So far, you’ve been through the brutal process of honing your idea, and then focusing it further through your MVP. Now, you get to see that hard work come to fruition in the form of your prototype. You can think of your prototype as a sort of “rough draft” of your final product. It’s something tangible that you can use to give a test group, early adopters and your target consumer base a look at what’s to come. There are several methods to developing prototypes, and you may choose one over the other depending upon your situation.
1. Rapid Prototyping – Rapid Prototypes are prototypes that are almost like fully polished products. Its main purpose is to be able to really see your idea and exemplify how the actual product should function. Doing a Rapid Prototype is very useful for not only identifying gaps in your product, but it can also be used during the actual software development phase more than some of the other prototypes can be. Rapid Prototyping is great when you have the time and resources to put together such an in-depth model.
2. Explainer Video – This is a quick and cost-effective method that allows you to create excitement around your product. Explainer Videos are usually pretty short – around 90 seconds long – but clearly explain what your product does and why consumers should be interested in buying it. It can be animated, a recording of you talking about it, or a slide show of screenshots that show exactly how your product works. These videos should create energy and motivate people into investing in or buying your product – this can act as a funnel for pre-orders and committing early adopters to your product before it even hits the market. You want to use an Explainer Video prototype if time and money constraints are tight.
3. Flintstone Prototype – This type is also known as the Wizard of Oz prototype and is similar to the Rapid Prototyping version, but instead of being close to the actual product, the Flintstone Prototype only gives the illusion of being a complete product. It really allows on behind-the-scenes manpower to allow for a valid solution. Think about Fred Flintstone’s car from the cartoons; it looked like a real car, but it worked solely on manpower. Flintstone prototypes are great when you are somewhat budget-sensitive and you are sharing with an audience that has the vision to fully interpret your ultimate vision.
After picking which kind of prototype you want, it is important to talk to software engineers or your developing partner so that they can develop detailed specs, establish a timeline and cost analysis. It is important to remember that, even if you are building the Rapid Prototyping form, the prototype only includes the features from your MVP list that qualify for the “Must have” and “Should have” categories. The “Could have” features will come later in the process to build upon your original product and keep the competition on your heels.