Do you consider it worthwhile to create a prototype?
What steps did you take before going into production, did you create a prototype first? if so, did you feel that it was worthwhile?
Great question. As a designer fully believe and promote building prototypes first. This is an ingrained part of my learning (aside from knowledge of the Lean Startup). Prototyping doesn't have to be a confusing process, so let me go into some of the benefits of prototyping.
- Early Exploration - They do this because depending on your end product, you can start with a doodle on a napkin with several notes. Prototypes can also be build from cardboard, clay, or other easy to work materials. By taking several passes (or iterating) on your concept you can easily create several variations instead of 1 final product.
- Comparatively Low Cost - Prototypes being built from the materials mentioned above are inexpensive compared to materials that may be used for the final product. Using lower cost materials means that you can again make several variations without spending a lot of money up front (this process doesn't have a required "minimum purchase order").
- Refine Your Understanding - When you first start out with the end goal of making a product, prototyping through multiple variations will help reveal any short comings or areas to improve the product further. Use this knowledge to your advantage.
- Test and Test Again - Put these prototypes in front of potential customers multiple times over several of your prototype variations. This is a great time to get feedback before you end up spending too much of your overall budget.
There is obviously many more benefits of prototyping but these are some of the most beneficial. I highly recommend the process to everyone that has never tried it. I welcome more questions and discussion on this topic.
In short, I think in most cases creating a prototype is a great idea!
I believe the benefits to name a few are:
- Develop a greater understanding of your product;
- It provides you insight on where to go next, aspects to improve, features to highlight;
- It provides you information on better time management;
Designs and ideas always tell a different story when its still on the back of a paper napkin, until you finally start to develop it.