Summary: MVP is essential for building a successful product. However, most businesses do not invest much effort and time in crafting it, resulting in sub-par products. If you don’t want that to happen, you must approach MVP design the right way from the beginning. Read on to learn how to build the right MVP using the principles of UX design.
If you decide to build a feature, you should live up to at least a basic standard of execution on the experience side. – Ryan Singer
Many developers take ‘Minimum’ in ‘Minimum Viable Product’ too literally, eventually skimping on the design and the scoping stage. It is not the right approach because an MVP shouldn’t just be minimum but viable (user-friendly/empathetic/trustworthy) too. Otherwise it’s a wasted effort.
A research report by Forrester suggests that a better and frictionless UX design could increase your customer conversion rates up to 400%. Hence, investing time and effort in creating a great user experience with your MVP is an opportunity to make an impression on potential users.
The minimum viable approach should not lead to gaps in the user experience. It should involve putting your best foot forward with a vision to add basic features that should live up to a standard of execution on the user experience side.
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Why is creating an MVP important?
It depends on whether you are a business, user, or a design team member because MVP has different significance for each.
A. Role of MVP for businesses
The role of MVP for businesses is to fill the need gap and offer users a product they want to use based on their requirements. They also use MVPs to check whether the product is in demand and viable before they invest their time and resources into it.
To understand this with the help of an example, suppose you want to create an eCommerce website that reduces friction. You have the research data that suggests people are confused on the product detail page.
A business owner wouldn’t directly jump into developing the website. Instead, here’s what they would do:
Step 1: Conducting research to identify where people are facing problems on your product detail page.
Is there a problem with navigation? Is the content off? Do you not have a proper call to action?
Step 2: Deciding the best course of action based on the gathered data and creating an MVP that fulfills the need gap.
Step 3: Test the MVP with the market whether your product solves the user problem or it can be refined.
This way, they would save a lot of time and effort by validating whether the idea is worth it or not early on.
B. Role of MVP for design team
The role of the design team is to offer a test-worthy product with minimum functionality & features while keeping users’ needs and business requirements in mind. Considering the eCommerce website example listed above, the end goal of the design team for creating an MVP is to identify the features that reduce friction and create a test-worthy product around it.
C. Role of MVP for the user
For users, the role of MVP is to offer a seamless experience. Too many features lead to analysis paralysis and overwhelm users. With an MVP, you can know how many features you should offer to ensure they can use your product without friction.
7 UX design tips to create better MVPs
Here are some MVP UX design tips that you might consider to create a good impression even with minimum time and effort.
1. Focus on the actual user needs
Sometimes, drawing a line between what we think the user needs and what the user actually needs is hard. We may think we have figured out what the user wants, but it later turns out to be the opposite. Hence, you should start by challenging your assumptions about the user’s needs.
One efficient approach to identifying users’ needs is to focus on their pain points. That’s where research plays a crucial role. Here’s how you can approach the research:
- Ask yourself what problem your target customers are facing and how you can solve it.
- Check out the existing apps and see what problems they failed to solve.
- Talk to people who’re going to use your product. They better know what they need.
For example: Suppose you’re creating a to-do list app. Now, instead of assuming you need to create an app for to-do lists. What is customers’ major problem without the to-do list app? Perhaps, it’s forgetting something important or wasting their mental energy on keeping track of things.
Once you have the answer, you can devise an effective solution for their problem. To ensure the solution you offered worked, test it with real people. This way, you can put your time, effort, and money into a product that works for your customers.
2. Do a few things, but do them well
In this age of information abundance and overload, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s important to them. – Austin Kleon
The crux of an MVP lies in this statement—a probe for feedback on your vision. The dictionary meaning of “probe” is ‘an attempt to discover information by asking a lot of questions.’ And that makes sense in the case of MVP.
When building a probe, the major challenge is to strike a balance between speed of delivery and quality of execution. Entrepreneurs face the common challenge of distilling their vision, carrying an abundance of ideas to just a few. To achieve this state, Learn to Say “NO.”
Make the list of things you will not do during the MVP development process. It helps to streamline the design process as everyone will have a clear idea of what resides in the core of the product. In this way, you can make better decisions and not take our eye off the target. Agreeing on a specific UX design process for product development can be a great way to make smarter and quicker decisions.
One way to attain this step is by making a ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ – a simple but effective framework to come up with a successful MVP.
The business you are focusing on is represented by a blue line, which is to be compared with the key players in a similar industry as shown by the red line in the graph.
The x-axis lists the key competing factors of the business that you are targeting, and the y-axis assesses the quality offered for each of them.
The more your blue line (Strategic Canvas) is different from the red one (those of the competitors), the more your business is close to a Blue Ocean Shift.
3. Consider both your findings & users’ needs
To create an MVP, most designers start with a list of features a product needs to have. While it’s not a bad place to start, you should also be mindful of what customers want from your product.
Knowing what customers want is not difficult. You can conduct interviews, surveys, and brainstorming sessions. Discussion forums and platforms like Quora and Reddit are also a great place to start. Once, you have enough ideas, compile them into a list and narrow down on which ideas are technically feasible. Then, based on this data, you can start building your MVP.
Note: While listing down the features customers want in your product, make sure the list doesn’t only include good ideas. Sometimes, bad ideas can also lead to innovative solutions.
4. Keep it simple
If the visual elements do not work in synergy to satisfy the target audience’s needs, there’s likely to be a disconnect between the message and the intended communication.
No doubt, a minimum viable product acts as a ‘waste-reduction tool’, but often businesses make the wrong use of this term to shift their focus away from the ‘user-centric approach’ to development. And one of the vital factors that get sacrificed in this approach is Visual Design.
