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Forget MVPs... Your website should be your brand's Most Valuable Player

by Gem Fountain

4-minute read

Forget Minimum Viable Product Your Website Should Be Your Brands Most Valuable Player

If you want to create truly exceptional digital experiences, it’s time to start thinking differently about website MVPs.

MVP. 

Minimum. Viable. Product. 

As a Creative Director, having worked in digital for over 15 years, those three letters are ones I have come to have conflicted feelings about.

Football fans amongst us will also be familiar with the term MVP for “Most Valuable Player”. I have long thought that there was some irony in the dichotomy between these two terms. 

In the world of football "MVP" is used to highlight someone truly exceptional. In the world of websites, however, those three letters have become a catch all for “as many features as possible in as little time as possible,” sometimes coming at a cost to creativity, leaving us designers quoting the Black Eyed Peas, sighing: “Where is the love?”

A brief history of the MVP

The term Minimum Viable Product was coined by Frank Robinson and popularised by Eric Ries, founder of the Lean Startup methodology. 

According to Ries, an MVP is the version of a new product that allows a team to gather the maximum amount of proven customer knowledge with the least amount of effort. Uber, Dropbox, Figma and Slack started their way with MVPs. 

But the purpose of a website is so much more than to gain insight or to prove an idea. 

The game changer: your Most Valuable Player

Your website is your brand’s shop window. It is your brand’s Most Valuable Player. In order to reach, engage and help your audiences, you need to be memorable. In order to be memorable you need to be distinctive. 

In “The Choice Factory,” Richard Shotton talks about how “We are hard wired to notice what’s distinctive.” And your brand is what distinguishes you from your competition. 

In using an MVP model, that favours packing in functionality over taking the time to create something unique — that will truly embody your brand — you are ultimately choosing to eschew what will make it stand out. 

For our Future Charity report we interviewed charity employees and charity leaders. A strong view shared by all our interviewees was that the “increasing competition within the charity sector” is one of the biggest challenges facing charities between now and 2030. 

While the charity sector clearly needs to innovate in order to attract and retain new audiences, the motivation for doing so sometimes gets lost. We observe a tendency to look over the garden fence at what others are doing and feel pressure to conform, rather than to take time to reflect on what could be a creative differentiator. 

Rethinking the approach to website design

Our industry has cottoned on to the fact that MVPs might not always be the right solution. From MLP (Minimum Loveable Product) to MAP (Minimum Awesome Product) to EVP (Exceptional Viable Product) these alternatives accept that the MVP approach is missing something important: the need to make something that is attractive to users.

User experience and design executive Peter Merholz gives this analogy:

“When making a wedding cake, the product isn’t what anyone desires until right at the end.

However, if you make a cupcake first, then a small cake, and then a wedding cake, at each stage you have a desirable and testable product.”

Under this approach, the MVP might start small, but it still delivers a good user experience.

Gone are the days where we start from scratch with a website. There are established patterns that users have come to expect. We should be identifying where we can create those memorable moments within those patterns, starting with a strong, beautiful foundation that can be built upon and expanded. 

As G.K.Chesterton once said: ‘‘We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders”. 

Are you proud of your website?

Something that unites all of us at manifesto is a desire to create a digital legacy to be proud of. To deliver beautiful, engaging digital experiences that make people’s lives easier, better and fairer and create a measurable and positive impact. To create digital experiences that aren’t just viable, but valuable to society. 

We are continually evolving the way we look at the creative process and how we weave it throughout a design and build project. 

In the creative studio we would rather do away with the idea of an MVP approach entirely. We think it’s important that a website is a living, breathing embodiment of a client’s brand and vision. One that is considered, creates memorable moments of joy, and goes above and beyond ‘minimum’ as a brand experience.

So next time you hear those three letters, think: are you prioritising your website as your brand’s Most Valuable Player?