15 ways to exam your smallest viable product

Chris Bank is a Growth Lead at UXPin, a UX Design App.


Though a MVP provides a means to exam hypotheses as a starting point, it does not indicate that it is easy to build. The thought behind this practice is not to see if a product can be built in terms of technical feasibility. Rather, it is to see possibly we should be building it in a initial place and, some-more importantly, possibly it’s elucidate a problem other people find value profitable for.

Vladimir Blagojevic, owner of Grant Snap Lean Startup Circle Brussels writes about the significance of building a product that people wish to use and compensate for. In sequence to strech that stage, however, we need to make certain your product passes certain tests.

Time and income are profitable resources and wasting them on building a product that doesn’t accommodate that criteria is out of a question. MVP tests are designed not usually to answer technical questions about a product, though also to exam elemental business hypotheses about a viability of a marketplace it exists in.

For example, a association wants to see if unmanned drones would be profitable for collecting information on a stand health. The devise competence be deemed technically viable, though a MVP could eventually destroy since it does not exam a viability of business by verifying marketplace and association capabilities. (We speak in fact about anticipating a right things to exam in The Guide to Minimum Viable Products.)

The complexity of your MVP depends on a form of product you’re building, and opposite kinds of MVPs can operation from deceptive adwords tests to early prototypes. Once we have dynamic a hypotheses we need to exam with your MVP, here are some of a contrast techniques we can put to use to get arguable information from tangible users and implement it:

1. Customer interviews

“In a startup no contribution exist inside a building, usually opinions,” says Steve Blank, co-author of The Startup Owner’s Manual and creator of a Customer Development Methodology.

In his book “The Four Steps to a Epiphany,” he talks about a Customer Problem Presentation, an critical partial of a patron validation routine that helps we exam your hypotheses with tangible customers.

search govern 730x291 15 ways to exam your smallest viable productSource: Steve Blank

This is radically an unscripted talk with business designed to bleed information about a problem your product is perplexing to solve. These interviews are meant to be exploratory rather than as a sales illustration for your product, organic or otherwise.

This routine can be continued by register down a problems we assume your product will solve and afterwards seeking what a patron thinks about them as good as how they would arrange any problem.

These interviews can be a gold-mine of actionable information, since even if your insincere problems spin out to be not as critical to a customer, we still have profitable information that can assistance we concentration your offering.

2. Landing pages

The “Landing Page” is a initial page visitors and intensity business come to when they’re led down a flue towards your product.

It’s a selling event where we can explain your product’s facilities and have them pointer up, though during a same time and for a same reasons, it’s also a good MVP that lets we exam your product opposite real-world marketplace expectations.

Buffer MVP 2 220x244 15 ways to exam your smallest viable product

Landing pages are mostly dissipated as saved email constraint pages, though they can be used some-more extensively to exam a product. Joel Gascoigne fleshed out a initial alighting page for used that to sign direct for several facilities and cost skeleton rather than usually to build adult a mailing list.

This was as elementary as adding an additional page between a facilities page and a signup form; a interstitial page showed a pricing table, and a visitors could name a devise that appealed to them.

These additional clicks not usually showed a visitor’s seductiveness in a product, though also gave a organisation real-world information on what kind of pricing would be suitable for a market.

Kate Rutter, instructor during Tradecraft and co-founder of Luxr, is a large fan of using alighting pages to “sell first, build later”. In sequence to be many effective, alighting pages need to be means to yield a right information to business in a right context.

Remember that a pattern is certified learning, so collecting caller analytics with collection like Google Analytics, KISSmetrics or CrazyEgg is a many critical partial of it. You also need an effective value-proposition and call to action.

For even offer learning, we can also run A/B tests on a page’s calm to assistance spike down what kind of illustration works best for conversion.

3. A/B Tests

A/B Tests are used to exam a efficacy of any changes to your product or marketing. Various analytics collection can be used to exam how visitors conflict to a pattern decisions we make, expelling a guesswork when it comes to improving a product.

A/B contrast allows we to exam dual versions of a page or selling duplicate and let caller interactions establish that one performs best.

ab exam 730x502 15 ways to exam your smallest viable productSource: Smashing Magazine

A apportionment of your visitors see chronicle A, while a rest see chronicle B. In a end, regulating information collected by analytics collection like Optimizely, Unbounce or Google Analytics, we can magnitude any version’s opening on a set of metrics like rebound rates, acclimatisation or usage.

4. Ad Campaigns

Perhaps counterintuitively, ad campaigns are a good proceed of regulating marketplace validation surveys. Google and Facebook are platforms that concede we to cavalcade down demographics to a sold aim patron you’re perplexing to reach, and this lets we run a low-fidelity exam to see that facilities or aspects of your product are many appealing to them.

Screen Shot 2014 11 12 during 3.14.40 PM 730x578 15 ways to exam your smallest viable productSource: KISSmetrics

Running a debate by these services gives we statistics like click-through-rates and conversions that can be profitable information in last what your product will be and how it will run. These can be total with A/B tests.

Competition in a hunt selling space is fierce, so it’s critical to remember that regulating an AdWords debate for your MVP is not going to get we a lot of exposure. But for contrast your hypotheses and learning, it’s priceless.

