SaaS business

Red Ocean vs. Blue Ocean. A Practical Guideline on Your Business Strategy


mins to read

At first guess, the terms blue ocean and red ocean seem to have something to do with geography, biology, or even marine life. But in fact, they were introduced to bring some clarity to the types of market spaces, especially during a new project launch

This concept of the blue and red ocean was first introduced by Renée Mauborgne and Chan Kim in the early 2000s. They published a book under the name Blue Ocean Strategy that was expanded and updated 5 years ago. 

Based on real-life studies, the book provides insights into business strategies called blue and red oceans. The authors cover such fundamental issues as creating demand, facing competition, and even conducting market analysis.

The terms blue ocean and red ocean are actually indicating types of market spaces. The analogy with the natural environment demonstrates the characteristics of contrasting market environments. The blue ocean is the name for a newly discovered or created business, while the red ocean indicates an already existing industry.

To tell the truth, it is quite challenging to come up with the idea of a completely original and unique project. It seems that everything that could have been invented, is already there. That is why most SaaS rely on the red ocean strategy when entering a market. 

Eleken has designed products for startups entering both blue and red oceans. We know what threats and dangers are awaiting a SaaS in oversaturated industries. But at the same time, we understand that being the first one to establish a new market space and build it up, is also a huge responsibility.

If you want to know what’s hiding in the depths of red and blue oceans to strategize the most efficient development plan for your SaaS solution, let’s look closely at both types of market spaces and see what they have to offer. 

red ocean vs blue ocean

Red ocean vs blue ocean

The main idea behind the names of blue and red ocean strategies is color associations. The blue color is calm and relaxing, it also symbolizes depth, stability, and even intelligence. For SaaS, such an environment is advantageous and promising, with lots of new opportunities. 

On the contrary, red color is associated with strong emotions, such as passion, hate, and, of course, love. Such an industry is characterized by strong competition and tension, which makes it difficult for new SaaS solutions to coexist and compete with other projects. A more direct parallel is that of bloody water with fish eating each other.


When you start understanding the difference between red ocean and blue ocean, a natural question arises: why would you ever dive into the red ocean when blue is so much more promising? Personally, it made no sense to me that people bring new products to an already saturated market. Why do they want to fight with all the competitors that are already successful?

Well, what we often don’t get is that blue ocean does not guarantee you success. Having no competitors doesn’t mean you have to try less: it’s the other way around. If you are lucky and you have an idea for a product in a blue ocean, there is still so much to do: develop a product from scratch, create a new market, and try to do all of it before someone else outpaced you!

Having no competitors means that there are no one else’s mistakes to learn from. You have no reference regarding design, pricing, marketing… It’s a blank page that is so easy to screw up.

To succeed in a blue ocean, products have to analyze the market, do the research, go from problem to solution, and test it well in advance – because when you bring something completely new, be prepared to have a long series of iterations.

Now that you think of it, jumping in a red ocean, where many products have already proven to be successful, is not that much work. You can rely on existing cases, study them, and find what exactly you can do better to differentiate and win over the competition. Or, if you don’t have any strong differentiation, you can always get your chunk of the market by setting prices lower.

These are the basic differences between red ocean and blue ocean strategies.

blue ocean vs red ocean

Now, let’s get straight to business and compare red and blue ocean market spaces by analyzing their most crucial features.

Market space

red ocean vs blue ocean market space

What is a market space? To put it simply, it’s a unity of sellers and buyers who, accordingly, are purchasing or offering their products and services. For each product, the market space will be different, with its pros and cons. Knowing how the industry for your SaaS application operates, is essential for creating a successful development approach and reaching product-market fit.

The red ocean approach applies to the market space which already exists. It has its rules, patterns, and major players. If your SaaS solution debuts in such an environment, you have to adjust to it and try to push through your service. Examples are the smartphones or online messaging tools industries.

