Minimum Lovable Product: Definition and Key Development Steps

Technology has been evolving rapidly over the past decade. Accordingly, it’s becoming more and more sophisticated to win customers’ loyalty.

It’s not enough just to solve a users’ problem with your product now. You have to delight them with your offering instead. Thus, even to test the waters, you should present an enjoyable product to your customers. This is where a new trend of the MLP (minimum lovable product) is coming.

In this post, we will take a closer look at the concept of MLP and discover how you can build one. Also, to better understand a minimum lovable product's meaning, we will touch on the MVP and MMP approaches here.

What is the Minimum Viable Product? (MVP)

To define MLP, it’s reasonable to refer to the MVP concept first. Eric Ries invented this term in 2008 and described it as a test that helps gather validated data about the clients with the least effort.

Dropbox is just an excellent example of a company to build a minimum viable product with as little effort as possible. Its founders Ferdowsi and Drew Houston decided not to make a full-fledged prototype of the app. Instead, they crafted the product’s explainer video as its MVP. Thus, the owners wanted to check if their sync cloud storage service would be in demand for the audience.

Actually, investors didn’t willingly put up their money into this product because of stiff competition with similar apps. Moreover, the founders had to cope with significant technical barriers to provide the product’s reliable work. As such, Ferdowsi and Drew Houston didn’t want to risk spending much effort on creating a possibly unnecessary thing. So, they played it safe in case their product idea would fail.

Yet, I bet you know the results of this test. “It drove hundreds of thousands of people to the website. Our beta waiting list went from 5,000 people to 75,000 people literally overnight. It totally blew us away.” - Drew Houston, СEO of Dropbox

Notably, other such well-known companies as Uber, eBay, Spotify, Yahoo, Snapchat, and many others started their way in the market with the launch of MVP. The creation of a minimum viable product allowed them to analyze the demand and identify the basic needs of the target audience. Therefore, MVP became the basis for developing a unique, useful, and competitive product.

Recommended reading: What is Project Discovery Phase in Custom Software Development

Our company has extensive experience in minimum viable product development in a cost-effective manner.

For instance, one of the recent reviews was from our client, a founder of the service booking marketplace PlanMyKids. This platform allows parents to find and book activities for their children. We helped create MVP quickly and with minimal costs. In such a way, our client could test their idea at an early stage.

Thus, the main MVP’s intent is to explore if there is an interest in this product in the market. In fact, it does not even need to be a real offering to reach its target.

Recommended reading: How We Delivered MVP for PlanMyKids - Kids Activities Marketplace

As for MLP, it’s an approach that is based on MVP ideas but seeks to solve more complicated goals. So, what is the superiority of a minimum lovable product vs MVP?

What is the Minimum Lovable Product? (MLP)

Actually, MLP aims to win the empathy of the future audience as a priority. The minimum loveable product definition was offered by Brian Haaff in 2013. He defined it as a reduced version of a new product that clients will love from the start.

To better understand this idea, I will give you a simple minimum lovable product example. You are hungry and decide to order a hamburger in a restaurant. You ate it but found that it had too little salad for your taste in it.

In fact, you got what you wanted, and it did solve your demand. Yet, you weren’t entirely pleased with your meal as your preferences were not taken into account. Thus, you got something you needed but didn’t like. In short, you had an MVP but not a minimum loveable product.

So, a key difference between MLP vs MVP is that the former has the minimum points needed to love the product rather than bearing it.

You may also like: POC vs MVP: What to Choose to Build a Great Product

MVP vs MLP vs MMP: Detailed comparison

As you can see, MVPs and minimum lovable products are very close by their nature. Yet, they still have different functions and are used for diverse goals. In a nutshell, an MVP is aimed more at testing assumptions while as MLP products - at creating reduced likable apps.

What is MMP? (Minimum Marketable Product)

In parallel with MLP vs MVP comparison, it’s worth also mentioning MMP (or minimum marketable product). Actually, a minimum marketable product is a version of your MVP (or MLP product) which you are going to push to the market.

