Prototyping is a learning activity: it's useless without testing. When we use rapid prototyping and targeted testing, we can de-risk business ideas and make better decisions about growth objectives.
When crafting innovative solutions, it’s very tempting to come up with the most unique, the flashiest, the most attention-grabbing product ideas. Ideating many varieties of solutions is helpful, but when it comes to prototyping that really gets the job done, simpler is better.
Creating low-fidelity prototypes helps us to de-risk the entire process.
We create low-fidelity prototypes in order to learn as much as we can during design thinking. They are not designed to be visually appealing. These quick prototypes are designed to specifically address the needs that we surfaced during ideation.
Teams that run lean agile sprints are always working with a bias toward “build”.
But, prioritizing a bias toward “learn” helps us slow down the thinking just enough to be sure we are considering the user throughout each step.
We apply a level of empathetic listening that goes beyond active listening. We structure ideation activities that address the right problem to solve.
This helps us identify opportunities for improvement while still performing necessary builds. We believe in the value of design thinking principles, and our innovation partners benefit from the quick wins that come out of this practice.
Eric Ries pioneered “The Lean Startup” approach to building all sizes of companies, including startups or businesses that have proven their revenue model.
This approach is useful across all types of experiments, including design thinking for enterprise and corporate innovation.
Building something small, challenging a hypothesis, learning from user interaction, and building upon those results is exactly how we achieve user delight through the entire design thinking process.
We instill a prototyping mindset – along with an entrepreneurial mindset – across the Revelry team in order to empower them to experiment often.
Prototyping puts ideas into a tangible form.
The goal for this phase is to simply bring the ideas to life. A prototype doesn’t have to be fully elaborate, fancy, or perfect. Taking the idea from conceptual to tangible allows us to test it.
We turn our ideas into tangible prototypes in the hopes of validating those “How Might We?” questions that we zeroed in on during ideation exercises.
Our research will be proven – or disproven – but most importantly, we’re approaching this phase with empathy on the mind.
Ultimately, the prototype that we move on to build and deliver to the market must prove that with the user in mind, we are truly solving the problem that we surfaced earlier in our product development.
We can’t build on every idea. We must have a proven method to decide which ideas we will pursue.
Rapid prototyping allows us to fail quickly, fail cheaply, and de-risk business ideas without taking a chance with the brand reputation. And when rapid prototyping delivers quick wins, it helps us break down complex problems into smaller elements.
Armed with some form of interaction or clickable prototype, we can set out to get real user feedback before investing heavily on a new product build.
Our prototypes offer some form of an interface for users to explore.
We observe and record all of their expectations, feelings, and actions as they interact with the physical embodiment of our idea.
We are working towards solving the problem statement and always remembering the user experience: Empathy for the problems and challenges the user is facing.
Design Thinking isn’t meant to happen in a sequential order. We recognize that each phase has its own item of importance and should continually be cross-checked as we continue to work through the methodology.
Creating prototypes allows us to test and refine the functionality of our designs.
A prototype is not viable. That’s the simplest explanation.
An MVP – the Minimum Viable Product – is the simplest form of a solution that can actually be put on the market and get traction. It still has room for improvement, of course. It is not perfect, no.
But it is good enough.
A prototype is not “good enough”.
It cannot be launched to the market. It’s useful only for answering our product development questions.
And, it’s very useful in that way.
At Revelry, prototyping typically looks like either:
The audience for each of these prototypes is different.
The UI prototype is typically aimed at the end user of the potential feature/product. It may serve one or more of the following learning goals:
Vary your prototypes – Create various prototypes and iterations from the ideas created throughout the ideation. This will help the user also test variations when you get there.
Identify a variable(s) – Your prototype should answer a question you are trying to solve for. Be open to the feedback identified throughout the testing of the variable.
Capture Feedback – Identifying what it is we want to learn with this prototype sets us up to organize and interpret feedback and user responses.
These prototypes will garner a lot of feedback. The only way to learn from the feedback is to know exactly what we want feedback on, and be disciplined about our testing methods.