I hear two terms often and I think we could do better. “MVP” (Minimum Viable Product) and “mobile friendly.” Both of these say, “Let’s do the least we can to get this out.” But is that the right choice?
Who are you?
If you are a scrappy startup, it might pay to get something out sooner rather than later. Iterate on it. Keep improving. But show the world and investors that you are on the ball. You’re new to the scene and you don’t have too many users (yet) that would be alienated by a really early, very minimal version.
That doesn’t mean every company should do that. I don’t expect Sony to put out MVPs often or at all. I expect major companies to put out a fully-formed version 1.
I don’t expect a national bank to make something “mobile friendly.” I expect them to make it awesome. Easy to use. Well thought out. It seems like a low standard to shoot for. How about completely designed for mobile? Tested and validated? Even if it’s not “mobile first,” it can still be “mobile awesome.”
What tends to be cut for the MVP?
Often it’s the UX process. Hey, a product gal will lay this out, the artist will polish it, the dev will built it. Then we can see how people like it. I may be biased but I never recommend skipping the UX process.
We’ll just release it as a technology idea and see what people think. OK but if it doesn’t have a great user experience, your tech idea could be lost in an unpleasant-to-use product.
People will talk.
Internally, you might say hey, this is just an MVP. It’s a minimal pre-release of something. It’s a “mobile friendly” step towards something better next time. The problem is that you think your customer understands that, cares, and will cut you slack.
People LOVE to write bad reviews. People love to tell their friends negative things. Put out a sad MVP and you will see it somewhere. Facebook posts, tweets, blog posts, app reviews. You calling it MVP doesn’t shield you from people responding in small or large, public or private ways. Are you prepared for that?
Is this a product you want customers to see? Competitors will see it too. Are you publicly traded? Wall Street might write about it.
Does this mean nobody ever puts out an MVP?
Of course not. But these decisions sometimes need more thinking through. Who are we? Who will see this? What might they think of us for putting out something so low-featured, simple, early, not as built up, etc…? Does it make more sense to put X more weeks or months of UX and dev into it so that it can be impressive, delightful, beloved?