Invention has been a fundamental part of human life for centuries. One of the most effective methods of exploring the possibilities of new ideas has been the creation of prototypes. Whether it’s the wheel, the sun-dial, the bicycle, the car or the computer, the transition from idea to reality to mass production has frequently relied on the explorative capabilities of a working model as it still does in fields such as manufacturing and mechanical engineering. Modern product design development in the digital disciplines relies on exactly the same notion. Software prototyping is the application of a long-established technique to the development of intangible products including computer programs, apps and even websites.
Prototyping typically involves the simulation of only key aspects of the final product – it is not in itself a fully working model but a partly functioning approximation that enables product design consultants to assess the feasibility of a project, to identify shortcomings in the design, to implement fundamental changes early on and to collect valuable feedback from testers and users. It makes it possible to verify that the product in development matches the software specification and to determine whether the initial cost estimates and deadlines are accurate or need adjustment.
Benefits of Prototyping
Developing a prototyping strategy
Prototyping proceeds in several stages, beginning with an analysis of the product requirements, its scale and potential applications. A rudimentary design is usually the next step which is then developed into the prototype itself. This will have enough of the features of the finished product to demonstrate to the commissioning client that the project is on the right track and to identify any particular strengths and weaknesses. This is the crucial stage at which the client will give the green light for development to continue or request a rethink if the trajectory looks incorrect. This may mean reworking aspects of the prototype into a new version, which, once agreed, forms the basis of the final product.
As a leading digital consultancy, Gradeon is the partner of choice for any product design company that is embarking on product design development of its own, or that has been commissioned by a third party. Prototyping is not a straightforward process and needs skilful management at every stage. Different approaches will be needed in every situation, with some projects requiring rapid throwaway prototypes and others relying on evolutionary or incremental prototypes. The underlying purpose remains the same, but devising the right procedure is of paramount importance when developing new digital products via prototyping. The use of such a strategy allows the whole team to contribute to the collaborative focus and adapt to any and all revisions of the plan which a prototype reveals as necessary.