Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Business Online Trends Clients User Experience Featured

The importance of the value proposition to MVP; and starting with Lean UX

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Business Online Trends Clients User Experience Featured

A lot has been said and written about MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and the importance of startups – and really all businesses and websites as far as I am concerned – focusing and achieving MVP.

Its benefits are numerous:

  • Getting to market sooner.
  • Maximising budget.
  • Allowing for informed and validated improvement through user feedback, interaction, analytics analysis and so forth.


I have been preaching the concept to clients for at least a year, especially for ‘getting to market’ which is critical for startups though especially so for corporates that more usually focus on (unvalidated) website features and functions and so delay considerably their projects and the benefits of launching a new or upgraded website.

At every meeting I’ve had for the past year, clients have all nodded their heads, both understanding MVP as well as its advantages. Yay, for once we are aligned and in agreement about how to move forward.

Except that in reality, this wasn’t the eventual outcome.


‘Minimum’ is in the eye of the beholder

I felt confident explaining and defining MVP for clients because I had (or felt I had) an intrinsic understanding of what was critical in a website and what was not.

This came from experience in building websites and observing what users of websites used or did not use. As I often explained to clients, 5% of functionality and content usually amounted to 95% of use so why build out those functions that delivered negligible or negative ROI?

Except that after a year of trying to push clients and projects down the MVP path, few achieved it; projects were not as swiftly executed as possible (unless time really was of the essence), budgets were not maximised and rarely was user input incorporated at the right points of the project.

I initially blamed clients though a failure to execute any part of a web project generally falls with the web developer, not the client; however recalcitrant or otherwise the client is, the web developer needs to take this into account.

The issue with MVP and clients was instead twofold:

  1. I was relying on them to know what features in a website were critical or not, something they surely could not be asked to do given their relative lack of experience in developing websites.
  2. I was not otherwise or therefore giving clients a yardstick on which to measure and assess what was MVP and what was not.


Which is where value propositions come along

Since the beginning of web development, we have been defining the users of websites.

We do this per website so that we know who we are building the website for. Each user is given a ‘persona’ which allows us to describe the user (e.g. Catherine), their personal situation, and their device and so on. (Just for clarity, these users fall into broader customer segments and when doing business models, we talk about customer segments and not individual personas.)

What we didn’t do was to define the intrinsic ‘value’ that the website offered them; the features of the website that took pain away from the user (e.g. sped up something or simplified something in their lives) or added additional value to the user (e.g. finding out the names of those around you in the business class cabin).

For once the value propositions are defined and agreed, we can do two very important things.

  1. We can grow the value or even find new value and in doing so, making the website even more attractive to its users.
  2. We can define MVP being developing only those features and functions that deliver on the intrinsic value of the website and nothing else; i.e. why do anything and develop anything that isn’t adding value; it will just cost money and it will have no pay back.


The value propositions are written under each user/persona and any feature or function that is proposed is assessed against the value proposition.

Sure, there can be debate and discussion though if you are ruthless (and you should be), you pretty quickly have the definition of what is truly MVP.

Of course, for other reasons – political, regulatory or otherwise – it may be necessary to develop features and content that are not truly MVP, though this is just the reality of business.


Lean UX

I’ll keep this part short because I’ll do a whole other blog on Lean UX (User Experience), though it is worth pointing out the key function of Lean UX and why it is so important to the premise of MVP and achieving true MVP.

As discussed, a key benefit of MVP is getting to market and in my opinion, pretty much nothing else matters. The sooner you get to market, the sooner you gain opportunity, user feedback and hopefully growth.

The problem is that traditionally, websites have been built like software; building software is usually a long and bloated and painful process with little visualisation for the client along the way and little user input until the very end.

Lean UX is instead a rapid process where – having defined the user value propositions of the website – you literally start sketching.

Drawing flows.

Drawing arrows.

Drawing boxes and drawing interfaces.

With speed and concentration, you rapidly improve and iterate, continuously drawing and learning.

As early as you can – and it doesn’t matter how rough it is – you start showing users and stakeholders and garnering input and feedback.

Until you are arrive at a place that feeds damn good!

A place where everyone is agreed on what is being designed and built, comfortable that it delivers the value users are looking for, validated by the very users that will be looking for the value from the website.

Rather than a presupposed and untested website (which is usually the case), you have the complete opposite.

You are building the right website and nothing more and now the Business Analysts and UX Designers and Solution Architects can start their more traditional process full of confidence and without wastage.

MVP is not only great, it is critical to the success of a modern website, website project and only business.

Defining your value propositions to users allows you to cut the rope to the exact length needed, to tie one end of the rope to the MVP pole and the other end around your waist, in turn allowing you to walk only as far into website functionality and content as the MVP rope will allow, and not a foot further.

Get on it.