We launched a new website – our own! After years of getting by with an old site while we made extravagant new sites for other people, we finally put the work into redesigning and developing ours.
This time, we launched the site before it was fully complete. There are some features missing, ideas not yet brought fully to life, and a to-do list with remaining to-dos. Why? It comes down to a principle we encourage our clients to utilize called the minimum viable product.
The Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Minimum viable product has been a buzz word for a while. In short, it is a key part of the agile workflow which encourages pushing a website solution live as soon as possible. Getting your improved communication tool into the marketplace sooner.
Launch is not the end. It’s the beginning of a new phase, where features and enhancements continue to be released.
Why launch a site that isn’t finished?
Here are a few advantages:
- Get value to your audience – While your new site sits in the workshop, it delivers no value to your users. An any-amount-improved site is better for your users than your existing website, so unlock the value as soon as it’s available, why keep it hidden?
- Feedback – Once the site is in the wild, you will start collecting insights. Users will interact with the site, offer suggestions, maybe complain. That input is gold that couldn’t be known before releasing the MVP. Rather than guessing where to continue spending resources, gain objective data from real-life users to inform your next step.
- Prioritization – When you start building a site, you have a long list of nice-to-haves. But once you launch the MVP, you’ll find a new superpower – the ability to ruthlessly prioritize your dream list. You will find it easy to sort the list of enhancements into “must have” versus “nice to have”. Once the next round of updates is added to the site, you’ll re-sort your remaining items. Rinse and repeat.
- Continual improvement – Building your site iteratively creates a mentality of continual improvement. Instead of viewing your website as a project to check off the list, you view it as a living tool that should constantly evolve. You might even decide to remove something. This represents success, not failure.
The longer you wait fiddling with getting your new site perfected before launch, the more time that old site sits and deteriorates. We’ve seen this happen time and again, where a new site is 90% complete, but the release is delayed for a few paragraphs that are not quite right or a certain secondary page missing an image. Once you’ve reached the minimum viable product threshold (ask: is it more effective than what we have now?), it’s much better to launch that new site, knowing the minor remaining items can always be adjusted in the future. Better for you and your users to utilize the core of the new and improved site while you figure out that last 10%.
Taking our own advice
Since we encourage our clients to launch with the minimum viable product, we had to take our own advice. Our new site is wonderfully viable, as it is automatically a huge improvement over the old site. It’s easier to use, more effectively communicates our work and our clients, it’s more accessible for more people, and embodies our design aesthetic in a fresh way.
So, take a look around the new site and then come back in a month – we’ll have more to show you. Next time you have a project you’re having trouble finalizing, think about what is absolutely necessary, and start there. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better right now, and you can build on that.