Prototyping — the benefits, techniques and when to use

Why do product teams need to master rapid prototyping? Leveraging a process in which a minimum viable product (MVP) is used to test a product idea is more complicated for enterprise Product Managers than it is for startup founders. But similar concepts involving iterative experiments and rapid prototyping can still be invaluable in larger companies. So says Nis Frome, adding that they can “marginalize user bias and inaccuracies” and help “evaluate and benchmark new product features iteratively”.

When to prototype a digital product. Alex Fedorov lists several situations when prototypes can be used, including validating a concept, achieving executive buy-in and reaching a shared understanding.

Prototyping the right way. Deciding to use prototypes is one thing, doing it right is another. First, you should get comfortable with the types of prototype techniques that are available to you. You might use sketches, wireframes, interactive user interfaces or high-fidelity prototypes (more on that later). The Pidoco team has given some examples of different scenarios which call for different types of prototypes — internal communications, external feedback, requirements engineering and selling your ideas to decision-makers.

High-fidelity prototypes. Putting significant effort into building your prototype can yield many benefits. Doing this may require advanced design and engineering expertise and a deep understanding of frameworks that can be used to speed things along. But as a result, Marty Cagan says, you’ll get real user feedback, be forced think deeply about your product, be encouraged to better collaborate with your team and gain many other benefits.

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