MVPs vs Full Build: Which Is the Right Path for Your Website Development?

Exceptional website development and design is now the norm. Intuitive user experience (UX) is expected, but does that mean your website needs all the same bells and whistles as the big brands? 

Your knee-jerk reaction might be to say ‘yes.’ After all, why wouldn’t you want the best website possible to communicate your brand story and support your product?

But let’s take that enthusiasm and consider what you need your website to do for you. You could have a full build website, a cutting-edge experience that immerses users in the story and mission of your brand. Or perhaps you just need a minimum viable product (MVP), a simple web page that effectively communicates your message. Both are completely viable options that ensure your brand has a lasting impact in your industry.

We hope you don’t interpret ‘simple’ as ‘basic’ or ‘boring.’ It might help to use an analogy: Compare a Rolls Royce to a Toyota Corolla. A Rolls Royce catches eyes and turns heads, but a Corolla is a perfectly reliable vehicle that can take you places (if you can stand not having AC).

Let’s not get lost in the analogy and get back to the question at hand: Do you need a full build website with oodles of features, or can you get by with a minimum viable product (MVP) that gets the job done and can be improved upon later? There’s no straightforward answer, but there are plenty of variables to consider. So let’s get that consideration underway.

How to Assess What Your Business Needs

Before identifying what your website should look like, we need to assess your goals. Every facet of your business should honor your goals, and your website should be the epicenter of that celebration. Ask yourselves the following questions to home in on what your website development should look like.

  • Who will use your website? Is it consumer-facing? Or B2B? Get as granular as you can when identifying your audience—age range, income bracket, computer literacy, mobile usage, etc. The more you know your audience, the easier it will be to identify how you need to tailor your website.
  • What are your users looking for in your website? With your audience data in mind, consider how they will want to interact with your website. How will their preferences inform the user experience and design?
  • What will your users accomplish on your website? Will it provide easily indexable and searchable information? Is it meant to encourage visitors to sign up for a service? A website serves multiple functions, this question is just meant to help you prioritize your goals. From there, we can extract some semblance of what’s required for your website development.
  • What functions do you need to support your goals? For example, if you’re hoping to become a thought leader in your industry, you need blogging capabilities. Are you planning to sell products online? No surprises here, you need eCommerce capabilities. 
  • How will people arrive at the site? Organic search? Referrals? Following up after a meeting? It may surprise you, but your plan for people to arrive at your website can affect its size and structure.

At this point, we should clarify that minimum viable products and full build websites are not your only options—they are two ends of a spectrum. Your website may fall between those two depending on your company’s demands. 

With that out of the way, let’s chat about MVPs.

The MVP Website Approach

A minimum viable product for a website is a simple concept, usually just a landing page that delivers on the business’s services, purpose, and a clear call to action for visitors. Besides that, there’s not much more involved with an MVP. 

Advantages of MVPs

To some, an MVP may seem too bare-bones. But remember this is not the ultimate version of your website. It’s just a place to get you started. With that in mind, let’s consider the advantages of MVP websites.

  • Fast market entry: MVP websites can go from ideation to publication incredibly quickly since there’s usually only one page to write, design, and review. 
  • Cost-effective development: If you have a tight budget but still want a powerful website, MVPs can get your website where it needs to be to enter the market with authority.
  • Simple message delivery: We work together to identify the core message of your brand and develop an MVP that makes that message loud and clear to your consumers.

Disadvantages of MVPs

While MVPs are incredibly effective options, there are some obvious limitations.

  • Initial limitations: There’s only so much you can say and do with a single web page. Even if your message is clear, it can still feel somewhat limiting from a messaging and experience perspective.
  • Missed user expectations: It’s hard to gauge how users will react to an MVP website. They may be looking for information you don’t initially have on your website.
  • Longer/costly future developments: MVPs are meant to be the start, which means you still have a lot of work ahead. In the grand scheme of things, it will take longer to get to a full site from an MVP than if you just went with the full site right from the start.

The Full Build Website Approach

A full build website puts the user experience at the center of the website design’s focus, rather than using the core message as we do in an MVP website. You may also implement some API integrations if you have multiple relevant services or applications.

Even so, the full build website goes into depth to communicate every facet of your business and product offerings. This, in combination with a finely-tuned user interface design, clears the way for streamlined conversions.

Advantages of Full Build Websites

The full build website is the epitome of your brand message and presence. This offers two distinct advantages:

  • Comprehensive user experience: The average customer will feel informed and understood when navigating your website. They can find the information they need and know where to go for whatever inquiry they might have.
  • Competitive advantage: With a holistic UX under your belt, you make a splash in your market that turns heads and pulls attention away from the competition. It shows you are an established entity in the market that’s ready to serve.

Disadvantages of Full Build Websites

With great power comes a hefty number of man-hours.

  • Longer development time: It takes quite a while to tweak your full build website to perfection. It all starts with a vision, then we turn that vision into a workable strategy, and then we ideate and ideate until we craft a first draft. Then we tweak that draft and expand on it until it matches that original vision. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the whole process takes several months.
  • Higher costs: It’s a simple equation: Time is money. Longer development time means higher costs.

All that said, full build websites are often best saved for website redesigns. While you spend the time working on the new design, your old website can still work to deliver conversions and new business.

Before You Make a Decision…

Spenser Johnson, our Senior UX Designer, has some parting words:

“When considering MVP vs Full Build knowing your audience is incredibly important. Will your audience accept an MVP, or find it disappointing? This first impression can be hard to overcome later.”

So let’s summarize our findings:

  • MVP websites are great for businesses who don’t have a functioning website and want to get one up and running.
  • Full build websites provide a comprehensive experience for your users that sets you up with a competitive edge.

Now it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of MVPs vs Full Build websites against your business goals. Consider what is most important to your business in the long run. And remember, this isn’t an either/or scenario! These two website design solutions are just meant to illustrate the range of solutions you can bring to your website.

If you’d like a digital marketing agency partner to bounce ideas off of, we’re more than happy to help. We’re always here to workshop ideas to bring ideas to life and get started on a project we’ll both be proud of.