Everything to know about designing a minimum viable product, from benefits and challenges to trends and best practices

Dec 4, 2023

MVP Design 101: Building a Minimum Viable Product for Maximum Impact

First impressions matter. And your product’s user experience is the only chance you’ll get to make a long-lasting one.

However, designing a full-fledged product isn’t necessary – or cost-efficient – in most cases. You can test your idea and improve upon it based on real-world user feedback with an MVP, instead.

But what does MVP mean? And how do you design one? Let’s break down the MVP definition, benefits, challenges, trends, and best practices.

But First: What Is a Minimum Viable Product?

A minimum viable product, or MVP, is the version of your product with just enough functionality to attract early users. It typically focuses on one or several core features that make your product stand out and deliver tangible value to your users.

The purpose of a minimum viable product is to test your idea in real market conditions, validate its viability, and improve the product according to the early users’ feedback. It also allows you to understand your target audience better.

Why Opt for MVP Design?

Choosing MVP product design over its full-cycle alternative has a number of benefits:

  • User-centered approach. The MVP design pattern allows you to conduct user testing and improve your product according to early users’ feedback. This testing is the best way to confirm or debunk assumptions about your users and deliver the UX they truly need.
  • Early market validation. You can stress-test your product’s unique value proposition in real market conditions, all without investing a small fortune into product development.

Lower costs. Developing a minimum viable product costs less than a full-fledged product as it’s simpler in scope. The cost of a false assumption is also lower.

When Should You Choose MVP in Design?

While opting for a minimum viable product comes with undeniable benefits, continuous testing and improvement can also quickly drain your budget and bloat the scope. That’s why MVP software design isn’t suitable for every product idea.

That said, the MVP route is a good choice for products that are:

  • Based on an innovative idea
  • To be released in an emerging market without a well-defined feature scope
  • Designed for an untapped user base and use cases

However, this product type isn’t recommended for solutions that are:

  • Designed for an existing market
  • Based on an already validated idea
  • Intended for internal use within an enterprise

3 Best Practices for MVP in Design

If you’re ready to opt for MVP design and development, here are the three best practices you should keep in mind:

  • Do your homework. Even though this approach is meant to test your idea, don’t go in blind – conduct target audience and market research before kicking off design.
  • Maintain the balance between design and functionality. Underinvesting in MVP UX design for the sake of developing an innovative feature may hinder engagement and alienate some users.

Move fast in your iterations. The whole process boils down to “build, measure, learn.” The faster you act on your findings, the sooner your product will be ready for launch.

How Fivecube Team Approaches MVP Design

Validating and Conceptualizing the Idea

When a client approaches Fivecube Agency with a minimum viable product idea, we begin our collaboration with idea validation. To that end, we do extensive market and competitor research and pinpoint the product’s unique value proposition (UVP). We can also conduct interviews and surveys to gain a better understanding of the target audience and market.

As a result, we can move on to the MVP design pattern with full confidence in the product idea, fleshed-out UVP, and a full grasp of the target audience and market.

Prioritizing Features and Prototyping

Next, we work closely with our client to sort features by their priority and identify the core functionality that is a must-have for the MVP design pattern. In doing this, we rely on the insights we drew during the previous stage.

We then design a product prototype – a basic model of the product that demonstrates the concept and allows us to test and improve the preliminary design.

Conducting User Testing and Improving Design

Be it MVP web design or any other product type, our user-centered approach to MVP product design involves conducting thorough, comprehensive user testing. Thanks to it, we gain a full grasp of the users’ opinions on the prototype’s UX quality.

We then analyze the user feedback and translate it into tangible improvements the product design requires. This sprint-based iterative approach helps us set our client’s product up for success when the time for market launch comes.

3 Challenges of MVP Web Design

When opting for the MVP design pattern, keep these three challenges in mind:

  • Limited resources. To allocate them well, prioritize features early on while maintaining a good balance between UX quality and functionality.
  • Contradictory feedback. To make sense of user feedback (which can be diametrically opposing at times), collect and analyze user metrics.
  • Inappropriate skill set. Make sure you hire a product design team that possesses the right set of skills to bring your idea to life.

You can learn more about how we overcome these and other challenges from our Works by Fivecube page.

3 MVP Design Examples

Plenty of household brands began their journey to success with MVP software design. Here are just some examples:

  • Airbnb. The platform that now rivals the whole hotel industry started out as a basic website created in 2008.
  • Instagram. Another example of an MVP in design, Instagram was originally a simple photo-sharing app.

Uber. Initially called UberCab, this product was first launched as an iOS app available only in San Francisco.

3 Trends in MVP Product Design

What does the future hold for MVP in product design? Here are the three trends that stand out to us the most:

  • Low-code/no-code development. These tools allow for creating a functional product with little to no coding involved, speeding up the process.
  • Progressive web applications (PWAs). PWAs are web apps designed to provide a native-level UX on smartphones without the costs native development entails.
  • Human-centered design. This approach to problem-solving puts user needs, preferences, and pain points front and center for MVP in UX design.

Final Thoughts

Opting for an MVP in design allows you to test your idea in real-world market conditions. This, in turn, enables you to validate your idea and perfectly align the MVP UX design with users’ needs and market demands.

Want to learn more about product design? Make sure to check out Fivecube's blog for more insights!