Photo: Linn Uhrstedt, founder of unco.amsterdam
The best way to develop a product or service that meets a market need, is to use your potential customers as your collaborators. By involving them early in the process, you will understand their challenges, needs and drivers, and they will help you create something that is truly valuable for them.
One way of prototyping an early idea is to use trigger material. Trigger material are illustrations, or other artifacts, that triggers a response from the user. By adding visuals to the discussion, it becomes easier to put words on abstract thoughts for the user. Susanne Ringström showed her potential customers illustrations of different parts of Möbeblbiblioteket (the Furniture Library), and asked open ended questions related to the illustrations. The aim with prototyping with trigger material is not to get yes or no answers for the ideas, but to understand what is relevant for the user and how THEY would develop it.
Co-creation events with feedback stations
Hosting co-creation events is another way of prototyping when you are further in your design process. It is an efficient way of collecting feedback on several parts of the service at the same time. Linn Uhrstedt hosted 6 co-creation events during the design phase of unco.amsterdam. At the events, the users got to experience her product in a relaxed setting, and give feedback on the experience at the same time. At each event, Linn created different feedback stations; it could be one for brand, one for the product and one for the customer journey. The co-creation events helped Linn to get a holistic user perspective on her idea and she ended up with developing something very different from her original idea.
You shouldn’t develop too much content on your own… keep it simple and light, and let the users tell you what they want and don’t want. Let them decide. You just need to listen, document everything and, voilà, you will be able to develop something that will definitely be used by your intended audience, says Linn.
A live prototype is a way to prototype how your users will experience the service in a live setting. By designing only a few important details of your service and letting the target audience test it, you can learn a lot about how your service will be perceived. Susanne and her team performed a service prototype of Möbelbiblioteket when they were further in the process. Möbelbiblioteket is a digital platform, but the service prototype was made by creating a table at Hornstull market in Stockholm, with a few pieces of furniture available for a loan along with a simple loan agreement. People who were curious about the idea, could try to lend furniture. Through the service prototype, Möbelbiblioteket learned a lot about the lending experience, they had many interesting conversations about furniture and owning versus lending or renting. After performing a couple of service prototypes, Susanne and her team were ready to develop Möbelbiblioteket on a digital platform.
How to plan for your prototype
Your idea will have lots of testable components, and there will be many ways to prototype it. Try not to test too many things at the same time. You can follow these simple steps in order to prepare your prototyping session:
Get clear about what you need to get feedback on, and why
Pinpoint the target audience for your prototype, how many, how to reach out etc
Draft a few key questions
Decide what elements in your service are necessary to get feedback on the experience, and eliminate the rest
Figure out what prototyping method would work for your context
Prototype early, prototype often and keep iterating toward the right solution. Would you like to learn more, and discuss other topics with social entrepreneurs from all over the world? Social Innovation Booster is a community for social impact entrepreneurs who are using a design thinking approach for building a sustainable business. We love to highlight our members and their awesome social innovations! The community is free to join for impact entrepreneurs from all over the globe, regardless of where in your business journey you’re at.Join the community here!.