In product development, there is a concept known as the Minimum Viable Product, or MVP. An MVP is the most basic functionality you can build and have a product that is usable. The idea is to spend as little time and money as possible before having users try out the product and provide you with feedback on what they like, don’t like, or would like to see in future versions.
When I first sketched out my ideas for Trip30, it was clear that where I saw us ultimately going was orders of magnitude beyond any reasonable MVP. So I spent a lot of time putting features into two buckets. Those I felt were absolutely necessary to launch the service and those that users would have to wait to see.
Then an interesting thing happened. As we started down the development path, I realized that completing the features in the “absolutely necessary” bucket and having them work really well was going to take much longer than I had expected. As in several times longer.
I had to start making some tough decisions. I could try to keep all the MVP features, but have the end result be buggy and likely frustrating to use. Or I could re-define the MVP with fewer features, but make the user experience with those features as positive as possible. “Absolutely necessary” became relative.
I had become so emotionally invested in including certain features that I hadn’t appropriately weighed their relative effort/usability value. This is particularly true given the effort side of this ratio already is twice what I originally planned! Regardless of what finally becomes our MVP, I know there will be users who can’t understand why we haven’t included [insert absolutely necessary feature here]. No doubt, I’ll be in that camp, too.
So have we finally gotten the ratio right? I’ll leave it to you to decide when we release our MVP. We really are getting close!