Minimum viable product
In product development, the minimum viable product (MVP) is a strategy used for fast and quantitative market testing of a product or product feature. The term was coined by Frank Robinson and popularized by Eric Ries for web applications. It may also involve carrying out market analysis beforehand.
A minimum viable product has just those core features that allow the product to be deployed, and no more. The product is typically deployed to a subset of possible customers, such as early adopters that are thought to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to grasp a product vision from an early prototype or marketing information. It is a strategy targeted at avoiding building products that customers do not want, that seeks to maximize the information learned about the customer per dollar spent. "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 definition's use of the words maximum and minimum means it is decidedly not formulaic. It requires judgment to figure out, for any given context, what MVP makes sense.
An MVP is not a minimal product, it is a strategy and process directed toward making and selling a product to customers. It is an iterative process of idea generation, prototyping, presentation, data collection, analysis and learning. One seeks to minimize the total time spent on an iteration. The process is iterated until a desirable product-market fit is obtained, or until the product is deemed to be non-viable.
A minimum viable product may be a prototype, an entire product, or a sub-set of product (such as a feature).
- Product: (smoke test) The canonical MVP strategy for a web application is to create a mock website for the product and purchase online advertising to direct traffic to the site. The mock website may consist of a marketing landing page with a link for more information or purchase. The link is not connected to a purchasing system, instead clicks are recorded and measure customer interest.
- Feature: (deploy first, code later) A link to a new feature in a web application may be provided in a prominent location on an existing website. The feature is not implemented, rather an apology, mock-up, or marketing page is provided. Clicks of the link are recorded and provide an indication as to the demand for the feature in the customer base.
Releasing and assessing the impact of a minimum viable product is a market testing strategy that is used to screen product ideas soon after their generation. It is facilitated by Rapid Application Development tools and languages common to web application development.
The MVP differs from the conventional market testing strategy of investing time and money early to implement a product before testing it in the market. The MVP is intended to ensure that the market wants the product before a large time and monetary investment is made. The MVP differs from the open source methodology of release early, release often that listens to users, letting them define the features and future of the product. The MVP starts with a product vision, which is maintained throughout the product life cycle, although it is adapted based on the explicit and implicit (indirect measures) feedback from potential future customers of the product.
The MVP is a strategy that may be used as a part of Steven Blank's customer development methodology that focuses on continual product iteration and refinement based on customer feedback. Additionally, the presentation of non-existing products and features may be refined using web-based statistical hypothesis testing, such as A/B testing.
The general method of deploy first, code later is akin to the agile program code testing methodology called test-driven development where unit tests are written before and fail until the code is written.
- The Cathedral and the Bazaar
- Startup company
- Customer Development
- Steven Gary Blank
- Eric Ries
- Lean startup
- Minimum marketable feature
- W. S. Junk, "The Dynamic Balance Between Cost, Schedule, Features, and Quality in Software Development Projects", Computer Science Dept., University of Idaho, SEPM-001, April 2000.
- Eric Ries, March 23, 2009, Venture Hacks interview: "What is the minimum viable product?", Lessons Learned
- Radoff, Jon, "Minimum Viable Product Rant," May 4, 2010, http://radoff.com/blog/2010/05/04/minimum-viable-product-rant/
- Ries, Eric (August 3, 2009). "Lessons Learned: Minimum Viable Product: A Guide, Lessons Learned". Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
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- Minimum Viable Product SyncDev 2008
- Smoke test sample
- Quora Thread on MVP, December, 2013
- How To Think About Minimum Viable Products, And The Path To Passion At Startup Festival TechCrunch, July 2013