Unfortunately, MVP is often misused in a way that actually harms early-stage startups, leading them to create needlessly bad products.
4 thoughts about better MVPs:
The word MVP can end up being used as a battering ram against people who argue to flesh out the product design more, to make the user experience more complete.
Instead, the barebones-ness itself becomes a badge of honor.
@ericries writes about this pretty clearly. Simplifying, you want to, in the quickest possible way, get to a product you can learn from and then measure if users are finding value in it. Only then should you invest more in the idea.
The actual inherent elegance of a product—and the visceral, emotional feeling people get when they use it—has a huge impact on how successful that product will be.
But in more cases than we care to admit, the choice we make to keep using a product relates to how it feels.
Measuring the core viability of an idea like this requires a small, polished UI.
OK, bad code is never an admirable goal in itself, but especially if you don’t know whether your idea is going to work, every moment you spend creating the perfect architecture using the most elegant tech is likely wasted work.
a) A user experience that gives people a sense of the true soul of your product (what it does and how it feels)
b) The telemetry code needed to measure what people are doing and how they feel using your product.
The actual underlying code you can always fix later. Lots of time to do that once you have customers and funding and a bigger team. 💪🏼
(And yes, do fix it then 😁)
A fault-tolerant, elegantly-architected and factored repo full of wonderfully-documented code just as easily ends up deleted as the quick thing you put together that also didn't work.
MVP isn’t: bad UI, good code. 😇
As an example, consider the various “virtual assistant” scheduler bots that are all the rage right now. Several of them validated their market via contracting out assistant duties to real humans that pretended to be bots.
But, of course, we knew that already—there’s a reason human assistants exist in the world.
The hard part of the problem is replacing them with a computer.
If you can’t clearly state those things, then you probably aren’t ready to build an MVP at all.
Which leads me to my final thought:
While the MVP concept has been incredibly successful for many teams, it isn’t the only way to build software.
Not all products can be assembled from a set of small, discrete, measurable, and independent features.
And many times you don’t know how the pieces come together until you’ve built some of it. The experimentation, the playing as you go, is the creative process itself.
If you are wrong and there’s nothing there, you could waste months (even years) of time. So, in place of MVP, figure out what are the go/no go points along the way that determine whether you should continue building in a certain direction.
It also needs to include bringing in outside customers or advisors to use and experience as you build.
So use it for good: Build a product with soul quickly, and then validate it. But never compromise the product's soul.
And remember: MVP is not the only way to build software. 👍🏼