5

I've heard various definitions of minimum viable product (MVP), but they all focus on a simplified, yet useful, version of the final product.

My team is building a product that currently appeals to a small group of people with special interests. We're hoping that by integrating with other, existing platforms, we'll be able to gain interest from a much larger audience. The latter step is critical to our business plan; the product can't sustain itself unless we can reach the larger audience. It's also the hardest part of the process and will take the most time.

Once we have a prototype without the systems integration, we'll be able to test it with members of our core audience and start iterating on the functionality and UX. However, we'll still need to do more testing with different audiences once the integration features are developed.

Would the version without the integration be considered an MVP? Or, since it lacks functionality necessary for our ultimate survival, would this be a useful test prototype but still short of MVP?

note: this is a simplified description of our product / plan, so I'm not seeking substantive feedback. I'd just like to better understand the concept of MVP.

5

Probably not. If it lacks a core aspect that's critical to the product viability, then it's not minimally viable.

This is debatable territory, as the original definition by Eric Ries:

a version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort

is a bit loose, and attempts to tighten it vary.

I think these points from this technopedia article do a pretty good job:

  • It has enough value that people are willing to use it or buy it initially
  • It demonstrates enough future benefit to retain early adopters
  • It provides a feedback loop to guide future development

If you take that third point and change it to:

  • It provides some way of getting any feedback on all critical functionality

The you've got something that I think still sounds like a reasonable definition of MVP, but that your systems-integration-less version will not satisfy.

But it doesn't really matter what you call it. MVP is essentially a high risk/high benefit approach to idea validation that involves offering only fundamental aspects to users.

Those users won't adopt the product or not based on whether it meets the technical definition of an MVP. They'll do that based on how well it helps them achieve their goals.

  • Thanks for the Technopedia link. Its focus on early adopters sounds like it does match the kind of feedback we can get at this stage. The tricky part is that with the current featureset, early adopters would continue using it into the future... except that it wouldn't continue to exist. – octern Apr 22 '16 at 18:51
  • Also, I agree with your point that users care about their goals, not about my goals for testing or the technical status of the release they're using. I'm just interested in advancing my own understanding. – octern Apr 24 '16 at 1:05
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Yes it is a MVP

Because the concept of a MVP is about test early, learn and iterate. It is not focused on functionality as many assume, but on customer needs and market traction. Everyone knows the prototype, test, feedback and recode loops for functionality. Eric Ries just took this approach to marketing and startup building: test the market need before you build a full blown app and fail with it, because you learned later customers want it slightly different.

So, even if you havent any functional system integration, if you somehow can fake it or let customers feel it is working, you get market feedback. With this feedback real system integration is much easier and safer.

The minimum is not less functionality, but a somehow version to test your market assumptions. The viable is what you want to know. Would it get traction like this version as a coded app. The product isnt a finalized thing, better you think it as a prototype. Even a paper prototype is a MVP, if you ask potential customers for needs or possible use.

2

This depends on your product.

Let me give two examples; Wordpress and Buffer. Both have integration with facebook and twitter; you can schedule to release posts at a certain time.

However, wordpress is a complete publishing platform, while buffer is just a back end to schedule for other platforms. Without social media tie ins, wordpress is still a blog, but buffer is useless. Without it, buffer would just be a timer.

So it depends on the core functionality of your product. Can you use it now, but it just won't appeal to a larger market? Then you have a MVP.

It's not so much about commercially viability, but practical viability; can people do stuff with it yet?

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Yes, it can be an MVP. The point of an MVP is to run experiments on the product to determine its value, no matter the scope or lucrative value of your entire product at the moment. This means that even small components, such as a single form or menu, can be considered an MVP.

In the book Lean UX, chapter 5, the authors give an example of an idea for an email newsletter feature, to add to their existing site. The first MVP the team came up with was actually just the sign up box on the website. They simply tested users' responses to the sign up form, even though the newsletter itself had not even begun to be developed yet. Since the newsletter itself would take many more hours of work, it was a valuable test to determine if people were even interested in a newsletter. If there was interest, they would continue iterating. If not, they could scrap the idea with minimal losses.

In your case, as long as you are able to run experiments on your product to determine the value of what you do have so far, you can definitely consider it an MVP.

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A minimum viable product in itself is not the final product, but a demo or prototype version of what is to be served in the market. In any company, a product is their lifeblood. And the mvp is the minimum feature packed product offered to the market. It has just the right basics and essentials to satisfy the customer for their benefit.

“…a MVP(or Minimum Viable Product) is a product which consists of just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future development…”

You can learn more about the MVP here: https://brandlitic.com/what-is-mvp-minimum-viable-product/

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