The concept of an MVP — Minimum Viable Product — has been instrumental in helping millions of entrepreneurs launch great companies, save lots of money and avoid scope creep that kills companies that stay in prolonged ‘stealth’ mode. However, this has also resulted in a ton of poor products that have ended in the ‘startup graveyard’.
I think Apple does MVPs very well. When the first iPhone was released in 2007, it had very few features. However, the features it did have, worked almost perfectly. As a summer intern at Apple working on the iPhone Ops team, I got to attend an executive speaker series where all the interns spent 1 hour with the SVPs at the company (Jonny Ive, Eddy Cue, Tim Cook, etc). One of the interns in the audience asked an SVP (I believe it was Jonny Ive, Chief Design Officer at Apple) why the original iPhone didn’t allow users to Copy/Paste — which seems like such a useful feature. Ive replied that it’s not that we forgot to put in that feature, Apple hadn’t figured out how to do it well, and so they didn’t include it at all.
I think that instead of MVP, designers should think about Minimum Viable Experience (MVE). When developing a product/service, think about the fewest features you need that are critical to the user experience and ensure that those features are bug-free, well thought out and a pleasure to use.
UberEats is a great example of a MVE done right. The UberEats app offers a no-frills experience that does just enough. The App doesn’t show order history, trending meals or advanced categorizations. It has beautiful high-res images of most meals, basic categorization and offers a key feature that allows you to follow-along with your driver so you know when your food is coming.
So the next time you think MVP, think MVE — fewer features designed well. Think hard to justify adding any new feature, but if you decide to put it in, make sure it works beautifully.