Over the past 5 years, Product Hunt has rapidly grown into one of the most active startup communities in the world. Today Product Hunt is the place to build early buzz and launch your product. It's universally loved by founders, marketers and VCs alike. But back in 2013 Product Hunt was just an email list. Founder Ryan Hoover was a nontechnical founder and recognized what many don't - you can build a successful MVP without writing code.
6 different types of no-code MVPs
These days there are tons of different ways you can skin your minimum viable cat. Here are just a few:
1. Email list
Product Hunt, Timehop, and Scott's Cheap Flights all started as mailing lists. A mailing list is easy to set up, cheap to operate and provides you a great way to build an audience that isn't reliant on another platform's algorithms. If you care a lot about the design of the email try Mailchimp. For curating content Revue is a great option. If you want to set up more complex automation try something like Drip (what we use to send these emails).
Groupon began its rise as a re-skinned Wordpress blog. If you're creating compelling content like deals, data on private companies, or just want to see how people will react to your idea building a blog is a great way to go. Like email lists, they're cheap and relatively easy to set up. You can use Wordpress, Ghost, or just create a Mediumaccount. Themeforest also has tons of Wordpress themes to help you build more complex content sites.
If your product idea is computation heavy or involves a specific process that you've created then a spreadsheet could be all you need to create your prototype. Steve Shulman (one of our clients) prototyped his business intelligence tool with an excel spreadsheet. These days there are also options like Airtable and Coda that you can integrate with other tools to do even more.
4. Invision Prototype
If the design of your application is what makes it really special, an Invision prototype could also be a good way to go. With Invision you can stitch mockups together so that they look and feel like a real app. This is a little more expensive or requires you have some design skills. But it was enough for our client Lauren Sturdivant to raise a friends-and-family round for her startup.
5. Wizard of Oz
A wizard of oz prototype is one where you make it look like work is being handled by software, but really it's being done by humans in the background. Stripe, an incredibly successful payments company in Silicon Valley, prototyped their idea in the very early days by manually setting up merchant accounts at a local bank when users signed up. A tool like Bubble can help you build an interface that looks like it's doing work, while you and your team and handling everything behind the scenes.
When do you absolutely need code
There are some situations where a no-code MVP isn't going to cut it, or at least not for very long. If you're selling to big companies in old-school industries you're often going to need a working product to close the deal. Especially if you're dealing with compliance issues like in the healthcare space. But even then mockups and a prototype could help you to do early validation, and work out the kinks in your product before you start writing code.
Hint: that's why we start every project with an Invision prototype - in between the Roadmapping Session and the MVP.
"The purpose of an MVP is to learn, to validate and invalidate assumptions. There are almost always faster ways to do this than building a product."- Ryan Hoover
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