Rapid Prototyping to Validate Your Startup Idea

Prototyping plays a critical role in every startup in defining product features, polishing the user experience, selling an idea to investors or presenting it to team members. 

Prototyping need not be restricted to the early phase in product development but can be a means to validate subsequent developments and changes in a product or service.

Why is Rapid Prototyping Critical for Startups?

Prototypes are helpful in representing a use case in a functional way to solicit feedback from users. Whether or not they get interested and invested in the product or service is irrelevant as far as the prototyping process goes.

The only thing you need from the process is data around your customers’ situational context, perspectives and motivations that form their opinions. Prototypes are tools to validate your assumptions about your user, their needs and expectations.

Validating assumptions is critical to preventing costly redirections down the line during product development. Since you can’t rely on a user’s imagination or what they say about their own needs, you need a working prototype to find out what they do with it so you can be sure that the foundation of your idea is solid.

The Four-step Prototyping Process

Prototyping at an accelerated pace can expedite the entire development process while also eliminating the risks of failure. Follow this simple process to develop a prototype for your product.

Basics First

At its basic, rapid prototyping is all about saving costs. It involves starting simple with an open-source wireframing tool to convey the product’s layout concept and preliminary content. Then, you test and validate this prototype with users and rapidly develop subsequent prototypes incorporating user feedback at every stage. 

With the no-code tools available today, you can quickly develop a simple prototype to demonstrate what your product will help users achieve.

Review and Solicit Feedback

Startup failure rates are increasingly high due to ignorance of this very step. Developing a business is risky. So you need enough validation for your product – its features and design elements to be sure that investing in it will not be a mistake.

The key to doing that is to continuously  create quick iterations of your prototype and pass them to your ideal customers to get their insights and feedback. This process helps you develop a product that your audience wants. Moreover, it allows you to fail faster and cheaper.

Since you validate your product with real users, you always respond to their demands and leave no room for surprises at the end of the development process, preventing failure.

Refine for High Fidelity

Depending on your objective for this rapid prototyping process, you may or may not need a high-fidelity prototype. For instance, if you want to learn whether or not your customers have a particular problem or if you want to test if your solution might be acceptable to the users- you may not need a high-fidelity prototype.

However, if you want to test the nuances of a solution, you need a high-fidelity prototype.

With the reviews and insights gathered through rapid prototyping, you can add more features and enhancements, or remove unnecessary ones from your product to progress toward a high-fidelity prototype.

A high-fidelity prototype precedes the first product version. Therefore, it’s a critical milestone to reach. At this stage, identify and validate features and functionality in the product that will be valuable for the user and eliminate everything that is either extra or overbearing.

Repeat

Rapid prototyping applauds early, cheap and frequent failures. Therefore, even after four rounds of the same process, great going if you stumble upon another failure! You’re further on the path than when you started fresh.

Repeat the process laid down to make quick mistakes often and inch closer to what your customers might need and appreciate with each iteration. When user feedback starts to closely resemble what you have on the table, you might have done the job.

Analysis of Feedback and Next Steps

We want to assume you have a lot of feedback now, having been through a comprehensive prototyping process.

All the gathered feedback will fall into one of the following categories-

  • How your customers perceive your product and proposed solution
  • The elements they like and dislike about your solution
  • How they compare your product with existing competitors and prospects
  • The pricing they expect for your product based on market standards and their spending habits
  • The way they describe your product to their friends and family
  • Their reference for someone else who faces the same problem

As you gather feedback and act on it, it’s important to continually ask the following questions-

  • Is this my ideal customer?
  • If I focused on one more customer segment, what would be different or similar about their motivations, situation and behavior?
  • Is this the right problem to solve or does anything else need solving before this one?
  • Is my way of approaching this problem the best way?

Analyzing and assessing user feedback based on those questions will keep you focused on the problem at hand and open up avenues for broader thinking that may lead to newer insights.

This thinking will either reinforce your solution as the best one or challenge you to approach the problem from a newer angle or position.


If you’d rather work with a team of prototyping specialists to build a working prototype and validate your product idea, contact us today for our software prototyping services. At KiwiTech, we make this less complicated and more intuitive with our wealth of experience working with startups and enterprises.

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