Testing your Startup Idea: Prototyping and Piloting
Disclaimer: This Article is updated by Yusra Qasim.
It is always exciting when you come up with a product, or just the thrill of coming up with an idea that could possibly help you earn money while boosting yourself moral. But often enough many businessperson design their idea in isolation. They come with an idea and the next thought that comes to mind is getting the investment.
Now, I am not saying it’s a bad idea to care about the financial aspect of a business idea. It’s just not the natural next step for a successful idea.
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The next step should focus on prototyping.
Prototyping usually sounds scary because in our mind the first image that pops up is of a highly functional robot. But that is not the case; prototyping has many different forms and a few stages. The last stage would be the highly functioning robot if a robot was the final product.
The first step to prototyping is making a Low Fidelity Prototype. This is the most basic, paper based prototype that is made. The idea is to put the images in your head onto paper. Google has made a few videos where they explain how they use paper prototypes to plan the launch of their next app. So, the first thing you make would probably be a simple sketch outlining the core features of the product. Consult with your teammates and finalize the important features that should be included in the product. The product can be a website, an app or even a recipe for a dish. Having it on paper allows the viewers to visualize the end result we desire. Once, everyone is on board with the prototype, test it out with a few of the potential target market participants. Get their insights into the product and figure out if they want it and if they actually understand the purpose of each feature.
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Use those insights to build a more functioning prototype. The way Google does that is they add colours and tabs. How a click on an icon would lead to the next screen. This allows planning, and makes it easier for the programmer to understand the thought process of the designer. It reduces waste in the work and makes life easy all around.
Another option is to make High Fidelity Prototypes. These are closer to the final product, in terms of features and look but it still would not have the final functionality. These can again be made with paper (the more sturdy kind) and again shown to not only the team but also the final customers to finalize the product. In case of making an app (continuing the above example) there are software’s available that can help guide along the process of the various screens.
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All you need is basic level Photoshop skills or even paint and you can make the simple layout, add them to the website, and voila! You will have a functioning app to share with team members and get feedback. Of course, you will need to have it coded before it’s launched but this makes it much easier.