July wrap-up: You can prototype ANYTHING!

Prototyping – typically we digital folk think of going from some sketches to maybe a clickable prototype then to a fleshed out, semi-built format which we can test on.

But what if your product wasn’t digital? And even with digital, can you do something different?

Jes Simson is a product manager of greeting cards. Not digital but paper. And she loves to prototype. Having a physical product reminds us of the importance of risk. When you’re producing 1,000 products a year with an expensive production cycle, you want to test & validate along the development cycle.

In the grand scheme of things, there’s a lot of similarities between digital and physical. Start by looking at your insights & research. Prototype and soft launch with 1 item until you’re ready to go bigger and branch out.

Jes says a prototype is just a question embodied – and first you need to decide what will kill it?

Brainstorm your assumptions in each category (desirability, feasibility, viability). Try to surface every assumption you have & use tools like a risk template in order to get as many as possible.

After you’ve discovered your assumptions – rank them! Take the riskiest assumption & decide what your questions are. Find the cheapest way to test this. ‘Cheap’ could be money, time or the people involved.

Some of the ways Simson tests assumptions are taking a short period of time to create a mood board and see if it resonates with card buyers. This is quick to produce & quick to get feedback.

One ‘fabulous’ example of a prototype Jes shared was using a post-it note to illustrate you could fit the word ‘fabulous’ on a card – that it wasn’t too many characters and you could stylize it in such a small space. Point made & progress continued.

Ask yourself who’s in the best position to answer these questions? You might not be able to access them depending on budget or time so … who’s available?

Be willing to throw things away, to iterate quickly and focus on the getting to no.

Jes also thinks of a prototype as a communication tool. A tool which needs to change based on who your audience is. Your design team may need 1 type of prototype while sales or finance will probably need another. Keep those team specific prototypes with the team… don’t show your CEO the grey lead sketch 😉

To help us understand you can prototype ANYTHING, Jes gave us aluminum foil and a challenge. This then became the most photogenic Product Anonymous session EVER.

A big thank you to Jes for a great talk and to Sportsbet for hosting us!
Once again, a huge thank you to Fiona Knight for taking these notes!

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