With a blue ocean method, you create a market by presenting a completely new and original project. Being a pioneer, you can establish all the rules for this market yourself and make it work for your benefit. However, as an explorer, you have to learn customer behavior, pricing models, and other meaningful things using the trial-and-error method. 

Sometimes, the price for such knowledge can be high but as an innovator, you need to experiment, take risks, and, what is more important, be ready to lose. With more mistakes comes more experience, so, within a short time, you can become a professional player in your market. 

For example, Eleken helped Handprinter, an innovative startup, to design their product and website. This company tracks the positive impact on nature and the environment with such little things each of us can do daily as choosing a bike over a car or planting a tree. In other words, the app visualizes your carbon footprint and motivates you to decrease it.

Blue Ocean Strategy: SaaS examples, Handprinter

This project turned into an enjoyable challenge for the Eleken team. Handprinter started in 2013 but its visitors were not converting into users. Changing the design was rather risky because there were no templates or similar SaaS on the market. With our creativity and passion, we managed to improve customer experience and draw attention to the application. 


red ocean vs blue ocean competition

Competition is one of the most significant characteristics of any market. You build the strategy, improve your solution, and even modify the price for your services depending on your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses. Finally, competition can serve as both stimulation and demotivation for your future development of the product. 

Back to the color analogy, the red ocean method suggests that the market space is oversaturated with various products. Some of them may be of high-quality while others may fail to meet the demands of the end-users. Nevertheless, the choice is already big, and the red color signifies harsh competition coupled with tense conditions for your SaaS growth.

Zoom, for instance, has become the most popular video conferencing tool within a few months. Its history started many years ago, but this SaaS was mostly used by people in the IT-sphere before corona lockdown. Due to its simplicity and free service, the number of daily users for this product has risen more than 20 times already in March 2020. 

Red Ocean Strategy: SaaS examples, Zoom

Zoom’s story is a vivid example of the red ocean strategy. Despite resisting intense competition for years, this project drew the attention of its end users because it satisfied their major need: a simple and free of charge tool for holding conferences online. Therefore, Zoom managed to win the competition in a bloody red ocean.

If you are implementing a blue ocean strategy, the situation is quite the opposite. You introduce a new application and establish a newly-developed market space. Consequently, there are no competitors in the beginning. That is why you can play with your SaaS design, functionality, pricing freely, and do not have to follow any existing rules, because you are the first one to set all the rules.

The blue ocean market space is like a blank page, which can turn either into a disaster or success. You have to be careful with each step when introducing your product. Fortunately, if you are the only one in the market, it is quite easy to fix your mistakes and start all over again.  


red ocean vs blue ocean demand

If your SaaS application makes its first appearance in the blue ocean type of market space, you are building demand from scratch. For sure, it is a very risky and uncertain thing to do. You cannot predict or foresee if targeted users will like the product or just ignore it.

Depending on how effective your service is, the demand will be either growing (and encouraging the emergence of similar products) or lowering (which means that your product didn’t meet the requirements of the particular market segment).

Once your SaaS solution is in the red ocean, you are exploiting the already-existing demand. This strategy tends to be safer as you can already look at both companies that succeeded and failed to learn from their experience. Moreover, you can even check their features and pricing plans to build your own product.

For example, Apple decided to operate within the red ocean market for smartphones and launched its first phone back in 2007. Despite a large number of competitors such as Nokia and Samsung, they managed to attract customers and offer the desired features and design. More than a decade after, each new model of the iPhone turns out to be a great success with unprecedented demand. 

Red Ocean Strategy: SaaS examples, iPhone

Value & Cost

red ocean vs blue ocean value&cost

The most common strategy for navigating the red ocean is offering lower prices or adding some value that the competitors don’t provide. That way you manage to gain customers without inventing a whole new wheel.

In a blue ocean, you can’t swim without providing a completely unique value. So, does it mean that you can spike up the prices since there are no competitors? Not really. When the market is not established and the demand is not clear, high prices can scare the potential customers away. 

