Build a Minimum Viable Product With These 3 Core UX Design Principles
Putting out a product MVP doesn't give you a pass to skip out on some basic UX principles.
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"If you decide to build a feature you should live up to at least a basic standard of execution on the experience side." ~ Ryan Singer
Many developers take the "Minimum" in "Minimum Viable Product" too literally, which eventually leads to skimping on the design as well as the scope stage. Technically, the concept of MVP is agreeable when it comes to putting in minimum possible effort and time for testing your product in the market. But that doesn't mean the product should be literally minimum.
Investment of time and effort in creating a great user experience is as an opportunity to make an impression on the potential users, instead of considering it to be a wasted effort. A research report by Forrester suggests that a better and frictionless UX design could increase your customer conversion rates up to 400%.
The minimum viable approach should not lead to gaps in the user experience. It should involve putting your best foot forward, with a vision to add basic features that should live up to a standard of execution on the user experience side.
Features may vary in complexity and sizes, but the quality of experience should be constant across all features. Because the quality of experience drives customers' trust, the aim is to help the user believe whatever you build, you build well.
An MVP Explained Through the Doughnut Analogy
What would your MVP look like if you intend to introduce a range of doughnuts with varied toppings in the market?
Well, it would be a standard topping ring doughnut. It won't include delicious peanut butter cup filling at the initial stage. Because it doesn't matter whether your customized topping is great if your core product — the doughnut — doesn't work. So, get your recipe of the doughnut right initially, followed by its testing in the market. Once the validation of your doughnut is done in the market, start to iterate and experiment with toppings.
What About User Experience Process?
Would you put your doughnut in a bubble pack, or would you serve it from a height where people have to stretch to reach it? Of course not.
Your aim will be to make sure that the customer gets the doughnut easily so that they can take the first delicious bite as quickly as possible. Achieving this will make sure that your customer had a frictionless experience. A great doughnut accompanied by good experience will open the gate for your customers to come back to your place time and again for more.
The lesson? Never use the term "MVP" as an excuse for creating a poor user experience, or for compromising the user interface.
Here are some UX design tips that you might consider to create a good impression even of the time and effort invested are minimum.
Do a Few Things, But Do Them Well
"In this age of information abundance and overload, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what's important to them." — Austin Kleon
The crux of an MVP lies in this statement — a probe for feedback on your vision. The dictionary meaning of "probe" is "an attempt to discover information by asking a lot of questions." And that makes sense in case of MVP.
When building a probe, the major challenge is to strike a balance between speed of delivery and quality of execution. Entrepreneurs face the common challenge of distilling their vision, carrying an abundance of ideas to just a few. To achieve this state, learn to say "No."
Make the list of things you will not do during the MVP development process. It helps to streamline the design process as everyone will have a clear idea of what resides in the core of the product. In this way, you can make better decisions and not take our eye off the target. Agreeing on a specific UX design process for product development can be a great way to make smarter and quicker decisions.
One way to attain this step is by making a "Blue Ocean Strategy" — a simple but effective framework to come up with a successful MVP.
The business you are focusing on is represented by a blue line, which is to be compared with the key players in a similar industry as shown by the red line in the graph.
The x-axis lists the key competing factors of the business that you are targeting, and the y-axis assesses the quality offered for each of them.
The more your blue line (Strategic Canvas) is different from the red one (those of the competitors), the more your business is close to a Blue Ocean Shift.
Keep It Simple
"If the visual elements do not work in synergy to satisfy the needs of the target audience, there's likely to be a disconnect between the message and the intended communication."
No doubt, a minimum viable product acts a "waste-reduction tool," but often businesses make the wrong use of this term to shift their focus away from the user-centric approach to development. And one of the vital factors that get sacrificed in this approach is Visual Design.
The importance of visual design starts playing its role from the first phase of the MVP development — Idea Validation. In this stage, an entrepreneur attempts to validate a business idea before initiating the process. And one of the ways as performed by Buffer's founder Joel Gascoigne is to use a simple yet interactive and visually-pleasing landing page to direct users to leave details if they're sufficiently interested in the value proposition. He didn't launch the product no one wanted to use. So, he made use of a simple, visually aesthetic landing page to learn what users think.
The design doesn't demand to be stunning and outstanding with cutting-edge visual effect; instead, the design of an MVP should stand robustly on the basic principles of visual design — unity, balance, hierarchy, proportion, emphasis, and contrast.
A design that meets all these requirements helps the user understand the product easily, thereby building a good first impression that furthermore builds trust.
Don't Avoid Feedback
"Good user research is key to designing a great user experience. Designing without good user research is like building a house without solid foundations — your design will soon start to crumble and will eventually fall apart." — Neil Turner
All the best practices linked to Lean UX (measurement and validation of a product) and Agile (fast delivery) are embodied in an MVP. The purpose of a Minimum Viable Product is to learn, to validate, and invalidate a hypothesis. Testing is the vital part of an MVP that gives you answers about why your users interact with your product the way that they do.
The main purpose of design thinking is to build a solution that is desirable, feasible, and viable. Thus, once the prototype is ready, based on your ideas, switch to the next phase — gathering feedback from the target users. Your product should hit an ideal balance between user-friendly and commercial-friendly model.
Gaining feedback from the target customers and learning from it helps save time and resources in the Prototyping and Testing stages of the design thinking process. In order to maximize the benefits of gathering feedback, follow these tips:
- Test your prototypes on the right people
- Be neutral when presenting your ideas
- Ask the right questions
- Let the user contribute ideas
Gather all the valuable inputs and learn from them to amend your design. Finally, you will have the task to build an improved iteration of your ideas — a new prototype — to reach the best possible product for release to the market.
An MVP is an important phase of every successful business. But as its definition suggests, do not invest too much effort and time to craft it. However, dodging the UX design stage to satisfy this statement is not an intelligent move. Remember to design an MVP, tailored to the users' needs, thereby adding relevance for them, and you will hit the right target in no time.
Making products is hard, but if you find the right business model, aim to delight your users, and get them talking, you'll be well on your way to growing your product into something big.
Published at DZone with permission of Abhay Vohra, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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