MVP vs MLP: What to Choose

In the world of software development, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is considered a surefire way to start a project and test the idea. However, many believe that you can take it a step further and create a Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) instead. So is MVP really outdated, and when should you consider MLP development? Finally, what “minimum” product will bring you more clients and revenue?

Below, we compare MVP vs MLP and explain 

  • How these two product versions differ
  • Why MVP is still valid
  • What exactly is meant by “lovable”
MVP vs MLP: What to Choose

What are MVP and MLP?

First things first, let’s define both MVP and MLP to get a clear understanding of both products and the purpose that they serve.

Defining MVP

A Minimum Viable Product can be defined as a very basic yet functioning version of your end product. Its main purpose is to validate your product idea with real users and to test how well they receive the product. An MVP contains a basic set of essential features, is usually quite simplistic in design, and does not offer any extravagant features.  

Due to its simplicity, MVP can be quickly developed and released, thus resulting in faster time-to-market and saving of development costs. And early feedback collection from users allows developers to quickly adjust the MVP and to appeal to the target audience.

Defining MLP

A Minimum Lovable Product is similar to an MVP in a sense that it is also a product prototype and has a limited set of features. But notice the “lovable” part in its name. That means, an MLP is aimed at provoking emotions and basically making users “fall in love” with the product. In business terms: the main purpose of an MLP is to stand out from the competition and to create a strong emotional connection with the target audience.

The most notable feature of an MLP is its outstanding design and user experience. Since the UX part is responsible for attracting, retaining, and engaging users, no wonder MLP places great focus on it.

What is the difference between MLP and MVP?

After defining both products, let’s discuss their differences in more detail by comparing Minimum Lovable Product vs MVP by several criteria.


The main goal of an MVP is to rapidly test the product idea and collect feedback from real users. This feedback will later be used to tweak the product and make it more user-centric and appealing.

MLP, on the other hand, aims to impress the users and engages them by provoking emotions. In this way, MLP strives to become memorable and to create a strong impression that will result in users buying the end product and anticipating its release.


Both MVP and MLP have a limited set of essential features. These features are just enough to make the product functioning but do not offer anything extra. Note though that by limited, we mean those features that are expected by users and that help users reach their goal. For example, an MVP may have a search bar – but it won’t have an AI-powered search or voice search, as it would be considered advanced search functionality.


Since the main goal of the MVP is to quickly test the product idea with users, it places the focus on usability and functionality. The simplistic nature of the MVP does now allow excessive features – nor does it allow excessive design. 

The story with MLP is different. Design is used as the main component to attract users and immediately grab their attention and serves as a core factor of user engagement. So while the feature list in MLP remains quite basic, the design is usually advanced and highly user-centric.


Since both MVP and MLP can be considered as product prototypes, they allow quick time-to-market. Due to a limited number of features, the development time is significantly shorter and thus, you can release your product version relatively fast and adjust it “on the go”.

A word on emotional journey mapping

Before moving further, let’s take a break and talk about mapping user emotions and why it’s especially important for the MLP development.

In UX/UI design, a user journey is a detailed description of a sequence of steps that a user takes when interacting with an app. Creating user journeys is an integral part of developing any software product, including MVP and MLP. Without it, you won’t be able to create a smooth user flow and won’t deliver great user experience, as your product will not match the expectations of your target audience.

Emotional journey mapping takes the creation of user journeys a step further and proposes defining what emotions a user feels at a particular stage of their journey. For example, when launching an app, a user might feel anxious or irritated – if they are hungry and want to quickly order a meal. In this way, every point of interaction between the user and the app will be defined by a certain emotion. This, in turn, will help designers and UX writers adjust their content to these emotions in order to resonate with them and create a sense of understanding and support.

Mapping user emotions is critical in the creation of a Minimum Lovable Product, as it helps deliver the right message and create a strong emotional connection. Obviously, it requires extra effort, but is necessary for successful MLP delivery.

When do you need an MVP and an MLP?

Getting back to comparing MLP vs MVP, let’s talk about their main use cases. Though being prototypes, these two product versions serve various purposes, and it’s important to differentiate between them in order to develop a solution that your business really needs.

When to create an MVP

You should consider MVP development in the following cases:

  • When you have limited time or need short time-to-market
  • When you have limited budget 
  • When you need to quickly validate your idea with real users
  • When you want to resolve user pain points effectively and quickly

MVP development is all about speed. Moreover, it implies the use of limited resources, so it perfectly fits startups. However, it doesn’t mean that major companies do not love MPV. They appreciate it the same.

When to create an MLP

On the contrast with MVP, MLP is great for the following scenarios:

  • When you want to differentiate your product and make it stand out
  • When you want to interest users in the product before the final version is released
  • When you want to expand functionality of the existing MVP

Due to exceptional user experience and design, MLP tends to be highly memorable and attractive, which is often a big competitive advantage, especially for products in narrow niches.

What about MMP?

When discussing product prototypes, it’s also worth mentioning MMP – Minimum Marketable Product. An MMP can be defined as a blend of MVP and MLP and its main goal is to make a product “sellable” and hence, bring profit. This is achieved by augmenting the initial functionality of the MVP and making the design a bit more appealing. Note though that MMP development does not mean overloading the prototype with advanced features or creating over-the-top design. The main goal here is to make the product attractive and functional enough, so users buy it. So obviously, you will have to expand the core functionality a bit.

When to choose MMP development:

  • When you need the product to bring profit
  • When you want the product version to be sellable at early stages

The ultimate comparison: MVP vs MLP vs MMP

Let’s recap the info above and summarize it in a table, so it’s easier for you to select between the options and understand the pros and cons of each:

FunctionalityLimited: a basic set of features to keep the product functioningLimited; same as in MVPA bit more advanced to make the product sellable
DesignBasic; nothing too advancedOutstanding and complex to create an emotional connection with usersAverage
GoalTo quickly validate the idea and collect user feedbackTo evoke emotions, attract users, and stand out from the competitionTo sell the product and make it profitable
Time-to-marketShortAverage due to design complexityAverage
CostLowAverage / HighAverage

Expert Opinion

Comparing MVPs and MLPs is like comparing apples and oranges—they serve different purposes. An MVP prioritizes swift product launch and idea validation, while an MLP aims for crafting a standout, engaging product. While I haven’t directly handled MLP projects, I consistently inquire about clients’ product expectations and objectives. Based on my industry experience, startups typically lean towards MVPs for their agility, while established firms, boasting loyal clienteles, often opt for MLPs to carve out unique offerings at a more relaxed pace.

Business Analyst

Polina Aleshkevich

In conclusion

The choice between MVP vs MLP will depend utterly on your business objectives and what you expect from the product. But despite the minimal set of features in both versions, it doesn’t mean you should neglect the development process. Both MVP and MLP should be developed professionally so that users receive value from using the product. Hence, we recommend partnering with a reliable software vendor who will help bring your vision to life and will ensure that your prototype aligns with your goals without consuming too much of your time, budget, and resources. 

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