Modern business is global, dynamic, and technology-intensive. Different companies offer innovative solutions to their customers. In the olden days, these firms could take their time and launch products with great fanfare. But today, the business scenario changed, and it affected every industry, turning them into customer-centric ones. One main reason is the influx of technology, communications, information, and computers.
So, the companies try to release alpha and beta versions of their products. It is particularly true of the IT and mobile apps industries. To compete and stay relevant, these businesses design and deliver top quality items. They also rely on a minimum viable product or MVP.
What is the MVP?
A minimum viable product is a customer-friendly, feature-optimized product. It is released to achieve sales targets. The item is also sold to get rich feedback from the buyers. This information is necessary to develop more productive and efficient products. However, some experts define MVP as a product with the least number of features. The product gets released on a trial basis to extract relevant feedback from the customers. For example, an app designed with user interaction features gets released for the beta version. It collects metrics and analyses this data for future improvements.
Launching a full-featured product is tedious and time-consuming. For example, a car has to undergo an assembling process for each part, from wheels, engine, frame, etc. It takes time, effort, and skills to build the whole automobile. But just releasing a skateboard, cycle, or bike for feedback is a much quicker option. The idea behind MVP is to stay relevant in the consumer’s mind. Of course, the released product has enough quality to hold the buyer’s attention. But the objective of offering goods to users is not a waste of time or resource for the service or product developer. They always focus on its “viability” or the “ability to sell.”
MVP Is Not Proof Of Concept
MVP is a feature-enabled, functional product for testing. It is not the same as that of the proof of concept or POC. MVP delivers a simple version of the final product for consumer feedback. Whereas, POC is more about testing ideas to establish their value and demand. POC assesses an idea to see if it is executable or not. It also focuses on measuring whether the idea itself is worthy of sharing with others or explicitly, the target audience. It is an efficient way to determine if you are right about a future app, for example. It builds self-confidence by proving the correctness of your hypothesis. But MVP is more aligned with a product’s core value. It has an eye on the market’s response and acceptance. The product developer relies on MVP to assess user expectations and satisfaction. At the same time, MVP has to be attractive and intuitive. It is where MAP comes to the rescue of product designers.
The Need For MAP
MVP has its advantages and disadvantages for any business. Designing something efficient, attractive, and cost-effective is not an easy task. The manufacturer has to prioritize his production process to keep the costs low. He cannot lose sight of the fact that this is a “test” product only. But the perspective of customers is not identical to the sellers. The potential buyer may not be willing to forego quality. He expects at least a semblance of superior functionality from the MVP. Also, the novelty factor underwent too much depletion due to the rapid influx of modern technologies. In the past, a business had a more profound control over the buying behavior of the customers. The technological resources like computers, internet speeds, and market choices were available but limited. But today, the rapid pace of development turned a product’s sales model on its head. A modern smartphone is more efficient than a supercomputer from the 1980s. Consumer awareness is also in the upscale in recent times. Information on product and design trends are only a few clicks away on the computer or mobile phone. So, the users expect minimum quality from all new items. Let us look at the case of social media platforms for better understanding. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Whatsapp are no more a novelty. Users are even conversant with various social applications on these platforms. So, a lack of simple features can become a deterrent. These tech-savvy users expect a minimum number of features even from a low-end model. A software developer cannot test launch a bad-quality app and get away with it. He gets criticized and reviewed by the industry observers as well as the discerning buyers. So, viability is redundant, and awesomeness has become necessary.
What is MAP?
