Minimum Viable Product vs Mockup

I’ve talked a little bit about the MVP, or minimum viable product. I’ve talked about the ways in which this is a very different thing to a prototype. They serve different purposes.

In this post, I want to talk about how this relates to mockups and wireframes.

The Mockup

If we look at a dictionary definition for the term mockup, or specifically mock-up, it is described as

(noun) a full-size model of something large that has not yet been built, showing how it will look or operate:

We can see from this definition that it differs from an MVP, or even a prototype, given that they imply something has been built, albeit something relatively small.

So, a mockup is a representation of something yet to exist.

For me, this could be a relatively high fidelity design

Or, it could be something more sketch-like, often called a wireframe

I put both of these in the same category of a mockup, just that one is more basic in presentation than the other.

What is a mockup for?

A mockup for me is commonly used as a communication tool. It’s a tool used to share your vision with others.

This could be talking to prospects, early adopters, and customers. This can be a great way to have a more visual story you can share with your customer base.

This could also be for internal communication. You may need to convince internal stakeholders of the approach you are planning on taking.

It can even be used during the development process to help share a vision with those implementing the product. A mockup can be treated as a precise specification, but more commonly would be used to demonstrate vision, with precise details to be discussed at time of implementation.

MVPs and Mockups

So, if a mockup is something less than an MVP, does that make it less valuable?

Far from it. I would say that the use of mockups should go hand in hand with a lean development strategy and should sit alongside your MVP.

As part of informing the strategy for your MVP, mockups should be used as a tool to communicate vision, and gauge feedback.

Your early adopters by definition are going to be highly engaged customers. They will love to give feedback based on mockups, which will only help to refine the contents of your MVP and make that whole validation process more valuable.

Whilst you are performing validation of your MVP, again, mockups can serve to illustrate future vision and refinement, and can even help segment your early adaptors whilst planning your more feature rich roadmap.

So, as with prototypes, don’t consider this a scenario where it’s a case of one or the other. When used together with a clear intent, they can both speed up development and the likelihood of product success.

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