Not to be wordy, let’s compare MMP, MLP, MMP by their characteristics in the table below too:

MVP vs MLP vs MMP
MVPMMPMLP
The fastest among others to developFast to developSlower to develop than an MVP
Minimum features to check the product ideaMinimum features to promote a product at the marketMinimum features to gain users’ following
There is no emphasis on UX & UI designNot necessarily  focused on UX & UI designFocus on lovable UI & enjoyable UX
Effective to use if there are only one or few rivalsEffective to use in a different  competition environmentEffective to use if there are many alternative options on the market

Summing up, let me say that MVP targets at validating the idea, MLP- at gaining users' empathy, MMP - at selling the product. Thus, it depends on your business goals which certain "minimal product" you need to build at this time.

You may also like: Minimum Viable Product vs Prototype: What’s Best to Validate Your Business Idea?

What you should do to create an MLP product

Concentrate on “the why”

In the pursuit of lovability, you should still bear in mind the main goal you create your minimum loveable product for. After all, your offering has to solve your clients’ pain points foremost. It’s important to have a clear vision of your future product’s functionality during its creation. Since coolness is not enough for your customers to love your solution.

Remember about the M in MLP

Building your MLP, it’s also vital to stay agile. Thus, you shouldn’t try to cram all the possible nice features into your minimum loveable product.

Instead, focus on one or two lovable points that can stand your app out from others present on the market. It will save your valuable resources and allow you to be flexible to move on. Having a reasonable minimum in your MLP, you can give your customers more in MMP.

Add surprise & delight

Since your clients are supposed to adore your minimum lovable product, you also should put your effort into its design and UX. Actually, it’s better to have a well-designed product from the start rather than "sprucing it up" at the end.

It's great to add surprise traits into your MLP. Undoubtedly, everyone enjoys getting extra pleasantness when they don’t expect it.

Recommended reading: Custom Software Development for Startups: 6 Tips to Save Costs

Add hooks

Of course, by creating your MLP product, you aim at winning your clients’ love. Yet, it is just as important to turn this love into their everyday habit.

In his book “Hooked”, Nir Eyal offers 4 steps you can form customer habits through. They consist of the following:

  • trigger
  • action
  • variable reward
  • investments.

This mechanism works well with Instagram, Facebook, and other social media. Thus, you can hook your target audience for the long term there.

Source: Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Build your tribe

Today’s customers are fed up with marketing. Thus, it’s reasonable to build your own tribe of passionate users around your app. These people can share your mission and advocate for your product in their midst.

Definitely, it's hardly possible to create such a minimum lovable product that everyone will adore. Moreover, it’s difficult for the public to love you if you strive to attract everyone.

Sam Altman summed up well: “Build something that a small number of users love rather than a large number of users like”. As such, you need to find and support such a community.

You may also like: How to Build an MVP for a SaaS Startup: Practical Tips

Align your team on your lovable goals

Definitely, to create MLP in its own right, you need to activate that love in every aspect of your future product. To that end, your team needs to recognize this common goal. Notably, your strategy has to be clear and transparent for all its members.

Acting in alignment with your vision, your crew will strive to apply best practices in tech, design, marketing, and sales for your app. Thus, you will get a delightful minimum lovable product as a result.

Gather qualitative feedback

Though lovability is a subjective matter, it’s vital to gather qualitative feedback about your MLP. Thus, your crucial target is to learn how your early adopters feel using your app.

Using surveys with open-ended questions can help you learn their true emotions. Moreover, it’s a valuable base to reveal what you need to change in your offering.

Test, iterate, repeat

Finally, you need to remember that a minimum lovable product is not your destination. It’s a great learning tool to reveal what your customers really like and want.

In fact, it's just a midpoint in your “MVP-MLP-MMP” way. Thus, armed with qualitative data, it’s time to plan the next step of creating your lovable app.

Related reading: How to Build a Marketplace Website MVP and Not Fail

Final words

To successfully launch your product, you should be one step beyond the MVP concept now. As such, it’s better to use the minimum lovable product approach to find out what your customers really want.

To achieve this, you should put more effort into the emotional aspects of your future product. Notably, it’s important to craft a well-designed, intriguing solution that will become an everyday habit of your customers.

Yet, it’s also vital to concentrate on the functional purposes of your solution and the minimal set of features to start with.