain leads and evaluate whether users prefer one product version over another (i.e., free versus paid subscriptions).
- Product design: Product designs of an MVP won’t all look the same whether you opt for a wireframe or a sketch.
Maximize the value of the MVP using the “Riskiest Assumptions Canvas”
Ioannis Nousis, Interaction Designer at Google, thinks MVPs fail because we focus too much on assumptions about the system and the user needs instead of what we want to learn before moving forward. He created the tool “Riskiest Assumptions Canvas” to maximize the value of the MVP.
Step 1: Gather the main stakeholders in a room and map all the vital assumptions for the product. Start discussing what score each assumption should have and why.
Step 2: For each assumption, write the probability of it being true and its impact on the product.
Step 3: Calculate the risk score. Once this is done, you should have a prioritized list of Riskiest Assumptions.
To summarize, plan out assumptions, the probability of them being true, and the risk score. Nousis tells UserTesting, “By testing the riskiest assumptions early on, you’ll be able to align with customer needs and deflect any personal opinions from HIPPOs (highest paid person’s opinion) or other stakeholders. You’ll increase your confidence in the product you’re building, and you’ll have the evidence that shows if the product is heading in the right direction.”
How Indeed leveraged usability testing to get feedback on their MVPs
Job site Indeed is known for being a career search engine that reaches millions in various countries and languages. To further grow its mission, the organization launched the “Indeed Incubator,” where teams build new products and assess viability. However, their teams needed to balance out quantitative data with qualitative insights to inform product ideation. Leveraging the UserTesting Live Conversation and unmoderated tests to get feedback on their MVPs, the teams aimed to launch within just a few months. Thanks to user feedback, Incubator teams are better equipped to meet tight deadlines and get their MVP to market.