For startups, prototyping is the necessary midpoint between the design and production of a product. It is an integral process for transforming your product from an idea into a viable business.
If you skip this step, your product might not live up to its full potential.
Indiegogo, a global crowdfunding platform, noted in a recent report that “on average, campaigns with working prototypes at the time of launch raise 186% more than campaigns that don’t.”
It’s worth the work.
We’ve all had a lot of time to think. There is no doubt that the ongoing pandemic is fueling a full-blown innovative renaissance, as more and more ideas and startups create new products and solutions. The major challenge is – how do you stand out? How do you feasibly present your product to best showcase all it can offer potential clients and investors?
When building your first prototype, consider following these steps to turn your idea into a profitable product.
Rally Your Brainstorming Team
The first step to creating an effective prototype is to brainstorm. Encourage your team to think out loud to get meaningful contributions from the people that know your product best.
However, in the brainstorming phase, it is essential to embed a set of rules that your team can abide by to avoid any commotion.
“While we’ve learned that freestyle brainstorming is the basis of innovation, it doesn’t turn into substantive action without some structure,” noted the global head of content strategy at Google Apps for Work.
For that reason, it is crucial to set ground rules for your team, and give them a solid base that they can work up from. Establish a fixed duration for brainstorming sessions to avoid burnout and maintain high energy and focus levels, ensuring that no more than 15-20 minutes is spent on each question.
Moreover, ensure that your team is adequately equipped for the brainstorming process by providing them with the materials they need to illustrate their ideas. This minor step can clarify concepts that may have otherwise gotten lost in translation and allows you to better visualize how they would be implemented.
Do not restrict your brainstorming team to the existing members of your organization. It can be extremely beneficial to recruit contributors who are not a part of your team as they can provide unique perspectives and make considerations that your team may have overlooked.
Most importantly, be open to all the ideas your brainstorming team puts forward. There are no bad ideas when it comes to brainstorming, but rather concepts that can be tweaked and adjusted to fit the needs of your clients.
Refine Your Ideas
After laying out all your ideas, the next step is to refine them. Attempt to group similar ideas together into separate categories, then present those restructured concepts to your team. Allow them to vote for their favorite ideas.
The Google Ventures design team has benefited from a similar approach in the past, dubbing the process the “note-and-vote.” This process allows each individual team member to come to their own conclusions and provide unique feedback.
“We often jump right to voting when there’s a finite list of options,” noted a design partner at Google Ventures. “So long as you do most of the thinking individually, you’ll see a big efficiency boost.”
After compiling your team’s votes and notes, evaluate the results carefully. Regroup with your team members to discuss your findings and to determine the central idea that will inform the creation process of your first prototype.
Envision Your Prototype
Now that you’ve determined the essence of your prototype, it’s time to begin imagining what it’s going to entail. Take your central idea and attempt to separate it into smaller components that can be addressed.
In this process, focus on the ideal user experience that your product would provide. Consider each individual stage of the user experience and what your product would offer at each of those points.
Using this basis, draw an experience map to better visualize how consumers would interact with your product. In this process, consider the following questions:
- How will you raise awareness about your product?
- How will a consumer pay for your product?
- How will your product reach your consumer?
- How will you receive feedback on your product?
Be sure to consult your team on these questions to outline potential areas in need of improvement and create a calculated prototype.
Turn Your Vision Into Reality
The next step is to identify the best type of prototype suitable for your business needs. There are a number of different forms to choose from, however, the optimal choice is determined through the unique qualities of your product.
What this means is that your prototype can be created in multiple forms: as a traditional 3D-model, a digital mock-up, or even as a work of visual media. It all depends on what matches best with the product you are offering. Revisit the visualization process to understand the market you are catering to, and consider what the optimal way to present it to them would look like.
Moreover, be sure to document the various prototypes you create, as keeping a comprehensive review of past models will benefit you later down the line. Remember; it doesn’t have to be perfect. The goal of building a prototype is to test ideas and improve them to ultimately create the optimal product. It’s all part of the process.
Receive Feedback, Rinse, Repeat
Arguably, the most important part of the prototype process is receiving feedback from potential clients and investors.
Think of it as an opportunity to gain more insight into your market’s needs and expectations.
After distributing your prototype to be tested, determine exactly what kind of feedback you’re hoping to receive. Compile a list of questions that you can address towards your testers, pertaining to different aspects of the user experience, and present them to your audience.
The manner in which you conduct feedback activities is also important, and varies from product to product. Identify what technique is most suitable for you; whether it is a conversation to be had, or merely a questionnaire to be sent out. In this process, ensure that you make it clear to your audience that the prototype is a work in progress, and be open to critique.
With every prototype version you create, you learn more about your potential market and can better identify room for improvement, moving one step closer towards a production-quality prototype.
Looking to grow your business in these uncertain times? Book a free consultation with Atomic 47 today to get the solutions you need to scale your business.