Innovation Forward Strategies for All Types of Prototyping
Prototyping simultaneously manages to be the best and worst phase of the innovation process. Your team will finally get to see their ideas be transformed into tangible validation! But, you might discover that your design is flawed, or perhaps a critical functionality isn’t working properly.
Navigating the pitfalls of prototyping can be challenging for an innovation manager. So, out of the goodness of our hearts, we have created the guide below on different types of prototyping. It’s also kinda good for marketing, but that’s totally beside the point. Let’s get started!
Types of Prototyping
The prototyping methods your company utilizes likely depend on the industry to which it belongs. This article will cover techniques and technologies that can apply to all types of prototyping. However, innovation managers who don’t yet have a concrete prototyping process in place might benefit from a brief overview of the most common types of prototyping we’ll address:
- Visual Prototyping - These prototypes represent the appearance but lack functionality, like a mockup.
- Functional Prototyping - Functional prototypes perform the intended function but omit visual design elements. Early-stage storyboards are excellent examples of functional prototyping.
- Horizontal Prototyping - Horizontal prototypes will simulate the consumer’s experience with the product in a rudimentary fashion. Think about a prototype stuffed animal made from the right materials and looks close enough to the finished design. It isn’t stuffed yet, and the stitching is incomplete, but you get enough of the gist to identify any defects.
- Vertical Prototyping - These types of prototyping designs focus on identifying flaws in structure or functionality over design—like the framework of a website.
Still not sure which category your project falls into? Don’t sweat it. We take a deeper dive into the types of prototyping in our blog post, “Do the Advantages of Prototyping Outweigh Prototyping Disadvantages?” Feel free to check it out and then find your way back here.
Which Types of Prototyping Are the Most Innovation Friendly?
At the surface level, one might conclude that some of the prototyping methods above require some level of technical expertise from those involved. Accessibility is an integral part of the intrapreneurship process. This necessity leaves innovation managers to ponder which types of prototyping will be best for innovation. In short, no prototyping methods are more inherently advantageous to the intrapreneurship process. However, there are a few ways to make the method that works for you work for innovation too.
Innovation-Centric Strategies for All Types of Prototyping
Aligning your existing prototyping practices with the main ideas of innovation will help you build a cohesive, streamlined process. Like the great Elvis Presley said, a little less trial-and-error, a little more action. That’s definitely how the song goes. Just take our word for it. Don’t bother looking it up. Anyway, below, we’ve outlined a couple of innovation strategies that can significantly impact prototyping.
Introducing Inclusivity to the Prototyping Process
One of the first lessons innovation leaders learn is the importance of transparency and accessibility. Ideally, the members of your organization should view your innovation program as something new, exciting, and enticing. If the process is confusing to navigate or challenging to follow, it could be perceived as extra work.
Prototyping is an excellent opportunity to get people involved in the innovation process. Depending on the types of prototyping your company utilizes, you may be able to present the product for viewing or testing in its early stages to collect feedback. Eventually, you’ll be able to showcase the final product that your team helped create. It’s a team-building exercise and a way to gather valuable input all wrapped up in one.
Using Tech to Encourage Collaboration
Digital transformations can be a double-edged sword because, on the one hand, the technology itself has near limitless potential. For example, idea management software allows you to facilitate collaboration, organize ideas, track project progress, and view analytical reports for actionable insights. But on the other hand, employees with less technical expertise may feel overwhelmed with the process of onboarding to a new platform.
Different types of prototyping will be done on different mediums, some of which will require some level of technical expertise. However, you can share prototyping data and projects company-wide with more accessible innovation software. Partnering with an innovation management solution with a flexible, simplistic user interface streamlines the innovation process and helps make prototyping more inclusive.