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Rapid Prototyping: What is it?

Discover how rapid prototyping is a powerful tool to test and validate a product idea. Learn if your product solves a user problem.

Here’s the the transcript from our podcast on rapid prototyping.

052 RP Intro final

[00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the bottom up skills podcast. I might pass on this. I’m the CEO of quality science. And that’s right. Folks. We are studying a brand new series on the bottom up skills podcast, and we’re going to get into the world of rapid prototyping. We’re going to tear this thing apart. We’re going to decode it.

We’re going to share it together and understand why it is so damn important. And today I really want to frame it for you. Define it for you, give you a little bit of context to do that. I want to start with the story of when I met a guy called Tom Chichi and Tom had spent a long time working at companies like Yahoo and Google, [00:01:00] and he changed my world by presenting to me.

This universe of rapid prototyping. And thanks to him. I discovered something that is an invaluable tool, um, and that is none other than rapid prototyping. So if you’re building a product, then rapid prototyping is an essential thing to have. And. What it really does as an act, this idea of building a prototype and then testing it with a user.

He is so invaluable because what it does. This whole idea of rapid prototyping with your end user, with your customer is all about testing and validating your idea. It’s seriously the best way to work out. If your product idea really does solve a problem for the user. Now the enormous benefit. That we get from rapid prototyping is that we don’t have to wait until we’ve [00:02:00] spent all that time, effort, money, all that blood, sweat, and tears to build the product, and then to only work out, will anybody use it?

If you create a low fidelity version of the product, create a prototype, an early stage model example and put it in the right context. You can actually get incredibly good testing and validation feedback from users. And it is so, so good. It really, for me, it really filled in like a number of questions and doubts and concerns I always had.

When I was working on early stage ideas, when you just. And I’m sure you’ve had this too. You just don’t know. Is this idea any good? I mean, it sounds good, but you’re kind of thinking I’m not really sure. And I would say that if we go into the world of product design, particularly. Software and particularly, um, in [00:03:00] technology you’ll often hear people talking about different types of product fit.

So you’ve got problem solution fit, product market, fit, distribution, and conversion fit. Now we’ll get into all the other types of fit at different times in this podcast series and over the course of the many shows that we’ll make for you. But today, when we talk about rapid prototyping, we’re really talking about the first thing you need to find with your product, which is problem solution fit.

Now, this is the moment. That you actually have some evidence, some real facts that customers really care about. Certain things like they’re experiencing some blockers and some pains. They’re experiencing a great desire for a certain set of benefits or gains when they do a particular job. So if your product in the travel universe, [00:04:00] people want to travel to a destination of a particular type and they’ll experience all sorts of problems.

Like not knowing which. A hotel or Airbnb to book, they’re looking to, uh, experienced some gains like relaxation, adventure, excitement, and this whole job is about travel vacation and getting away. Now, if you’re in that situation, what you don’t want to do is build an entire solution, then test it. That’s a very old school way of doing things as sort of the, the waterfall model, um, in the software world.

What you can do with AR with a prototype is you can actually test for problem solution fit. And so when you test whether user, this means you’ve actually created some evidence that what you’re trying to fix is actually worth fixing and, um, That way you’ve defined the problem. And then you prototype some possible solutions and you learn which one is most likely to fit the problem.

Now [00:05:00] it’s not an exact, you know, seal of approval, but if you’ve done this and if you really learn this, you’ll get at at minimum, you’ll get this amazing directional feedback from the user about, yeah, this helps. No, this doesn’t help me. And it will help you put a lot of, um, validation into your product idea rather than, and this is the big thing.

What so many people do is they are guessing an idea. They have a guess at best a hypothesis about a particular idea that would be supposedly fantastic. And. All it is, is a guess what the embracing of rapid prototyping does is gives you a chance to go beyond the guests and to having a lot more closer to knowing state of mind about your problem solution fit.

And, you know, for [00:06:00] me, What that does is it does a couple of things. It orientates, you much more towards the user, rather than making some fancy good-looking, um, PowerPoint slides that impress everyone, but have very little evidence supporting this idea or this notion. I can’t tell you how many people I meet.

Talk to, and when they know that I’m in the world of creating brand new products, the first thing they often will say is, Hey, I’ve got an idea or I’ve got an idea for an app. And you know, the interesting thing that is just in my bones is to ask this first question, how many users have you tested this way?

Whether it’s a prototype or usability testing on an MVP. How many users have you tested with. And invariably, those that are really [00:07:00] blocked have done little to no testing, and those that are making good progress have great proximity to their customer. Um, so this is why, uh, it’s so fun to dive into a world of rapid prototyping.

