The role of listening in the development of a Minimum Viable Product

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The basics of the MVP: create a successful digital product by listening to users


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In recent years, the concept of MVP (Minimum Viable Product, in Italian it literally means Minimum Viable Product) has become very popular: born in the world of startups and in the context of the Agile methodology, today it is used for the development of digital products such as Apps, Software and Websites.

The original term was defined by Eric Ries: The minimum viable product is that product which has just those features (and no more) that allows you to ship a product that resonates with early adopters; some of whom will pay you money or give you feedback.

An MVP therefore represents the version of a digital product that is released on the market with the essential and minimum functionalities to be used; subsequently it can be developed and integrated with new functions and features.

The main goal of the MVP is to collect feedback from real users, in order to better understand their needs and wants. Feedback can be collected through analytics and usage data, but also by analyzing reviews, comments in industry forums or directly with interviews and user tests.

There are four key characteristics that an MVP must have:

  1. Minimal: The MVP must be limited in functionality.
  2. User value: The MVP must offer enough value to users to be used and, possibly, purchased. The product must solve a problem or satisfy a real need.
  3. Communicate future benefits: The MVP must be designed in such a way that users understand the potential future evolutions and benefits of the product. This will stimulate user interest and retention.

Collect feedback for subsequent developments: The MVP’s main goal is to collect feedback to guide product developments in the future.

Prototipo, MVP e Prodotto finale

Prototype, MVP and Final Product

Defining an MVP by listening to users

Keeping the product as simple as possible is undoubtedly a crucial challenge. From the earliest stages of project development, the working team may generate a myriad of ideas, propositions, suggestions, and features. But how to choose among all these ideas which ones to include or exclude from the MVP? Which of them will bring the greatest benefits to users?

The answer lies in understanding the needs of users, in ensuring that the minimum features that will define the concept of “actionable” really align with what they want. This goal can only be achieved through careful listening and applying it right from the early design stages, through interviews, analyzes and prototype tests.

If we neglect this process of listening and understanding user needs, we risk releasing an MVP doomed to failure, because it will not meet the real needs of the target audience. Therefore, it is essential to clearly identify user needs and the key product features that satisfy them. Only in this way will we be able to create an MVP who focuses on what really matters and who is able to collect valuable feedback.

The MVP, once released, in turn becomes a powerful tool for listening to our users on a larger scale. It allows us to experiment, validate or reject the ideas behind the product, taking into consideration the real feedback of the users.

MVP and User Experience

The MVP is designed to gather feedback from users in the shortest possible time, but in today’s landscape, user expectations are extremely high. It is no longer enough to present a functioning product on the market: to attract users it is necessary that the product, although limited in functionality, offers an excellent user experience.

Even if it therefore presents simple and essential functions, an MVP must guarantee an excellent level of quality. This does not mean reducing development time to get the MVP out on the market as soon as possible with the minimum necessary, but focusing the effort as much as possible on the fundamental functions, which must be implemented with the highest possible quality.

Quality is in fact a crucial aspect, as it influences the first impression that users will have of the service. Neglecting the design of the user experience and details (such as the user interface, texts and messages, micro-interactions and process fluidity) risks alienating even early adopters, i.e. the most precocious and interested users.

The goal is to make people enthusiastic about the MVP, despite its limitations, so that they use it with pleasure, becoming fans and promoters.

Importantly, MVP is not a beta release. A beta is by definition a test version still under development, released to the public and communities so that they can help developers identify things to fix. Users of a beta know that the product is unlikely to be perfect and that they will encounter programming errors.

The MVP, on the other hand, must be achievable, usable, stable, functional and, finally, pleasant.


The MVP is the simplest version of a digital product, based on the fundamental features that allow you to use the product itself. To define which features and functions to include in an MVP, it is important to know your audience, their needs and requirements; this is possible through listening through interviews, user tests, market research and focus groups.

The MVP in turn allows you to expand the listening phase to a wider audience through a product that actually works; thanks to this, further insights will be collected to validate the product itself and define the future development path.

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11 August 2023 Christopher Secolo

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TAG: experience design product and service design UX and UI