Release the website you need, not the one you want

December 14 - Dave McMurray

Have you spent a long time on a project only to release it much later than you planned because the scope of the product blew out, worst of all the website is bloated with features that users don’t even need or use.

Learn how to prioritise the features users need and want when building your website so you can release the most valuable things first and faster.

What is a Minimal Viable Product (MVP)?

In product development, the minimum viable product (MVP) is the product with the highest return on investment versus risk.

It's about stripping down features so you can release your product as soon as possible and learn about it. If you’re starting out in business it’s the best approach, it helps you get out in there market quicker and cheaper.

Real world examples

What would an MVP look like for a real product?

Think about a bike, what does it really need to perform the function of cycling, try to think about what a user needs. 


  • Two wheels - So you can travel faster along the ground
  • The frame - So the wheels are connected
  • Handle Bars - So you can steer and avoid crashing the bike
  • A Seat- so that you can ride comfortably? Well maybe
  • Pedals - So that we can continue riding 

Out of Scope

Arguably we don’t need any of these things to be able to ride a bike so they have been removed:

  • Lights 
  • Bell
  • Grip tape
  • reflectors

Your website is exactly the same 

You want to build the most valuable and necessary features first because this will enable you to release a quality product faster. Then after seeing how your website performs we can continue developing other valuable features and plan to release continuously.

How to do it

Lets think plan a release for a bike company who wants to setup it’s first website and sell it’s bikes online.

1. Think about your users

Think about the users of your site, who are they, what are they trying to achieve, what is valuable to them. The best way to do this is to talk to real users, you can form assumptions but do not trust them until you’ve proven them wrong.

User Goals

  • Users want to find and see the right bike for them 
  • They want to know if they can afford the bike
  • They want to be able to buy it

2. Write user stories

A User Story is a in a succinct description of who the user is, what their objective or problem is, why it’s important to solve that. For a clear and valuable user story write it in the AIS format:

  • As a... - The user involved
  • I want... - What do they want to do
  • So that... - Why is this feature important

Example: As a user I want see available bikes So that I can buy the one I like.

This is an example of a user story with a definite user, a clear objective and a strong value statement. Notice there isn’t any mention of a particular solution (handlebars) this is so solutions aren’t prescribed and other possibilities are able to be explored.

3. Create solutions

With our story lets look at possible solutions to the problem: 

  • A simple page with a list of bikes and an image 
  • a image gallery with multiple images
  • Call to buy - phone number on the homepage
  • Interactive build your own bike 
  • A 360 image
  • Buy online Payment gateway

4. Estimate the value vs effort of these solutions

Try using a value/effort chart like this to use to evaluate these stories.

Let’s look at website examples now:

Highest effort + Highest Value

- Interactive build your own bike 

- Buy online Payment gateway

Highest Valuable + Lowest Effort

- A simple page with a list of bikes

- a image gallery with multiple images

- Call to buy - phone number on the homepage

Lowest Value + Highest Effort

- A 360 image

- enquiry contact form 

Lowest Value + Lowest Effort

By splitting up these solutions into the effort value quadrants, we can quickly see the most important solutions we should build first. Obviously the top right quadrant s the most desirable these solutions are quick and valuable these will form our MVP.

5. Planning the MVP

Break it into releasable chunks of value, what I mean is a first phase is nothing if you only have a design done. The solution should be end to end. Always ask “what value am I adding by doing this?” If you cannot answer that, re-evaluate what you’re doing. 

The MVP (Release 1)

1 week

Release 2

2 weeks

Release 3

4 weeks

- A simple page with a list of bikes

- a image gallery with multiple images

- Phone number on the home page to order

- Buy online Payment gateway

- Interactive build your own bike

De-scoped features:

  • A 360 image
  • enquiry contact form 

These features have been remove from planning because their valuable is questionable and they are highly complex to build.

Release your MVP 

Our first release looks neat and clean, it’s not “full featured” because it doesn’t need to. It’s the basics with users still being able to buy a bike over the phone. So we can release in one week rather than taking 7 weeks to build.  

This is how you can build and release desirable websites fast and frequently.