Product designers begin the journey of development by creating a product prototype. It is an alpha version of the final product and can be used for presentations and testing.
Why is it essential to create a prototype version of the final product?
You are probably thinking: why would a designer start off with an early version of the product? Wouldn’t that be a waste of resources? The answers to these questions are that the designer must present something tangible, and no, it is not a waste of resources. Prototyping may help avoid wastage because the business will not mass manufacture until it is content with its functionality and appearance.
A product designer uses a product prototype to:
- Be taken seriously about his product pitch, with an early version on hand
- Present and describe an alpha version by actually being able to manipulate the product in front of stakeholders
- Create a less expensive version of the product to receive feedback with before deciding on mass production
- Test the functionality and design
- Accept feedback that could help in the redesign
- Determine the strengths and weaknesses of the product
- See just how user-friendly and attractive the product can be
- Compare the product to its possible storage or supplementary accessories
- Improve the prototype to finalize the product design
- Focus on the requirements and desires of the client
What are the actual steps in producing one?
Following sequential steps of prototyping need to be followed to get your product prototype.
- Come up with ideas. This comes differently to different designers. Some brainstorm focused on generating ideas. Others suddenly encounter a light bulb moment.
- Sketch your ideas. Put your concept onto paper so that everyone else can better visualize it. Some product designers prefer using graphics software and digital pens to create their sketches.
- Take apart similar products to see how they work and what you can improve.
- Investigate materials that have been used by other companies. See how you can improve on those and how you can be more cost-effective in production.
- Use computer software to create a computer-aided design of the product. The three dimensions that you can recreate are an improvement on the original 2D sketch.
- Choose a way to produce the prototype. Prototype sites and apps can be built through Axure, Adobe Experience Design (Adobe XD), and more. More tangible products can be made using makeshift materials or 3D printing. These are cost-effective compared to the actual production of the final product. Stereolithography through rapid prototyping can also serve as a quick and less expensive way to produce prototypes. On the other hand, injection molds can be costly.
- Present the product to your client or company.
- Refine the product using the feedback that you have received.
What a product prototype and how it is made will depend on the line of industry you are in.
Designing a product prototype is not a waste of time or money. It is like writing the draft of a story or article. It is better to make it as tangible as possible so that stakeholders can contribute their ideas. With industrial products, it is even more critical to produce an excellent prototype for testing and correcting possible quality