Minimum Awesome Product or MAP is an incredible product with viability, eye-catchy features, and superior functionality. The product designers do not wrestle with minimum sustainability alone, but upgraded their approach to a minimum, viable, and excellent product design. MAP is no longer restricted to the software or technology sector alone. Even other industries are coming to terms with refined customer expectations. Needless to say, web software and mobile app developers are fully gearing up for this dynamic market trend. Industry experts observe that the context of usage got altered colossally in the past couple of years. A few years back, users were happy to run 3 to 4 features on their mobile app. But today, they expect a minimum of 5 to 6 essential functions even to get interested. So, the products have to be amazing, unbelievable, and enjoyable. Now, awesomeness and mediocrity do not go well together. So, the new app, web software, or any other product has to stand apart from the crowd. But the users are already familiar with features and interfaces. They are also proficient in the usage of various simple and complex functions. Consequently, the challenge of delivering a MAP is enormous. The designers have to focus on enhancing the user experience. But this heightened, sensory appeal cannot be at the expense of unfamiliar patterns. So, the interfaces and functions also have to be relatable and intuitive.
The Shift From MVP To MAP
Traditional industries have rigid hierarchies and standard procedures. But start-ups do not have such hang-ups. Initially, they focused on releasing lean and minimally viable products for customer feedback. But that minimum experience lost its sheen, and the time for MAP is already here. The product design structure must focus on creating an enjoyable and memorable experience. It has to offer excellent functionality without jarring on the senses. The features have to convince the user and make him want more. Beyond all these, the designers should be able to assure stability to eliminate consumer bias.
MVP Vs. MAP
MAP is an improvement on the much-vaunted MVP. But they do have some visible similarities. The product has to be correct, competitive, and consumer-oriented. It has to attract users and persuade them to spend good money. And the product is a very first test version only. Also, MVP and MAP designs do not delve deeply into intricate details. They focus on primary functionality, core features, and reliable operations or usage. The innovative similarities end here as MAP has to offer something more for the user. And it is not so tangible, distinct, or clear cut either. Let us understand the differences between MVP and MAP too. The more refined MAP tries very hard to create a “wow” effect. It captivates the tech-savvy user with an amazing look and feels. Also, it does not shy away from appealing to a refined customer’s senses.
The MVP version’s design focuses only on the essential functionality. Anything which is beyond the scope of significant functions is deliberately out of the picture. The set of minimum viable services gets chosen with adequate planning and care. They are necessary for performing the initial testing. Moreover, the minimum viable product aims to satisfy the user. Its functionality is not just about delivering efficiency. The service should also focus on delivering well-defined value to the consumer. There are no loose ends, and all the pre-defined functions should get carried out without any hitches. When it comes to services or functionality, MAP is no different. It, too, incorporates all the vital functions needed for an app. All the minor features get implemented with optimal efficiency. Their development is a planned and designed process without overshooting the budget. The MAP functions are also essential for carrying out initial tests. Their contribution to the overall user experience is not negligible either. The developer ensures that all the minimum services get delivered smoothly and seamlessly. The MAP functionality adds value due to superior design. Also, it is minimally invasive and does not make unreasonable demands.
The MVP features focus on attracting tech-savvy customers. They are to achieve customer validation. It gets fitted with a minimum number of features for high-quality feedback. Only those features which generate valuable feedback are later on provided during testing. For example, in a social network solution, the expected features are search bar, messaging system, favorites, and like options. The familiar patterns get reinforced by the features to make the app more viable. MAP versions come with limited feature list only. They, too, get developed to seek the user’s approval. The least number of necessary features get identified after due deliberation. The designers then plan, design, and develop for richness and core compatibility.
Speed pertains to the release of an app, its download ease, and navigational convenience. MVP versions have to get delivered in a short duration. So, the developers focus more on viability rather than the design. The speed can get compromised because of the final design choices. The MAP development process aims to ensure convenient usage. The user can handle the menus, screen details, and navigation without any difficulty. However, the app release can get slowed down due to project complexity. MAP release takes more time as it also has to provide rich UX. The MAP version cannot compromise on either quality or speed. Users will not scream “awesome” if the mobile app is slow and tedious. So, the app developers plan and execute the release on time. There is greater coordination between coders, designers, and developers as compared to MVP. Let us look at the case of a visual storytelling mobile application. The developers just want to know if users will be willing to subscribe or not. The MVP release, in this case, focused on viability only. Whereas, for MAP, the story writer, designer, and analyst have to coordinate on data, visuals, and story.
