Prototyping your digital product – table of contents:
Prototyping digital product
Developing a digital product is like a journey through unexplored territory. A product prototype acts as a general map that highlights only strategic points. It helps you understand the product early on and avoid pitfalls. For example, when developing a mobile app, the prototype will let you identify the essential features of a digital product and expose them consistently so that the most relevant ones always remain visible, even as their number grows.
What is a digital product prototype?
A digital product prototype is a preliminary model of a final product. For example, when you’re developing a food delivery application, the prototype could be a simple digital tool that lets users choose a restaurant and place an order. Depending on its complexity, we can single out:
- Low-fidelity prototypes – are simple models that focus on features and structure instead of appearance. For example, paper sketches or wireframes.
- High-fidelity prototypes – are more advanced and detailed models, which closely resemble the final product in terms of visual design and user interactions. For example, interactive mockups.
Low-fidelity prototypes work great in the early stages of product development when you want to test and validate your product concept. High-fidelity prototypes, in turn, are more suitable when you need to test interface details and interactions.
Why does prototyping matter?
Prototyping is the first safety measure in the product development process. For instance, when you’re developing a computer game, a prototype allows you to test its mechanics and understand if it’s fun and engaging. At this stage, you can tell if your product is worth pursuing. Prototyping helps you:
- Identify problems early – for example, if you are setting up an online store, a prototype will help you understand which elements of the site aren’t user-friendly.
- Save time and resources – for instance, when you are developing a language learning app, a product prototype will allow you to focus on key features instead of wasting time on irrelevant elements.
- Understand users’ needs – for example, when you are creating an e-learning platform, a prototype will help you figure out what features are most valuable to teachers and students.
Prototyping helps you identify potential problems, saves time, and lets you better understand users’ needs at the early stage of the product development process. This allows you to tailor your product to market expectations and avoid costly mistakes.
How to build a prototype of a digital product?
To create a prototype of a digital product, you need to take a few steps:
- Identify users’ needs – for example, when developing a fitness app, conduct surveys and interviews with potential users to find out what they need.
- Build wireframes – for instance, when developing a website, use wireframing tools to visualize the layout of individual web pages.
- Test and iterate – for example, when building a mobile app, conduct usability tests with the target audience to identify any unintuitive or unnecessary elements.
It is worth using these three popular prototyping methods:
- Paper prototyping– the simplest method of testing ideas, which does not require any specialized tools or skills. It involves creating a manual sketch of the interface that lets you test your concept quickly. For example, you can sketch the interface of a budgeting app on a large sheet of paper, where you draw particular screens of a mobile app and simulate interactions.
- Digital prototyping – uses software for creating interactive mockups. You can use either Adobe XD or Figma with the AI module to create an interactive prototype of a mobile app.
- Physical prototyping – applicable to physical products, for example those that fall under the IoT umbrella or digital products. For example, creating a 3D model of a computer mouse using a 3D printer.
These prototyping methods let you explore different aspects of a product, from the interface to functionality. Creating a prototype is essential because it allows potential users to truly understand how your product will work.
Prototype vs MVP
Prototyping and building an MVP are two different approaches to creating digital products. For example, when setting up a crowdfunding platform, a prototype will help you understand what features are essential to potential users. However, creating an MVP requires more effort and aims to launch a functional product with a minimum set of features.
Examples of prototyping
In the startup world, prototyping plays a key role. For example, when Uber was starting out, it created a simple prototype of a digital product that allowed users to order cabs using a smartphone. This helped the company check whether there was demand for their service before investing significant resources in product development.
Another example can be Dropbox, which created demo videos to demonstrate the features and functionality of their product. This helped them understand whether people are interested in such a solution before they decided to form a team and work on a full version of the app.
Spotify also used prototyping effectively. They first created a product prototype that let users listen to music for free, and then gradually added new features, such as making playlists and listening to music offline.
Prototyping is not just a tool but an entire philosophy that can transform your approach to creating digital products. With prototyping, you can understand user needs, identify problems at an early stage, and adapt your product to market expectations.The most important principle of prototyping is to focus on key features and to collect feedback from early adopters. And not just the kind of feedback you’d like to hear! Also, don’t forget about the importance of iterative testing, that is refining your product or design in multiple iterations.
With a well-tested prototype, it will be easy to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which is the first official version of a product. However, the success of the MVP also relies on the continuous process of learning, adapting, and experimenting with various approaches.
- Intro to product management
- What is the role of a product manager?
- Why is product lifecycle management important?
- How to build an efficient product strategy?
- OKRs vs SMART goals. Which framework drives better results?
- How to define a value proposition?
- Identifying customer needs and market segmentation
- Crafting a winning product concept. Techniques and steps
- Gaining an edge with an effective product roadmap
- Prototyping your digital product
- How to build an MVP?
- MVP vs MMP vs MMF. Key milestones in product development
- Mastering hypothesis testing
- Proven methods for improving product quality management
- Strategies and tactics for a successful product launch
- Driving profitability through product optimization
- Measuring product success
- How to price a product? The most popular pricing strategies
- The future of product design. Top trends and predictions
- When to retire a product? Key factors influencing EOL decisions
- Agile in product management
- Scrum and Kanban in product management.
- What is lean product management?
- Jobs to be Done. Creating products that customers truly need
- What is growth hacking?
- What is data-driven product management?
- A/B testing in product management
- Useful product management templates. Where to find them?
- Strategyzer tools in product management
- 5 useful product management tools
- How to create and manage product documentation?
- 6 essential tools for product managers
- How to use AI in product management