Most people are unlikely to spend money on getting something new that they didn’t yet feel as valuable. To nurture this emerging market, you have to set prices relatively low.

Netflix is often brought up as an example of a blue ocean strategy. Everybody knows well how they disrupted the TV and cinema industry and completely changed the rules. Now, let’s see how other fish enter the ocean of Netflix.

While Netflix has an enormous number of films in the catalogue and they are popular in many countries around the world, many new streaming services come on the market. Some of them provide local offer. For example, Filmin hosts independent cinema and serves mainly Spanish audiences. At the same time, they provide lower cost: as of 2022, monthly price of Filmin is €7,99 vs €12,99 for Netflix.

Similar strategy takes niche streaming service Mubi. To fight the genius AI-powered recommendation Netflix system they use… Human-powered recommendations: they ask curators to make programs and promote one new film a day.

Mubi red ocean strategy example
Image credit: Mubi

Comparison of SaaS products using red and blue ocean strategy

Now, let’s look at the examples of famous SaaS products that implemented both red and blue ocean strategies in real life. Both of the projects we will talk about are very successful, so we can learn from their decisions and approaches in different market spaces. 

iTunes — blue ocean strategy 

We can look at the story of iTunes — a product that marked a revolution in both musical and technical spheres. 20 years ago, we did not purchase any songs. What we did, was downloading music from the Internet, putting it on CDs, and, quite often, damaging both CDs and our media players as a result of such tricky manipulations.

No wonder that all these procedures did not make looking for music or listening to it enjoyable. Indeed, it took time, effort, and reliable friends to exchange CDs with. In 2001, Apple introduced iTunes — a service that has simplified all these processes and appeared to be an irreplaceable one.

Blue Ocean Strategy: SaaS examples, iTunes

iTunes is a great example of implementing a blue ocean strategy. It was the first product of its kind in the market: unreliable in terms of profit and with no analogs. Consequently, it was stimulating a demand itself as nobody could guarantee whether users will pay for such a service if they can download music for free.

With time, iTunes got new features such as playing audiobooks and connecting to special devices for listening to music such as the iPod. The product keeps changing itself to adapt to the new demands of the customers. 

YouTube Music - red ocean strategy 

YouTube Music, probably the newest music streaming service was announced back in 2015. It seemed quite impossible for this product to compete with Google Play Music and other strong rivals such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Deezer. 

Red Ocean Strategy: SaaS examples, YouTube Music

Despite the harsh competition and saturated market, music streaming services were in high demand, so YouTube Music decided to give it a try. Additionally, due to millions of YouTube users, promoting their new project — YouTube Music was much easier. 

Another interesting thing is that YouTube Music will merge with Google Play Music by the end of 2020. Most users of the last service will likely shift to YouTube Music because they can easily add their old records and playlists to the new application. 

As with all the other products that are using the red ocean strategy, YouTube Music had plenty of examples of how to design the application, what features to offer to the users, and even how to build marketing strategies. Currently, this service already has more than 20 million users. 

Red or blue?

Red Ocean vs Blue Ocean Strategies

Both red and blue ocean strategies have their pros and cons. The secret to understanding which market space will be the most beneficial for your SaaS is knowing the needs of your customers.

If you know that despite large competition you can still offer a valuable and useful SaaS solution, you can enter the red ocean bravely and even learn from your rivals. Read our article for even more hacks and approaches to rock the red ocean strategy.

If you are sure that your brand new service with new analogs will hit the industry and create huge demand, dive deep into the vast blue ocean. Our blog-post on blue ocean strategy with more useful techniques and advice will help you not to get lost and survive in a newly-discovered market space.

Kateryna Mayka


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SaaS business
min read

Top 7 SaaS Payment Processing Services Comparison

You came up with a mindblowing idea for a SaaS startup. After sleepless nights, you’re almost ready to introduce your brainchild to the world. The only question left is how do you process payments?

