Bringing an idea from a concept to a finalized product, as fast as possible, forms the basis of startups. Although, there is often some research involved at various milestones, sometimes an idea needs to be get up and running as soon as possible.
Rapid prototyping in a startup culture involves slimming the typical development process to hit the high points and retouch the lows afterwards. This methodology can be made used in works other than startups too. As a strange part, this process often involves less doing, and a lot more planning and thinking.
As a first step, you need to outline everything. Basically, you should have a clear idea as to what you are building and why it’s being built. If you’ll run for more features, it will kill of your basic idea and increase complexity.
The best thing is to strip away your idea till it’s truly a product name and a single core feature. You can add more features if it is really necessary, but do remember that adding more features will add even more to the complexity. Practically speaking, try to keep things to minimal and barebones for your core product.
• Branch out
After the outline, you get a core to focus on and then, you can begin adding in more features. Branching out means you are adding more features but these are not essential for the product’s main focus. They are simply being introduced for the purpose of adding value. You can call them as add-ons that add interest and help to separate you from the competition.
But while they certainly add value, you should know that they also add research and development time. So, you need to act accordingly and try not to make your outline like a spider web.
• Build an MVP and execute it
The MVP, Minimum Viable Product, is the very essence of your product. It is this that forms the core and main focus of your development process from which everything else branches off.
You might have spent days or weeks on outline, but now you need to ignore everything else and focus on things required to make your product functional. You need to work on a to-do list to build the most functionally basic product possible. Also, you need to have a clear outline of features to focus on and what to expect down the road. By the time of the end of this outline, either your product will have developed enough to form a clear direction with which to build more on, or you will have analyzed what worked and what not from your outline and adjusted accordingly.
Now it’s time to do a light research of what technologies would be used for implementing your ideas followed by a complete design and development process while running.
• Mock-ups and fidelity
High fidelity mock-ups require months of work and iteration to get to that level of exactness. In fact, these mockups are often more focused on aesthetics rather than data driven analytics or user data. Low fidelity sketches, on the other hand, hardly give any clue about how your product will look or feel to use.
As such, high fidelity mock-ups can literally starve you while low fidelity can misguide the developer. Medium fidelity is the right answer for rapid design and development.
• There are no shortcuts
While we can stick to common use cases and deploy code libraries to solve problems quickly, we can’t really cut out the design and development time. Rapid methodology has modified the traditional more custom approach but it also requires the cut down things to be revisited later. It’s required to revisit the products to give proper attention to design, or optimize them.
• It all goes hand-in-hand
It’s recommended that the design and development teams work hand-in-hand not just to review, but also to release the next batch. The process works like this: While development team is working on releasing the next batch of features, design team can review the last batch to ensure everything is perfect or vice versa. Thus, at any given time, either of the team is one step ahead, and the other one is reviewing.
The rapid methodologies land you in a highly secured market zone where your products stand high against competitors who are engaged in the traditional development processes. The goal of this rapid prototyping is not to skip out the R&D completely, but to file it away to be taken care of later.