I've recently stumbled upon the "Walking skeleton" term and got a bit confused about the terminology.

Is it the same or a variation of a Minimum Viable Product, or how does it relate to MVP in general?

3 Answers 3


The walking skeleton reflects the rough structure/shape of the product, but it may be entirely stubbed out (initially), meaning it may not be actually functional. The skeleton cannot move without the muscles.

The MVP however must meet a certain minimum functionality level to be considered viable.

As development progresses the walking skeleton typically morphs into an MVP and eventually into a final product.


Dan is close. I think the easy way to describe the difference is that the two have different customers. The customer of the walking skeleton is the dev (and ops) team, in that it implements the simplest thing from each of the elements of the architecture and strings them together in a working way. For example, it has a front end, it has a backend, it has a database, and it can move null betwween the three layers of the arhitecture. It can be deployed in production; but from a user perspective it doesn't really do anything.

In contrast, the customer of the MVP is, well, the end user of the product. It's the simplest slice of functionality that can satisfy the core payoff/value for the user. The MVP is then the smallest amount of value that can be delivered that demonstrates that the application is worthwhile. Often this is completely the opposite of a walking skeleton. A common approach is a 'concierge' MVP, where the steps are manually performed behind say a simple landing page or google form, with the results sent to the user over email.


Based on the following two comments to the referenced answer in the question:


I guess it's the delivery pipeline equivalent of a minimum viable product.


This does sound similar to minimum viable product, but at a more granular level- "minimum viable component" perhaps. Returning 200 from a service just to get it "running" sounds like a stub to me.

it looks like that a Walking skeleton is not identical, but a smaller MVP.

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