Is MVP dead?
So it would seem. The minimum viable product approach, popularized by Eric Ries book, The Lean Startup was the fan favorite of all startups trying to launch a new product into the market.
But recently, there’s been a change in the wind. The popularity enjoyed by MVP so far is dying down, as more entrepreneurs are favoring SLC as the preferred product development approach.
SLC, a.k.a simple lovable complete takes a different approach towards product development than MVP. We can say that in brief, MVP is something that’s concerned more with the technical aspect of product development and launch.
On the other hand, SLC happens to be more concerned with what the users are going to react to the product.
Should you choose MVP? Or is it time to leave MVP in the dust and move forward with SLC?
MVP & SLC: How They Differ In Definition?
Those who have been part of the product development and the tech industry are familiar with the term MVP. Instead of launching a full-scale product at the very beginning, startups can launch a product with minimum features, that are viable enough to fulfill user goals.
Thus, minimum viable product methodology has been the best way for new businesses to gather consumer feedback, and make changes to the product to improve it.
Everything went smoothly for a long while until startups realized that MVP development is not cutting it yet. Customers are barely happy with the minimally viable product, the feedback is not that helpful. And even once the changes are made, they are not coming back.
So in a bid to save their development projects from the clutch of failure, they jumped on the SLC bandwagon.
Simple, lovable, and complete product- the term leaves nothing to the imagination. It is a product that is simple to use, provides a lovable experience, and above all, it is a complete product. It does not promise more than it delivers. It is considered to be more consumer-focused than minimum viable product development and makes for a better product.
The question that remains is- why did MVP start to fail, and why did SLC gain such popularity?
Where Did SLC Even Come From: Going Back To The Roots
Before diving deep into the debate, let’s seek the answers to some important questions-
A. Why Did MVP Start To Fail?
The definition of MVP according to Eric Ries’s book goes something like this-
“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”
The main purpose of MVP is clear from the definition itself. It is supposed to gather information and data on the core functionality of the product with the least bit of effort put into it.
The mistake, however, is made when entrepreneurs misinterpret its purpose and the kind of effort needed to generate the expected results.
Many custom software development agencies often have to deal with entrepreneurs and stakeholders who want too much from an MVP. It is imperative to understand that an MVP’s success is measured by how much data it gathers about the product’s impact on the target consumers. It is not supposed to generate revenues, since it is not a complete product.
The aim here is to find out how to build a minimum viable product with the right functionalities. And while doing so collect intel from them about how the product can improve further.
The second mistake most business owners make is focusing on the minimum part of the term resulting in a product without value. This leads to the development of an incomplete product. The result- being abandoned by the consumers during the very initial stage of development.
The minimum viable product methodology did not fail because it is not enough. Rather, the misinterpretations regarding its quality (minimum being too minimum) and its purpose (it’s supposed to provide value while gathering data and not succeed as a complete product) are what lead to its untimely demise.
But is SLC any different from MVP?
B. Is SLC An Old Concept In New Packaging?
Those who are familiar with the MVP concept might’ve also heard of something called MDP, or Minimum desirable product.
The difference between MVP and MDP happens to be the intent behind the development. While MVP is supposed to validate a business idea, MDP is supposed to take the same limited scope and make the product more desirable to the users. This often includes a lean UX approach, and more user research prior to development.
SLC or simple lovable complete, on the other hand, is supposed to be a product that is simple to use, the UX/UI creating a lovable experience, and consists of features that make the product experience complete. And all this is supposed to be done with minimal effort.
The stark similarity between the concepts of SLC and MDP raises the question of whether SLC is even a new concept. As the MDP definition goes, it is a minimum product that has desirable features. In this case, to be desirable, the product needs to have three things-
- A simple user interface
- Number of valuable core functionality
- pleasant overall experience
The only argument that can be raised regarding the similarity of SLC and MDP is the completeness of the product. The former method emphasizes the completeness of a product to be successful. But when exactly is a product development finished?
In the agile process, a product constantly goes through iterations and changes based on the latest feedback. So it is not easy to decide when a product is truly complete. And that’s why we can consider the product complete when it offers a certain value to the users.
Based on the similarity, we can proclaim simple lovable complete to be a more modernized version of the MDP concept. But should you simply join in this new trend?