In the good old days, it was no more difficult to buy a piece of software than a bag of bagels. You pay for your CD with a program, you get your CD with a program. 

old-school payment processing

And then the SaaS subscription model emerged, allowing us to sell software in exciting, whizz-bangy, granular ways. 

Rather than selling a single unit, you sell a month-to-month service. Now you need to charge recurring payments for multiple pricing tiers, work with bank cards from numerous countries and currencies. A ton of new things happen between the point where a customer is paying you money and the point you are getting the money. 

SaaS subscription payment processing

Let’s examine how payment processing works for SaaS so that we can better understand what features we’re looking for in our best subscription billing systems.

Components of SaaS payment processing

The bulk of payment takes a few seconds that cover a lot of drama and a long list of actors involved. Let’s name them shortly.

  • Customer, a.k.a. the person who believes that a product deserves its price tag and hits the “buy now” button.
  • SaaS company. That’s you and your business that sells the product worth buying.
  • Website or app, where UX/UX designers placed the “buy now” button on a pricing page.
  • Merchant account — a bank account your customers’ transactions go into as they pay for a subscription.
  • An acquiring bank is a bank that provides you with a merchant account and processes transactions on your behalf.
  • An issuing bank is a bank of your customer that provides them with a payment card and runs transactions on their behalf.
  • Payment gateway is the bridge between, customer, yourself, and your banks.
  • Subscription management system. From the moment of the first purchase, it automatically invoices customers on a regular basis and manages all the fine tunes of your complex tiered billing.

Let's assume that the customer and the merchant are in place, and the issuing bank is a customer’s concern. So we need to find an acquiring bank that will equip us with the merchant account, find a SaaS payment gateway and a subscription management system to make things rolling.

Components of SaaS payment processing

How to choose payment processor for SaaS

Looks like SaaS payment processing is a complicated business process. A new complicated business process being on fire is a sure sign of a new B2B market that will emerge to get these fires out. 

Dozens of recurring payment processing services popped up in the past 15 years. That many possible solutions to a billing problem created an all new kind of problem.

The problem of choosing a payment processor.

You stare at Google Search results. Countless competitors staring back at you from their landing pages designed to guide your choice in diametrically opposed directions. Your heart is racing, your hands are sweating and colorful logos flash before your eyes. 

How to choose payment processor for SaaS

It is tempting to grab the closest payment processing app thinking that we’ll just migrate later. But it’s hard, risky and costly to move between billing systems, which contain all the subscription data bank cards and unpaid invoices. 

We at Eleken are familiar with all the billing stuff — for our clients we cover one of the payment processing layers, the UI/UX design of billing. So we’ve picked billing solutions that are commonly used by SaaS startups, analyzed them, and made a comparison table for you to help you make a thoughtful choice. 

Online payment processing services comparison chart

Online payment processing services comparison chart

Аs you can see from the table above, the list of payment processing services can be broadly divided into two categories:

  • All-in-one services that help with a payment gateway, merchant account, and a some degree of subscription management;
  • Services that run SaaS subscription management exclusively and fully.

Full-stack services as Stripe or Braintree work fine for startups firmly off the ground with simple recurring billing and a few pricing tiers. But as your SaaS pricing strategy develops, so does its billing system. Universal apps often become insufficient as you start working with new market segments, expanding into new regions, and experimenting with plans, upgrading and billing frequency.

In cases when SaaS companies feel their all-in-one payment processing system is holding them back, they put a dedicated SaaS subscription platform like Recurly or Chargebee on top of services that provide them with a merchant account and SaaS payment gateway. 

The benefit they gain is better reporting, full-on subscription management and more flexibility for different pricing strategies. For example, if you offer usage-based pricing, user-based pricing or numerous hybrid tiers, a dedicated SaaS subscription management platform will help billing for any of them.