This is why it is so important in my life as a craftsman, as a builder of products. I need rapid prototyping and without it, I feel vulnerable. And like how many times have we tested this? And it’s sort of mature. Sibling is as the product is really forming and shaping as you’d get into more usability, acceptance testing and that sort of thing.

But that’s for a different show. We’re just talking about really early stage trying to get a hold of what actually really works and, um, What the last thing I want to share with you in, in sort of framing, what is this, um, this art form, uh, this practice of rapid prototyping. I really want to [00:08:00] focus on this idea of perception right now.

The key thing is. We all suffer, uh, many bias, um, and, um, as builders and creators of products, we often think our products are amazing, but we vastly underestimate how little, uh, customers and users really care about our product. You know, we’ve spent all this time with it, we’re in love with it, but the reality is often that uses are not.

Um, and so what you really need to work hard to do is to create. A prototype and to test it and to test it with the user and allow them to objectively give feedback. None of this, coaxing them through a focus group. No, we want to really test it. And at the core of this, we’ll be asking them to actually do a task, complete a task, complete a job to be done [00:09:00] now.

Um, the reason that matters. Is the following. And I want to bring it back to perception. You can create a moment in time with rapid prototyping, where the user is working with a prototype and they perceiving the experience like very closely to real life and they can give you great feedback based on that.

Let me give you a little bit of a look into. What rapid prototyping needs to do in order to achieve that. And what you want to do is you want to create a prototype that’s the essential feature. Um, and it might be some sort of a low fidelity. Sketch. If you want to go super, super low fidelity, it might even be, um, the highest fidelity I’d ever get I’m prototyping is with some form of digital tool like envision or Adobe XD sketch a fig.

The point here is make a bare bones, minimum [00:10:00] prototype. Don’t Polish it up too much. Just get the basic raw functions working or even the illusion to them working. And we’ll talk more about that in future episodes. Now you’ve got your minimum essential prototype and then you give the user the situational context.

It’s four o’clock it’s Sunday afternoon, you’re on the couch. And you’re thinking about booking a travel getaway. What I want you to do is tell me the hotel you’d most like to stay in and which city. That’s a task and that’s something that would feature in someone’s orientation on a trip service. Now, what you want to do then is you want to set them up, um, as they would on a couch with a laptop and in front of them is the interface with the information and so forth, maybe a search function and some clickable features or a sketch where they actually tap on it.

And you present the new screen, the new slide. The key thing you’re doing here is providing sufficient sensory information. You set the [00:11:00] context, you’ve given them the prototype you give them a task to do. And then the key thing is as they interact with that in interface, they’re getting sensory feedback.

Things are moving, things are happening when they touch or click smell. See. Or hear things it’s really important that we have that sensory a feedback, because what that does is the third a bit, and this is all around the perception is that the end-user perceives this prototype almost like a real, real life service.

It’s what we call the direct IX. So what you’ve been able to do is organize the conditions in the environment. Through the prototype through giving them a context and a task to do giving the right stimulus that it’s almost just like it was a real service and what is really amazing to learn about the human mind and the human condition is you don’t have to recreate the user experience [00:12:00] perfectly.

It only has to be sufficient sensory information because our mind can do the role play. But what happens is when they interact with a prototype and they like something or hate something, instead of trying to think how they would react in a situation, they feel like they’re in the direct experience and they are able to provide really good feedback.

Not. Conscious thoughtful, considered guesses, but they’re like, Ooh, I don’t like that. Oh, wow. That was really good. That would be really handy. If you get to the point where the end user with a prototype is experiencing what we call this direct experience, they will provide really meaningful feedback.

Because they’re trying to get a job done. So the stakes become a lot more real. They give real feedback and then you can take that. You can incorporate that into your next prototype and hopefully the experience gets better, [00:13:00] better and better. So there you are rapid prototyping, a tool for getting out of the guessing game and getting into testing and validating your idea.

Getting to a world where you really have problem solution fit. That means evidence that you can get the problem solved. Okay. Well, there you go. That is our first step into the world of rapid prototyping. I hope that you’re sensing lots of questions, interest, curiosity on. How we actually go out into the world and do something like this, because we are going to follow up with a whole series of shows where we’re going to talk about the different types of prototyping.

We’re going to make sure that you get that direct response that I was talking about, and we’re going to go well beyond it into team structures and so on and so forth. Well, they have it. That was the first episode part of our brand new series of bottom up skills. We’re talking about rapid prototyping.

And remember [00:14:00] this, if you are interested in doing a master class on rapid prototyping, you can get one for free on both. I hope you’ve enjoyed. This first of many series, this first of many shows on rapid prototype. I’ll catch you next time.