There is always that one person we know. You know, the person who is always sure they have a perfect idea but never bothers to test it? Yep, that’s the guy.
That guy isn’t you, thankfully. Because you know that the only way to make sure your idea is perfect is to prototype it. Creating a prototype is the process of creating a rough or conceptual model of an idea or product. Before devoting the time and energy to developing a final product, this process allows you to test out your concept, collect feedback from others, and make any needed adjustments. In other words, prototyping is necessary to guarantee that your product is the best it can be.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the purpose of prototyping and how you can use it to improve your ideas.
Defining a prototype
A prototype is more than merely a doodle on a piece of paper; it’s the introduction to your product.
An early, unpolished model of your product aka your prototype can be used to test ideas and gather consumer feedback. It permits you to evaluate how customers will use your product, which may aid the early detection and resolution of issues.
So why is prototyping necessary?
Prototyping is an important step because it allows you to test and validate your ideas before developing the final product.
When we have feedback, reviews, and ideas from users and stakeholders, it makes us easier to understand and develop a product.
Why is feedback necessary?
Identifying problems at an early stage, before the development process, can save time and money in the long run.
A prototype can be useful to generate new ideas. This can lead to a more innovative and successful final product.
You can also identify and mitigate potential risks early in the development process, reducing the risk of the final product failing.
The different types of prototypes
It’s crucial to test your ideas frequently and early while creating a new product.
Prototypes come in three different fidelity levels: low, medium, and high. Low-fidelity prototypes are the cheapest and easiest to make, but they also possess the least amount of detail. High-fidelity prototypes are much more realistic, but medium-fidelity prototypes are a step up in terms of detail but still not as realistic as high-fidelity prototypes.
Based on the requirements for the product that have been discussed in this part, developers can select from a variety of prototype model types. Let’s examine them.
Rapid Throwaway Prototyping- The prototype is developed rapidly based on the initial requirements and given to the client for review. As the name suggests, the developed prototype is discarded, and it will not be part of the final product. Once the feedback is received from the users, stakeholders or the development team, the design is used to improve its usability and make the necessary changes before investing in the final product.
Evolutionary Prototyping- A prototype is made, and client feedback is received. Based on the feedback, the prototype is refined until the client considers it the final product. It follows an incremental development approach and saves time compared to rapid throwaway prototyping.
Which prototype kind is ideal for your project? Your needs and your budget will determine that. You might use a low- or medium-fidelity prototype if you have a short deadline. A high-fidelity prototype, however, could be something you wish to purchase if you have more time and funds.
The benefits of prototyping
When you first started thinking about your new product, you probably had a vision in your head of what it would look like, how it would work, and who it was for. That’s the beauty of having a great idea – you can see it in your mind’s eye, and it’s so clear and perfect.
Although 3D printing is often perceived as a costly production method, 3D printing can speed up the creation of your products. It can assist in prototyping since it is more efficient and affordable than many standard techniques. To print your framework, you need to make a 3D model of it using a 3D printer.
When should you prototype?
Always keep in mind the saying “Fail quickly, fail often” when prototyping. Put another way, prototype as early and frequently as possible. Making additional prototypes can help you learn more quickly and ensure that your final product is more precise.
When you are short on time or money, prototyping is crucial. For instance, building a prototype is far simpler (and less expensive) than building the actual product for example a toy when developing a new one. Additionally, by developing a prototype, you may gather feedback from your target market i.e. kids/children here and make adjustments before spending too much time and money on manufacturing the project.
So how do you decide when to prototype? The answer is, “It depends.” But a solid rule of thumb is to prototype whenever you’re working on anything fresh or untested.
How to create a prototype?
When you’re creating a prototype, it’s important to keep in mind that you want to test the usability of your product, not the aesthetics. So, before you get too carried away with those sweet, sweet designs, hold on for just one second.
Prototyping is all about figuring out how people will interact with your product. That’s why it’s important to have a working model – something that does what your product is supposed to do. This way, you can test whether people will be able to use it or not.
So, before you go too crazy with the design aspect, start by getting your hands dirty with the prototyping process. It’s the best way to make sure your product is usable.
Here’s a fun fact: You can now take advantage of these services at the Prototyping Lab of the Goa State Innovation Council, Don Bosco College of Engineering, Fatorda.
Why do we need to go through all the trouble of prototyping?
There are a few key reasons:
To test out our ideas and make sure they’re feasible.
To get feedback from others and learn from their reactions.
To iron out any irregularities before we invest too much time and money into development.
Overall, prototyping is an essential step in the design process, and it’s something that we can all benefit from. So don’t be afraid to give it a try, you may be surprised by what you learn and find.