– a first or preliminary version of a device or vehicle from which other forms are developed.
If you think about what a prototype is you will realize your first Prototype is created in your imagination. Then your description that you give to others for them to imagine, a sketch for people to see, a story board, a simple functioning model. Each step is closer to a fully functioning product. Each step requires a full cycle of discovery, strategizing, design, prototyping and optimization.
Going from ideal straight to a sellable product is possible expect that you run the risk of producing something only you and a select others will use. If that’s your goal then it’s not a problem. Though if you are producing for the general consumer then this could cause you to create a product that needs to be reworked completely. Personally I dislike showing my prototype products to people as they are never ready and the feedback is not always positive. Though I do it any way, the good side is the best changes I have made have been due to honest feedback from people when looking at my early versions.
The unfortunate side effect is that is you will need to budget your time, energy, motivation for creating several different versions with potentially hundreds of revisions before a viable model emerges. This is where selecting an idea that you believe in strongly becomes important, with out that boast from your desire to reach your goal you can come up short on motivation.
Other factors include the financial, skill and materials required to develop your prototype. Access to these will determine your success as well. These resources can all be acquired or found though various means. These problems can be solved with bringing on partners, borrowing, learning the skills, finding more in expensive sources. Motivation, can’t be bought or traded it’s has to come from you.
The most practical and strongest prototyping tools you have access to is a pen and a paper. Creating a story board or wireframe will carry you far for flushing out your prototype.
Next steps for prototyping for the consumer can include going to the hardware store, craft store for physical products or photoshop and html for computer based products. The apple mouse was prototyped from a corner store with roller balls taken from underarm deodorant sticks. 3D printing, software packages like phonegap and wordpress allow you to turn add functionality to your prototype.
Once a prototype that functions and is to a certain degree accepted by the consumer the process of optimization begins.