The user interface (UI) elements of the MVP have to be presentable. The buttons, images, and menus have to look familiar and easy to use. They cannot be clunky, awkward, or clumsy, even for a first-time user. Otherwise, the viability of the app itself gets threatened, and investors may abandon it. However, MVP versions do not focus too much on aesthetics and creativity. The developers are more interested in just being presentable enough. Their focus is more on gathering feedback from the customers. And they get satisfied by the user’s acceptability and validation of the app’s viability. But MAP versions are a cut above the ordinary MVP apps. They have to deliver an aesthetically superior experience to the user. Merely persuading the user to seek their stamp of approval is not enough. The aim is to keep the customer engaged and derive maximum enjoyment from the app. For this, the MAP versions focus on perfection and visual superiority. Everything from the button size and pixel sharpness gets optimized and refined. All the UI elements are crisp, sharp, and completely free from clutter. Besides, they rely on bright and contrasting color combinations.
The design criterion is a significant deviation point for MVP and MAP. Even apps with identical text and layouts differ considerably. A job search MVP app will have the usual search feature and the menu list button. The app header, company details, and salary details are usually one below the other. This simple app will have a familiar look and feel to it. It lacks the awesome factor that comes with a MAP version. The designers enhance the user experience through visual images at the top. The rest of the textual content does not alter in any way. Some of the MVP links might get replaced with button-type anchors. At the same time, the company names get preceded by DP images. The MAP app is not your average name-sake version. It is visually richer, brighter, and has more panache. While using it, the users find it more appealing, intuitive, and enjoyable. The problem with MVP versions is mundane and monotonous visuals. The design patterns are familiar but very standard and hence boring. The new-age user wants excitement and seeks sensory or visual stimulus. They find the MAP version more appealing and satisfactory than the MVP design. The MAP apps focus on creating a heightened user experience. Their designers factor in customer expectations and provide the best UX. They also innovate using the latest trends like animated illustrations, 3D Graphics, Asymmetrical Layouts, AR, VR, and storytelling.
Both MVP and MAP require high-end planning, design, and a release with a great buzz. Start-ups, in particular, have smaller budgets. So, they do research and deliver a “viable” product with minimum features. Over the years, lean development refined the MVP development process through iterations. Smart developers grasped the marked demand using the car analogy. They realized selling a car without engines or holes for seats is not viable. So, they shifted to a short-circuit approach of apps with core functions and features for useful feedback. However, many MVP designers equated minimum viability for minimum effort. Their apps lacked vision and left the users dissatisfied. So, MAP becomes necessary to replace the bare-bones experience with enjoyable UX. The users get assured of a memorable and entertaining experience. The managers also focus more on coordinating the iterative process of MAP. They bring the data analyst, design specialist, and storyteller together. This process eliminates confusing communications and assures an error-free product for the consumers. MVP was all about self-imposed restrictions on creativity and execution. But MAP iterations allow spirited thinking to deliver knock-out UX. The customer is always the king, but the change in context makes him feel like the deciding authority. Awesomeness is more viable than “viability” itself.
7. Target Audience
The MVP version of an app has to reach the pre-defined target audience, known as early adopters. The app starts with only an essential set of features for their benefit. They are active users who can respond with alacrity and provide valuable feedback. But the next-gen of users are more tech-savvy than the previous one. Consequently, location-based attributes and niche audiences become prominent. So, MVP developers analyze their competitors and target segmented markets. MVP apps get influenced by market segment size and development costs. Whereas, the savvier MAP also factors in value-added features and high-quality standardized services. The awesomeness response can also get reproduced by targeting a niche audience with superior and affordable products.
All in all, both MVP and MAP have their place in the marketplace. There is a large and massive customer base for apps worldwide, thanks to the technology that penetrated deeper and farther even to remote locations. So, MAP is the future of marketable and inspiring technological solutions.