Since the launch of my book I’ve got to talk to a lot of designers and developers about their side projects and products they hope to launch. A recurring theme is a belief that perfectionism prevents them from getting to launch; they can’t release a small version of their product because it wouldn’t meet their high standards. I believe that this is often just another way of procrastinating, of pushing back launch, because putting your product out there is actually quite scary.
I’ve also heard people pushing back against the idea of a Minimum Viable Product, because they believe that it means releasing something that isn’t well built or designed. They believe it means pushing some flaky thing out into the world and seeing if anyone wants it, then rebuilding it “properly”. That doesn’t need to be the case. For many products it can’t be the case perhaps due to the need to meet certain legal requirements or perhaps just – as with my product Perch – the product is going to be installed in places where you can’t control updates.
Reframe the minimum viable product for your own situation. Your minimum viable product doesn’t have to be thrown together, it doesn’t have to be a prototype, but it does need to be launched. The great thing about launching small is that you can make that small version of your product really good. You can meet your high standards far more easily than if you try and complete the all-singing, all-dancing version before you show anyone. Try to do everything before launch and you’ll either fail to launch or you’ll end up compromising your high ideals as you scramble to do all of the things.
Your product needs to solve a real problem people have, in a way that they will be happy to pay for. Do that well and you will have time to add the extra features and ideas you have after launch, and be able to delight existing customers at the same time by giving them new things, or adding the things they request.
In the free sample chapter of my book, I describe how we fell into our own feature trap with the product we developed before Perch.
In Building a Successful Product: Start Small and Listen I write about launching a small product and then using customer feedback to improve it.