When people hear the word "prototype" they usually think of robots, machines or devices with many cables hanging.
However, you can speak of prototyping as an action, which consists of building and testing several versions in "draft" of your idea to be able to understand it thoroughly and then develop it.
This could be either constructing a complex device with cables or simply drawing a sketch on paper.
You have to think of it like this: to make a prototype is to fail before, to avoid failure later.
It's not about getting it right the first time, or the second time. It is about improving your idea quickly through trial and error, which is much less risky than launching a product and trying it later.
But why build a prototype? It would be easier to survey people. The point is that you have to build something to really understand and learn. If you show an abstract idea to people, they are likely to respond hypothetically. A prototype gives them something tangible with which they can interact and in front of which they can react. This gives you more accurate and valuable feedback.
You must use your prototype to ask a question, not just to show your idea to people. Think about what you need to learn to continue improving and versioning the product. Do not worry if you do not look good. You can improve it after obtaining the information you need.
Let's look at the different types of prototypes you can do for different stages of your idea.
When you are in the early stages of developing your idea, you can simply make a prototype to explore it. This usually takes you from an abstract concept to a simple physical, digital, or empirical article.
Once you have a solid concept, you may not know how it will work in reality. Then you can make a prototype to learn how the innate behavior of people can shape the behavior of your product.
As you develop your idea, you can have specific questions about some feature or aspect of it. For example, should it be blue or red? Which age group will you like? You can make a prototype to test and get opinions from the public.
Remember: you explore creating a simple physical item at the beginning. You learn when people's behavior shows you how the product should work. You test when you have specific questions about a feature.
The good thing is that you do not need a totally finished concept to start with prototyping.
Even if you have a very early idea, you can start making a prototype. In fact, prototyping can help you complete your idea.
Initial prototypes can be simple, like sketches. You must make at least 2 versions in order to compare and contrast them.
- Prototyping improves your idea by trial and error.
- You can make a prototype of anything.
- A prototype is made to explore, learn and test.