Prototyping is a helpful tool to demonstrate products or identify flaws in the design. Many companies apply different models to improve their final products. If you want to avoid mistakes and get the perfect result, make sure you don’t skip this part.
In this article, we explain prototype and prototyping, their importance for startups, and some commonly used models. You can also check Wizard of Oz Prototyping to learn more about different techniques.
What is a Prototype?
A prototype is a model or a sample of your product. It has a diverse usage. For instance, a simple design drawn on a paper to see how your website would look like or an early model of a mobile phone.
Note that a prototype is not the final product but a sample built to test. It helps you see the parts that need alterations.
What is Prototyping?
Prototyping is the process of creating your prototype. In this step, people from different departments work together to create the visioned product and run tests.
There are various types that different business sectors prefer to use.
Why is Prototyping Important for Startups?
Humans are visual creatures. We understand a concept or idea better when it is presented visually. Having a prototype that illustrates the product you have in your mind can be quite useful.
You Can Test Your Product
The biggest advantage of prototyping is that you can test your product before releasing it. The model allows you to find problems that users might encounter when using the product.
If you are a tech company and currently designing an app, you can build a beta version of it and use it yourself first. Then introduce it to some users and get feedback on whether the app works smoothly or not. You might find out that the app is not user-friendly or it’s full of bugs to fix.
You Can Get Feedback
Receiving feedback for your product, you can do that in two different ways. First, you can build a rough prototype with your team and put it to the test. After the test, you can have a Q&A session with your team and ask if it worked as it was supposed to and, if not, what kind of issues were found.
Second, you can introduce your product to some potential users and conduct a survey. You can ask them what they like the most and the least about the product and what they would definitely change and keep.
You’ll get a better perception of your product at an early stage through feedback.
You Can Save Time and Money
Since you get feedback from potential customers and the different departments in your company, you know what necessary changes need to be taken. There is no need to release a bunch of products only for the buyers to complain about it. Thus forcing you to make an improved version every time the product doesn’t function as expected. Having a prototype helps you spot flaws and make improvements before it’s too late. Moreover, facing problems before production allows you to avoid making mistakes. Which saves you a considerable amount of money and your reputation.
Imagine an important material that needs to change, but you skip prototyping and go directly to production. As a result, you now have thousands of products in the market that don’t function as intended. You might need to withdraw them from the market, produce new ones, and buy the materials needed to fix the issue. It can be costly. However, fixing all these problems costs less and saves time.
You Can Reach the Investors
Having a physical illustration makes it easy to reach potential investors. A model or sample that investors can try out for themselves helps them understand what your objectives and concepts are. You can also show them the changes done so far on the prototype based on feedback. which shows the investors you are open to receiving criticisms and learning. This can encourage them to invest in your ideas.
Types of Prototyping
There are different types of prototyping for you to consider. They each serve different purposes, so understand your needs before you start making one.
This prototype model is the most common and basic one. To visualise your new product, you start drawing a simple version of your product in a meeting or a brainstorming session with your team. It’s helpful to demonstrate a rough final look of your product.
Rapid prototyping focuses on creating a 3D version of your product. It’s usually used by manufacturers that work on engines, cars and other big industrial devices.
It helps you see what kind of adjustment your product needs. After you work on it and receive feedback, you start to build a new one. Rapid prototypes are significantly helpful in moving your product to production.
Working Model Prototype
A working model prototype is used in products with moving parts. This type lets you check if the parts that compose your product work together. Like rapid prototypes, working models are helpful to take your product to the next step on the production line.
Feasibility prototypes are helpful in planning your budget. You create them by using different materials and testing their functionality and affordability. Your budget is crucial to your business and planning before pushing the production line. It improves your business’s financial aspects.
A vertical prototype is similar to the working model prototype, but it’s preferred for testing and developing software. They run at the back-end and test your software’s necessary features or functions before pushing it to the next step.
Prototyping is a crucial part of many businesses for various reasons. It allows you to test for the desired outcomes and plan your budget. A prototype also helps you design something that looks similar to your final product, which you can use to attract potential investors.