Don't Build a Functional MVP, Build a Responsive Prototype

A prototype is a tool allowing you to test, refine, and validate the functionality of your idea. It opens the door for feedback from the market and addresses key challenges that may not have surfaced until much later.

Don't Build a Functional MVP, Build a Responsive Prototype
Credit @golimitless

If you want to bring raise your chances of launching a successful product, don't waste your time and money building a functioning MVP.

An MVP is supposed to be the smallest product imaginable with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future products. It is a balance between competing priorities such as features, time-to-market, and risk factors. Sounds great, right?

If MVPs are so effective, why don't more people build them?

Here are some ways MVPs fall short in solving problems for a user base and how they make life difficult for a founder.

  • Narrow delivery of big problems can miss the market need.
  • Loss of money working on features, even minimal ones.
  • If unprepared, upgrades can too much time, disengaging users.
  • You have skipped building a user-centered product.
  • Today's users have higher expectations of products, design, and functionality.

Instead of building that MVP, build a prototype. A prototype is not the "Minimum Viable Product", and it's definitely not a fully functioning version of your product with all its bells and whistles.

Prototypes are the visual representation of your future product.

It's more visual and responsive, allowing potential users to click around and feel it out what you envision the product to be.

A prototype can be simple—a handful of wireframes connected together perhaps. And it doesn't have to work (though it shouldn't be broken). The most important thing about a prototype is that it must be testable—whether with users or as an internal tool for yourself and other team members to make decisions about your product.

Prototypes should never be built to fulfill a set of features. They should live and die by their usability. It should be easy for you to make changes to them based on user feedback because if you can't make those changes, you're going to have a bad time getting users from your prototype into production.

This is why I want to share this with you.

Prototypes can drastically improve your chances of success by putting usability above all else.

Allowing users to interact with your prototype also means that you get sensor feedback as well as behavioral data, which allows you to test the viability of your product idea and build empathy for your users.

Here are some ways how prototypes can be the key to unlocking a product's opportunity within a market.

  • Testing of usability gives way to building a more human-centered product. One that people will both enjoy and appreciate
  • With minimal effort or time, you can refine functionality within the prototype based on feedback.
  • Visuals of a product are a powerful signal of action to your market, audience, and potential investors. You now have the "pitch" of your product vision.
  • Describing your product will be much easier without the restriction of feature sets. This gives way for stronger marketing efforts.

A prototype is a tool allowing you to test, refine, and validate the functionality of your idea. It opens the door for feedback from the market and addresses key challenges that may not have surfaced until much later.


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