How to Release in a Week

From Idea to MVP

No Time to Waste!

Your First Tasks

  • Come up with a good idea (your vision) -- today!
  • Build the first user testable version -- in a week!
  • Test it on some users -- the week after!
  • Build / Measure / Learn!

Minimum Viable Product

  • Minimum: you can't throw out anything more
  • Viable: people want it
  • Product: people can use it


Which quadrant do you want to be in?


Which quadrant do you NOT want to be in?


What about the other two quadrants?


How do you get to quadrant one?

Don't Guess. Test!

  • You have an idea, but
    • Will users want it?
    • Can you build it?
  • Don't guess. Test!
    • like, in a week
    • you only have 5 weeks total!

How to Release in One Week

One-Button Apps

  • Strip away everything but the central idea of your app
  • What you leave out is as important as what you put in
  • Every feature you add
    • delays release and testing
    • adds code to be debugged and maintained
    • adds complexity to the user interface
    • confuses the user about what the app is for
  • Examples: iPhone flashlight, I'm OK, Twitter,, Flappy Bird, ...

Delighters vs Must-Haves


  • Gang up on the problem
  • Right now: Schedule 2 or 3 team hackathons in some room in the next few days
  • At each hackathon,
    • Work on one user story at a time
    • Code in pairs
    • Test, commit, deploy and demo something new as fast as possible

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

  • MVP: the smallest thing you can build to test your most critical unknowns,
    • your value prop
      • if users aren't impressed, you don't have a product
    • your ability to code for that value prop
  • 80% of your app is irrelevant to testing your idea
    • Login, preference pages, profiles, statistics, etc.
  • Twitter was designed on a napkin
  • PhoneGap v.0 was built in a weekend

What to Build First

  • What kind of app do you have/
    • For an info or marketplace app, what matters is data
      • Collect and display of real data
      • The real is the critical part
    • For a social interaction app, what matters is the interaction
      • What's the shortest interaction that demonstrates value?

Developing a Product Vision

Common Mistakes

A miracle occurs Friction, not payoff

Defining A Product is Hard

  • You need to focus on a real pain point...
  • ... but pain is not your product
  • You want claim it's easy, fun, simple, powerful ...
  • ... but these are challenges, not solutions
  • You want to solve all problems ...
  • ... but the sum of "eh" features is an "eh" product

Design by Storytelling

  • A demo is a story with characters, context, problem, and payoff
    • Character: someone with a background, needs, and opinions
    • Context: the situation someone is in
    • Problem: a specific problem, one that arises often
    • Payoff: your app coming to the rescue!
  • Kim Goodwin on design scenarios

The Scene

  • Start by visualizing the one scene that shows why your product matters
  • It has to be specific, visual, self-descriptive...
  • ... just like a good user interface
  • Then fill in the story around it

The 4-Panel Storyboard

Implement Payoff First

  • WorkIt! a Siri™ for exercisers
  • Wanda, a work-at-home graphic artist, takes her mid-morning exercise break. She taps the WorkIt!, hits Start and WorkIt! starts calling out the steps in the exercise routine Wanda designed for herself.
  • What's the payoff for WorkIt?
  • Ergo, implement and test that, before anything else