Product market fit is typically found though the use of an MVP (minimum Viable Product). In my opinion the traditional MVP model takes too long and it too costly for what you’re getting. Rapid prototyping is a method of conceptualizing, designing, testing, and iterating quickly and cheaply… And it has similar outcomes as building a full-blown MVP. It usually involves the use of a rapid prototyping tool to mock up interfaces, navigation, and build conditional logic into user task flows.
What’s the problem?
MVPs are intended to confirm product market fit. The problem is that most MVPs are a scaled down version of the final product. They’re intended to cater to early adopters, however early adopters are more likely to be forgiving of your product so you’re not subject to ‘realistic’ criticism on your product.
You spend months building this half-finished product that is subject to bias and you have to go right back to the drawing board to make iterative changes, code them, and fix all the bugs these changes have caused before you can test again. This is a long arduous process to go through to develop a product that only somewhat resembles the final vision. And all the while you’re paying your developers and designers while forgoing revenue…
Enter Rapid Prototyping…
Rapid prototyping essentially eliminates the need for development until the very end when you’re happy with your product and it’s been validated and still provides the same insights and validation.
Step 1: Prototype it
You’ve already done your preliminary market and user research (I hope) so you’re ready to get down to business! Prototyping tools are easier and quicker to use than wire framing and coding allowing designers and product people to test and iterate on the concept far more quickly. Most are web based so it can be opened on the target device (mobile, desktop, etc) and can be built in a responsive state if necessary. We like to use Axure. Since you can build conditional logic into the prototype and test with your target user group you’re able to get similar validation on product market fit.
Step 2: Validate it
The way you structure your validation testing will determine the results you get. Ask for feedback on navigation, task flows, etc. to improve the product. Ask questions around consumer acceptance to validate product market fit: How likely are you to refer to a friend? Did this do what you thought it would? Dow much are you willing to pay?
Step 3: Iterate on it
Take all your feedback together and iterate on your prototype. Then repeat the steps until you’re at a place where you’re conformable. The entire process takes less time than building your first version of a prototype. Once you’re happy with the prototype send it off to the development team to build. They’ve got a functional, clickable prototype to use as a functional requirements document and you’ve saved yourself months of development costs.
And MVP is intended to validate product market fit. Which means that your product UX, features, and value proposition will all need to be defined before you start prototyping. Don’t jump the gun.
And remember, this is a simplified version of the rapid prototyping process. There are tons of articles out there that explain it in more detail, and companies like mine that can help you work it out. Happy prototyping!