I’ve been nearly obsessed lately with the idea of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), in particular:

How to decide what the MVP is

They say that an MVP should consist of the minimum set of features that would make your product useful. The reasoning behind this, is that you will never know which features are important to your users until release. If you take the route of trying to account for everything, you will end up with a product that either: (a) never releases, (b) is out of date by the time it releases, or (c) is overly complicated and full of useless features.

What it means to the development lifecycle as a whole

The MVP is not a prototype, it is a proof of concept. What’s the difference? When developing a prototype, it might be acceptable to glaze over negative cases, or not make things secure. When developing an MVP, there should be no loss of quality, just a loss of quantity. It is a quick way to determine if the fundamental concept of your application works, but more importantly - a way to find out (from your users) what’s most important.

How should a MVP affect pricing?

If you’re making an MVP the right way - the pricing should be the same exact model that you’d imagine the full product to have. For the time up until your first additional feature, the MVP is the product. People need to get away from the concept that the MVP is some quick, dirty hack to prove to investors the product is viable. Its not, its just a way to not work too hard creating things your users don’t want.

When to stop building

The feature set of the MVP is the toughest part. We often get into this issue where as we go through a project, we record on a piece of paper all the things we haven’t done - things (we say) we need for launch. If this list gets really long, it becomes a weight. With every item you add to the list, the less likely it is that the project will be completed. Keep your lists short, and build out the features you know are central to the concept of your product first.

Minimum Viable Products are no excuse to not think through your ideas. Just shoving shit out the door might eventually land you on a luck product, but if that’s how you work - you won’t be in business for long.