The importance of visual design starts playing its role from the first phase of the MVP development – Idea Validation. In this stage, an entrepreneur attempts to validate a business idea before initiating the process. And one of the ways as performed by Buffer’s founder Joel Gascoigne is to use a simple yet interactive and visually-pleasing landing page to direct users to leave details if they’re sufficiently interested in the value proposition. He didn’t launch the product no one wanted to use. So, he made use of a simple, visually aesthetic landing page to learn what users think.
The design doesn’t demand to be stunning and outstanding with cutting-edge visual effects; instead, the design of a Minimum Viable Product should stand robustly on the basic principles of visual design – unity, balance, hierarchy, proportion, emphasis, and contrast.
A design that meets all these requirements, helps the user understand the product easily, thereby building a good first impression that furthermore builds trust.
5. Make your MVP usable
Both Lean UX and MVP development encourage building actual, usable products. Hence, you should ensure that your product’s MVP solves the real needs of your customers.
For this, start with listing features that solve users’ most critical pain points. Also, avoid stuffing too many features into your MVP. It should only focus on features you think will have the highest ROI. Then, you can further iterate the MVP based on user feedback and your findings.
6. Stop thinking about the final product
Thinking about the final product can be tempting. However, the downside is that it can limit innovation and creativity. Instead of thinking out of the box, designers may go with preconceived notions or approaches that save time. This leads to a sub-par MVP and low-quality product. So, stop thinking about the final product and let creativity take control. This way, you would create an innovative product that offers users what they want.
7. Always welcome feedback
Good user research is key to designing a great user experience. Designing without good user research is like building a house without solid foundations. Your design will soon start to crumble and eventually fall apart. – Neil Turner
All the best practices linked with Lean UX (measurement and validation of a product ) and Agile (fast delivery) are embodied in an MVP. The purpose of a minimum viable product is to learn, to validate, and invalidate a hypothesis. Testing is the vital part of a Minimum Viable Product that answers why your users interact with your product the way they do.
The main purpose of design thinking is to build a desirable, feasible, and viable solution. Thus, once the prototype is ready, based on your ideas, switch to the next phase – gathering feedback from the target users. Your product should hit an ideal balance between a user-friendly and commercial-friendly model.
Gaining feedback from the target customers and learning from it, helps save time and resources in the Prototyping and Testing stages of the design thinking process. In order to maximize the benefits of gathering feedback, follow the below-mentioned tips:
- Test your prototypes on the right people
- Be neutral when presenting your ideas
- Ask the right questions
- Let the user contribute ideas
Gather all the valuable inputs and learn from them to amend your design. Finally, you will have the task to build an improved iteration of your ideas – a new prototype – to reach the best possible product for release to the market.
How to design a Lean UX MVP
Building Lean UX MVP is a three step process: build, measure, and learn. Let’s understanding these three steps in detail:
Step 1: Build
In the build phase of lean MVP creation, you create just enough features to test with users. The idea is to not overwhelm users with too many features but only offer a basic version of your product. Once the product is ready, you place users in the driver seat and observe how they engage with the product. This way, you can easily identify problems and have a clue on what should be in your MVP.
Step 2: Measure
In the measure phase, we conduct usability testing on the MVP and gather valuable data on how many times an error occurred and why the user didn’t perform a particular action. This way, you understand the user journey and anticipate the next steps.
Setting benchmarks is a great way to ensure the measure phase of your MVP is a success. Here are the steps you can follow in this phase:
- Establish the ideal amount of time required for completing a task.
- Make the necessary adjustments based on the usability test.
- Compare the results to the benchmark you have set.
Step 3: Learn
Learn is the last and the most essential part of lean UX in which we learn from the last phases of MVP and decide which features should stay and which you should abandon. These findings will work as the foundation of your product.
Misconceptions about MVP design
Even though the idea of MVP seems simple, some misconceptions around MVP design exist. Here are some of them:
Myth 1: MVP is easy to create
Although the final MVP solution appears simple, a lot of planning and effort goes into creating it. You need resources who are at your disposal 24×7, a team aligned towards the direction of MVP, and repeated iterations.
Myth 2: MVP focuses on one feature at a time
You may focus on one feature in some instances. However, it is mostly a feature set, i.e., several features supporting a product’s core functionality. An example of a feature set is tweaking the filtering options, payment checkout, etc.
Myth 3: MVPs compromise a product’s core functionalities
It is never the intention. The product serves its purpose while maintaining functionality and business goals.
Frequently asked questions
What makes a good MVP in UX Design?
Ease of use makes a good MVP in UX design. As long as you’re offering a seamless experience to customers and offering features that fulfill user needs, you’re great to go. Also, a good MVP goes through multiple iterations based on user feedback until it’s optimal for users.
How does Lean UX start?
The Lean UX process starts with a benefit hypothesis. In the approach, Agile teams and UX designers accept the reality that the ‘right answer’ is unknowable up-front. Hence, they apply Agile methods to avoid focusing on creating a hypothesis about the expected business result of the feature. Then, they implement and test that hypothesis incrementally.
What are the main rules in MVP product design?
The MVP product design approach relies on the following rules:
- Build a minimum set of features to gather feedback from visionary early adopters.
- Include only the necessary features in the first version and then iterate further.
- Release product iterations quickly and inexpensively as you learn about your market and your solution.
How can I measure the success of my MVP?
Following are the metrics you can use to know whether your MVP is a success or not:
- Acquisition rate: Number of people trying your MVP.
- Customer acquisition cost: Amount spent to acquire one customer since you launched the MVP.
- Conversion rate: Percentage of visitors who convert into paying customers.
- Return on investment: Value created by your MVP against the cost of creating it. ROI = Value created – cost of creating it.
- Retention rate: Percentage of visitors who continue using your product.