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Prototyping has been incredibly important in developing and launching our GrowGetters Club. It has saved us hours of our time, and a lot of money as well. How? Because we prototyped our idea before building the product!
In this episode, we’ll explain exactly what prototyping is, and we’ll go into 6 practical prototyping methods you can use for your own idea.
Isn’t it something for inventors or tech geeks? Or developers? The answer in short is hell no. A prototype by definition, according to Wikipedia, is an early sample model or release of a product built to test a concept or process.
We’re not the biggest fans of this definition at GrowGetters, as it denotes that a prototype is something that should be pretty far fleshed out. What we want to demonstrate today is that number one, you can make or build a prototype way sooner than any formal development. And number two, you don’t have to necessarily touch a laptop to do so. And finally, number three, you can prototype just about any idea you have. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a product, but can also be a service.
There are a few reasons why you might want to prototype your idea. Firstly, it allows you to test it out with your team. This can help refine the idea with other experts and gain some of their perspectives and inputs to improve the idea. You can even do it as part of a brainstorming session, which we cover in another episode: Brainstorming Like A Boss.
Secondly, and most importantly, it allows you to trial the concept with the people that matter the most, your desired customers or audiences. You can get direct input into the idea, making your customers part of the development process and actually co-creating the idea together with you. It’s awesome.
And thirdly, it allows you to fail fast if necessary. You’ll save headaches, time and money by testing an idea before it even touches the build, design or production phases. In a nutshell, the main point of practical prototyping is iteration. So refining the concept in an iterative process before you build or launch it. Prototyping is also as much about learning as it is about doing.
We’ll take you through some awesome practical prototyping methods that will make you see just how easy it can be, and how your idea can develop for the better.
Are you still in the first stages of a project and looking to understand your customers’ or users’ needs? Get in a team and assign each other different user roles or customer points of view. Play out aspects of your problem like a roleplay. If you like, you can replay a scenario again and again with swapped roles.
This form of roleplay is especially useful for gaining new perspectives on your current questions. And the cool thing is; that it’s really fun and it doesn’t take that much time.
The main aim is to develop a sense of empathy and understanding for the people your idea is hoping to serve.
For this idea, you’ll need to round up a bunch of your existing customers or people that represent your desired customer persona. Depending on how many you have rounded up, ideally, get them into groups according to their common needs. Ask your users to take a box and turn it into the packaging of the product or service they desire. The box should show off all the important parts of the product, such as a picture, slogan, and features. Afterward, the various user groups get to show it off, as if they were at a convention or an event trying to sell their box to the other user groups acting as potential customers.
Let yourself be inspired by the ideas and wishes of the most important people, your customers.
For this concept, imagine you are a journalist. Your task is to write a newspaper article that describes your concept. This is an awesome way for you to outline the vision of your product or service, as well as its surrounding scenario without getting lost in the details. Your news article should consist of text and a photo, as well as a date and headline.
This is a super simple, fun, and creative way to share your idea with your team or your customers. And you can get a really good gauge of your ideas’ potential impact on others, as well as get a discussion going that can help you refine your idea even further.
Ever heard of the saying that an image says more than 1000 words? Well, that’s exactly what a mood board is intended to convey. A mood board is a compilation or collage of images, texts, and materials. It should be highly visual and convey a sense of emotion or feeling in a quick and easy way.
The mood board is an excellent medium for communicating the atmosphere, and multi-sensory qualities of your coming product, service, and space. Here you can present your mood board to your team or customers and engage their initial feedback to the emotional sense of what your idea hopes to convey.
This one is all about tapping into your inner child. You might be stuck in a certain mode of your project or lose your energy. This method is about letting yourself go and building on your idea.
With the materials at hand (paper, glue, Lego, Playmobil, glitter, stickers, whatever) tap into that kid that you once were, and actually, physically build out your product or service idea. You can do this individually or in teams, and of course, even co-create with the representatives of your desired customer groups. The cool thing is that you can then present what you’re built to get direct feedback from your ideal customers, helping to refine and shape the idea even further.
You might know this term already if you’ve ever built a website or app for your business, or where you work. A wireframe is used mainly for a digital product or service. It shows in a 2d way what it will look like and do, from a purely functional perspective. This is usually on a screen, so it is still digital, but it’s 2D.
Paper wireframing is the physical, quick, and easy paper version of wireframing. For this method, you plan the content layout and links of your website or software using rough sketches. This method is ideal for the early project phases since you can iterate quickly through lots of design changes, besides visualising your information architecture. The cool thing is that you can also start testing usability, directly with your intended users and customers straight away.
And that’s it for prototyping today! We hope we’ve made prototyping accessible, practical, highly applicable, and most importantly fun
“I love taking an idea to a prototype, and then to a product that millions of people use” – Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube.
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