Deadliness of a Maximum Viable Product
Everyone wants to design an app bulked out with great features because this idea of “bigger is better” is embedded in us. We want our work to succeed, and often times our eyes are bigger than our stomaches can handle. To obtain a Maximum Viable Product from the get go is a stretch.
A Maximum Viable Product (Max VP) is a product that has just those features that allow it to be successful and no more. It is a product that is as good as the market will bear. When you shoot for a Max VP your shooting for perfection; you’re aiming too high, too fast. Max VP is reached when you’re at the top of your game. Your product is finely tuned right down the final stitch. Building a company around Maximum Viable Products is hard, it’s not impossible, but often people tend to bite off more than they can chew.
The problem with Max VP is that nobody needs a maximal product — well, maybe the 1%. It is a luxury item like a Bugatti Veyron; how many of those do you see on a daily basis? Maximal products are mesmerizing, appealing, and well, foolproof. Maximal products represent quality and focus, craft and skill, but what does your average customer really want? Why spend money on a Bugatti when you can pay less for something as nice as a Kia Optima. There are no shortage of free apps because consumers are drawn to “free.”
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is having just those features that allow the product to be deployed, and no more. Plenty of apps with the bare minimum feature set have actually seen the light of day. Less is more. Customers don’t choose a product based on the amount of features it holds, they choose a product based on their desired outcomes and stick with them because of the user experience. MVP is often less expensive than using a product with more features which increase costs and risk in the case where the product fails — for example, making incorrect assumptions.
For every feature you add beyond the core feature set, you are making an assumption of what consumers want and that’s dangerous. Don’t assume you have mastered your market. We hate to see clients fall under the category of “narcissistic marketing.” We know how difficult it is to be your own critic, but don’t add what YOU want to see; your target market’s needs and wants come first. We often find ourselves warning clients to steer clear of this category because they are on the brink of failure.
The more specific you are in narrowing down your target market, the better off your app business is. That’s your starting point, not your end point. Facebook started out by targeting college kids, and now your grandma has a profile. Let your audience depict what’s next. It’s okay to start small, and to be choosy about who you gear your product towards. Once you’ve mastered that, that’s when you can build.