5. Fundraising

Crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, among others, also yield a good height for regulating MVP tests. These websites are radically collections of MVPs where a marketplace response is judged by a seductiveness people uncover in a form of contributions to a campaigns.

This combines a advantages of certified training with fundraising for product growth and even gives we entrance to a organisation of rarely meddlesome and actively concerned early-adopters who have a interest in a success of your product that is good for building word-of-mouth as good as continual feedback along a way.

pebble kickstarter 730x470 15 ways to exam your smallest viable product

You don’t need to demeanour distant to hear about success stories that began as Kickstarter campaigns. The Pebble e-paper smartwatch and Ouya gaming console are a some-more renouned ones, lifting millions of dollars and building hum even before growth began.

Of course, some of a hallmark facilities of campaigns embody a constrained narrative, effective explainer videos and useful rewards or incentives for people to behind a project.

6. Explainer videos

If a pattern is value a thousand words, afterwards a video demonstrating your products user knowledge is value a million. The many famous instance of a startup regulating an explainer video to countenance a marketplace and sell their MVP is Dropbox.

It began with a 3-minute video that demonstrated Dropbox’s dictated functionality, that resulted in signups augmenting from 5,000 people to 75,000 overnight—all of this in deficiency of a genuine product. Of course, it also helped that a video was targeted to tech-savvy early-adopters appreciated a easter-eggs and humorous references via a video itself.

dropbox video 730x541 15 ways to exam your smallest viable product

Dropbox’s explainer video served as a shining validation of a marketplace before a founders ever had to deposit in a infrastructure and growth indispensable for a high-tech product to strech a organic turn in a genuine world. Reaching a aim business is formidable enough, generally when you’re conceptualizing to solve a problem that many users competence not even commend they have.

For Dropbox, maybe observant it was offering a “seamless file-synchronization app” wouldn’t have a same impact. The explainer video instead walks intensity business by what a product is and clearly demonstrates how it helps them, eventually heading to why they would wish to compensate we for it.

7. Piecemeal MVPs

As a brew of Wizard of Oz and Concierge techniques, a Piecemeal MVP means putting together a functioning demo of your product regulating existent collection and services to broach a knowledge instead of building anything yourself.

Groupon, in a early stages, was a mixed of WordPress, Apple Mail and an AppleScript that generated PDFs manually as orders were perceived from a website.

the indicate 730x683 15 ways to exam your smallest viable productSource: Archive.org

Rather than investing time and income into building your possess infrastructure, a product can be built regulating other existent platforms and services as a foundation, effectively regulating pieces and pieces from several sources to make your chronicle of a product.

8. SaaS PaaS

Instead of investing in scalable server technology, relying on cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, Heroku and MongoDB, Facebook Connect, services like Chargify, Mixpanel, Mailchimp, Google Forms and LiveChat or even platforms like WordPress and Drupal are all good pieces in a jigsaw nonplus that is your MVP test.

These services and platforms assistance we in a growth process, speeding adult a time it takes to get your MVP to market. Groupon for example, began life as a customized WordPress website where a founders posted deals and emailed subscribers PDFs manually in a suggestion of validating their marketplace potential.

logos 730x485 15 ways to exam your smallest viable product

Design and growth frameworks can infer to be useful shortcuts saving time and money. There are multitudes to select from, some of a many renouned ones being Twitter Bootstrap, ZURB Foundation, Ruby on Rails, Django, bootstrap.js or even frameworks like Node.js.

Using a horizon or library can significantly speed adult your growth time. They yield plenty support and make it intensely easy to get adult and regulating with your MVP.

Many of a problems developers face like cross-browser compatibility, mobile-friendly pattern or formula optimization are already taken caring of, withdrawal we giveaway to concentration on building your MVP rather than a pattern or growth that is meant to support it.

9. Blogs

Blogs are a good proceed of validating ideas with a right aim marketplace in minimal effort. Blogging  platform Ghost, and App.net began in judgment on their founders’ blogs where they continued to strength out their ideas and benefit support from a village of supporters and supporters.

project spook 730x394 15 ways to exam your smallest viable productImage: Project Ghost

The two-way communication from blogs gives an ideal height to build movement and accumulate patron feedback in a MVP growth process.

Additionally, blogs can also offer as early prototypes of your product. Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup also began his book as a blog, building an assembly and direct before signing any edition deals. Similarly, so did 50 Shades of Grey!

10. Manual-first (aka “Wizard of Oz”) MVP

Rather than building a video or coding a framework, an swap choice for a initial stages of marketplace validation is to broach a product or use manually. “Wizard of Oz” MVP comes from a thought of putting on a sense of full functionality, radically faking it until we make it.

Customers trust they are experiencing a tangible product, though in existence a work behind a scenes is being finished manually.

Screen Shot 2014 11 12 during 3.18.09 PM 730x372 15 ways to exam your smallest viable productArram Sabeti’s manual-first MVP, a spreadsheet. Source: TechCrunch

Arram Sabeti, owner of ZeroCater started with a hulk spreadsheet that he used to keep lane of companies and caterers he could bond with. Zappos began a same way, with a owner Nick Swinmurn putting adult photos of boots from internal shoe stores on a website to sign direct for an online store.

