Expanding the idea of prototyping

Most people think of a prototype as a rough version of the final product. If you’re building an app, the prototype is an app that is not fully polished. But really, that definition of a prototype is WAY too narrow.

A prototype is a test. Let’s look at a couple common examples and think about how we might prototype them quickly.

“I want to build an app for people to talk about ____.”

Make a Facebook group, a blog or an email list, draw your app on paper to map the interface

“I want to teach people how to do ____”

Host a workshop, write a blog post, make a YouTube video, compile a list of resources in Google sheets.

Just because you want to build a widget doesn’t make you a widget building company. Think about the essence of your product. Drill down to the core of what you’re trying to do. Once you have a guess about what that essence might be, build something as quickly and cheaply as possible to test it out.

Divorce yourself from the solution. Fall in love with the problem and prototype it quickly.