Stripe recurring payments: simpler than ever

Stripe recurring payments

Stripe is the leader on the market of SaaS billing systems, thanks to its simplified setup process and integrations available for almost everything under the sun. It works as a payment gateway, merchant account, and subscription management system. Moreover, it has some analytics tools built on top, so that you can control your MRR, churn, and other SaaS metrics.

Stripe charges  2.9% + $0,3 per transaction, +1% extra for international cards and currency conversion, and that’s what annoys people in Stripe. Pricing may sound okay for startups, and the pricing is well aligned with the industry, but as you scale, the fees add up quickly.

Braintree payment processing as an alternative

Braintree payment processing

Braintree is PayPal’s project grown to compete with Stripe and equipped with quite similar feature set. Just like Stripe, Braintree charges 2.9% + $0,3 per transaction, +1% extra for international cards and currency conversion. Unlike Stripe though, Braintree (all of sudden) offers PayPal for payments. 

Another unique feature — Braintree allows you to use their gateway services even if you’re already locked into another payment processing account. 

Flexibility with Authorize.Net payment gateway

Authorize.Net payment gateway

Authorize.Net is a payment gateway solution by Visa that doesn’t provide a merchant account as a part of its service, so you can integrate Authorize.Net with your existing merchant account if you already have one. With Stripe, for instance, you don’t have such flexibility.

But in case if you need help with a merchant account, Authorize.Net can provide you with one through one of their resellers for an extra penny — the cost per transaction will rise to 2.9% + $0.3, plus $25 per month as a gateway fee.

2Checkout recurring payments for global business

2Checkout recurring payments

Although all companies in our list work for international transactions, 2Checkout (now Verifone) excelled in its ability to accept payments globally. It is active in over 200+ countries and supports over 45 payment methods ranging from the most popular bank cards, online wallets, and PayPal to regional payment methods. 

If you’re an international brand looking for a payment processing service with the highest global reach, consider this option. 

Chargebee subscription management for B2B SaaS

Chargebee subscription management for B2B SaaS

Chargebee is a SaaS subscription platform that provides no merchant account or payment gateway. It’s a narrow tool for SaaS that gives you more features for managing recurring billing than all-in-one tools, like Stripe or Braintree.Chargebee is famous for numerous options for price optimization, upselling, revenue recognition, trials management and other SaaS-specific features. 

The only in our list, Chargebee offers a kind of freemium pricing — for your first $100K in revenue, you pay nothing. After, you’d pay $299 per month for up to $50K monthly revenue. You won’t be charged a percentage of your revenue unless you break your revenue limit.

Chargify recurring billing for B2B SaaS

Chargify recurring billing for B2B SaaS

Chargify is a SaaS subscription management tool that helps to automate recurring billing and provides no merchant account or payment gateway, just like Chargebee. However, you can use gateways of Stripe, Authorize.Net, and a dozen of other providers from inside of Chargify. 

The company positions itself as a SaaS-specific service and offers great flexibility in terms of billing scenarios. It suits for any trials, billing frequencies, targeted promotions and one-time charges. “If you can imagine it, we can bill it”, the Chargify’s webpage says. 

The service has a free trial and the most expensive pricing on our list — the monthly subscription starts at $599 for revenue up to $75K per month. For comparison, Chargebee charges only $299 per month.

Recurly subscription management for churn reduction

Recurly subscription management for churn reduction

Recurly is another subscription management and billing platform with features more or less similar to Chargify and Chargebee that is targeting SaaS, mobile, content and publishing businesses worldwide. 

The company’s dunning system and churn reduction features tend to be outstanding — Recurly says its decline management capabilities can increase monthly revenue by an average of 12%. Recurly offers a free trial and charges $149 plus 0.9% of revenue for the Core pricing tier.

When you’ve chosen your perfect payment processing service

We’d like to summarize this SaaS payment processing services article in a way some may call a design agency professional deformation. 

