Every startup or established company launching a new product faces various decisions about the product’s features, functionality, users, interaction, revenue model, and so on. These decisions are influenced by factors such as timelines, budget, investor or sponsor expectations, skill or knowledge gaps, and so on. To balance these factors, the team builds a prototype that evolves into an MVP and launches it.
Users drop off at alarming rates, showing little interest or need for the product and the team struggles to get any meaningful feedback from them. The team is baffled by this outcome - they had a great product idea, a huge market, positive initial research, and founder/stakeholder related to the problem. Everything seemed to point to success.
The product failed because it did not create an emotional connection with the users. An MVP is built with minimal attention to UX (user experience) and prioritizes speed over quality. This often results in a confusing onboarding flow or features that only meet a fraction of the user’s needs. While building and launching an MVP as quickly as possible aligns with the Lean Startup Development cycle, it could also ignore the psychological impact on the founders, the feeling of failure, or the budget constraints they may face by failing to show investors an early product-market fit. Therefore, building a “Lovable” product is crucial for many founders and stakeholders who want to see some initial success.
Unlike an MVP, whose primary focus is to show basic features and the potential of the product, an MLP focuses on generating product success at a very early stage, even if it is on a very small scale. With an MLP, users are more likely to stick, give feedback, retain, and overall care.
And the accomplish that and build an MLP, founders need to do the following:
· Target Users: know your target users and their pain points. Spend as much time as needed mapping your potential users’ needs, wants, and likes, and create a list of potential features for each persona you define. Pick only 1 or 2 personas that you feel will be the biggest users and build the product functionality around them.
· Functionality: research and survey users to validate your value proposition and ensure the product features deliver it. This can be done by sharing your initial sketches or wireframes with potential users and asking their opinion. Do not be afraid of negative feedback. It is an opportunity to make mistakes early on with little impact to your time and money investment.
· Usability: one of the most important aspects of an MLP is the delightful user experience. The onboarding flow should be smooth and streamlined, user interactions should be properly mapped and tested, and any users should face no friction points. Any assumptions can easily be validated on a wireframe level, and easily addressed.
· Visual identity and interface: just as it is important for the product to be usable, it is also imperative that it reflects your vision in its colors, fonts, brand, etc. This should be aligned with the target audience. It is far more important at this stage to create a visually appealing and easy to use product, than to pack it with features that little to no users care about.
· Data-driven: One of the most important factors for the success of any product and part of an MLP is data. Product decisions and hypothesis must be backed by data, which can also be by research, user surveys, focus groups. Show users what you intend to build and capture their feedback. The simplest way to do it, as we already mentioned, is on a wireframe/visual prototype level. It requires minimum effort to create or change but saves hundreds of coding hours later on doing rework.
There are many benefits of an MLP but some of the biggest ones are:
· It helps stand out from the competition and create loyal fans early on
· Substantially reduces the risk of launching a product that nobody cares for
· Reduces development cost and amount of rework later(especially important when budgets are limited)
· It allows for feedback to be gathered fast and product assumptions validated with data
· It increases the chance of achieving product-market fit very early.
An MLP is a preferable option for many companies that are developing a new product. It enables them to validate product-market fit and attract funding for further development. By delighting 20 users with a minimal budget and a few key features, they can demonstrate the potential to scale up their user base and revenue with more investment. This is the key to securing more funding.