Minimum Lovable Product (MLP): What Is It and How to Build One?


With the popularity of having a minimum viable product (MVP) that users can tolerate on the rise, some SaaS companies have started building a minimum lovable product. This will help you attract customers, generate word of mouth, and improve key metrics in your product analytics dashboards.

This guide will walk you through what a minimum lovable product is and the exact steps you’ll need to take with an MLP approach!


  • Minimum lovable products are basic versions of a product that is designed to be loved by its early adopters rather than tolerated.
  • Building a minimum lovable product will help you protect your reputation, stand out against competitors, and create a feedback cycle to drive continuous improvement.
  • MLPs are different from minimum viable products or MVPs (which launch once the core function is working) and minimum marketable products or MMPs (that prioritize broad appeal and market readiness).
  • To build MLPs, you’ll need to set clear goals, conduct market research, identify must-have features, work on UX/UI design, choose your KPIs, gather post-launch feedback, and iterate based on the insights you collect.
  • The four best practices for building MLPs are to keep the feature set lean, develop the product around your target audience, prioritize education/discoverability, and present benefits at launch.
  • You can conduct user research with a product growth tool like Userpilot to build better MLPs. Get your free Userpilot demo today!

What is a minimum lovable product (MLP)?

A minimum lovable product (MLP) is an early version of a product that users love from the very start. It marks the minimum level of product design/development for customers to love a product rather than just tolerate it.

Why should you build a minimum lovable product?

There are a few reasons why you might want to build a minimum lovable product instead of a minimum viable product:

  • Brand reputation. If you’re a large company then every product you put out should show users that you care about the features they need. Failing to do this could make your new products look like a lazy cash grab attempting to capitalize on your existing customer base.
  • Standout products. Startups who are trying to compete with well-funded competitors need to create a minimum lovable product that will stand out in the market. Minimum viable products simply aren’t enough to disrupt a market with established solutions.
  • User feedback cycle. By hooking users in early, you’ll be able to capitalize on their interest as the minimum lovable product is developed further. This gives you a reliable stream of user feedback that you can leverage for continuous improvement.

Minimum lovable product vs Minimum viable product

While MLPs and MVPs are both early-stage product versions, there are some key differences between the two:

  • Minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP focuses on achieving its core function so that the product’s concept can be validated in the cheapest and fastest way possible. This is usually the go-to approach for companies who are in a rush to introduce a product to the market.
  • Minimum lovable product (MLP). The MLP focuses on features that aren’t only functional or useful but impressive enough to delight users. This requires some user research on what customers find valuable and will therefore take more time to launch than an MVP.

Minimum lovable product vs Minimum marketable product

Another approach you may have heard of is this minimum marketable product or MMP. Here are the differences between MMPs and MLPs:

  • Minimum marketable product (MMP). The MMP is a product that’s ready to be launched to the market. It’s already capable of covering a wide range of functionalities, catering to large user bases, and may even be a later iteration of a former MVP (but likely still needs UX/UI tweaks).
  • Minimum lovable product (MLP). The MLP is a product that prioritizes user engagement and emphasizes creating an emotional connection with customers who try it out. This stands in stark contrast to MMPs that focus on broader market appeal and launch readiness.

How to build minimum lovable products?

If you’re a product manager, marketer, or developer then you may be wondering how to build a minimum lovable product while using fewer resources and saving valuable time. The sections below will walk you through the seven steps of building minimum lovable products:

Set the MLP goals

The first thing you’ll need to do is set clear goals for your minimum lovable product. The more specific these objectives are, the easier it’ll be to achieve them. In general, you’ll want to center these goals around solving the user’s problem and getting them to like the product as a result.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What should they feel after using the product?
  • Which user needs does the product need to fulfill?

When in doubt, use goal-setting frameworks to break down objectives into multiple levels:

Goal-setting framework pyramid
Pyramid-style goal-setting framework.

Perform market research and analysis

Once you’ve advanced past the goal-setting stage, the next step is to conduct market research and analysis to get a better understanding of your target audience. You need to find out what their preferences, problems, and pain points are.

This will help you identify gaps in the market and find opportunities to differentiate yourself from competitors. One approach you could take is using social listening platforms like Brand24 (and other tools) to see what customers are saying about your closest competitors:

Brand24 social listening dashboard
Source: Brand24.

Another research method would be to run user surveys with market research questions. These questions will help understand the demographics and perceptions (whether product or brand) of your target audience.

A few early questions you could ask include:

  • What feature would you like to see in the product?
  • Would implementing [this feature] increase the usability of the [product name]?
  • Which feature do you think will help improve the product experience for you?
  • Please let us know how we can further improve this feature.
  • What was your first reaction to the product?
  • Of these four options, what’s the next thing you think we should build?

