The Minimum Lovable Product (MLP)

I hear the phrase Minimum Viable Product quite often. Wikipedia defines it: A Minimum Viable Product has just those features that allow the product to be deployed, and no more. Product Managers are often looking for the minimum amount of investment to get the feature launched.

Although this strategy is quite popular, I think it is deeply flawed.  The moment of introduction is a special time for a product.  You only get one chance to make a first impression.  In my experience, if your first product is viable, but not lovable, it will fall flat and discourage future investments.

Love is a strong word, but it is often misunderstood in product development.  It doesn’t mean you have zero bugs and it doesn’t mean you add in every feature.  It means that you add in little touches throughout the application that are there purely to be charming and make people happy.  Some examples:

  1. Animate a panel or modal rather than let it “blink” into place. Quick little animations make people happy.
  2. Add keyboard shortcuts and right-clicking.  Little surprise extra UI like that are often exactly what makes people happy.
  3. Choose a nice font.  Typography is so often overlooked, yet has such a powerful impact.  Use Google Fonts, they are awesome.
  4. Name things creatively.  Don’t confuse people, but a good friendly name of something works wonders.  I named our JavaScript tracking code “Munchkin”.  People talk about it all the time.
  5. Add an Easter Egg.  These are silly little fun things you get when you find the secret key.  It makes people feel like an insider.
  6. Improve UI Speed.  It’s often skipped, but performance of the UI is essential to making people happy.  No one loves a slow UI.

Products don’t always succeed, that’s just the way of the world.  However, you want to give it the best chance of success.  Focus on the lovable aspects of your first product and you will reap the rewards.  Skip them, and people might not care.

Viability is just not as crucial as lovability.  People make their decisions based on emotions. If you think people are logical, I think you are in for a lot of disappointment.


2 responses to “The Minimum Lovable Product (MLP)”

  1. bennadel Avatar

    I’ve been noodling on the MLP a lot lately. I’m having trouble articulating my feels, but I see some people beginning to abuse the concept of “love”. Rather than using it to make the MVP a lovable product, I think people play the “love” card as a reason to iterate endlessly on the design until it is “perfect.” Could be just in my little corner of the internet, though.

    1. Glen Lipka Avatar
      Glen Lipka

      I hear you. I’ve been thinking that the craft of design has been going in a troubling direction for the past couple of years. I need to blog about it some.

Whatya think?

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