Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) in UX Design
We live in a world where time and money are finite resources. Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) can be used to fix issues and escape problems. This article will explore the importance of MVPs for designers, businesses and users.
What does MVP mean?
Put simply, an MVP is a prototype of a product with just enough features to be used by customers who can provide feedback on it. As such, MVPs allow teams to understand the impact of the product on users and the business in general, and also serves as an indication on whether goals have been met.
However, an MVP has different outcomes for the businesses, design teams and users.
MVPs and business:
For a business, an MVP serves to save money. In an ideal world, a company would want to create a product which meets the user’s needs and wants without investing too much time or money.
Let’s consider a healthcare website which wants to improve the user’s ease in booking a doctor’s appointment. The business’ goals in this case would be to ease navigation with as little time and money as possible.
MVPs and design teams:
The priorities of the business and design team parallel each other in regards to the MVP. The aim of the design team’s creation of an MVP is to create a simple solution which meets the user’s needs.In the above example, the design team’s goals would be to identify the characteristics which create the most friction and change them.
In other situations, developing an MVP concentrates on reducing the number of features of a product, which can arise when during the brainstorming of ideas.
MVPs and users:
At the end of the day, you are creating a product for your user to use. In an ideal situation, you want to try and reduce your user’s cognitive load as much as possible. Do not overwhelm your user with too many buttons to click. You want them to complete a particular task with ease and without any obstructions.
Creating an MVP under Lean UX:
Lean UX is an aspect of UX design which saves resources and encourages dexterity between teams. Rather than focusing on the entire product, it examines a segment of the requirements for the final set as well as the experience of the designing process.
In this case, usability testing can be of great help in getting feedback as quickly as possible.
Creating an MVP under Lean UX requires three steps: building, measuring and learning
During the process of building your MVP, observe how it will integrate with other aspects of your product. UX research can be of significant help here.
Also, a contextual inquiry can assist you if you are working with an existing product. A contextual inquiry is a blend of usability testing and interviews. A user will test the product and you are to observe any roadblocks or issues they come into contact with, and why this happens. This method can help you understand the problems with your product, and can hint at what you should include in your MVP.
In the end, the clearer the problem, the quicker the prototype can be built. Remember, this build is only rough, and design teams simply create enough for users to test.
The measuring step involves usability testing, which will give you priceless information such as the frequency of an error or why a user encountered a particular roadblock.
Let’s consider a situation where users take too much time to book a doctors appointment. The design team can set up a measurement where they establish the ideal time. After the results from the usability test, the team can make the requisite adjustments and then compare results to their initial expectations.
Learning is a part of every step of Lean UX. You should learn from the features that made users hinder, and the features which they enjoyed. This will help ultimately you grow as a UX designer.
Debunking misconceptions about MVPs:
1. MVPs are easy to make
Although the MVP is a prototype of the final, the process of making it is not at all easy. If the design team is not on the same boat, challenges will be encountered. The availability of resources also impacts on the creation of an MVP.
2. Only focuses on one feature at a time
MVPs focus on sets of features rather than one feature at a time. ‘Sets of features’ refers to multiple features which sit at the crux of the product’s functioning. Adding an extra button versus changing the position of the call to action, adjusting zoom features and adding an extra button, respectively, is the difference between a feature and a feature set.
Do you need an MVP?
Sometimes the executives or team members of a business may not be convinced by the idea of creating an MVP. Here are some questions one should consider before making an MVP:
- Why do we need an MVP?
- What are we trying to learn from the MVP?
- How can our finite resources be managed to create a successful MVP?
- When will the MVP be launched?
The answers to these questions will provide clarity on creating an MVP. If you still need help getting your team members on board, a clear procedure and defined objectives may help.
MVPs will help your product be as useful and as valuable as possible to your user - which is what you want your time and money to amount to conducting research can aid in this process.
With competition for products increasing each year, an MVP is an invaluable step which mutes the noise and provides a direct pathway between you and your users with clear intentions and roadmaps, an MVP can be revolutionary for your product’s success.