One of the strength points that startups got over big companies is the ability to run fast and try new things. That’s why it’s important to improve your prototyping abilities.
Rapid prototyping composed from quick iterations of these three steps:
- Prototype – Draw, sketch or code something that can be reviewed.
Convert the description of the solution into mock ups that everyone can see and review. You should take into considerations what is the story that will drive the user interaction. What will be the best experience?
- Review – Share the prototype with stakeholders (=users, developers and designers) and evaluate whether it meets their needs and expectations. If you can, let them try it and watch what they are doing. Try to mimic the real world as much as you can. For example, if it’s a mobile web app, let users try it with 3G networks (or even 2G) and see what is working and what is not.
- Refine – Based on feedback and data that you collected, identify areas that need to be refined or further defined it in the prototype. Now jump to step #2 and see if the result improved or, like in some cases, they did not.
The key to a successful rapid prototyping is revising quickly based on feedback. You should say ‘no’ to a lot of suggestions and let the data leads you. This approach helps teams experiment with multiple approaches and ideas on their way to a new product. It also reduces the risk by putting everyone on the same page (or in this case, the same image).
What to Prototype?
Use the 20/80 rule.
As a starting point, you can impress your colleagues when you suggesting it… You can start by saying something like: “Let’s work with Pareto distribution“. At this point of the meeting, everyone will look at you with admiration.
But more importantly, it’s helpful – For real.
Focus on the 20% of the key functionality that will be used 80% of the time. You wish to showcase how your product will work and later how it will look like. So ignore all the ‘little’ features that are not part of these core functions.