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The 3 Stages Of A Winning MVP

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

CB Insights found in 100 failed startups that the number one cause of failure (42%) was ‘no market need’. So almost half of these startups spent time, effort and money building a product before they found out… they were wrong in their core assumption: users needed their product.

So how do you ensure you do not fall into this trap? Follow the full MVP best practise.

1. Listen: customer discovery

Is this worth working on, is There anyone out there who wants this?

2. Experiment: product discovery

How can we make this work? Will people use our solution to solve their problem?

3. Execute: product delivery

How can we build this efficiently? How can we ensure what we are building is of good enough quality?

Feature Volume vs Feature Delight

Jussi Pasanen’s MVP Pyramid Model. Contrast the 2 product pyramids below. Left we have “many features, none of them good”. On the right, we have the “fewer features, all of them delightful” approach.

Minimum Viable Product vs Minimum Delightful Product

Using a merely viable product is like visiting someone in an intensive care unit. They’re alive, but not fun to spend time with.

The challenge with an MVP eg build only what you need -is that you may validate the product – but in a hyper competitive environment – thats not enough. Delightful products are products users fall in love with. They immediately become part of a persons life or work. When a product is delightful it just makes sense. The product is just intuitive and your experience is highly satisfying. Delightful products are adopted faster, get better word of mouth, and create higher satisfaction.

Product Gestalt

The definition of gestalt – the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The product gestalt is the “soul” of the user experience. A combination of user experience and functionality that makes the product ‘just work’. A gestalt is the part of a product that remains constant over time:

  • The simple search box and results page on Google

  • The friends list and news feed on Facebook

A great gestalt is not as simple as accumulating the right features. Its the ‘secret sauce’ of the right elements working together in harmony. The end goal? Users stop thinking about the technology and simple achieve their goals.

Making your product meaningful

If a product isn’t meaningful for users, no amount of amazing design will make it successful.

Foursquare is a good example of this. Foursquare was well-designed app and pioneered many of the gamification mechanisms we still use today. While they grew quickly, users eventually lost interest, because most didn’t see the purpose of the app. Foursquare wasn’t helping them move towards pleasure or away from pain in a meaningful way.

Nir Eyal, author of the book Hooked: How to Build Habit-forming Products, states; a product should be designed to facilitate a users need but ultimately alleviate a symptom of a problem they have.

The three elements required for any effective behaviour change are: motivation, triggers, and ability.

In a marketing environment like a landing page, motivation can be seen as the emotional backdrop that creates the desire for the consumer to continue along the sales funnel.

This page from Tiffany & Co embodies the emotion involved in a couple’s engagement, providing ample motivation for the user to click through and progress through the funnel:

Incorporate these three things well into your product will create an optimal user experience. Deciphering a users motivation, their emotional state, and the behaviours they might exhibit that could point to a problem that needs solving are all important parts of design psychology and creating that illusive delightful user experience.


This article has been written and published by Mark Proctor in his website.

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