For years, product managers focused on the idea of a Minimum Viable Product (or MVP) as the best mode of delivering quality products quickly to their customers. Not anymore! Customers are not simply satisfied with products that satisfy their needs but want products that are easy to use and delightful! They don’t want to just “use” your product, but also “love” them.
Jiaona Zhang, the Product VP at Webflow talks straight about the MVP evolution explaining that,
“Stiffer competition means that MVPs aren’t going to cut it anymore. If startups truly want to stand out, they need to strive toward creating a minimum lovable product instead.”
A Lovable MVP goes beyond “fulfilling customers’ needs” into providing them with “delightful product experience” that can keep them “hooked.” How did we arrive at this? As more startup founders started deploying the latest technologies to build their MVPs, their products gained more market acceptance. As a result, we find a lot of similar products (with the same features) that provide the same customer experience.
How do product owners then differentiate themselves from their competitors? A Lovable MVP focuses primarily on a UI/UX product design that customers will love. This could be through a “pleasing” or “aesthetic” product design or an innovative onboarding experience.
- There are various concepts, such as MWP (Minimum Wowable Product) or MLP (Minimum Lovable Product), based on the abilities and requirements of startups and organizations.
- Here at MAXIMESS, we make sure that the team should be able to gather the most validated customer learning possible with the least amount of effort regardless of the concept.
Purpose of an MVP
The purpose of building an MVP is to quickly develop your idea into a product, with a small amount of budget. Through this initial product, you can gather valuable feedback from your customer and inculcate it into future iterations.
Stats Emphasizing the Need to Build an MVP
- 29% of startups run out of cash
- 17% of startups develop user un-friendly products
- 42% of startups develop a product with no market need
- Startups that scale gradually grow 20 times faster than those that scale prematurely.
All the above stats explicitly show the benefits of developing an MVP before going for a full-fledged and cost-intensive product without taking into account the market need and value. It is always a good idea to start the actual building process after dedicating months to improving and refining the software idea.
Let’s now discuss how to build a Lovable MVP.
Yogesh Dhumane of MAXIMESS talks about “experience and usability of the product” as among the critical aspects of product success today.
Here are 8 key things to keep in mind when building a Lovable MVP:
1. Focus on “why” to build a Lovable MVP
As David Hieatt of Hiut Jeans points out, “your purpose is the wind in the sail. And without the why, there is no wind.”
While an exceptional or delightful user interface is great, product companies must also focus on why they want to deliver a lovable product. What is your customer’s pain point that you are trying to solve? Simon Sinek points out in his “Golden Circle” that the “Why” is at the core center of your product, and most product buying decisions are driven by emotion, rather than logic.
Simon Sinek – The Golden Circle – TedTalks 2009
2. Be focused on the “Minimum” part
In his book, “Getting Real,” author and company Founder Jason Fried writes, “if you can’t fit everything in within the time and budget allotted then don’t expand the time and budget. instead, pull back the scope.” Growing competition and customer demands mean that product companies are always under pressure to add more features to their MVP.
What makes a Minimum Lovable Product is the “minimum” part, where product designers should only have a couple of features that customers can delight in (and want to have more). Be focused on the “M” of MLP to save valuable time and resources.
A MVP strategy can help avoid some common pitfalls.
3. Think Big but Start Small
By starting small, product companies now have the room to scale and build their product to the next level. An example of a small start is that of Dropbox, which only released an explainer video of what the product does, instead of any MVP. This simple video improved their conversion rate by 10% and also helped them earn over $48 million in revenues.
Effectively, a lovable MVP should allow companies to gain a “foothold” in the market without making any significant investment.
4. Keep the product development time short
Author Austin Kleon writes in his book, “Steal like an Artist,” that “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.” In short, feature prioritization is now key to product success.
The ideal time to design and develop a Lovable MVP should not exceed 12 weeks. Matt Walton of FutureLearn says that “3 months is enough time to deliver on your vision but not long enough to lose sight of it.”