Put effort into your checkout design to make it pixel-perfect. Or you could consider evaluating an Eleken design agency that can help you with that.

Eleken on its way to a pixel-perfect checkout page for TextMagic
Eleken on its way to a pixel-perfect checkout page for TextMagic

Indeed, if you’re holding a UI/UX hammer, all problems look like nails that need to be designed properly. But if you only knew how many people leave in the middle of checkout due to one extra step or a little payment hiccup! 

That’s the very last step of the buyer’s journey, and if your customers are unable to input their payment information quickly and correctly, all your previous marketing and sales efforts are for naught.

The second-to-last step of the buyer’s journey happens on your pricing page. And there happens to be a killer guide to SaaS pricing page design here at Eleken. Just thought you might be interested.

SaaS business
min read

Design Thinking & Minimum Viable Product: Is This the Right Approach?

Design thinking has become a highly popular approach during the last 40 years. It is used in IT, business, education, design — literally everywhere. There is even a book about applying design thinking for personal use called “Designing Your Life”.

Eleken is a SaaS design agency. We don’t know if design thinking will help to change your life for the better, but what we know is that design thinking is a great approach when it comes to building an MVP. Let me explain how.

What is design thinking?

As it happens with some of these words that get overly hyped, at some point we are not sure anymore if we know what it really means.

sponge bob makes a rainbow design thinking

The founders of design thinking, IDEO studio, say that design thinking is a practice for solving problems. This is the main thing you have to remember. To get in more details, here is the official definition of idea thinking by Tim Brown, Executive chair of IDEO:

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

This one might seem a bit complicated, but we’ll break it down later. For now, focus on the keywords: human-centered approach and needs of people.

If I had to explain the concept of design thinking to a 6-year old, that would be something like this:

Design thinking is a way of solving problems that starts with finding out what is the problem, what people need, then coming up with an idea, and finally checking if it works.

That sounds like the most obvious way of solving problems, right? However, not every product manager follows this path when building an MVP. Before we explain how to apply design thinking to MVP, let’s recap what minimum viable product actually is (jump to the next part if you know it well).

What is a minimum viable product?

MVP, or minimum viable product, is a test version of a product or service with a minimum set of functions that brings value to the end consumer.

The keyword here is “value”. Vague word “viable” means that the product actually solves the user’s problem. And if after testing we find out that it is not viable enough, we start it all over. That is why “minimal” is important: the less investment we make in the beginning, the easier it is to discard the failed product and build a new one.

what is mvp meme

So, instead of asking “What is a minimum viable product?” we should be asking “What makes a good minimum viable product?”

Here is a check-list for designing a good MVP (we also have a detailed instruction on how to create a minimum viable product):

  • Define the problem and target audience
  • Run research on both users and competitors
  • Find that minimal set of features that are enough to solve the problem
  • Don’t forget about testing

However, even with such a clear concept as an MVP, there are a bunch of misinterpretations that make some product managers create non-viable minimum products and others — to claim MVP an outdated term. To bring justice to this great concept, we wrote a whole article on why MVP design matters.

Ok, enough with definitions, what is an example of a minimum viable product? To get an idea, you can check out our list of  MVP examples. But in short, here's a perfect example of an MVP:

mvp vs product. Basic donut vs a donut with icing
Image credit: from-another-point-of-view.blogspot.com

Now that we have sorted out what MVP and design thinking are, let’s combine these two concepts.

Design thinking approach in MVP

Values and principles

Design thinking is not just a sequence of steps, it is a different way of seeing a problem. Accepting the principles of design thinking is no less important than following the steps. Here is how each principle can be applied in MVP.

design thinking values: optimism, empathy, experimentalism, collaboration, integrative thinking


For many teams, the process of developing an MVP might be one of the very first times they really get to know their users. Empathizing with users instead of just learning their consumer patterns is what design thinking teaches us to do. And we are talking not only about user interviews — empathy is needed at every stage of the product design process.


