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Why Prototyping is Fundamental For Good Design

by Ashley Lipman on June 20, 2018 –

Image of drone

The thing is, it’s already acknowledged in engineering circles that prototyping is a necessary component innovation’s design “life cycle”. But just why is it important to prototype no matter if you’re in the soft- or hardware business? Well, let’s take it back to the basics first.

What is prototyping?

Prototyping of any kind provides a hands-on model of a given concept. In other words, it’s a “proof of concept”. Because even the finest engineer will make mistakes between the drawing board and a three-dimensional representation of an idea.

There are a few reasons for this, one being that the reality of future outcomes cannot be predicted, and neither can all the variables.

Take this crazy example. Did you know there are certain microbes which eat metal to survive? Until this discovery was made, there was no computer that could have calculated for this variable. A piece of mining equipment designed for an environment where this microbe lives could end up being eaten away much quicker than any projection because an unknown variable halted proper operations. With a prototype, such an exigency can be identified, designed around, and rectified.

A decent prototype can be designed, manufactured, and put into use in a given area of operations. If something ends up inhibiting its function, it can be fixed in subsequent prototypical upgrades. The truth is, a given device will likely require many prototypes and iterations before it is ready for public use—and even then errors will likely be discovered.

Why Prototype?

If you don’t prototype and rush something to market that is “untested”, the likelihood of a recall, customer complaint, or some unknown defect increases significantly. The subsequent fallout from a situation like that can seriously undermine your operation, causing huge financial losses and making it difficult to be profitable.

In other words, if you don’t prototype, your bottom line will suffer.

Prototyping a solution can help to detect issues in manufacturing and optimization. It allows you to run your product through its paces before it goes to market. That way you can determine if it works as it should – or not.

1. It can also be used to attract investors. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. When you can show a working prototype to those who may invest in your company, then they can see something which isn’t abstract.

Something that can be seen, touched, and manipulated does a much better job of showing why your product is worth investing X amount of dollars in.

2. It can reduce costs 

In the development of products and increase the successful operation of that which has been developed down the line. For another, modern prototyping services are bar-none and getting better all the time.

Image of cable wiring, testing

3. You’ve still got time for fixes and improvements

As a collateral bonus, you may find through the prototyping process that you’re able to acquire and implement new services under the traditional profit motifs that define your business. All these things represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to prototyping.

A “Beta” version of a given software is basically a “prototype” that is tested by users of that program’s demographics before it is launched to the general public. This is necessary because changes to the software and additional features or fixes can also cause new errors.

Don’t know how to start testing your software? Check out our go-to guide for usability testing here.

So, how to go about prototyping?

Modern prototyping solutions are better than ever. Between 3-D printing and global industrialization, there is a vast market in prototyping. Through rapid prototyping and 3-D printing design protocols, months can be shaved off the traditional prototyping process, which ultimately can save your businesses tens of thousands of dollars.

Find out more about hardware prototyping from 3erp.com; as the site points out, they: “…provide top quality mold tooling and injection molding services. We do high-quality aluminum prototype tooling and hardened steel tooling for both low volume and full-scale production injection molding needs, with quick turnaround time and competitive prices.”Once you’ve got that prototype in place you can start testing with focus groups.

When it comes to software prototyping your a little more flexible and cost-efficient, you can test the usability of your software with Userbrain, gather users online and make changes as you go along. Give it a go and start testing your prototype software today.