Refine The Old Concept? Or Adopt The New One?
Based on the above discussion, we can come to two conclusion-
Firstly, the reason behind minimum viable product methodology’s failure is the misinterpretations of its definition.
Secondly, SLC is much similar to the MDP concept, only varying with its inclusion of the matter of completeness of a product.
So what should you do? Forget MVP entirely and go forth with SLC development?
It seems like the more favorable thing to do. But the problem lies with the vagueness of the SLC concept. While it is a lot more consumer-focused, it forgets to focus on the business side of things.
On the other hand, the shortcomings of the minimum viable products are the exact opposite. It is a business-focused method, looking for business idea validation. But more often than not, business owners fail to consider the user side of things during development.
So instead of completely abandoning a well-established product development model, how about making some much-needed amendments to it?
The Improvements MVP Concept Needs
How to create a minimum viable product that will yield successful results? Here is a list of all the amendments to the MVP concept that can make it more beneficial to modern business owners.
A. Include The User From The Very First Stage
One of the many common mistakes committed by business owners is to not consider the user aspect from the very beginning.
A product, albeit intended to expand the business further, must be developed to satisfy the user. The success of the attempt depends on it.
So if you are thinking about launching a product, or website or software, and wondering if the minimum viable product methodology approach will be right or not, don’t worry. It will be effective, as long as you include users into the development process from early on.
There are multiple ways to facilitate user involvement from the beginning of the process. You can start by identifying the right group of customers, their key demographic details, and other necessary data. You can also set up a survey to be fulfilled by a target group of people that can guide your MVP project the right way.
B. Don’t Only Think In Terms Of Business Viability
Once business success may have depended on the market, data analysis, stocks, etc., but today it depends on the customers it serves. So when verifying an idea, don’t only think of the value it will bring in for the business. You must also think about the value it will provide the users.
From the features to the interface, all of it needs to be perfectly calibrated to provide a greater value to the users. Ordinary users are always looking for products that help them in their daily lives, and they are not much concerned with whether the product is full scale or not.
So in this case, it is necessary that you not only validate the product idea from a business perspective but also the user perspective as well.
C. Integrate UX As Part Of The Process
Since MVP development happens to be a minimal effort process, a lot of effort goes into development, and not UX. The interface design happens to be a key part of creating a desirable product for the users. And that’s why the UX must become a part of the process from the initial stage.
To keep in line with the simple lovable complete product development concept, the interface must be simple, and easy to use. Considering the minimalistic aspect of the product feature, keeping the interface simple would be a wise decision.
So for better results make sure to partner with a software development organization that provides web design services as well.
D. Don’t Provide Half-Baked Functionality
Whatever functionality you are providing through your product, make sure it works completely, without failure. As long as the functionality works perfectly, the limitations of the product would not matter.
Google Docs can be a perfect example of this. While the functionality of the doc was a lot more limited than its main competitor Microsoft Word, it still managed to satisfy the users. This happened because Google doc’s main functionality on offer was a true collaboration and sharing while document editing.
And since they offered this functionality perfectly, the limitations of the rest of the features didn’t matter.
So don’t forget to ensure that the core functionality of the product works perfectly from the very beginning, and then build the product around that.
E. Alternatively, Do Not Promise More Than You’re Delivering
Imagine how disappointing it will be if a food place promises a “buy one get one” offer on pizza, but then tells you that you can only get the offer if you also buy side dishes and soda with the first pizza!
Similar to that, promising more than your product offers will set the users up for direct disappointment. Maybe you have plans to introduce new features along the way in the future.
But if the minimum viable product does not have the feature at the time of the launch, do not mention it in the marketing activity. This might bring in more interested and prospective users, but the disappointment will soon drive them away.
MVP Is Not Yet Dead: It Just Needs To Be Updated
While the popular census says that minimum viable product methodology does not work anymore and SLC is the key to product development success, it still doesn’t mean you need to jump into the trend without further consideration.
While the shortcomings of MVP are glaringly obvious, it is still not severe enough to be thrown away completely. Additionally, the vagueness of SLC might stump any product development endeavor effectively.
So rather than throwing away a well-established development method, be mindful of the mistakes that can lead to MVP failures. Adding the basic amendments mentioned above will enable the MVP process to deliver greater results than you might expect.