Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Minimal Viable Product vs. User Experience

Or put another way - when to start?

The challenge is a big one, but relatively simple to understand. You have a great idea for a web site or application, but you don't have it fully developed. It has moved on from just being an idea, but it is not yet in the finished state you would ideally like. Not all the functionality is there or perhaps it just feels a bit clunky. Maybe you could produce a list as long as your arm of things you would like to see added or changed! But (in your mind's eye) will the site ever be perfect?

The other side of the coin is what if the site is so poor it puts users off? What if users hear about the site, try it once and then don't come back and of equal importance, don't tell their friends about it?

So here's the 'rub'. If you don't launch you won't know if the basic idea is appealing to your target audience and therefore if it warrants further investment of your time and money. But if you do launch and nobody likes the site, would they have liked it had it been further developed? Have you gone too early and created a lot of poor 'first impressions'?

You may have guessed, it is a problem I have wrestled with on a number of occasions and I am not saying I have the definitive answer. That said, what has worked for me is to ask other people what they think as soon as it is feasible to do so. Once a few people say to you that they like it (even if they do have some reservations) get the site launched, because your early adopters/users will tell you what needs to be changed and without their input you are unlikely to ever get it right!

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