Dark side of MVP
The concept of a minimal viable product is implemented to test hypotheses and update the product development strategy. This concept is demanded in startups, where uncertainty is one of the key factors. In this article we discuss some aspects to pay attention to and mistakes to avoid.
What is MVP?
Minimal Viable Product (MVP) is a product version with a minimum number of functions required to test hypotheses and get feedback from users.
Instead of spending great sums of money on developing a software product that might happen to be non-demanded, a team creates a test version and studies feedback. That way developers can figure out which functions must be added, and what needs to be fixed.
The MVP concept is efficient in the conditions of uncertainty, when founders are building the project development strategy. For instance, this approach suits for testing hypotheses in startups and defining the functionality of the test version.
Working on an MVP version implies two key moments: limited time and developers’ resources. Here are a few peculiarities that should be considered.
Absence of usability testing
Usability testing is conducted to figure out whether a product is easy to use. When you develop an MVP version, there is simply no time for such research. That is why there is either no testing, or it takes place only when the version is actually released.
Impossibility to demonstrate a planned interface
When users test initial product versions, their feedback is based on the current state of the interface. Such comments might not be very useful for developers, who are planning to “redesign this strange menu” anyway. An unfinished interface will deflect users’ attention and hinder them from accomplishing tasks.
While working on a new MVP version, developers concentrate on a specific set of functionalities. Some components of the product will be more complete than others, which makes it difficult for users to get a balanced and generalized idea about the solution.
Refactoring helps to improve the product’s code without altering its functionality and simplify the understanding of how this product works. It requires time — the resource that even major development companies do not have, not to mention startups. The code that fuels your MVP stands a good chance of avoiding any changes in the future, making the developers’ upcoming tasks harder.
Improving the process
To create working versions within a short time, developers have to sacrifice something. Sometimes there is no time for prototyping or usability testing. The reason for such measures is obvious — it is quite a challenge to finish every single task when investors give the team a couple of weeks, and there are only 5 people in the team. Compromises are inevitable, however it is possible to avoid some mistakes.
Each new version is supposed to demonstrate a specific functionality, but it can be unideal. Forget about perfectionism, as it is not required on the MVP stage. At the same time the quality is still an important thing — the MVP version is not 100 percent finished, but it does not mean it can be of a low quality.
Define success metrics
To evaluate the success rate of the product it is necessary to define crucial criteria in advance and monitor the corresponding metrics. You should seek concrete data rather than subjective opinions on color schemes. How much time do clients save with the help of the new tool? How many tasks does it help to automate? How often is it installed?
Study the analytics
Developers put their hope on the product, which tempts them to ignore negative feedback and unpromising analytics. Do not delude yourself into thinking that users have not yet got the idea of how great the product is. Study the analytics and listen to the clients to fine-tune the development strategy.
MVP proves to be a powerful tool for creating an efficient product development strategy. It helps teams not to waste time on non-demanded functionalities, but to create things that really matter to users.