If startups want to build products that stand out from the competition, it is essential that they raise the bar from viable to lovable. Products are no longer the “first of their kinds” and stiffer competition means that MVPs aren’t going to cut anymore.
Playbook for building and delivering an MLP:
Start with the user’s why, not the business why
- Product managers should aim their efforts toward creating a product that solves a “why” for the customer, rather than a “why” for the business
- Don’t ask: Wouldn’t it be amazing if this product could help Airbnb compete with luxury hotels?
- Instead ask_: Wouldn’t it be amazing if users had a variety of high-quality options that made their precious vacation time even more special?_
Separate the problem space from the solution space
- Detach yourself from what you think your users need and pay heed to what they are actually experiencing
- Never start with a solution
Listen to your users – but don’t take their word as gospel
- Listen to users carefully but not literally
- Common mistakes teams tend to make when conducting interviews
- Asking customers what they want: users tend to talk about solutions that cater to their needs specifically, and taking them too literally limits the scope of ideation
- Positioning yourself as the voice of authority
- You are not the expert on the problem, the user is
- If that dynamic is not made clear, it will be difficult to discover what the user truly care about
- It’s hard to build a product that satisfies several different user types
1. Focus on one user type, and make sure to ask open-ended questions to ensure you’re getting the right data
Enter the solution space and choose your game
- Diverge first to understand the problem space.
- Converge on the most important problem.
- Diverge again to come up with solutions.
- Converge on the solution that’s both usable and lovable.
- To distinguish between a viable solution and a lovable solution, listen for your users' reactions.
Strike the balance of minimum and lovable
- Zero in on just one or two features that truly bring value and delight to the user
- Understand your users in context
Embrace your user misbehavior
Be observant about how a user interacts with your product. When a user behaves against your expectations, they might just be leading you toward what they find most lovable
Putting the MLP to the Test
Implement a gradual, structured framework for testing by mining for insights from your beta before rushing into the GA release