MXP. A new option for designers.
(originally published in medium.com last Sept 2014)
As a thesis adviser for senior undergraduate Information Design majors, I find it hard to enforce a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy for their final senior project. This is mainly due to the skillset they have acquired while taking up Information Design. Our curriculum focuses on being a well equipped designer, whether it’s in graphics, web, illustration, branding or mobile. While the school produces excellent information designers and design thinkers, we cannot expect all of them to have programming and development skills that will help them produce an MVP. Usually, MVPs are created by teams of at least two people, and most of the time three: a designer, a developer and a strategist. Our thesis projects consist of only one designer. So you see the predicament. MVP is a great practice for teams and start-ups, but there needs to be another strategy applicable to, and designed for teams of one.
Maximum Experiential Prototype or MXP: A strategy used to communicate and test a product idea without having to program or develop any part of the product. This means to use accessible tools that the designer has in order to create the most detailed experience possible for the user. For example, instead of having built an app that runs, you may opt to use a series of clickable screens that allow the user to go through all of the possible scenarios. The MXP allows the designer to collect the maximum amount of feedback about the product idea, involving the least number of people. This by no means indicates that less effort or time is required to get the said feedback. How then is this different from a prototype, you may ask. MXP challenges you to not stop at just one feature of your product and detail the entire set of features that your product will have instead. Every interaction with the user should be planned for and every scenario/result should be shown. If your product idea will eventually live on a smartphone, then your MXP should be on a smartphone. If your app has a video component then your MXP should have video embedded in it. If your app requires a camera, then your MXP should simulate a camera. MXP allows your users to fully experience your product without actual programming being a pre-requisite in order for this to happen. This year, I will be introducing this concept to the senior students and we should be seeing MXP in action by early next year.