“Fail often, fail fast”, wrote Don Norman, the father of UX design in his book The Design of Everyday Things. He professed that each failure teaches a lot about what to do right. But in the realm of product development where companies, especially startups run on strict constraints of time, money and resources, failing often is not always feasible. The question then becomes how to fail in an optimum way. 

Enter MVP. 


In this article, we discuss the role of UX design in MVP or Minimum Viable Product development, bust some of the common misconceptions around MVPs and look at its benefits. 

Understanding MVPs

An MVP is a product in its most basic form, consisting of only the most essential set of features required for its working. They provide an opportunity to test an idea on a target audience and gauge the feedback before the next set of advanced and complex features are released. Creating an MVP is a great way for businesses and design teams to identify what works, experiment, fail and learn. 

An MVP is an initial version of a product, which is fully functional and created with minimum efforts for quick market launch. A simple rule while creating MVP is to remove any feature that does not contribute directly to the user's needs. The goal of building MVP is to test assumptions, gather feedback and real data about users and their expectations as early as possible to design the final product for utmost user satisfaction. 

Many of the successful digital platforms today like Uber and Airbnb started their journey with an MVP. They initially launched the products with the core functionality alone and expanded the services eventually depending on customer needs and expectations. Without any doubt, their amazing popularity and success can be attributed to the MVP process they followed. 

The role of UX design in MVP development

MVPs are all about launching products with the basic features and functionality for satisfying primary user needs. From the very beginning of an MVP process, UX design has a crucial role to play. 

The goal of UX design is to empathize with the users and ensure that their interaction with a product is easy, meaningful and engaging. Both UX design and MVP development process are all about gradual changes and iterative development. MVP development mandates that a product be minimum and viable while upholding the usability and functionality. Thus, it requires a strong UX design strategy in place to ensure that both business goals and user needs are aligned in the best way possible. 

But, a UX design process is comprehensive and often takes months to complete. Hence, businesses may feel an ounce of hesitancy when integrating UX design into MVP development as a short time to market is a key criteria of this approach. When implementing a UX design process with an MVP framework, a highly collaborative design approach is required to design effective solutions in the shortest time possible. This is where lean UX comes into play. 

Lean UX is a design approach that focuses less on deliverables and more on user experience. Unlike the traditional UX design approach, it does not mandate a full set of deliverables and requirements. The key goal of the lean UX design is to get feedback quickly so that appropriate decisions can be taken fast. Hence, for MVP development the lean UX approach is the perfect fit. Lean UX supports agility within the design team and calls for a greater level of collaboration. 

When developing MVP in the lean UX model, there are three fundamental steps – build, measure and learn. 

Build

UX research is the major activity in this step. Whether creating a new product or working with an existing product, deploying the various UX research methods help to thoroughly identify the user pain points and ensure that the design is built on real data and not assumptions. By bringing utmost clarity to the problem, the research supports quick product development. Here, only rough wireframes are created to satisfy the testing purpose. 

Measure

The second step in the lean UX method is Measure in which the usability is tested. Here, large volumes of data is collected to measure the user reaction and feedback to the MVP. This data determines whether the MVP version is a hit or a miss and guides the future course of action for the product. Enhancements are performed on the product based on the data collected in this step. 

Learn

A key characteristic of lean UX design is the continuous learning aimed at enhancing the product for best success. The learning remains consistent throughout the different cycles and based on it, the anatomy of the MVP is adapted. The learnings dictate what all needs to be maintained, enhanced or eliminated from the MVP during each iteration. 

Common misconceptions about MVPs

Several businesses find the idea of MVP insignificant; a lot of apprehension revolves around the topic. Much of these arise due to some common misconceptions about MVP. Some wrong beliefs that exist about MVP include: 

  • MVPs are incomplete products that are launched to the market without proper planning and do not serve any user needs. This is a common misconception many businesses have which make them believe that there is no point in building an MVP. But the truth is that MVPs are complete products and built to meet specific user needs. 
  • MVPs are easy to build and can be churned out real quick. Though the MVP may look seemingly incomplex, that does not mean they are easy to create. The process can be quite challenging, beginning from the initial goal alignment, to the design and the continuous cycles of testing. 
  • MVPs focus only on a single feature. Other than in situations where one feature is a primary focus, MVPs usually include a feature set – that is a list of features that supports a core functionality. The focus is on functionality, not features. 
  • MVPs wash out core functionalities. Though MVPs may change the user flow to achieve a functionality, it never compromises on the functionality. The features may be scaled down to create the simplest product but care is taken to not detriment the functionality. 

Benefits of MVPs

There are numerous benefits to MVP development that makes it a great approach, ideal for startups, small businesses or even enterprises when experimenting with high-risk product development. 

  • MVPs help to gauge the market response and check if there is a genuine requirement and acceptance for the product before spending large amounts of resources to build the full product. 
  • With a shorter time to market, MVP helps to generate revenue faster than it would take for the full product to be developed and launched. 
  • In a highly competitive market, releasing MVPs give businesses the benefit of reaching customers first and building an advantage over competitors. 
  • MVPs require minimum investment as a simplified version of a product is prepared which is comparatively easier to design, code and manage. 
  • Building MVPs helps the design team learn in-depth about the user requirements and create a product that delivers exactly what users need through multiple, rapid iterations. 
  • Since MVPs focus only on a minimum set of features, it minimizes the time, effort and resources required for development. 

Conclusion

MVP is an efficient, fast and low budget way of introducing a digital product into the market. The idea of designing a basic product and launching it into the market as soon as possible is a great way to check the product’s feasibility and evaluate the user feedback. An MVP process is a highly user focused approach and UX design augments the effectiveness of the approach. When done with a sharp focus and clear intent, MVPs help to create successful products that users find valuable.

At Aufait UX, we partner with innovative startups across verticals as their UX UI design agency and we always emphasize beginning with an MVP. We believe the MVP process is a business-friendly and user-friendly approach and the best way to test out new ideas. Our experience in MVP development and providing UX UI design services for startups and enterprises have been very effective and successful for our clients and we vouch for adopting MVP approach with lean UX design methods.

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