Building a digital product is complicated. No doubts about that. The entire software development process, multiple stages, complex terms, and various people involved, from software developers, project managers, and shareholders. But before all of this, you must do one thing – validate the idea.
In this guide, let’s take a closer look at these two product validation methodologies – proof of concept and prototype – their features, benefits, and use cases. We’ll also focus on the difference between an MVP, proof of concept, and prototype.
Let’s get started.
A proof of concept is an early version of a solution created to, above all, test whether or not an idea is valid. In other words, we test if the product can solve a real problem. But we also check its technical feasibility. And that’s why a PoC should involve not only project managers and designers, but also developers who can tell us if using a given technology is possible for this or that kind of project.
A PoC is done at the initial stages of product development. It usually involves documentation, a wireframe, or even a presentation. No coding is applied, although the PoC should have some specifications about technical aspects of the product or its requirements (since we’re already checking it).
A proof of concept is an especially good idea if the project is innovative or risky and we want to make sure that it makes sense. It verifies whether the idea can be done.
Thanks to a PoC, you’ll have tangible evidence that your product will succeed. This will be your ticket to attracting investors and building a community of people excited about the product.
A prototype is an interactive mockup of a solution. It has some basic features that allow us to test the concept. Therefore, while a proof of concept tests if the idea can be done, a prototype shows how it’ll be done. Plus, it doesn’t have to be a prototype of the entire solution; it may cover just core features.
One of the main goals of an interactive prototype is to show functionalities, interactions, user journey and flow, as well as the design concept itself (how the app looks).
Prototyping is one of the cheapest and fastest ways to test the product with the users. This way we can identify user pain points and address them. We also get valuable insights into the flaws or limitations of the solution and fix them before diving head on into the production.
A prototype can take many forms; sometimes, you just need a piece of paper and a pencil; other times, it can take an interactive clickable form. Sometimes we create wireframe prototypes that focus more on user flows and app functionality, while other times, we put more attention on design and layout.
Now that we know all about the differences between a proof of concept and a prototype, let’s see how a minimum viable product (MVP) fits into the equation. I think that this infographic will tell you everything.
As you can see, a proof of concept aims at checking the product’s feasibility. In other words, we test if the idea is possible to execute. This is especially important for projects in which we want to use cutting-edge technologies that have never been used in the industry before, running a higher risk of failure. However, there’s also an upside to it. This is a great chance for development teams to explore emerging technologies and choose the one that allows them to make the most of the product development process.
With prototyping, we get to check product functionalities. An interactive model allows the product team to test the product with target audience users quickly and efficiently. Prototyping is a valuable exercise thanks to which the team and the users can get an idea of the layout, navigation, and design.
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a basic version of a digital product with only its core features. Here, the focus is on user experience. An MVP is a simple solution that aims to test key business concepts; if your product is what the users need. You give your target audience immediate value while minimizing development costs.
No matter what you choose, the point is to check the product from every angle. And, as you can see, starting from proof of concept through a prototype until MVP does the job perfectly. With these steps, you validate your idea from the very start and check its feasibility, functionality, and user experience. And from there, it’s a straight path to veryfing product/market fit.
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