When prototyping, always try wackier/quirkier stuff first. The deeper you get into a project, the more conservative it tends to get.Stranger ideas are more at home earlier in the process. -Jason Fried
Statistics related to time against real world MVPs.
5. Add the “surprise” element
The “surprise” element in Lovable MVPs is what delights most customers and stands your product apart from competitive products. A good product design along with UI/UX is what adds the surprise factor. Think about a good product interface right from the conceptualization stage, instead of it as an afterthought.
6. Add the right hooks
Along with the surprise element, customers are delighted with products when they want to keep using them repeatedly. How do companies “hook” their users to keep using their products and turn them into daily habits? Nir Eyal’s Hook Model talks of the 4-step process comprising of the trigger, action, variable rewards, and investment.
An example of adding the right hooks has been demonstrated by social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which have hooked their users to keep signing into their accounts.
7. Build your tribe
Every product brand needs a dedicated community of loyal users (or what we call a tribe). Customers are good but not everything. Build a tribe of passionate users who love your products and follow your business.
The good part is your “tribe” will be expanding your business by advocating your product or brand to their friends.
Plus, build your brand manifesto and mission statement to “rally around” your tribe. Some examples include startups like Maptia and Holstee.
8. Gather user feedback
How much do users love a product? That can be subjective, but user feedback is more objective and qualitative. After the initial product launch, remember to gather qualitative feedback from the product users. Open-ended questions like “how does the product make them feel?” are valuable to delve into their real emotions.
User feedback and reviews are a valuable repository for fixing problems, introducing new features, and making changes for the next release cycle.
Usability testing is one way to get targeted users to provide feedback on how well the solution worked in the real world.
Tips to Target the Right Market While Building the MVP
“Beautiful product development in an ugly market segment makes no sense.”
– Dan Adams
Building an MVP of an air conditioner for the people of Atarctica won’t be a good idea. Similarly, a matchmaking app for a conservative society won’t serve your business. So, it’s less about your product and more about what market you are targetting in. No matter how good your MVP is, if it’s not in its ideal target market, it’s useless. A report by HBR shows that 85% of 30,000 new product launches failed because of poor market segmentation.
Here are some tips to choose the right market
1. Analyse the competition
While building an MVP it is crucial to deep dive into the competitor research to determine the value your product will have in that market and how you are going to differentaite from the already existing competing product. As it’s nearly impossible to build an MVP that doesn’t already exist in the market.
To proceed with this, evaluate the weak and strong points of your competitor, find out their target audiance and what they are offering to them. Porter’s generic strategies talks about 4 basic options for any startup to successfully compete in any given industry. Refer the below image for the same.
2. Geographically Segment the Customer Base
Once you are done with finding the right customer base for your MVP, the next step is its geographical segmentation. It can be a real game-changer for your MVP.
Different geographical locations have customers with different needs and cultural characteristics that need to be individually targeted for better and more efficient marketing. Once you are aware of the geographical location of the target customers, you can then proceed with designing your MVP by finding answers to the key questions such as;
- What is the impact of the climate?
- What role does local retailer play in your MVP?
- What are the most common languages used?
- How do cultural factors impact a customer’s life?
3. Finding the Motivation behind a Purchase
This step will help startups to balance their positioning perfectly in the market. The easiest way to find the motivation behind purchases is to run a survey that will give you insights into user engagement, the value it provides to customers, etc.
For product companies, designing a lovable MVP is essential in today’s consumer-driven market, but is not about making a “perfect” product. While building a great product is tough, the MVP approach can help you understand what your customers want to see in your product.
“Since there are many product alternatives available, businesses can adopt the lovable MVP mindset to not only solve the issue but also dedicate their efforts to delighting the users.”
With our expertise in product consulting, modernization, and development, MAXIMESS is equipped to help its customers build great and delightful products for their users.
Here is a blog that talks about why product design goes much beyond visual design.
Want to build a lovable MVP that your customers can delight in? Collaborate with us.