The definition of an MVP has evolved over time to include not only the basic working version of a product, but also an approach to the early stages of product development, and variations on that theme.
Maksym Babych, founder and CEO of SpdLoad explains it in this article excerpt from Forbes:
An MVP is not a technology prototype but a way to validate its sale. It may not be based on a prototype but a landing page with a “Buy” button.
The primary purpose is to test a business idea at minimal cost to find a response from the target audience and determine further iterations to enhance the value development.
One variation on the MVP is the MLP: the Minimum Lovable Product:
“Minimum Lovable Product” is a term coined by Brian de Haaff, founder of the roadmap software known as Aha!
The MLP is about creating enough functionality so that customers will adore the early-stage product, not just tolerate it.
While many companies create MVPs to get a product with basic functionality up and running quickly, not all consider the delight factor. An overly simplified or generic product can leave customers frustrated and cause them to look for alternative solutions.
MVP vs. Prototype
Another useful distinction to note here is the difference between the MVP and the prototype. Where the goal of the MVP is to show proof of concept, the prototype shows how it can be done.
A prototype shows a product’s basic layout, including flow and navigation. Many prototypes are interactive in nature, allowing designers and prospective users “test-drive” the experience before the product has actually been built.
It also gives the design team an opportunity to tweak the visual layout before the hard work of coding and development begins.
So, why would you only build a simple version of that great idea for an app you’ve had in your head for ages?
The unique advantages of building an MVP
At the most practical level, building an MVP can save you time, money, and resources while reducing your risk of failure and increasing your chances of success. It’s a great way to find out if the world is ready for your new idea.