When someone systematic a shoe online, he would come behind to a store and buy it. Instead of initial investing in infrastructure and inventory, this gave Zappos a probability to answer a doubt of possibly their product would be ostensible by a market.

This proceed also concede for larger communication with business during this essential theatre when you’re conceptualizing a product. Observing tangible patron first-hand is always some-more useful than a suppositious patron survey, and it’s a fastest proceed to learn possibly it’s elucidate a real-world patron problem

The expedited learning, despite during a small-scale, provides opportunities to exam many assumptions we competence be creation about a product or a marketplace. By doing it all manually, we give yourself a probability to try opposite things on-the-fly to see how business conflict before we scale. To a patron of course, a product works and a behind-the-scenes work doesn’t matter.

These MVPs positively need a poignant effort, though can be eventually value it for a concentration they yield on a problem rather than a solution. Zappos for example, eventually grew into one of a many successful online businesses and was acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009.

11. Concierge MVPs

The Concierge exam is identical to a Wizard of Oz MVP, solely instead of faking a operative product, you’re upfront about a primer work and a product or use is delivered as a rarely customized use to comparison customers.

rentTheRunway 15 ways to exam your smallest viable product

Rent a Runway tested a online dress let business denote by providing an in-person use to womanlike college students where anyone could try a dress on before renting them. This certified its riskiest supposition that women would lease dresses and served as a good concierge MVP that put a business in front of business and got them feedback.

Time is valuable, generally during this theatre and and regulating by a routine manually also reveals other aspects of a patron knowledge that can infer profitable offer on. Instead of putting in resources towards building a genuine product, these MVP tests can answer a some-more critical doubt first: are we building something that business will use and compensate for?

12. Digital prototypes

Mockups, wireframes and prototypes can be used to denote a product’s functionality in a proceed that mimics a tangible usage. These prototypes MVPs can operation from low-fidelity sketches to screenshot previews to some-more difficult “dummy” applications that demo a user experience.

uxpin 730x401 15 ways to exam your smallest viable productImage: UXPin

You can use collaborative wireframing and prototyping collection like UXPin that let we denote what we wish to build and share those ideas transparently with a team.

13. Paper prototypes

Similar to Digital Prototypes, solely these are physical, possibly done of cutouts or even sketched on paper to denote your product and a user experience.

The advantage with paper prototypes for MVP contrast is that they can be used by anyone on a team, from product managers, striking designers, investors to finish users. and need really small explaining since it hands we an tangible illustration of a product.

paper antecedent 730x405 15 ways to exam your smallest viable productImage: Caryn Vainio, Winnie Chang, Adrian Kosmaczewski

For earthy product growth like phones or chairs etc. this technique is invaluable. Digital and paper prototyping is lonesome in larger fact in a Guide to Wireframing.

14. Single-feature MVPs

Often times it competence be best to concentration on a singular underline of your smallest viable product to save growth time and bid as good as preventing users from apropos dreaming with what a product is essentially ostensible to be.

early foursquare 730x549 15 ways to exam your smallest viable product

Foursquare, for example, began with a elementary thought of vouchsafing users check-in to a amicable network with their plcae and a initial versions of their app reflected this simplicity. Buffer started out with usually Twitter support and usually one comment per user.

These restrictions assistance we slight down a initial business and concentration on a some-more critical problems, like contrast product and marketplace viability rather than worrying about adding support for other mobile platforms.

15. Pre-order pages

Similar to a fundraising MVP, a Pre-Order Page MVP exam lets we benefaction your product to intensity business with a aim of interesting them adequate to compensate for it before we even build it.

Screen Shot 2014 11 12 during 3.20.52 PM 730x557 15 ways to exam your smallest viable product

Oculus Rift, a practical existence gaming kit, launched a pre-order page for a growth pack before they began production.  A lot of projects on Kickstarter start as pre-orders. This can uncover we how most direct exists for a product you’re perplexing to build, giving we an denote of possibly we should continue or throw a project.

The problem with charity a pre-order is of march that business competence be heedful of a probability that we will not broach with a product we promise.

Nobody likes vaporware, and users who behind a devise in such early stages direct a lapse on their faith in you, and of course, on their money.

Getting out a door

In some ways, building a MVP indeed creates additional work since this routine of iteration and certified training requires poignant investment of time and energy. That’s because it’s critical not to get bogged down by nonessential sum and beyond when building MVPs.

Eventually, a pattern is to figure out if a bid you’re putting in is value it, and we don’t wish to spend time operative on something users don’t find useful or wish to compensate for.

It’s also critical to comprehend that when contrast your hypotheses, we competence wish to cruise regulating mixed MVP contrast techniques. The one that fits your business denote and marketplace best will positively vary.

But a critical doctrine to take divided here is to go out and build it. Think about a biggest arrogance your product is creation and build a smallest viable product that tests that supposition in a market.

Read next: Maximizing your smallest viable product: How to get high formula but releasing a ‘minimal’ product

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