It is important to build prototypes of our product first and test with customers in order to avoid this fallacy of market need. Prototypes can be seen as rough, quick and low-cost experiments that change and become more complex over time. They build a basis for customer feedback, which will then allow you to improve your product/service.
|"The prototyping rules are: Find the quickest path to experience and doing is the best kind of thinking."
– Tom Chi
There are different fidelities or levels of completeness to the final product, which differ depending on the situation and company. The fidelities range from low to medium and high fidelity, whereas the last one is fairly close to the actual product and much more detailed then previous ones (Dam & Siang, 2018).
Low-fidelity prototypes are a quick and low-cost way of testing your product/service, which allows you to iterate and go through many versions in a short time span without using too many resources. This type of prototype is used early on in your project and is used to test your assumptions/hypothesis. Low-fidelity prototypes could be sketches on paper, storyboards, or paper/cardboard models (ibid).
After working with your low fidelity prototypes, testing big assumptions and solving the most obvious problems, you should be moving to the next stage, which is medium-fidelity prototypes. Medium-fidelity prototypes add more details and refinements to the prototypes, which means that they are closer to the final product than low-fidelity prototypes. However, this means they also take longer to develop and can thus be costly. Hence, you should aim to have eliminated fundamental problems during the low-fidelity prototyping stage so you can focus on testing more refined aspects and options (ibid).
Some tools for medium-fidelity prototyping are the following:
High-fidelity prototypes are an accurate representation of the actual product and allow last testing and adjustments before building the full product. This high-fidelity version usually includes all the visual and functional elements that will be present in the final product. This enables to test certain elements before spending the additional time and money to build it.
Some tools for high-fidelity prototyping are the following:
If you are not building a software start-up but are focusing on hardware the following article might be helpful:
- https://tech.co/prototype-hardware-startups-2015-02 (Teel, 2015)
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TedEd (2013). Rapid prototyping Google Glass - Tom Chi. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5_h1VuwD6g [Accessed 30 January 2018]
Dam, R. & Siang, T. (2018). What Kind of Prototype Should You Create?. Available at: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-kind-of-prototype-should-you-create-]= [Accessed 30 January 2018]
Teel, J. (2015). 7 Steps to a Prototype for Hardware Startups. Available at: https://tech.co/prototype-hardware-startups-2015-02 [Accessed 30 January 2018]