These are just a few examples of survey questions that you could use to collect customer feedback!

Run user surveys with market research questions in Userpilot.

Build a selection of must-have features

To avoid having too many features (or too few), you should build a selection of must-have features.

Frame the problem(s) your users are facing to help you prioritize the features that your customers need and want most. A quick way to start brainstorming is to make the statement: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if this product could ___?” — and then fill in the blank with whatever your target users would find valuable.

Start working on your UX UI design

While UX/UI design isn’t a priority for MVPs and MMPs, it’s a crucial part for MLPs since it’s harder for customers to love an ugly product with a spartan interface. Start by building an interactive prototype based on the market research you gathered.

This will help you shape the interface around your target audience’s preferences as well as the gaps that your competitors are yet to fill. You can then use this prototype for concept testing and gathering internal feedback from the other members of your team.

It’s best to focus on how your users feel to optimize the emotional design and eliminate friction points.

Here’s an example of an interface design draft in Figma (a collaborative design platform):

Figma UI/UX design dashboard
Source: Figma.

Set metrics to measure MLP launch success

Now that you have your goals, features, and design down it’s time to choose the metrics that you’ll use to track progress moving forward. When defining your key performance indicators (KPIs), make sure they align with the MLP goals that you set in the first step of this process.

For example, you could use an NPS dashboard to see how customer satisfaction changes over time as you iterate on your minimum lovable product. This will help you determine whether or not your product is moving in the right direction.

Here’s a look at Userpilot’s NPS dashboard and historical score tracker:

Userpilot NPS dashboard
Get your free Userpilot demo today!

Gather feedback after your launch

The product management and development process doesn’t end after you’ve launched your MLP to the market. Once it’s live, double down on your customer feedback collection and feedback analysis efforts. In-app surveys are the most efficient way to gather feedback from customers using your MLP:

Userpilot in-app survey builder
Get your free Userpilot demo today!

Analyze the results and iterate

User feedback is only useful if you actually improve the product based on these insights. As such, the final (and continuous) step of this process is to create product iterations based on user feedback. Start with the most common issues/suggestions then work your way down.

Best practices when building minimum lovable products

Before you start executing your strategy, though, you should be aware of some of the DOs and DONTs.

There are four best practices you should adhere to while building minimum lovable products:

  1. Keep the feature set lean and agile
  2. Center development around the target audience
  3. Prioritize education and discoverability
  4. Present the benefits during the launch process

Let’s take a closer look at each of these tenets in the sections below!

Stay lean and agile with all the features

To avoid feature bloat, don’t lose focus of the user persona you’re targeting. This subset of your target market will help you determine which essential features should be prioritized. After all, it’s incredibly difficult to build a product that multiple user groups all love equally.

Here’s a free user persona template you can use to flesh out your first customer avatar:

Free user persona template
Download your free user persona template here!

Focus on your target audience during the development process

Instead of focusing on business objectives, focus your attention on your users’ goals. You need to detach yourself from your own biases and instead think about what your users actually need (based on the user problems they’re currently experiencing).

What does this look like in the real world?

When conducting user interviews (whether through video conferencing or in-person meetups at a coffee shop), you need to avoid asking users the problems you want to hear about. Asking them what they want could get them talking about software you could build for them.

Instead, ask them about what they find difficult, stressful, or tedious.

These types of broader, open-ended questions will get you more valuable insights that you can then translate into action steps within the context of your product strategy. As always, product managers need to understand the product’s users in as much (or greater) depth as the product itself.

Don’t forget about education and discoverability

In the lead-up to your launch, make sure that you have the customer education and user onboarding systems ready at release. For instance, interactive walkthroughs (and other forms of in-app guidance) should be in place to guide the first few users through the product’s core features.

Here’s an example of what an in-app guidance flow could look like within your product:

Kommunicate in-app guidance example
Source: Kommunicate.

Present the benefits when launching

It’s important to remember that customers don’t care about the thing you built — or even how much extra effort you put into building it! What they really care about is how the thing you built will solve their problem using the least effort, cost, and time possible.

As such, you should tailor your launch strategy around communicating the benefits of your MLP to its potential users rather than showcasing the products you’ve built. You do want to tie the features to the benefits, but only after using the established benefits to hook customers in the first place.


As you can see, you don’t need either extreme — ugly UIs vs bloated product features — to launch a product. if you focus on creating a product that solves a problem, makes users adore it, and functions as intended, then you’ll be able to get it to market faster without sacrificing customer satisfaction.

If you’re ready to start gathering user feedback, streamlining onboarding, and improving in-app guidance for your MLPs then it’s time to get your free Userpilot demo today!

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