What’s Missing in Your MVP?

April 12, 2013

9:00 am

Being a web application development company that specializes in building MVPs for startups, we come across lots of aspiring entrepreneurial initiatives. Every single one of these ventures is a brilliant idea and has the potential to take on the world.

Funny though – and I am sure that it’s just a mere coincidence – that every single one of these hundreds of startups have the exact same requirement for their MVP.

  1. It should launch in the next 6-10 weeks.
  2. It should work right.
  3. It should look great.
  4. It should be able to scale to millions of users eventually.

There it is. A success formula for how to build an MVP.

Unfortunately, even after you have all of the above, you still are not able to create a sustainable business and attract the right number of early adopters to help you “tip.” You realize that it just does not connect with people. People do not get it or feel secure in using the application. For whatever reason, no one is using your brilliant application.

So what is missing?

It’s missing a conversation.

Content is often overlooked by entrepreneurs. It is important to realize that for the end user, the interface is the product. They have absolutely nothing to do with how beautiful the underlying architecture of the application is. All they care about is understanding the value proposition of your application and how they can benefit from it.

Think again, does your MVP strike an emotional chord with them to make them take action?

It is sad that content strategy has been underrated for a long, long time. It is the most vital piece and should be the first step in the design process of your MVP. Good user interface experts consider content as part of their deliverables.

Below are a few pointers to get started in the right direction.

Think about the hole, not the drill

Your end user is interested in understanding what your application does for them, not how it does it. Content on your web pages is the only opportunity you have to strike a conversation with them. Leverage this opportunity to strike an emotional chord, make them feel trusted, and help them understand your application.

Tip: Be authentic. Don’t make it a sales pitch. Empathize with your end user.

Start with a style guide

Understand that the end users are human. Any interaction with your application is driven by emotions. You want to understand what emotions they would have on every single interaction and create a detailed style guide on producing the right conversation on that page. Only once you have the content clearly written and approved, can the user interface design begin.

Read through the voice and tone guide prepared by Kate Kiefer Lee, which directs the content production on Mailchimp’s application.

Respect the mobile user

Though you might feel that version one of your application should be tested purely on a desktop, you will be surprised by the numbers of people for whom a phone is their main Internet portal. Spending a little extra effort on making your application responsive upfront might just up your chances of success substantially.

Karen McGrane has a strong write up on this topic that I highly recommend you read through.

Understand that content is the only opportunity you have to talk to your potential customers. A good content strategy is a vital part of your application. Get started with it before you build. If you already have your MVP built, think about redoing the content on each page and about how you talk to your customers.

Content strategy can be hard. So I will leave you with one last magic formula: good writing is good writing is good writing.

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Jinesh Parekh is the CEO of a Ruby on Rails consulting boutique, Idyllic. Idyllic focusses on building web and mobile solutions led by user experience design that solves real business problems. You can reach out to Jinesh at jparekh [at] idyllic [dot] co.

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