MVPs are often built as a thing for testing, something that is likely to fail and will need to be revamped. That is why optimism is crucial: you have to remember to go on whatever happens.

Integrative thinking

Or thinking differently, in other words. With an MVP, we aim to build a new solution to a problem. Naturally, we need to come up with original ideas, something that hasn’t been made before. Give a chance to the craziest ideas, and if they don’t come on their own, try implementing some  brainstorming strategies.


There are people who think of a minimum viable product as a big experiment, and there are those who would disagree. Whichever side you take, a dash of experimental spirit is essential for designing a good MVP. Remember that we run competitors’ research not to just copy their methods.


Minimum viable products are often built with a very small team. When there are just a couple of developers working on it, they easily get stuck in their own mindsets. Inviting people with different backgrounds to collaborate is important even if there is no budget for that. You can ask your users for help, or even friends.

If all this seems too abstract for you, don’t worry, it will become clearer in practice. If you want to see how Airbnb, Uber, and IBM apply design thinking approach, we have some examples of design thinking.

Step-by-step guide to building an MVP using design thinking approach

Design thinking process has this circular or 8-shape structure. You have to go through all the stages at least once to ensure that the solution to the problem is the best option possible. Often you would have to iterate more than once.

design thinking process: define, empathize, ideate, prototype, test

Now, let’s go through each stage and see how each of them works in the case of MVP.

1. Research

Every guide to design thinking will warn you from doing literally anything before you do at least some research. The same goes for MVP design. When resources and time are limited, as it often happens with minimum viable products, you should focus mainly on competitors, market research, and user interviews. If you can do more, perfect, but this is the minimum.

2. Define

When we want to minimize the effort, we have to know very precisely what we are doing, for whom, and why. When you aim to help all the world and make life better, design thinking won't do much for you. Even when you think that the problem is crystal clear, take some time to phrase it and make sure that everyone in the team knows about it. Our brain starts working on the problem unconsciously only when the question is stated clearly.

3. Ideate

When you need to come up with a new solution for an MVP, you need new ideas. That's clear, right? However, in design thinking ideation is not just about picking a solution. The most important thing is to come up with non-standard, innovative ideas, and you need to have more than one. 

You have to go beyond those typical solutions that come to mind first. There is a whole science of "idea fishing". You may use our list of top ideation techniques that will get you going.

4. Design

Yes, here we come to the “actual design”. Note that this is the fourth step, not the first. When building an MVP, it is important not to forget about user experience.

Designing a sophisticated user interface is typically excessive for an MVP, as well as adding too many features. However, as a UX design agency, we have strong evidence that good user experience adds value to the product at any stage of development.

5. Test

In the case of MVP, testing takes place both before and after the launch. First of all, you should test usability, and afterward — customer satisfaction, system usability, and all the other UX metrics that fit into your budget.

6. Iterate

Once you have a minimum viable product that is functional and, well, works, it is time to… build another one. Well, not exactly. What I mean here is that you shouldn’t fall into temptation to just go on once the product is out there and somebody is using it.

The purpose of MVP is to build a functional and usable version of the product and test it. Once the testing showed results, you can go for the second circle, or rather a spiral: gather user feedback, empathize, define new challenges, ideate, find the solution and design it, build a prototype, test… And so on.

To sum up

This was Eleken's personal take on guiding how to use design thinking in MVP development. Of course, no one's perfect (except the design we make for our clients) and you can adjust the process to your personal needs. But what is crucial to remember is that design thinking indeed brings a ton of value to the MVP development, such as:

  • Design thinking helps to create a product that brings real value to users
  • Motivates you to test MVP as much as possible
  • Advocates research
  • Promotes creative ideas and original solutions.

With design thinking, you are likely to make something bigger than a minimum viable product. You may end up with a minimum loveable product. Want to learn more about that? Read our article MLP vs MVP: Which One Brings Customers?

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