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The term Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has been a staple of software development for the past 20 years.

The premise of an MVP helps us to build in small parts while reducing wasted effort and helping us to fail fast. In theory, it is the perfect way of enabling teams to understand the rights and wrong of what they are doing.

As time has progressed, I have witnessed the idea of MVPs morphing into an excuse for not doing the hard things first.

There are always compromises when building an MVP, but it is not right to consider it as being a means of avoidance.

The MVP has to produce value to users and must be usable in its most basic form. This is something that I feel is beginning to be lost within product teams that are following the MVP model.

As a designer, I believe that it is vital to flip the term into a Minimum Usable Product (MUP). This allows us to more readily consider the context of the product we are creating, while also placing users at the heart of it.

Often, MVPs can become overly technical. They quickly morph into proofs of concept that focus on what is possible from a development perspective and lose sight of who we’re producing the thing for.

By embracing the MUP, we can help to change the mindset when beginning to create a small piece of functionality that aims to prove a wider point. We have to make sure early iterations are designed for potential longevity and understand the context of user interaction.