Chapter 8: How to Test & Validate MVP
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Once you have defined the MVP, it’s time to test the MVP with your customers. You’ll need to create a user experience (Visualization/UX) that can be shown to the customers.
This is where creating a prototype would help you gain faster learning with a much lesser resource, time and effort than developing an MVP.
There are different types of prototype that would help you test your MVP (depending on what hypothesis you want to test with your customers) ranging anywhere between following types of extreme –
- Single page (Testing Marketing Hypothesis) v/s. Multi-page (Testing Product Hypothesis) with detailed menus, screens, and click targets
- Realistic and detailed (High Fidelity) v/s. wireframes or hand-sketched (Low Fidelity) on a piece of paper
- Interactive (clickable) v/s. static (requiring a person to manipulate different pages)
The choice of prototype varies greatly depending on various factors as testing goals, design completeness, and available resources to create usability tests.
Before we proceed, let’s see how a Low-Fi (Low Fidelity) & High-Fi (High Fidelity) Design looks.
Based on the Fidelity & Interactivity, you can choose your prototyping technique based on the following matrix –
There are many prototyping techniques (besides the ones mentioned above) which you can use to test your MVP — Landing Page, Wizard of Oz, Fake Door, A/B Test, Ad Campaign, etc.
Landing Page (Smoke Test)
In this test, you create a live web page to which you direct traffic. It’s a marketing opportunity where you explain your product’s features (along with pricing plan) and have them sign up. It’s a great way to test your product against real-world market expectations.The key metric you measure in Landing Page is conversion percentage.
A good example is Buffer App. Buffer is a Social Media Management tool that allows you to schedule your posts on social media and shares your content at the best possible times throughout the day.
Before building it, Joel Gascoigne (Buffer’s Founder) wanted to see if anyone would even want to use it. So he created a simple landing page that was describing what Buffer was. Interested people could click the Plans and Pricing button. On clicking, they would get to a page that said –
“Hello! You caught us before we’re ready. Leave your email address and we’ll let you know when we’re ready.”
The explainer video is like a variant of the Landing Page technique, where user sees a video that describes your product.
The key metric to measure is Conversion that the video drives (say) on a Sign-up page.
The most famous example of a startup using an explainer video to validate the market and sell their MVP is Dropbox.
The video demonstrated Dropbox’s intended functionality. Overnight, Dropbox registered an increase in signups from 5,000 people to 75,000. All of this without any real product.
In order to test your landing page or explainer video, you need to drive traffic; and Ad campaigns are the best way to do that. Besides, the Ad campaigns are also a great way to run market validation surveys.
Google and Facebook are platforms that allow you to drill down demographics to the particular target customer you’re trying to reach, and this lets you run a low-fidelity test to see which features or aspects of your product are most appealing to them.
Running a campaign through these services gives you statistics like click-through-rates and conversions which can be valuable information in determining what your product will be and how it will run. These can be combined with A/B tests.
A/B Tests or Split Testing test the effectiveness of any changes to your product (or marketing). It measures the performance of a variant (design, feature or communication) based on a key metric. You can use any analytics tools to test how visitors react to the decisions you make. Thus, it eliminates any guesswork to improve the product.
The two copies are exposed to a test and control group and let the visitors interactions determine which one performs best.
A portion of your visitors see version A, while the rest see version B. In the end, using data gathered by analytics tools like Optimizely, Unbounce or Google Analytics, you can measure each version performance on a set of metrics like bounce rates, conversion or usage.
Crowdfunding websites (Kickstarter, Indiegogo and many more) provide a great platform for running MVP tests. These websites are essentially collections of MVPs where the market response is judged by the interest people show in the form of contributions to the campaigns.
This combines the benefits of validated learning with fundraising for product development and even gives you access to a group of highly interested and actively involved early-adopters who have a stake in the success of your product which is great for building word-of-mouth as well as continuous feedback along the way.
Wizard of Oz & Concierge (Manual First) MVP
This prototype technique lets you test your live product or service. Just that, the actual product/services are delivered using manual hacks. The customers perceive that they are experiencing the actual product, but in reality, all the work that goes behind the scenes is being done manually.
Zappos began using this technique. Nick Swinmurn (founder of Zappos), started putting up photos of shoes from local shoe stores on a website to gauge demand for an online store. When someone ordered the shoe online, he would go to the store, buy and ship it. Instead of first investing in infrastructure and inventory, this gave Zappos a chance to answer the question of whether the market will accept their product or not.
This approach also allows for greater interaction with customers at an initial stage which is crucial for your product design. Furthermore, observing actual customer first-hand is always more useful than a hypothetical customer survey, and it’s the fastest way to discover whether it’s solving a real-world customer problem or not.
Paper sketches are a great way to start visualizing your ideas, especially to discuss the ideas with internal stakeholders. Sketching your ideas on paper (or whiteboard) allows you to design easily, take feedback quickly and iterate without any effort.
A wireframe is a low fidelity digital prototype. They do not contain any visual details as color, images, typography; but, focus on flow and components. The components are illustrated by place-holders. There are many tools which can be used for creating wireframes — Balsamiq, UX Pin or can also be created using Keynotes or Powerpoints.
These provide a higher level of fidelity with details on visual design as color, images, typography, size, etc. You can create mock-ups using design tools such as Sketch, Illustrator or Photoshop.
Wireframes or Mockups are generally created static in nature. However, you could add hot-spots where user clicking on these spots would be led to subsequent screens.
Based on your requirements, you can use the following matrix to choose which of the prototyping techniques is the best fit for you –
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