User expectation has changed a lot for good. We need to re-think concepts like Minimum Viable Product or MVP.
The lines between technology and consumer products are getting blur every day. Each day we see better products coming out. The customer expectation from your product is also very high. They do not care if you are just testing the idea or officially launching. Your product is compared to behemoths, and you need to stand out. First impressions last!
See this- How Happn was launched back in 2014. We can see a considerable thought going in design and tech.
These changes in expectations have also led us to rethink the whole Minimum Viable Product (MVP) concept. Traditional MVP has three parts- one core function that the product performs, very basic design- close to zero UX or visuals, and absolutely no wow factor from an end-user perspective, and a feedback loop. It will just do the one part it should do. A perfect way to test a concept a couple of years back. With new and amazingly designed apps coming out daily the standards for a minimum acceptable product has changed. We still follow the principles of MVP but like I said we did some re-thinking.
The features for an MVP are-
1. A core function product does.
2. Basic Design & tech.
3. Feedback loop.
These are the core parts of the MVP. With new expectations in place, we came up with the essential features for a MAP (Minimum Acceptable Product).
1. A core function product performs- This remains same as for an MVP.
2. Design (UX) and Tech- This is the function that has changed. Startups need to provide a seamless and a great experience at the first interaction, and hence need to invest in here. You will need to spend time on User Experience and technology. These are the areas that should consume most of your time. When I say design it is not just the look and feel it is the User Experience, how fast is the product, how easy it is to get that one task done and etcetera. And in the end, you would need to wow your potential customer to keep them wanting more this means investing in good visuals as well.
3. Feedback loop- The idea remains the same, but the implementation has changed. You need to figure out easy and interactive ways to collect feedback. In one of our MAP’s, we used voice and visuals for gathering feedback. The idea is to value our users time and not make them type.
When you get a MAP (Minimum Acceptable Product) out, you have already set an expectation for your users. They know they would get something awesome. It is like a trailer for a movie. If the trailer is not polished people, usually don’t watch the film. You need to focus on increasing the odds of you winning which means reducing chances of anything that will make you lose.
Working on MAP’s requires a different mindset. It is a combination of both keeping it simple yet significant. You need to continually remind yourself that it is a test and hence you should not go overboard. There is a balance you need to maintain to get most out of your MAP efforts.
1. Make sure it is a time-boxed effort. Ideally, complete it within 3–4 weeks.
2. Divide your time into all the three activities:
#Product feature- Hammer down what your product will do in one line. Keep on asking yourself “What is the one thing this product lets the user do”? You should not spend more than a week on it. If finding a core function is taking more time than you need first to figure out what you want to build.
# Design and Technology- Allocate approximately two weeks for this. Plan a four-day design sprint and make your team do this exercise. You will get surprising results. For reference on how to conduct a design sprint check this. It is an excellent reference from Google. You may want to customize it for your company. If you are not a design expert, seek help. Shell out some money to hire a good UX expert, if you cannot afford to try to cut a deal. Make it happen.
For technology try to use open source, or at times you might need to buy some third-party API, cloud storage services even for your MAP. Invest in that. Your product should work seamlessly and often paid versions of services are better than open source hacks. Also, it adds more skin to the game.
# Feedback loop- Brainstorm on finding easy ways to communicate with your users. The more two-way communication you have with your users, the better the product. Make sure the questions you ask are clear and help you improve. Remember every input is not useful.
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