The 4 Most Important Things to Focus On When Creating Your MVP

user experience

29 Sep

This is my second post in a series on “How to Launch a New Product” when we get down to the nitty gritty on building the product.  We have already determined that, yes indeed, there is a market for this and that there are customers who are hungry and eager for it.

The product example that I will continue to use in this blog series is one that will allow employees to communicate in ways other than their traditional desk phone. Once I have 6 customers who say “Heck yes, just what I need. Sign me up please!”, I am ready to begin building my MVP (minimal viable product). I am psyched to get going with my trial and error phase. Of course, I will start small and create a simplified version of this awesome idea. So how do I best begin?

Determine the personas for those who will be using my product

What types of employees will be the ones using my product day in and day out? Where do they do their jobs – in front of their computer, on their smartphones? Do they jostle often between different devices? How do they like to communicate best – voice, text or instant message? The answers to these questions will help me determine which features to develop first.

Build a list of the most important user stories

This really boils down to how will my customer use my product and how will she capture value from it. Some examples might be “As a user, I would like to send and answer text messages from my desktop computer” and “As a user, I would like to start a text message conversation on my computer, walk away from my desk, and continue that same conversation on my phone”. Then, I have to prioritize my list, and since I am starting small, probably only complete one to start.

Decide how to delight my users with an awesome user experience

Most people will probably immediately think UI, but it also applies in cases where this no UI, like a product that is all API driven like mine. For a great API experience, it is all about creating crisp documentation and a pleasant GitHub experience. If I were building a UI, it would be all about the look, feel and flow of the screens but without all of the bells and whistles.  In either case, my goal is to make the user’s entire journey the most pleasant and smooth and really “wow” them.

Make it simple for them to get started

It won’t matter if I have the most awesome user experience, if it is not intuitive or super simple for the user to get started. This could be satisfied with a quick tutorial video and an easy signup process. (Got to love SaaS products in this regard!)

Now that we have those 4 covered, what’s next? Feedback. Feedback. And More feedback. I can’t emphasize this part enough as I will inevitably change my assumptions once my customers start using the product. I will want to watch them as they explore, listen in on their thought process, and truly experience my product from their point of view. I want to hear what’s working right, what could be better and what else they really “need” (notice how I did not say “want” here). No doubt that their input will be enlightening and will lead to shifts in my product and MVP. Then it is just a matter of iterating on the steps above, building in more functionality, and gaining more traction.

So now that I have the product vision side of things going (the “”what do I build”), how do I best tell my story to potential customers and get them excited about it? In a nutshell, how do I bring the product to market? That all comes with the product marketing side of things and building the right set of materials to get the right message out and set the stage. That comes next in this series!

This blog is 2nd in the “How to Launch a Product” series that includes: What is Product Discovery, Iterating on the MVP (this one!), creating the right product marketing materials, beta testing, educating and empowering internal teams, declaring official “product”, and scaling & growth. In the meantime, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Cheers.

Deirdre Clarke
Deirdre Clarke
dclarke@bandwidth.com

Deirdre is currently a Director of Product Management at Bandwidth in Raleigh, North Carolina. She started her career as a software developer, after graduating from Rutgers with a degree in Computer Science. Before moving to Bandwidth in 2014, she was at Motorola for 18 years where she started as a software developer and then made the leap to more of a business role in product management in 2007. In this new role, she really flourished and today still enjoys creating new software products and features to help solve problems for her customers. At Bandwidth, she spearheads new software products in the call tracking and anonymous calling arenas. In her spare time, she is a deeply involved in the Triangle TechGirlz program, helping to ignite young girls' interest in future tech careers.

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