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How to Make a Prototype: 5 Integral Steps to Bringing Your New Tech to Life

While a company like Apple can afford to throw $150 million at a prototyping process, it’s likely that your tech company can’t do all that.

You might have to scale back left and right if you don’t plan out your prototyping efforts correctly. Stay organized, plan right, and you’ll produce a much more exciting product in the end!

Here are five steps to ensure that your new prototype is a surprise hit with engineers and executives alike.


1. Frontload Your Efforts

The first step to ensuring that you put together a strong prototype is to put your biggest tasks at the beginning of your work.

Pile up everything right at the beginning so that if any hurdles emerge, they can be dismantled ASAP.

Most companies will plan out their efforts when working on a prototype to start off slow and reach a heavier workload somewhere in the middle. This is a mistake.

The biggest problems tend to arise later in the prototyping process. Through increased testing and increased usage, you begin to find problems and issues that get in the way of a successful prototype.

Later in the process, your team won’t be able to do more than just push out a temporary fix. Which could end up crippling your prototype.

Changes at the end of a prototyping process are difficult and can be dangerous. You might have used most of your budget by then and you might not be able to afford to work on the project more.

2. Start With What You’re Scared Of

One of the reasons that you’re building a prototype is that you probably want to do something no one has done before. If that’s the case, you should be wasting time designing the box that the thing comes in. It’s time to take on the task that scares you the most.

Most people will take on the low-hanging fruit or break up the hard work with easy tasks. If you’re doing something that no one has done before, you don’t know what it takes to get it done or how long it could take. That’s when you need to buckle down and start digging into that unknown territory.

Your prototyping energy isn’t unlimited. Don’t worry about momentum. You have a series of tasks to take care of and when you put the hardest task first, you’ll end up motivating your engineers and letting them coast later on.

If you get stuck hiring a manufacturer like Titoma to handle the toughest parts of production will keep your team moving along.

3. Divide Your Challenges Then Integrate Later

When you’re working on your prototype, don’t try to do everything at once. You can only complete one task at a time, so don’t try to overwhelm yourself with every potential task.

Prototyping isn’t to prove the things you already know. It’s to prove the viability of something that’s never been done before.

When it comes time to show them working together, fork them into one another.

Work from hardest to easiest so that you can get the most difficult integrations out of the way. Once you’ve figured out how each thing works on its own, it’s easier to imagine them working together.

4. Never Dress Up a Prototype

By making ugly prototypes, you don’t have to have dumb conversations about what color a product that doesn’t even work should be. When you have people worrying about how something looks, you won’t be able to have the kinds of productive conversations you need to have.

When something doesn’t look good, it also keeps people from falling for it. Something that looks a little ugly and repulsive will allow everyone to talk about the issues you want them to talk about. It will surprise them when they find they like a feature and will help amplify their distaste for problems that it has.

Don’t give your executive or management teams anything to like other than the basic functioning features. While they may want something attractive, clean, and perfectly designed, that will make it hard for them to comment on it later. They will remember design elements rather than the most essential facts about its functionality.

5. Let Everyone Work Toward Their Ideal

Rather than asking each member of a team to scale back or consider the work being done on other teams, you’re better off leaving teams to work. Let them come up with their own best case scenario. This will have everyone working as hard as they can on the elements they care about the most and leaving other teams to do their own work.

Rather than having to make sure that a product can walk and chew gum, let two teams work on the walking and gum chewing separately. That will free up resources for each of them to focus on their strengths.

Once you’ve got the best walker and best gum chewer, then it’s the responsibility of management and executives to make decisions. Merging is what you do at the end to manage expectations and meet deadlines. For now, let everyone succeed the best that they can.

Learning How To Make a Prototype Takes Practice

Don’t just operate by instinct. Learn how to make a prototype well, and your team will appreciate it.

Make sure they know and understand the process themselves. It’ll help you during testing, which can only make your prototype more successful.

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