Do you know it? You have an outstanding product idea or are thinking of an incredible innovation, but the description of your idea won’t really look at your environment. You don’t understand the small details that make your vision so unique. Even drawings are sometimes far away from what they really want to express. By using prototypes this problem can be solved, because with simple means you can present your idea to everyone in an optimal way.
Prototyping is a process for testing new ideas or innovations developed in workshops. The later product or the reworked process is visualized with cost-effective possibilities. This inexpensive test version helps you to make the advantages of the new development comprehensible to the later users. By creating a prototype, you can quickly determine in a user interview and by observation which aspects work and which need to be revised or removed.
You will gain insights into how users will actually use the product in the end. They talk to users who are experts in the field and who can reconstruct their everyday situation with the new prototype. For example, a new instrument for the operating theatre was developed that allows minimally invasive procedures with a little adhesive tape, a pen and a clothespin.
Prototype of a medical device (Source: Communicationsforum.dk/IDEO)
Prototypes make it possible to make the product more tangible than a story or drawing on paper would ever have made possible. All in all, the advantages can be summarized as follows:
- Great difference between imagining and experiencing
- You see your future user interact with this object and learn from it for your own products and ideas
- Rapid Prototype is a first way to get results with simple tools
- Prototypes answer very specific user guidance questions
Prototyping should be used before the start of production in order to save costs and resources. Once the individual steps have been tested in the user experiment, production can begin. In all phases of prototyping, the prototype continues to change until it comes very close to the actual product.
One can finally say that prototyping is a reality check of one’s own idea. Even if an innovation seems unique and indispensable in our minds, in the end it depends on the later user whether he prefers the product to current solutions or whether he ignores it.