Harnessing Prototyping to Launch Disruptive Products


Jun 15, 2023

"The future is already here - it's just not evenly distributed." - William Gibson.

In the world of product development, especially in the dynamic and fast-paced tech industry where our company operates, there's one crucial commandment you must always remember: "Thou shall not skip prototyping." This pivotal stage saves your developers' time, your managers' energy, and effectively prevents unnecessary or unvalidated hypotheses from progressing further. Today, we will delve into the intricacies of some popular prototyping methods that have consistently added tremendous value to our team, products, and our bottom line.

Understanding Prototyping and Its Relevance

Before we delve into the techniques, it's essential to grasp the concept and significance of prototyping. In simple terms, a prototype is a rudimentary model of the final product that lets you explore your ideas and show the intention behind a feature or the overall design concept to users before investing time and money into development. It allows for early testing and validation, effectively minimizing the risk of failure.

Prototyping isn't just a box to check in the product development process; it's a powerful tool for companies to create disruptive products. It offers an opportunity to refine the product's functionality, performance, and design before it hits the market, increasing the likelihood of product acceptance and success.

Real-World Prototyping Methods and Their Magic

The "Fake Door" Technique

Picture an artist creating a hyper-realistic painting of a door on a wall that curious onlookers feel compelled to open. This is essentially what the "Fake Door" method of prototyping is all about. But why did we choose this technique in our tech business?

One day we had the idea of adding a feature to the client's marketplace that would allow clients to schedule apartment viewings with the click of a mouse. Given the problems with time management and the growing trend of digital automation, we thought this feature could be a game changer and offered it to the client. But we needed to make sure it was really what our customers wanted. To make sure, we set up a "fake" button that said "Subscribe to View" and carefully tracked the number of clicks. The results were stunning - despite digital trends, people still prefer personal interaction to automated processes, allowing the customer to avoid wasting resources on a feature that would prove less valuable to users than we initially thought.

The "Wizard of Oz" Technique

Once a hypothesis has been validated, the next logical step is to simulate the complete functionality before investing in full-scale development. This method involves having a human operator manually perform tasks that would eventually be automated but appear as automated to the user during the testing phase.

A perfect example is when we were finalizing commission sales services. We planned to add a feature that would provide customized charts comparing client properties to similar properties directly on the client's personal dashboard. Given the complexity and resources that would be required for this feature, we initially decided to test it with operators manually creating these graphs. This prototyping phase not only validated the need for this feature, but also provided us with invaluable user feedback that influenced the final design and functionality of the feature.

The "Pinocchio" Technique

Inspired by the tale of Pinocchio, this method focuses on giving a tangible, physical feel to your digital product before it takes life in its final form.

Before launching the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, we first tested its functionality on paper, actually creating a "wooden dummy" of our digital product. This method allowed us and the customer team to give real-time feedback on the usability and effectiveness of the system. We then gradually digitized the process, moving from paper documents to widely used digital tools such as Excel, resulting in a better final product that meets the needs of our users.

Dive Deeper into Prototyping

Prototyping is a vast field, and it certainly doesn't stop at these three methods. There are numerous additional strategies worth exploring, depending on your product, target market, resources, and timelines.

For instance, the "Facade" method involves creating a functional front-end (the 'facade') without a fully developed back-end. This strategy is useful for gauging user interest and collecting initial feedback. Another innovative technique is the use of "YouTube videos" to gauge interest in your product or feature. This approach involves creating and sharing a video of the product or feature in action and measuring user engagement to validate your idea. The "Infiltration" method allows you to understand user behavior in depth by integrating your feature into an existing popular platform where your target audience is already active. Lastly, the "Changing Signage" method can help test alterations in the user interface. By changing certain signs or symbols and measuring user interaction, you can understand how even minor changes can impact user experience.

Prototyping Tools for the Digital Age

As we live in the digital age, it is worth exploring and using prototyping tools. Figma allows you to create first-class prototypes. The platform not only helps you visually model your ideas, but also provides valuable opportunities for collaboration, user testing and feedback gathering, which is invaluable in the early stages of product development.

In the wise words of Edison, "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." Prototyping allows you to use your 'pile of junk' - the initial, rough ideas and designs - and through testing and iteration, transform it into a valuable and potentially game-changing product. It's not just about doing things right; it's about doing the right things. So, don't shy away, don't procrastinate, don't be lazy, and most importantly, don't skip the prototyping stage. At Nyoka, we understand the importance of prototyping, and our team of experienced developers and product managers are committed to helping your business thrive through effective design and product development.

Are you ready to turn your ideas into reality? Ready to use prototyping to launch revolutionary products? Join us. We offer customized solutions tailored to your unique needs and industry challenges.

Shape your future with us today! Contact us at Nyoka for a free consultation on how we can help your ideas come to life. Start your journey with us now, and let's change the market together!

Viktoria Azarova

COO (Chief Operating Officer)

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