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The Minimum Trifecta of Product Building
I think these days the term MVP is common on everyone's lips, but for those who need a quick definition, the minimum viable product is a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early adopters. It's supposed to solve a specific problem in a very rudimentary way, hence the word.
You would think the word "minimum" in the whole definition is what gives it the rudimentary aspect but actually is the viable part.
Indeed, the term "viable" is significant because it hints at the product's capacity to live, and to exist independently.
The MVP isn't about stripping a product down to its bare essentials and shipping it out the door as soon as possible. Instead, it's about establishing a fundamental, working model that provides a solution to a user problem, albeit in a simplified way.
Yet the MVP is just the beginning.
As businesses change and markets move, the idea of the minimum product has grown too. It has created new versions that fit different needs and situations.
Among these variations, we have the Minimum Marketable Product (MMP) and the Minimum Loveable Product (MLP).
Let's explore in more depth what these concepts actually mean and identify when you might want to opt for one over the other.
Understanding the Minimums
MVP: Quick and Fundamental
As its name suggests, is the most basic version of your product that can still function effectively.
This means creating something fast, trying it out in the market, learning from what people say, and improving the product based on that.
The MVP is really helpful when a business has few or no rivals and can focus more on how things work rather than how they look.
With its fast build time, an MVP lets you quickly check if your product idea works. This can save a lot of time and money.
However, since the MVP’s emphasis is not on design, the user experience might be less than ideal.
So, while the MVP can be great for first testing a product, it might not be the best way to get devoted users or stand out when there's a lot of competition.
A standout example of one of the best MVPs in history is Twitter.
In its early stages, Twitter was actually a side project within Odeo, a podcast platform. The basic idea was to create a short messaging service that would allow individuals to keep up with what their friends were doing.
The initial version of Twitter, known as "twttr" at the time, was extremely basic. Users could only send tweets of up to 140 characters and there were no features such as hashtags, @ replies, or direct messages.
Despite its simplicity, the core concept of Twitter was there: a platform where users could share what they were doing in real time.
Twitter was then launched to the public and quickly gained popularity.
The feedback received from these early users was invaluable, leading to the introduction of features like hashtags and @ replies which have now become fundamental aspects of the platform.
So, Twitter is a great MVP example. It had a basic purpose, let the company learn from actual users, and laid the groundwork for growth and betterment.
MMP: Fast and Promotable
Let's dive into the world of the Minimum Marketable Product (MMP).
Like the MVP, the MMP focuses on the core features that solve users' problems.
However, the MMP takes a step further by ensuring that these features are not just viable but also marketable.
In a landscape where competition is rife, where businesses are battling for every inch of market share, it becomes essential to not only deliver a functional product rapidly but to deliver a product that captures market attention.
This is where the MMP shines.
While it doesn't go all-in on the UI & UX like the MLP, the MMP still considers it. It pays more attention to the user's experience than the MVP, finding a key balance between getting the product out fast and making it easy to use.
The MMP bets on the features that give value and can be used to market the product well. It looks at features that do two things - meet the user's needs and act as special selling points to beat the competition.
Consider Gmail, for instance. When it was first launched in 2004 by Google as an invite-only service, it was far from the first email service on the market.
But Gmail had a special thing that made it a minimum marketable product - it gave 1GB of storage when most free email services only offered 2-4MB. This feature was helpful for the user and was a strong marketing point for Google.
It also had a simple, easy-to-use interface that, while not groundbreaking, gave a better user experience than many other email services then. Gmail was not just workable, it was sellable, and it quickly became popular.
As we go deeper, we'll look into the Minimum Loveable Product. This idea takes the best parts of the MVP and MMP and then goes beyond.
MLP: A User's Delight
The Minimum Loveable Product (MLP) lifts the idea of basic products from just being functional or marketable to giving an amazing user experience.
This isn't a product that just performs tasks or presents a unique selling proposition - it's about crafting a product that users will love.
The MLP approach is particularly effective in saturated markets, where users have many similar options to choose from.
The development process is slower than that of an MVP because it prioritizes not just the core features but also the overall experience.
It focuses on the user, putting a lot of effort into creating a great user interface (UI) and a lovely user experience (UX).
It's not about tackling a problem anymore. It's about doing it in a way that resonates with users, making the overall experience memorable.
This emphasis on emotional design can lead to a higher user retention rate and stronger brand loyalty.
Airbnb, for instance, is an MLP that revolutionized the hospitality industry.
Airbnb did more than just the normal home-sharing idea by trying to make people feel like they belong and have real travel experiences.
Its appealing UI design, immersive photography, and user-friendly features created an enjoyable UX, which led to its global success.
The platform didn't just promote the stories of hosts and travellers, it celebrated them. This added an emotional touch that made users really like the service.
The key difference between the MLP and its counterparts, the MVP and the MMP, lies in the end goal.
While the MVP and the MMP aim to create a product that addresses a user's needs, the MLP seeks to design a product that is adored by users.
In the second article of this series, we take a more thorough look into how an MVP becomes an MLP. We'll also see why the MLP is slowly becoming a top choice in the digital product field. Check it out here: The Journey from MVP to MLP
The MVP begins the process by focusing on speed and basic functions. It allows quick feedback and shows the product idea can work. It's the top pick when there's little competition or for trying out new ideas.
The MMP matches these functions with how well it can be sold, focusing on features that users like and can make the product stand out. It does well in very competitive situations where being different is important.
But in markets full of options, the MLP goes beyond just working well and being sellable to give a user experience that's really enjoyable.
There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to product development.
Based on competition, market changes, what users need, and business plans, a product might start as an MVP, grow into an MMP, and finally become an MLP.
From Twitter's MVP success story to Gmail's clever MMP strategy and Airbnb's loveable MLP experience, one thing becomes clear: the evolution of product development is increasingly centred around the user.
Because in the end, products that are loved by users are the ones that truly stand the test of time.
Continue reading: The Journey from MVP to MLP