07 Mar 2023
Design
5 min read

What is rapid prototyping and how does it help you?

Charli

Charli

Marketing Manager

Rapid prototyping is a process in digital product discovery and development where concepts, or in some cases working prototypes, are created in order to test the features and viability of a digital product. Depending on the scope of the project or maturity of the idea, the prototyping phase aims to produce some initial UX concepts to demonstrate the user journey, and begin to map out and test some typical interactions.

High-fidelity prototypes are an incredibly valuable tool in validating and testing ideas in order to reduce risk when it comes to investing in the development of a digital product. Having something tangible to bring your idea to life and demonstrate its value is a solid starting point for ensuring the success of your digital product.

How rapid prototyping helps you

There are a number of reasons why and scenarios in which it’s beneficial to complete a and test out a prototype before embarking on developing a digital product in full.

Collecting user feedback

Today’s users and consumers have high expectations when it comes to digital experiences. A clunky or subpar experience will lead to lower rates of adoption and could lead potential customers to alternatives delivered by your competitors. You may not get the chance to make a second impression once they’ve made up their mind about your product. Getting user feedback on key functionality and features early on can help you avoid costly mistakes later on, and can lead to a stronger product overall once you launch the full version.

Securing buy-in

Rapid prototyping can help you in securing buy-in or early stage investment. Whether you need internal sign-off or budget allocation, or require external investment to cover startup costs for launching your product, it’s a lot easier to build a business case if you have something to show, especially if you have already collected some preliminary user feedback that can help you demonstrate the potential value of your digital product.

Challenging assumptions

During a product discovery process, we often talk about challenging the assumptions which have led to the project or the digital product brief. Prototyping can take this a step further – by having something tangible to put in front of key stakeholders and users you can further validate or invalidate your assumptions around how your digital product will help to solve a particular problem.

Reducing risk

Testing and validating features with a prototype helps you to focus on developing the right digital product from the offset – reducing the risk of having to make costly adjustments later on if the product fails to meet the expectations of the user. In helping you secure buy-in from key stakeholders, it also reduces the risk of the project being derailed or disrupted further down the line as you have demonstrated early on the viability of the product.

What does the rapid prototyping process look like?

You’ve got an idea or concept you need to bring to life. How do you and a product development partner go about turning your idea into a prototype?

Fast tracking the process

The key word here is “rapid”. The idea of the rapid prototyping process is to deliver a concept or MVP in an accelerated timescale so that you can start securing investment and getting feedback from users now, rather than later. A prototype would usually be produced over a period of 2-3 weeks.

First steps

Rapid prototyping will usually begin with a short discovery session to discuss the idea and requirements for the project. This helps to define what the key user journeys and features that need to be scoped out will be, and also who the target user is and how that might shape the design of the concept.

Concept development

From there, your digital partner will use their learnings from initial discussions to produce UI concepts for your digital product. Depending on the scope of the project this may also demonstrate some interactive elements. Key features and user journeys will be highlighted and demonstrated to give a feel for what a full version could look like. These can then be packaged into investment desks or a format suitable for user testing/providing feedback.

Case study: how we produced a rapid prototype for bupa backed start-up gorolloe in 3 weeks

To give you a flavour of the kind of work rapid prototyping can produce – here’s an example of a project that we worked on with Bupa and GoRolloe around a device that attaches to bike wheels to filter air pollution.
Part of the ecosystem of GoRolloe’s product was in activating users via their companion app – gamifying the use of the product and providing opportunity for upselling and reselling of filters. Through our fast track MVP process, we were able to help them demonstrate the concept to focus groups and engage with potential investors and partners.

Read the full case study

 

Got an idea you need to get off the ground? We can support you with our proven process for producing rapid prototypes in 2-3 weeks. Get in touch to find out more.