When it comes to prototyping, the goal is not to become attached to it. In relationship terms, prototyping should be more of a one-night stand or fling than a steady partner you introduce to your parents. Here’s our advice for those obsessing over the perfect prototype so that you can learn to let go of them, and then get back on your feet and start again.
Build it just good enough to learn
Prototype in 3 days, not in 4 months. There is a misconception that your prototype needs to be perfect to show to customers. Perfection is the enemy of experimenters. By spending hours developing a new solution, you might be focusing on the wrong details, which takes time and effort away from the problem solution you are still getting to know. Remember, you have very limited time to validate your assumptions, and framing your research with defined measurement criteria is key. You want to be able to show something that appears real to your users. Do not count on their imagination as you’ll only get their opinions. Experimentation is not about making predictions, but exposing users to a mock-up of a real-life solution.
Prototypes are disposable
Prototype earlier in the process
To avoid falling hard, prototype early and fail fast. You are not only testing the final solution. With the Design Thinking methodology, we often see the prototyping exercise happening at later stages of the process. Get into the habit of prototyping and testing your idea as soon as possible, and often. It is the best way to measure the impact of your idea directly with potential users, saving you time and heartbreak in the long run.
While time is a constraint, you don’t want your crucial assumptions to be passed up. Consider running multiple experiments at the same time. Play the field. You’ll first need to make sure you allocate enough time and energy to do this, and it will require appropriate planning. Experimentation is the ideal moment to show your ideas and co-create solutions with users. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Building prototypes is one of the easiest ways to communicate your early ideas and get reactions from it so that you can go back to the drawing board. Use our experiment picker to find out the best prototyping tools and prototyping models for your solution.
Prototype testing cannot be random
Don't forget why you are prototyping
Prototyping is the moment that you test behaviours and collect feedback. Always keep in mind why are you running an experiment, which assumptions are you testing, and how you will define the success or failure of an idea. You want to make sure you are learning as fast as possible with a prototype, not just when building it, but also when testing it. In doing so, you can exaggerate and push your users for extreme reactions, or emphasize features so you’ll really know how your users feel about it.
Want help with prototyping?
Are you testing a product or service and need to know if you are developing the right prototypes to test customer reactions? We can help optimize that process so your go-to-market is more streamlined and successful.