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The first prototype is both ugly and incredibly valuable

Look and feel isn’t part of the recipe for the first prototype of a new invention. Actually, the quick and dirty prototype often benefits the process.

When we set out to solve a new problem and ideas start to be transformed into the first basic features for the solution, we always turn the initial drawings into a crude prototype.

This first embodiment of the concept is always raw and simple. But it’s also always the prototype that creates the most value in the development process.

Physical clarity

When the concept is embodied into the first prototype, we get a much more authentic picture of, what works and what doesn’t.

For that reason, we don’t focus on the look and feel at all. It’s just a physical manifestation of the concept which shows the key-features. This allows us to take a quantum leap in our own understanding of the concept.

The job of the prototype is to act as a springboard for the further development process. Even though it’s quick and dirty and far from the final product, it makes it much more effective to assess if the core concept is right. And you need to know that before turning it into the backbone of the entire invention.

Ugly makes it better

Most times, the first prototypes are also introduced to various stakeholders, and just the fact that it’s a physical product makes the communication of the idea toward to end-users much clearer.

Actually, an ugly prototype can be an advantage in this process. When the prototype we show looks unfinished, stakeholders and end-users don’t waste time evaluating the look and feel. Then don’t concern themselves with nuts and bolts – they only assess the basic concept without any disturbance.

This way, we get constructive feedback on the concept instead of getting lost in design details. Which helps us tremendously in the following phases toward more polished prototypes.

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