An MVP is a product that has the minimum set of features to prove the most essential hypothesis for a product. Businesses building a new product can create a Minimum Viable Product to prove that an idea is viable and warrants further investment. A further benefit being that the next stage of development can be informed by feedback obtained from testing that MVP.
The alternative to an MVP is to specify a project in greater depth and spend longer producing it, perhaps because you have the funds available or already intimately understand the user’s needs, so reducing the risk of a larger investment. An MVP is most useful when you’re doing something new and you need to reduce the upfront risk to test a hypothesis.
MVPs are often created as part of a more agile workflow, which is much more suited to the rapid design and development required to create them. More traditional waterfall processes are slower and so conflict with the idea of being ‘minimum’.
An MVP can take many forms. It can be some drawings, a slide deck, an interactive prototype, an HTML demo or a fully functional product or app. As long as it fulfils the requirement of validating an idea and gather feedback to inform the next round of development, it counts. Just how ‘minimal’ and ‘viable’ the product is, is entirely subjective and depends on many factors surrounding the ambitions, funding, market, brand, team and circumstances.
One key thing to be aware of before testing your MVP is defining your success metrics. If it doesn’t succeed the decision has to be made to iterate and try again, or close it down and move on.
Many of the most successful software tech companies started this way. Twitter started as an SMS service with no website or app to speak of. They got feedback and traction, iterated on the idea and developed into one of the most successful communication platforms in the world.
We design and develop MVP with clients who come to us with new ideas. We help them define what that MVP is and get it to the phase of being able to test their hypothesis, before we assist with developing the product further. Project we’ve created successful MVPs for include;
The term was popularised in the The Lean Startup book by Eric Ries
The Lean Startup Principles